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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, April 14, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You have a real caretaker's streak in you.
Do you take care of business?
Of people?
Your family?
Your friends?
Your neurotic boss?
It's a good thing to be capable of caretaking.
After all, it's one of the most profound gifts you can give another person.
But you should be careful not to let your inner caretaker take over; that is, only caretake when it's appropriate.
When it's not -- maybe with your neurotic boss, who is a grown up and should do their own caretaking -- don't give in to the urge to jump in and fix everything.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia
Montreal, Quebec, Cnada
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Kulim, Kedah, Malaysia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
London, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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 Park Falls, Twin Falls, Cayuga Falls, Niagara Falls and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, April 14, the 105th day of 2011.
There are 260 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Moment of Laughter Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

New Population Maps Show Americans are Still Moving to the 'Burbs

All images courtesy of Stephen Von Worley at DataPointed
If you thought we'd finally gotten over our weird national love affair with unsustainable sprawl, think again -- throughout the period of 2000-2010, many Americans were still migrating from urban areas to the suburbs. Stephen Von Worley, who runs the site Data Pointed, has used census data to make a series of maps that reveal the shift in populations during the time period. And in city after city, especially in the rust belt and the Southwest, you can plainly see a striking tale: populations shifting from dense urban areas to the 'burbs.
Article continues: New Population Maps Show Americans are Still Moving to the 'Burbs

Floods turn town into island

The rising waters of the Red River have stranded the residents of Oslo, Minnesota.



Did the War Between the States start earlier?

The epic conflict actually began months before the assault of Fort Sumter, one historian suggests.

The Fake Army

It was a profitable but outrageous scheme, set forth in a trial going on now. Prosecutors are charging that David Deng recruited Chinese immigrants to join the “U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve” to help their chances of obtaining U.S. citizenship, and that he charged hundred of dollars from his “soldiers.”

The U.S. military has no such unit. The group is well known in Asian-American neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where community leaders had no idea they weren’t government issue.
Last year, one Chinese-language newspaper reported that an Alhambra taxi driver was arrested near Los Angeles International Airport after producing counterfeit military identification while trying to get out of a traffic stop.
Investigators learned that the recruits were told that the military IDs could be used to avoid getting traffic tickets and to receive certain types of military benefits and discounts, Eimiller said.
Some of the recruits were so convinced that they were part of the U.S. military that they actually visited real Army recruiting centers and tried to pay their monthly dues directly to the U.S. government, Eimiller said. That was another tipoff when investigators began looking into the group.
Local Chinese American leaders on Wednesday said they were shocked that a group that was such a familiar presence in the community is now being accused of being a fraud.
If convicted of all charges, Daniel Deng could face 11 years in prison.

New (Ancient) Treatment for PTSD

The Sweat Lodge
Soldiers that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning from war have a new avenue of treatment: sweat lodges.
Tony Deconinck of AOL News wrote about the use of this ancient Native American tradition to treat a modern ailment:
On a secluded piece of land at the Fort Carson military reservation, soldiers have the opportunity to participate in a traditional Native American sweat lodge to cleanse not only their skin, but their spirit. This sweat lodge is led by Michael Hackwith-Takesthegun, a 45-year-old Marine veteran whose elders still live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He’s not a conventional holy man, nor would he think of himself as the type of dour and dry minister whose religious temperance separates him from those he wishes to help. He’s a guide with an important responsibility to honor an effective, important ritual.
"We’re getting so many veterans coming back from the war," he said. "They’re searching and seeking and looking for something, and maybe this is helping.

The Finnish Not-So-Secret Weapon for Top Notch Schools

Better Teachers
It seems like every day we're reminded how American kids are falling behind in science and math (we're ranked 24 out of 34 countries that participated in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

China, the top-ranking country in math, relies on long hours in school (and after school) to teach their students - so it's natural to think that the key to improving US schools is to turn them into dens of Tiger Mothers.
But is there a better way? Turns out, Finland, who ranked second in the list has a very different - and some say better - approach. The key? Better teachers.
Finland's sweeping success is largely due to one big, not-so-secret weapon: its teachers. "It's the quality of the teaching that is driving Finland's results," says the OECD's Schleicher. "The U.S. has an industrial model where teachers are the means for conveying a prefabricated product. In Finland, the teachers are the standard."
That's one reason so many Finns want to become teachers, which provides a rich talent pool that Finland filters very selectively. In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, 1,258 undergrads applied for training to become elementary-school teachers. Only 123, or 9.8%, were accepted into the five-year teaching program. That's typical. There's another thing: in Finland, every teacher is required to have a master's degree. (The Finns call this a master's in kasvatus, which is the same word they use for a mother bringing up her child.) Annual salaries range from about $40,000 to $60,000, and teachers work 190 days a year.
"It's very expensive to educate all of our teachers in five-year programs, but it helps make our teachers highly respected and appreciated," says Jari Lavonen, head of the department of teacher education at the University of Helsinki. Outsiders spot this quickly. "Their teachers are much better prepared to teach physics than we are, and then the Finns get out of the way. You don't buy a dog and bark for it," says Dan MacIsaac, a specialist in physics-teacher education at the State University of New York at Buffalo who visited Finland for two months. "In the U.S., they treat teachers like pizza delivery boys and then do efficiency studies on how well they deliver the pizza."

