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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, April 5, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Look around today, and you'll find some inspiration.
There are people in your life who have a lot of valuable things to teach you, and they're eager to move into a mentorship position.
In fact, the timing may be perfect to reach out and ask for guidance.
These folks exemplify what you want to be, and they're where you want to be.
So why not ask them how to get there?
You'll add your own spice to things today, so don't worry about becoming a carbon copy of anyone.
Your identity will not suffer.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Kuala, Kedah, Malaysia
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei and Muara, Brunei Darussalam
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Minden, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgium
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Lille, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France
Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar
Gengenbach, Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany

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 Manning, Hayward, Waterbury, Kailua and more.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, April 5, the 96th day of 2011.
There are 269 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
One Day Without Shoes Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

A thought from the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

Getting to Know Americans

New York University has advice for international students in dealing with US Americans. A handy guide is posted on their website.
Americans generally believe the ideal person is self-reliant. Most Americans see themselves as separate individuals, not as representatives of a family, community or other group. They dislike being dependent on other people, or having others depend on them. Some people define this trait as selfishness. Others see it as a healthy freedom from the constraints of family or social class.
How is this value manifested into behavior? In individualist cultures, such as the U.S., it is assumed that people need to be alone some of the time and prefer to take care of problems by themselves. Another expectation is that people are ready to “do business” very soon after meeting, without much time spent on preliminary conversation. Also people act competitively, are proud of their accomplishments and expect others to be proud of their own accomplishments.
Reading this makes the USA seem like a strange, exotic culture. Which I suppose it is if you weren’t born and raised here.

April is Poetry Month

Non Sequitur


The repugican's 'brazen assault on the EPA'

Who really needs clean air, clean water and an environment that doesn't make anyone sick?
Oh yeah, right, everyone needs that.
Well, everyone except the repugicans.


"Never in four decades has there ever been this brazen assault on the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to protect our health," said Krupp. "In the House they've already passed an amendment that would mean the EPA couldn't enforce its effort to clean mercury from the air."

The EPA has been ordered by the courts to regulate greenhouse gases after the agency ruled that they are a danger to public health.

Some lawmakers are scrambling to strip the EPA of this power, and even roll back some of its other regulatory responsibilities. They are concerned that regulating greenhouse gases will be too costly.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin

Wisconsin recall organizers got 145% of the votes needed in 50% of the time allotted to recall repugican Dan Kapanke.

Maine Must Pay For Mural


PAUL-LEPAGE The governor of Maine's decision to remove a pro-labor mural from the state's Department of Labor may cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, all because he wanted to "send a message."
Apparently unknown to Maine's recently elected Republican governor, the mural targeted by his ire was initially paid for by a federal grant -- the terms of which he violated by having it removed.
And now, according to the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Labor has officially demanded reimbursement.
The grant, awarded in 2008 to pay for the 37-foot-long mural, fulfilled 63 percent of the $60,000 historical art project.
If the state decides against putting it back up, they'll be forced to repay 63 percent of the mural's fair market value, which has likely gone up since it became a centerpiece in Republicans' battle against workers.

Outrageous perks of execs

One firm let its CEO’s daughter commute to school on the corporate jet.  

Isn't it obvious


Guy Gets A Job

In Wisconsin: No degree, little experience pay off big.
Just in his mid-20s, Brian Deschane has no college degree, very little management experience and two drunken-driving convictions.
Yet he has landed an $81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker's administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Even though Walker says the state is broke and public employees are overpaid, Deschane already has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.
How did Deschane score his plum assignment with the Walker team? It's all in the family. His father is Jerry Deschane, executive vice president and longtime lobbyist for the Madison-based Wisconsin Builders Association, which bet big on Walker during last year's governor's race.
The group's political action committee gave $29,000 to Walker and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, last year, making it one of the top five PAC donors to the governor's successful campaign. Even more impressive, members of the trade group funneled more than $92,000 through its conduit to Walker's campaign over the past two years.
Total donations: $121,652.
Probably just a coincidence. You can't just give money to a politician and then expect him to give your son a job.

The Shrub's Recession

You know the Shrub's Recession has fucked up the economy so bad that even this type of business couldn't make it in Texas!

IRS ramps up mail audits

The IRS has overhauled the way it challenges taxpayers' returns.  

