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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 21, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Everyone has two sides to their personality (at least), so today if someone is getting on your nerves, focus on the part of their personality that you can get along with much more peacefully.
Separating the good parts of people from the bad parts will enable you to make stronger alliances and not get caught up in petty emotional soap operas.
If you are forced into intense collaborations with some of these annoying folks today, make sure you keep a level head.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
London, England, United Kingdom
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

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 New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Olympia and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, April 21, the 112th day of 2011.
There are 243 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
High Five Day
National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

A bedroom you won't believe

A floating ship and secret slide add dreamlike magic to a designer's incredible creation.  

New rules for airlines

Advertised airfares will soon have to include all mandatory taxes and fees.  

Switch careers in a year

These training programs will prepare you to work in fields such as health care and law.  

Retire on $60,000 a year

One key rule lets you estimate how much savings you'll need to make your money last. 

How Bad Is It?

The economy is soooo bad:

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

Even companies who don’t intend to pay aren’t buying.

Hotwheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

Obama met with small businesses to discuss the Stimulus Package: GE, Pfeizer and Citigroup.

McDonalds is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

A truck full of Americans got caught sneaking into Mexico.

The most highly-paid job is now jury duty.

Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

People in Africa are donating money to Americans.

Mothers in Ethiopia are telling their kids, "finish your plate, do you know how many kids are starving in the US?"

Motel Six won't leave the light on.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

'Bargains' that aren't bargains

Warehouse clubs and store displays cleverly tempt you to drain your wallet. 

Tips for a lost ATM card

You could be out $500 if you don’t report the missing card quickly enough.  

Tax records you can toss

Now that Tax Day is history, follow these rules to purge the documents you don't need.  

Healthiest U.S. housing markets

The average home price is under $245,000 in the five most robust states. 

Lavish CEO pay comes back

Two years after bonus-sparked outrage, compensation packages take a startling jump. 

Koch Industries Has Now Spent $55 Million Funding Climate Denial

Photo courtesy of Greenpeace USA
Koch Industries rose out of the shadows last year to take on the mantle of corporate villain numero uno. Its unmasking came about thanks in part to an eye-opening investigation from Greenpeace that revealed the company was sinking astronomical amounts of cash into campaigns designed either to undermine existing environmental laws or prevent new ones from being passed. Combined with a number of other reports from the likes of the New York Times, a portrait emerged of a massive, uber-polluting corporation -- the second largest private company in the nation -- that was using its vast resources to support policies and politicians that would help shield its bottom line. Perhaps the key plank of Greenpeace's report was that Koch Industries spent over $48 million funding various outlets dedicated to denying climate change However, it looks like all that bad PR hasn't lead the 'Kochtopus' to change its ways -- Greenpeace has just released the 2011 update to last year's report, and it's not pretty ...
Article continues: Koch Industries Has Now Spent $55 Million Funding Climate Denial

Funny Pictures


Non Sequitur


The iPhone tracks all of your movements

Whether you want it to or not...
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010...

"Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," said Warden. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this."..

The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn't accidental." But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself...

The iPhone system, by contrast, appears to record the data whether or not the user agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled...

Apple can legitimately claim that it has permission to collect the data: near the end of the 15,200-word terms and conditions for its iTunes program, used to synchronise with iPhones, iPods and iPads, is an 86-word paragraph about "location-based services".
More information at the Guardian.

Canadian authorities make arrest in 'webcam murder'

Canadian authorities have made an arrest in the murder of a Chinese student who was attending a Toronto university.

She was last seen alive via webcam, by her boyfriend in China who had been video chatting with her.

CIA reveals WWI spy secrets

A curious method for sharing messages is one of the tricks exposed in newly released files.

Museum returns Klimt painting

A Gustav Klimt painting worth more than $30 million will go to its rightful owner.  

Bogus Nun Worked for Gangsters

A bogus nun posing as Sister Mindy, "dressed in a nun's habit, with a cross on her neck and a donation cup in her hands," scammed New Yorkers for years, seeking donations for a sham church - but the money went to a notorious Brooklyn crime family, state prosecutors say.

"Dressed in a nun's habit, with a cross on her neck and a donation cup in her hands, defendant Melindia LeGrand has for years solicited Little Italy's residents, shoppers, and tourists asking for money to support the 'children of St. Joseph's' and social programs run by St. Joseph's," New York's attorney general says in the complaint in Kings County Court.

But "In fact, the social programs do not exist, Melindia LeGrand is not a nun and St. Joseph's is not a functioning church. St. Joseph's is simply a front for fraudulent fundraising that is run by members of the LeGrand family, which has a notorious history of crime in Brooklyn," according to the complaint.