The Last Two Speakers of a Dying Language Aren't Talking To Each Other

The Ayapaneco language is dying – it’s down to the last two speakers, and in a twist worthy of a Hollywood treatment (can we say a linguistic "Grumpy Old Men"?) they’re not talking to each other!
There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other’s company.
"They don’t have a lot in common," says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco. Segovia, he says, can be "a little prickly" and Velazquez, who is "more stoic," rarely likes to leave his home.

Forty Names Of Bands Before They Were Famous

Ever heard of Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem? Or The Pendletones? The Polka Tulk Blues Band? Mother Mcree's Uptown Jug Champions? You may not have heard of them but they are the names of bands before they were famous. They became Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, and Grateful Dead respectively.

Here are 40 original names of bands before they were famous.

Odds and Sods

Wombat Misses Cuddling After Cyclone
A wombat was diagnosed with depression -- after being denied the cuddles and pats he was used to following a cyclone in Australia, the Townsville Bulletin reported Thursday.

Woman Charged with Beating Husband
A Florida woman was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after allegedly beating her husband on the head with a remote control, the Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday.

Man Lives With Corpse for Nine Days
A Bangladeshi man trapped for nine days in a shipping container was recovering in a Singapore hospital after being found with a co-worker's corpse, police and media reports said Wednesday.

Live WWII Grenade Found on Ala. Man
A Police discovered an Alabama man driving around with a live World War II grenade that was a gift from his grandfather during a traffic stop Wednesday, The Birmingham News reported.

Few arrests in financial crisis

Years after the banking disaster, not a single senior executive has been jailed.  

The truth be told


On The Job

You'll never guess the average incomes in these seven diverse professions. 

Unemployed worker's odd gig

Ann Wittenberg is part of a growing workforce that gets paid for standing around.

Five common retirement goofs

Your financial future may be in jeopardy if you don't develop an emergency fund.  


Let the nightmares begin…
Let the nightmares begin … Vaudeville at its best?

Nine things the rich don't want you to know about taxes


Media fall for GE tax prank

A notorious group of anticorporate tricksters targets a major U.S. company over its $0 tax bill.  

Creator of WWW says Internet should be a human right

Should access to the Internet be considered a human right? 

No less than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who has been credited with creating the World Wide Web, while speaking at an MIT symposium this week, said that humans have become so dependent on the Internet that access to it should now be considered a basic right.

The Room Where The Internet Was Born

The Internet was born in a room at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, in 1969, when Professor Leonard Kleinrock's lab sent out the first ARPANET message. Recently, a UCLA history PhD named Brad Fidler went looking for that Internet birthplace and realized that nobody was really sure where it was.

He did a little research and nailed down the location to room 3420 in Boelter Hall, which was until very recently being used as an ordinary undergrad classroom. UCLA plans to open the site to the public, and with Kleinrock's help, Fidler is restoring it to its 1969 look using historical photos, eyewitness accounts, and original furniture UCLA never threw away.

Non Sequitur


When to replace spices

If a spice's vibrant color has faded, the flavor is probably much less potent, too. 

Freeze Dried Food: Not for Armageddon Survivalists Anymore

Not just for Armageddon Survivalists Anymore
Usually, stocking your pantry with freeze-dried and canned food is something you’d associate with survivalists preparing for Armageddon – but there’s a new trend afoot: the Great Recession survivors are now doing it, too, as a hedge against future price hikes and job insecurity.
"The price of everything is going up. I have no idea what’s going to happen," Huffman says, assessing her growing collection of dehydrated and freeze-dried food in cans that look like house paint — pink is fruit, green is vegetables, blue is dairy, orange is grains — much of it with a shelf life that won’t expire until her second-grader, Chloe, is 32. Whatever she stocks at today’s prices her family can eat at tomorrow’s sure-to-be-higher ones.
The Huffmans are not among the millions of families who have lost their jobs or homes in the Great Recession. Indeed, Brian Huffman’s career as a computer engineer at a local hospital has been going strong for more than a decade, and their modest home in rural Virginia is worth more today than when they bought it 14 years ago.
What this economic crisis stole from them was their sense of well-being. First there was the foreclosure sign that went up on the neighbor’s dream house down the block; it’s somebody else’s dream now. Then the light bulb factory in nearby Winchester closed last fall, taking 200 jobs with it.
And recently they saw gas at the truck stop down the road shoot up 19 cents a gallon in a single afternoon. Brian filled up their 6-year-old minivan before it went any higher, and his wife wondered whether it was possible to store a barrel in the backyard without blowing the neighborhood to smithereens.