Five rules for credit scores

You can boost your creditworthiness by paying off a certain type of debt right away.  

Ways to nail great deals

You can earn discounts of 10% or more just by asking these questions.  

United jet's blind landing

Pilots are safely directed to a closed runway after smoke is detected and their instruments go dark.

Libyan woman fears for her life

The woman whose outburst touched a nerve around the world defies Gadhafi's regime again. 

When dealing with the police


Bad Cops

Missouri deputy resigns after shooting pet Chihuahua, again and again

Colorado police officer is arrested for inappropriately touching 19-year-old woman during pat-down search

Off-duty Tennessee police officer is charged with assault on deputies

Former Pittsburgh detective charged in prostitution sting

Nevada police officer is charged with domestic battery and burglary

West Virginia police officer is charged with domestic battery

Alabama corrections officer charged with selling drugs at jail

Two former New Orleans police officers receive stiff sentences in Katrina killing

Chowchilla Revisited

In 1976, three young men kidnapped a school bus full of children in Chowchillla, California. The 26 children and the driver were forced at gunpoint into a truck that was buried at a rock quarry. The bus driver, Ed Ray, and some of the older boys dug back through the hole through which they entered the underground chamber. It took them 16 hours to escape. Meanwhile, the kidnappers planned to demand $5 million in ransom, but the police phone lines were busy. Before the plan could be carried out, the victims had escaped. Richard Schoenfeld, James Schoenfeld, and Fred Woods received life sentences for the crime. They have served 35 years in prison. Some people believe that’s enough, including their prosecutor David Minier.
Since then, each has been denied parole dozens of times. Supporters say their continued imprisonment makes a mockery of the idea of rehabilitation. Minier, now a retired judge, favors parole for all three kidnappers.
“Quite frankly, I am simply amazed that Richard Schoenfeld, given his record as a model prisoner, was not paroled years ago,” Minier wrote the parole board in 2006.
At the Feb. 23 news conference in San Francisco, Dale Fore, one of the lead investigators in the case, said: “They were just dumb rich kids, and they paid a hell of a price for what they did.”
After retiring from the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, Fore worked as a private investigator for the Woods family’s attorneys, tracking down kidnapping victims to see if any would write letters of support for parole. None has.
“I might not be the most popular guy when I get back home,” Fore said. “But right is right. How much time do you want out of these guys?”
If you ask the people of Chowchilla, the answer is life without parole. On one hand, the crime as planned was horrific. On the other hand, no one was seriously hurt in the end. Many people convicted of murder receive lighter sentences. On the other hand, this crime could have ended as a mass murder. What do you think?

Giant yellow teddy bear to brighten New York

London has Paddington Bear but New York now has a giant yellow teddy bear, a great sculptural masterpiece that could sell for more than $9 million at auction in May, Christie's said on Saturday. A 23-foot (7-meter) high, bronze teddy bear slumped under a black bedside lamp will be on display for five months in midtown Manhattan from next week and be a highlight of the Post-War & Contemporary sale on May 11.

The 35,000 pound (15.8 ton) sculpture, Untitled (Lamp/Bear), is the work of New York-based Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Brett Gorvy, Christie's deputy chairman for Post-War and Contemporary Art, described Fischer as the Jeff Koons of his generation. "We have seen contemporary sculpture works by Jeff Koons selling at $25 million and Urs Fischer is the leading pretender to the throne," he said.

"He is considered the most important, the most provocative of contemporary artists today." Gorvy said the US collector selling the sculpture, whom he declined to name, had already turned down a private offer of $9 million. "The anticipation is that it will make more than that," he said. "There's a very good chance it's going to go to a museum or a private institution."

The teddy bear, which has button eyes, is currently being assembled in the plaza of the architecturally acclaimed Seagram Building skyscraper on Park Avenue. Gorvy said getting the city permits to install the sculpture was a project in itself. An added feature of the sculpture, according to the auction house, is that the table lamp above the bear's head works, so the bear can be lit up at night.