The attorney general says St. Joseph's Church of Christ, Inc., was co-founded by Vivian Sannicola, whose former common-law husband, Devernon LeGrand, was a self-proclaimed bishop who ran St. John's Pentecostal Church of the Lord until his multiple murder convictions shut it down in 1977.

LeGrand died in prison after killing and dismembering three women, including one of his wives, according to reports in The New York Times and other newspapers.

But before St. John's closed down, its "sisters" dressed in black habits to seek "charity" on New York City's streets and subways, according to the complaint.

Vivian Sannicola, then known as Vivian Jenkins, incorporated St. Joseph's in 1980, and the church's certificate was signed by "Rt. Reverend Vivian Jenkins," "Reverend Helen Lloyd" and "Deacon Michael Hicks," according to the complaint.

Helen Lloyd was another common law wife of "Bishop" LeGrand, and Hicks was his son-in-law. "Bishop" LeGrand reportedly fathered 46 children.

Snippets of transcripts printed in the complaint show that Melindia LeGrand invoked her protection from self-incrimination more than 20 times when probed by the attorney general's office.

Transcripts of Sannicola's testimony, however, show short, direct and allegedly incriminating answers followed by exclamation points.

When asked if St. Joseph's had a board of trustees, Sannicola said, "No!"

When asked who ran the church, she replied, "I do!"

"Do you make the decisions?" her interrogator asked.

The transcript states she was "screaming" when she replied "Yes!"

New York wants the "church" dissolved, its fund-raising enjoined, and LeGrand and Sannicola fined for breach of duty, waste and misappropriation.

St. Joseph's Church of Christ is also known as St. Joseph's Church of Christ & Home.

A 9-year-old saves sister

Tristin Saghin learned a life-saving maneuver from a DVD he wasn't supposed to be watching.

Newborn baby found buried alive in Singapore

A newborn baby was found buried alive in Singapore on Tuesday afternoon, in a flower patch located at Eunos block 31A. A resident, Mr Tay, 60, was on the sixth floor sky garden at around 2pm when he heard crying noises coming from a plot of plants and flowers behind him. The retiree said that the cry sounded like it was made by a cat, and dismissed it at first. However, he felt something was amiss when he couldn't see any animals.

Mr Tay then used his hands to check if anything was hiding among the flowers, and was shocked to discover two tiny feet peeking out from beneath the soil. "I asked my friend to come and take a look, I thought it was a doll at first," said Mr Tay. He then climbed over and into the flower patch, removed the soil covering and was alarmed to find the baby, who was still alive.

Mr Tay immediately pulled the baby out. Describing the baby as small and dark-skinned, Mr Tay said the baby was bare-bodied, except for a black 'rope' made of plastic wound tightly around his neck. His umbilical cord was still attached. Miraculously, the baby was still breathing, but was very weak. "The baby's eyes were open, and his mouth and ears were filled with soil. He was crying non-stop, it was a pitiful sight," said Mr Tay, who immediately called the police.

Mr Tay estimates that the baby had been buried under about five centimetres of soil. He says the baby is lucky to survive, 'probably because of its strong will to live', said Mr Tay. Police found a blood-soaked singlet 10 metres away, which is believed to be related to the case. Droplets of blood were also found at the staircase landing near the site where the newborn was found.

Bomb found near Columbine

A disturbing find on the anniversary of the school massacre puts authorities on edge.  

Firefighters free Good Samaritan stuck in car sunroof

A Good Samaritan was trying to help a woman get into her car in Manchester, New Hampshire, but instead rescue crews had to help her out. “This is a small thing compared to what’s going on in the rest of the world, but if we don’t start helping each other here - our neighbors and the people who live right next door to us - we’re not going to be able to help anybody else,” said Danielle Michoud.

She and her husband had tried to help a woman who was locked out of her car at a Manchester Walgreens parking lot. The alarm system wouldn’t recognize the key. “The sunroof was open about three-quarters of the way, I was the smallest of the three of us, I offered to climb in,” said Michoud. A mother herself, Michoud knew the stranger had a child waiting alone to be picked up, so in she went.

“I actually thought I almost had it and then I hit my ribs and I couldn’t go any further. I could not go up. I could not go down,” said Michoud. She says out of the 50 or so people passing by where she was wedged to the waist in the sunroof, many stopped, but it wasn’t to help her. “They were taking pictures, they were filming, they were laughing,” said Michoud. It took firefighters using a portable airbag to finally get her out.

Michoud admits the situation was funny at first glance, but says that people need to think twice. “If we’ve become so desensitized that we would rather stop and take a picture first then to offer someone help, then we are going in the wrong direction,” said Michoud. Michoud has a bruised rib and a bruised back. She went to the emergency room for treatment. She says even knowing the way that it turned out she would do it all again because it’s the right thing to do.