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Scientifically Proven
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and now, science has proven the age-old saying to be true, at least for post-menopausal women:
In a study of 160 women who ate either dried apples or prunes daily for one year, the women who ate apples saw their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – the “bad” kind known as LDL – drop by 23% after six months. At the same time, their “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, rose about 4% over the course of the study.
Women in the dried apple group ate 2/3 cup of the fruit each day. Though the apple slices added 240 calories to their daily diet, these women wound up losing weight – 3.3 pounds, on average. These women also saw their levels of C-reactive protein (a measure of potentially dangerous inflammation) and lipid hydroperoxide (which can signal higher risk for cardiovascular problems) fall.

Is home making you overweight?

Slow eaters can consume 200 fewer calories a day, so sit down and make meals last.  

Little Cabin


NYC loft with bowling alley

This offbeat New York City loft rents for a pricey sum—bowling shoes not included.  

Unlikely materials for building

This flashy showcase in Spain boasts that it is the world’s largest building to be held together by glue.

This Is the Gun That Soviet Cosmonauts Took with Them into Space

Unlike their American counterparts, Soviet cosmonauts went into space armed. Specifically, they carried the TP-82, pictured above. It had three barrels, the top two which fired approximately 40 gauge shotgun rounds. The lower barrel was chambered for the 5.45×39mm rifle round. If that didn’t do the job, there was a machete built into the stock — just in case….
Why did the cosmonauts carry this gun? It wasn’t to fight off aliens, but protect themselves from human threats if they landed in unfriendly territory at the end of their missions.
This gun was used until 2006, when it was replaced with a standard semi-automatic handgun.

Amateurs help hunt for planets

Ordinary people help find celestial bodies that NASA misses through a new website.  



The Rat Temple Of Karni Mata

Karni Mata was a female Hindu sage born in the Charan caste and is worshiped as the incarnation of the goddess Durga by her followers. She lived an ascetic life, and a lot of temples are dedicated to her.

The most famous of her temples is the temple of Deshnoke, which was created following her mysterious disappearance from her home. The temple is famous for its rats, which are treated as sacred and given protection in the temple.

Everything You Didn't Know About Armadillos

How much do you know about armadillos? Asher Kade had never even heard of armadillos before he moved to Texas and confronted many of them. But he dug up a lot of fascinating facts about the ancient animals. For instance, they can walk underwater and hold their breath up to six minutes! But they are endangered because they don’t reproduce well, as you’ll learn in this article at Environmental Graffiti.

Some Dinosaurs Were Nocturnal

A new study of the eyes of fossil animals in Science overturns the conventional wisdom that dinosaurs were active by day while early mammals moved at night. 

A dinosaur at school

The kids were, shall we say, excited. Don’t miss the foot race!

Visitors see tiger choke on a piece of meat and die at Dutch Zoo

A tiger choked on a piece of meat and died in the Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam in front of visitors on Thursday.

16-year-old Hermes choked and became unwell. The predator had received his usual portion of meat, according to the zoo.

Tiger, Hermes had become weaker like many older cats, suffering from chronic kidney problems. Whether that has to do with the problems to swallow the piece of meat is not clear.

The zoo said “It is a tragic combination of circumstances''. Hermes had been at Blijdorp since May 17, 1996 and had conceived six young.

There's a video here.

Polar bear and cub awoke from hibernation to find oil rig built around them

Imagine going to bed on a deserted island and waking up in the middle of a construction site. That's exactly what happened to a pair of polar bears on Alaska's North Slope. In March, oil field workers at ENI Petroleum were stunned when they spotted a pair of polar bears on Spy Island, a manmade offshore drilling site a few miles off the coast of the Beaufort Sea, near Oliktok Point.

The company called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sent a biologist to set up a den camera. It appears the mother bear had made herself a den in a snow drift back in October, before the site was up and running. Company employees did not know the pair of bears where there until their heads popped up on March 18.

"Must have been a shock for her because when she went into the den it was an empty island, and when she came out there was quite a lot going on," said Bruce Woods, spokesperson for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The surprise appearance triggered an evacuation of all of the employees, and shut down production until March 23. Several hours of footage shows the nosy pair sniffed around the site for a couple days, even touching the equipment.

"The thing that really amazes me the most, and just makes me smile, is when the cub comes out you'll see that he doesn't want to be anywhere but immediately under his mother," said Woods. "You know wherever she goes, he just trots along and tries to hang under her legs." The pair eventually made their way away from the island and headed out onto the sea ice and production resumed.

Foxfight: Climate Change Causing Arctic & Red Foxes to Clash

Photo credit: Algkalv via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY
Arctic foxes in the northern reaches of Russia are suddenly facing a new threat, and from their own cousins no less -- red foxes. Researchers have found that warming temperatures are allowing the red foxes to migrate and stay further north, where they invade the breeding grounds of the much cuter Arctic fox. Unfortunately, cuteness doesn't count for crap in nature (outside of conservation fund-raisers, anyhow) -- but the fact that the red fox is bigger and more aggressive does. Scientists are now becoming increasingly concerned that with a more comfortable climate, the emboldened red foxes will set about ousting the Arctic ones.
Article continues: Foxfight: Climate Change Causing Arctic & Red Foxes to Clash

Animal Pictures

(via Pictures of the day: 14 April 2011 - Telegraph)