Eight Once Amazing Sci Fi Technologies Now Inferior to Real Life Gadgets

We don’t have flying cars, but otherwise, it can be hard for science fiction to keep up with the pace of modern technology. Evan Hoovler of blastr has a list of eight technological wonders from science fiction now present in real life, such as the PADD from Star Trek, now available as the iPad:
Like modern electronics, the P.A.D.D. had its own development throughout the series. The 24th-century model was almost solely used by touching a screen. Not bad, but we’re sure the Enterprise captains would’ve probably liked some Freecell while drifting through empty space. How about one of millions of books? The iPad incorporates modern technology into this classic sci-fi design, moving us one step closer to achieving the ultimate dream (holodeck).

Using CAPTCHA to Decipher Old Text

If you think that CAPTCHA, the squiggly lines you have to decipher in order to login or place your comments on many websites, are only there to keep out spammers, think again!
There is actually another use of the annoying feature: to correct mistakes in scanning old text. Guy Gugliotta of the New York Times explains:
For vintage 19th-century texts in English, O.C.R. programs mess up or miss 10 percent to 30 percent of the words. Only humans can fix the errors. The standard method, called key and verify, uses two transcribers to type the text independently and compares the results. This is time-consuming and extremely expensive.
But in 2006, Dr. von Ahn’s team figured out a way around this obstacle. The ubiquitous Captchas, familiar to even the most casual Web user, were the perfect tools. Captchas, short for “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart,” are impossible for machines to decipher, but easy for humans. (The test is named for the British computer pioneer Alan Turing.)
Dr. von Ahn’s group estimated that humans around the world decode at least 200 million Captchas per day, at 10 seconds per Captcha. This works out to about 500,000 hours per day — a lot of applied brainpower being spent on what Dr. von Ahn regards as a fundamentally mindless exercise.
“So we asked, ‘Can we do something useful with this time?’ ” Dr. von Ahn recalled in a telephone interview. Instead of making Captchas out of random words printed in a woozy way, why not ask Web users to translate problem words from archival texts?

Hot Wheels Loop in Highway

As part of an advertising campaign for Hot Wheels, a construction crew in Bogot√°, Colombia, installed a facade for a loop. From the side, it resembles the loop tracks that Mattel has sold for years. You’ll have to, sadly, wait a little bit longer before experiencing a real one.

Pint-Size Motorcycle Mama

In  1937 tiny Sally Halterman didn’t let her stature hold her back. Despite weighing in at only one-third the weight of her Harley Davidson Sally was the first woman to be granted a license to operate a motorcycle in the District of Columbia. She was 27 years old, weighed 88 pounds, and was just 4′11 tall. Upon receiving her permit, Sally was initiated into the D.C. Motorcycle Club, the only woman ever to be so honored.

Depression Facts

Here are 50 Interesting Facts About The Great Depression.
For example:
dorothea_lange_2.1200779370 Chicago gangster Al Capone (1899-1947), in one of his sporadic attempts at public relations, opened a soup kitchen during the Great Depression. For millions, soup kitchens provided the only food they would see all day.
After the initial crash, there was a wave of suicides in the New York’s financial district. It is said that the clerks of one hotel even started asking new guests if they needed a room for sleeping or jumping.
Some people who became homeless would ride on railroad cars because they didn’t have money to travel. Some famous men who rode the rails were William O. Douglas (1898-1980), U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1939-1975; novelist Louis L’Amour (1908-1988); and folk singer Woody Guthrie (1912-1967). Some scholars claim that more than 50,000 people were injured or killed while jumping trains.
During the Great Depression, a record 60-80 million Americans went to the movies every week. One of the biggest blockbusters was Merian C. Cooper’s 1933 King Kong. Other popular movies included The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939).
During the Great Depression, many people tried apple selling to avoid the shame of panhandling. In New York City alone, there were as many as 6,000 apple sellers.

The Urchins of Spitalfields

Photographer Horace Warner took hundreds of pictures of street urchins in the East End neighborhood of Spitalfields in 1912. At the time, it was one of London’s harshest slum areas, but has been gentrified in the past few decades. These photographs are a peek into the world that inspired Charles Dickens.
Little is known of Horace Warner and nothing is known of his relationship to the nippers. Only thirty of these pictures survive, out of two hundred and forty that he took, tantalising the viewer today as rare visions of the lost tribe of Spitalfields Nippers. They make look like paupers, and the original usage of them to accompany the annual reports of the charitable Bedford Institute, Quaker St, Spitalfields, may have been as illustrations of poverty – but that is not the sum total of these beguiling photographs, because they exist as spirited images of something much more subtle and compelling, the elusive drama of childhood itself.