Drying chillies cause chemical scare in Australian suburb

A backyard cook-up sparked a chemical emergency in Melbourne's south-east. Ambulance officers were called to Cranbourne to treat residents who were overcome by fumes, which turned out to have come from a neighbor drying out strong chillies in their backyard.

Six advanced life support paramedics, a single responder intensive care paramedic and an ambulance manager arrived at the scene just before 10.30pm. People in houses up to 150 meters away were affected, and up to ten people were coughing and feeling unwell.

Intensive care paramedic David Llewelyn said there were concerns more people could become unwell. "At one stage there was a large number of people standing in the street and we didn't know what had caused them to become ill," Mr Llewelyn said. "We had up to ten people who were coughing and were dizzy and nauseated.

"It affected houses up to 150 metres away due to the still air. We decided to do a doorknock of other homes to make sure no one else had been overcome, while the CFA worked to find the source of the fumes. It emerged that someone was drying out strong chillies in the backyard and that's what caused the fumes," Mr Llewelyn said.

Mall evacuated after umbrella mistaken for gun

A report of a man with a rifle inside a Nordstrom department store triggered a massive police response and the evacuation of a mall near Boston on Tuesday, but the man turned out to be carrying only an umbrella.

The Burlington Mall was evacuated and closed for more than two hours as a police SWAT team wearing body armour and carrying shields searched for an armed man. State police said they had received two calls about a short white man with a grey shirt and a backpack who was carrying what appeared to be a rifle.

It turned out the man was an employee of the Lahey Clinic, a nearby hospital, who had stopped at the mall before work and was carrying an umbrella. State police and the clinic said the man called police as soon as he realized he fitted the description of the person being sought. Police questioned him and determined he was not a threat.

"The male does not have a weapon. He was reportedly holding an umbrella," state police said in a statement. "Witnesses and surveillance footage confirm that this is the person who was seen in the mall." In a statement, the clinic said the employee "is pleased he took appropriate action and contacted the police, however, he feels terrible about the situation."
The hospital would not identify the man and said he asked that the media respect his privacy.

Awesome Pictures


Reason not to wash chicken

Most people think the best way to remove bacteria is by rinsing the bird beforehand. 

Surprising back pain causes

When you lower your head to use a laptop or phone, your back pays the price.  

Spring Sadness?

Allergy-Mood Link Is Real
You know spring has sprung when hundreds of people daily turn to Twitter to vent about their itchy eyes, dripping nose and uncontrollable sneezing and coughing.

Gut bacteria divide people into three categories

In the early 1900s, scientists discovered that each person belonged to one of four blood types. 
Now they have discovered a new way to classify humanity: by bacteria. 



Top 6 party board games

If classics like Trivial Pursuit are wearing thin, try one of these lesser-known crowd pleasers.  

Vintage American diner in a Welsh shed

Unclewilco sez, "Sheddie Paul Siudowski has created a shed in his garden in Neath, South Wales, UK - where the interior is themed on a 1950's American Diner. Paul is one of the many unique entrants to the Shed of the Year 2011 competition which closes 16th May 2011 and is open to the best sheds in the UK. Previous winners of Shed of the year - have been a shed turned into a Roman Temple, a Hexagional Pub shed, A cabin on stilts and last year a Pirate Shed."

Oops! Bus crushes team's trophy

Real Madrid waited 18 years to win back the Copa del Rey trophy - only to drop the cup and watch it get crushed under the wheels of a bus.

States Form A Skull

Did you know that if you rearrange all 50 states, they form a human skull?
It's true. The United Skull of America.
state skull
A skull can also be formed with the 48 contiguous states, but adding Alaska and Hawaii really helps.

Two Bullets That Hit Each Other Head-On

There’s not much evidence to support the claim, but allegedly, this is a picture of two bullets that collided with each other, head-on, from opposite directions. One is French and the other is Russian, and the two met in 1854 during the Crimean War.
Mythbusters did a show on just this story and after a lot of work and planning finally did get two bullets to collide - therefore they postulated that it was indeed possible but extremely highly unlikely for two bullets fired toward the other would collide mid-air without the minutest of detailed planing and multiple attempts needed for them to do just that.

Ten Amazing Metal Detector Discoveries


Metal detectors are often called 'the gift that keeps on giving,' a description that certainly holds true in the case of these 10 lucky treasure hunters, who got much more than they bargained for when their trusty machines alerted them to an underground discovery. From the largest-ever unearthed golden nugget to a 67-year-old diamond engagement ring, these finds are rich in history - and value.

Yes, 657 new islands discovered

Satellite images help shatter a myth about where certain types of islands can form. 