Family photo shows up 'ghost' next to grandson

A Herefordshire family claim to have proof that a property does not need to be ancient for it to be haunted. Pensioner Fred Smith’s grandson Sirus appeared to have a mysterious playmate in tow when his mother Sarah Walsh snapped the five-year-old on her mobile phone.

Fred, from St Weonards, said he and his wife Julie were “gobsmacked” when Sarah emailed the picture over shortly after she took it at home in Hereford. “If she lived in an old house or if there was a cupboard with a reflection or something fair enough, but she lives in a 1950s house in Redhill – we have no idea who this might be,” Fred said.

“She goes to mediums quite a lot and a friend of hers called Pete, who has ‘the gift’, previously said he felt a little girl in the house.”

Since then more strange events have followed, Fred claims, after the image was inexplicably wiped from Sarah’s phone and her Facebook page. “Pete says it’s a little girl but I can’t make up my mind - whoever it is obviously does not want to be seen though,” he added.

History's first "press badge"

Offered for sale at Heritage Auctions:
Very Rare War between the States Press Badge. The first war in history to be covered extensively by the press, much less to be photographed in detail, the War between the States saw the advent of the issuance of press badges to identify the press corps and to distinguish them from spies or civilians who had no place on the battle lines.

Measuring 1½" across, this five-pointed metal badge is engraved "PRESS" within a floral design. The pin at back is broken and the silver metal somewhat tarnished. This is a rare example of the earliest badges used by the American press.

Awesome Pictures


llbwwb:Woren and Repaired Wooden Swinging Bridge by arkaleks

Experts' breakfast beer worry

It's nicknamed the "breakfast beer" but alcohol watchdogs are hoping a new New Zealand brew to be launched early on a weekday morning is nothing but a fizzer. The cherry-flavored, wheat lager by Marlborough brewery Moa is described as "a beer the ladies can enjoy too ... if you're having a champagne breakfast but don't fancy champagne, have a beer instead".

It contains 5.5 per cent alcohol and will be launched at Auckland's Quay Street Cafe this Thursday at 7am. Alcohol Healthwatch adviser Christine Rogan said drinking in the morning was an indicator of an alcohol problem.

National manager of Students Against Drunk Driving Anna Reid was concerned people would be leaving a "boozy breakfast" at a time when children were going to school and people were going to work.

Moa co-owner Geoff Ross said his company wasn't targeting alcoholics, nor was it trying to create irresponsible behavior. "Look at cultures like Germany where a lager in the right circumstances is part of the culture, or Italy where the grappa is used as a morning pick-me-up. Cultures around the world consume alcohol in the right way, and that includes breakfast."

Cartoon Music Keeps Kids Longer in a Candy Store

Photo: Shutterstock
I’m sure we all have heard the iidiom "like a kid in a candy store" – but has anyone ever conducted an actual experiment with kids in a candy store? Like, for instance, does music played in the store have any role in keeping them in the store longer?
Well, scientists from Universit√© de Bretagne-Sud in France have. They discovered that you indeed can keep ‘em in the store longer by playing cartoon music as opposed to Top Forty songs (though apparently, there’s no change in the amount of money spent, presumably because moms aren’t affected by those type of aural shenanigans).



Why We Smell Differently

The way nerve cells transmit smell signals to the brain could explain peoples' different scent perceptions.  



Solar System Scope

This clever Flash-based Solar System Scope website is probably the only time you can safely say "grab Uranus and wiggle it around" in polite company. Take a look and tell me isn’t that the geekiest bit of fun you’ve had in a while?

Gook luck with that ...


Mangroves Are World's Most Carbon-Rich Tropical Forests & They've Disappearing Fast

mangrove australia photo
Mangrove in Australia, photo: Richard Taylor/Creative Commons.
We've known that the world's mangroves are in decline, with 30-50% of them being cleared in the past half century and 16% of them currently threatened. Now new research shows that mangroves are the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics, clearing them being responsible for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from global deforestation despite being just 0.7% of tropical forest area.
Article continues: Mangroves Are World's Most Carbon-Rich Tropical Forests & They've Disappearing Fast



Eight buffalos make grammatical sense

This is a grammatically valid sentence in the English language, used as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated linguistic constructs. It has been discussed in literature since 1972 when the sentence was used by William J. Rapaport, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo.
If the capitalization is ignored, the sentence can be read another way:
Buffaloa buffalon buffalov Buffaloa buffalon Buffaloa buffalon buffalov.
That is, bison from Buffalo intimidate (other) bison from Buffalo that bison from Buffalo intimidate.

Man arrested after throwing puppy off bridge, twice

Harlan Kentucky police have arrested a man after they say he threw a puppy off of a bridge in town into the river below - twice. Police arrested 21 year-old Jerry Russel, Jr and charged him with Animal Cruelty charges after it was reported he threw the dog off the Georgetown Bridge.

The dog was in a plastic grocery bag. A 13 year old boy with Russel retrieved the dog from the water and Russel is alleged to have thrown the dog into the river again. The second time the dog was rescued by a homeless man under the bridge.

According to Mikel Taylor with the Harlan County Animal Shelter, the puppy, who shelter workers have named Lucky, was checked by a veterinarian and was in good physical shape. Taylor says Lucky is not ready for adoption, but should be in the near future.

Taylor added, "I can't believe someone would do something this horrific to a defenceless puppy." Russel remains in the Harlan County Jail under a $9000 bond. The homeless man has been honoured by the animal shelter for saving the dog.

Giant Rabbit of Minorca

Paleontologist Josep Quintana Cardona of the Mediterranean island of Minorca and colleagues have discovered the fossils of the largest rabbit that ever lived on Earth:
The new hunk of a rabbit, now named Nuralagus rex, shows the kind of unusual turn that evolution can take on islands. “Gigantism happens,” explains Brian Kraatz of Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif. When pioneer animals start colonizing an island, rates of evolution typically speed up at first, he explains. Small creatures can supersize, and big ones can shrink. [...]
So far no plausible rabbit-eaters have turned up among fossils from the same stretch of time on Minorca, so the big bunnies could have evolved larger and larger body size without pressure to maintain speed and agility to escape predators. The relatively short, stiff spine of the fossils suggests that Nuralagus didn’t hop much, if at all, say Quintana Cardona and colleagues. They describe its pace as “low-gear walking.” [...]
What the rabbit king of Minorca did have were paws adapted for digging, a help in finding food to sustain its regal size. So far, though, there’s no sign of giant carrots.

Mayfly Captured in Flight 300 Million Years Ago

insect fossil
The oldest known full-body impression of a flying insect was preserved in 300 million-year-old Massachusetts sandstone.

Billion Dollar Bats in Danger

Not taking actions to help reduce the national rise in bat mortality could cost the United States billions of dollars. 

Plants Play 'Biggest Loser' With Bugs

When it comes to keeping bugs at bay, some plants turn into killers -- putting their attackers on starvation diets.  

Odds and Sods

A 15-year-old girl denied a horse from her parents has turned to a cow to fulfill her riding dreams.
Regina Mayer's parents told her she couldn't have a horse, so she came up with an alternative. 

When Cows Attack

Forget Jaws! The real danger is far closer to home: statistics reveal that more Americans are killed each year by something far more dangerous …. the cow.
The next time you’re nervously scanning the surface of the sea for a dorsal fin, remember one thing: Statistically speaking, you are much more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark.
Between 2003 and 2008, 108 people died from cattle-induced injuries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 27 times the whopping four people killed in shark attacks in the United States during the same time period, according to the International Shark Attack File. Nearly all those cow-related fatalities were caused by blunt force trauma to the head or chest; a third of the victims were working in enclosed spaces with cattle.
While the ongoing battle between cow and man is overwhelmingly one-sided (and delicious), the people who work closely with cattle take major risks. "I’ve been kicked, I’ve been pushed, I’ve been charged," says 22-year-old Margaret Dunn, a graduate research assistant studying animal science at Iowa State University. "Like what they say about dogs, they can smell fear."


"The male has highly conspicuous tusks formed from the canine teeth, but their exact shape depends on the species. In the north Sulawesi babirusa, they grow upward through the skull and curve back towards the skull between the eyes."

Spot 11 nearly invisible animals

Chameleons aren't the only critters with a gift for blending into their surroundings. 

Animal Pictures