    Lance Chaney grabs hold of one of the triplet calves that one of his Angus cows delivered
    A black Angus cow in Montana is the proud mother of triplet calves.

    Communing with Nature


    Flowers Fool Flat-footed Flies by Faking Fungus-infected Foliage

     wp-image-44905A rare species of lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium fargesii) grows black spots that look like a fungus. But it’s not a fungus; it’s a feature, as Zong-Xin Ren of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found out during four years of research.
    The lady’s slippers are generally pollinated by bees but C.fargesii is different. Over many hours of observation, the only insects that Ren ever saw leaving the flowers were flat-footed flies. Ren captured four of them and when he peered at them under an electron microscope, he saw pollen grains from the orchid, and spores from a fungus called Cladosporium. This fungus infects leaves and fruits, and when it does so, it produces black mold spots. The purpose of the orchid’s black splotches was becoming clear.
    Ren also analyzed the orchid’s scent, an unpleasant fragrance reminiscent of rotting leaves. He found that the flower produces over 50 aromatic molecules that are found in other flowers, but three unusual ones that are common to Cladosporium molds.
    Like they always say, you catch more flies with fungus than with vinegar. Cypripedium fargesii is not the only orchid that attracts pollinating insects by deception, as you’ll see in the article at Not Exactly Rocket Science. The article also illustrates the importance of humorous headlines.

    Stunning space photos

    NASA points the space telescope at a rare phenomenon to celebrate the device's 21st birthday.  



    Ancient gazelle "killing zones" documented in Syria

    As reported at the BBC:
    It was slaughter on a huge scale. Hundreds of migrating gazelles would be funnelled into enclosures where they could be butchered en masse.

    It has long been suspected that the enigmatic stone structures that dot the Syrian landscape were involved in harvesting gazelles. Built perhaps as far back as 10,000 years ago, these structures display converging pairs of low stone walls.

    When British air force pilots first flew over them in the early 20th Century, they dubbed them "desert kites" because of their characteristic appearance from the air...

    Drs Bar-Oz, Melinda Zeder and Frank Hole describe in PNAS the discovery of a large deposit of gazelle bones at the site of Tell Kuran, near the town of Hasseke in the Khabur Basin. This killing pit is very close to a number of desert kites and contains thousands of gazelle parts. "It is manifest that these remains are from a catastrophic hunting episode - a full herd was killed," said Dr Bar-Oz...

    Whereas the limited activities of ancient hunter-gatherer societies may even have nurtured herds, preventing them from getting too big and damaging the landscape, this systematic removal of whole breeding groups would have rapidly reduced gazelle numbers in the Khabur Basin.

    And with kites spread right across the Near East, with large arrays in Jordan in particular, the impact on what was once an abundant wild ungulate must have been profound.
    More information at the link. I also found additional photos and descriptions of the structures here and here.  The "technology" is quite reminiscent of the North American "buffalo jumps" (see also here), and of the ancient fishing weirs found worldwide.

    Largest spider fossil found

    Scientists find the 165-million-year-old arachnid buried in China's volcanic ash.  

    Whales’ Grandeur and Grace, Up Close

    On a warm summer afternoon in 2005, Bryant Austin was snorkeling in the blue waters of the South Pacific by the islands of Tonga, looking through his camera at a humpback whale and her calf swimming less than 50 yards away. As he waited for the right moment, the playful calf swam right up to him, so close that he had to lower his camera. That’s when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.

    Turning around, Mr. Austin found himself looking straight into the eye of the mother whale, her body bigger than a school bus. The tap had come from her pectoral fin, weighing more than a ton. To Mr. Austin, her gesture was an unmistakable warning that he had gotten too close to the calf. And yet, the mother whale had extended her fin with such precision and grace — to touch the photographer without hurting him — that Mr. Austin was in awe of her “delicate restraint.”

    Duck turns up at RSPB reserve with 27 ducklings in tow

    A duck at an RSPB reserve in Renfrewshire astounded staff and visitors when she turned up with a brood of 27 ducklings in tow. The mallard has been spotted at the Lochwinnoch reserve's feeding station.

    As the usual brood size is 10-14, it is thought another duck may have laid its eggs in her nest. Manager Zul Bhatia said: "Normally, the female would reject any ducklings that weren't her own, but this one has seemingly decided to raise all 27."

    He added: "This is no small task by any means. To see 27 ducklings was a bit surprising."

    However, it seems that the duck has already lost a few ducklings to predators, as at the last count she only had 24. Lochwinnoch nature reserve is one of the last remaining wetlands in the west of Scotland.

    The Big business of 'designer dogs'

    Demand for goldendoodles, cockapoos, and puggles is spawning a whole new dog breeding industry. 

    Primordial Soup

    A short film by Kevin Fanning.

    Animal Pictures