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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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
When you see someone who needs help today, do what you can to lend a hand (even if you don't get any credit for it).
Let your compassionate side come out for a while, and you'll soon feel how empowering it can be to sacrifice your time and energy for someone else's sake.
Your selfless side needs to get in better balance with your more self-oriented side.
Let it remind you of the value of connecting with people who aren't as fortunate as you.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuatan, Pahang, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Athens, Attiki, Greece
London, Ontario, Canada
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, 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 Rockford, Kalamazoo, Sommerville, Syracuse and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, April 30, the 121st day of 2011.
There are 234 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
Bugs Bunny Day
National Honesty Day
Penguin Day
Pinhole Photography Day
Sense of Smell Day.

It is also the Beltane Festival!
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Washington, DC
After the worst recession since the Great Depression, our economy is growing again, and we’ve gained almost 2 million private sector jobs over the last 13 months. But I also know that a lot of folks aren’t feeling as positive as some of those statistics might suggest. It’s still too hard to find a job. And even if you have a job, chances are you’re having a tougher time paying the rising costs of everything from groceries to gas. In some places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying upwards of $50 or $60 to fill up your tank.
Of course, while rising gas prices mean real pain for our families at the pump, they also mean bigger profits for oil companies. This week, the largest oil companies announced that they’d made more than $25 billion in the first few months of 2011 – up about 30 percent from last year.
Now, I don’t have a problem with any company or industry being rewarded for their success. The incentive of healthy profits is what fuels entrepreneurialism and helps drives our economy forward. But I do have a problem with the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies we’ve been handing out to oil and gas companies – to the tune of $4 billion a year. When oil companies are making huge profits and you’re struggling at the pump, and we’re scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren’t right. They aren’t smart. And we need to end them.
That’s why, earlier this week, I renewed my call to Congress to stop subsidizing the oil and gas industries.  Understand, I’m not opposed to producing oil. I believe that if we’re serious about meeting our energy challenge, we need to operate on all cylinders, and that means pursuing a broad range of energy policies, including safe and responsible oil production here at home. In fact, last year, America’s oil production reached its highest level since 2003.
But I also believe that instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, we should invest in tomorrow’s – and that’s what we’ve been doing. Already, we’ve seen how the investments we’re making in clean energy can lead to new jobs and new businesses. I’ve seen some of them myself – small businesses that are making the most of solar and wind power, and energy-efficient technologies; big companies that are making fuel-efficient cars and trucks part of their vehicle fleets. And to promote these kinds of vehicles, we implemented historic new fuel-economy standards, which could save you as much as $3,000 at the pump.
Now, I know that in this tough fiscal environment, it’s tempting for some in Washington to want to cut our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is if we cut the things we don’t, and live within our means. But I refuse to cut things like clean energy that will help America win the future by growing our economy and creating good-paying jobs; that will help make America more secure; and that will help clean up our planet in the process. An investment in clean energy today is an investment in a better tomorrow. And I think that’s an investment worth making. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.

Today is Beltane

April 30th / May 1 - Beltane
Also known as Roodmas or May Day
Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane.  It is one of eight solar Sabbats.  This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire,but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing).  Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May day, whiles others begin their celebration the eve before or April 30th. Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.

In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.

The Christian religion had only a poor substitute for the life-affirming Maypole -- namely, the death-affirming cross. Hence, in the Christian calendar, this was celebrated as 'Roodmas'. In Germany, it was the feast of Saint Walpurga, or 'Walpurgisnacht'. An alternative date around May 5 (Old Beltane), when the sun reaches 15 degrees Taurus, is sometimes employed by Covens. (Both 'Lady Day' and 'Ostara' are names incorrectly assigned to this holiday by some modern traditions of Wicca.)

The May pole was a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. To celebrate, a wedding feast, for the God and Goddess must be prepared. Let Them guide you! Breads and cereals are popular. Try oatmeal cakes or cookies sweetened with a dab of honey. Dairy foods are again appropriate...just make a lovely wedding feast and you are sure to enjoy yourself! An early morning walk through a local park or forest could be fun for everyone. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Mom and daughter could braid their hair, and weave in a few tender blossoms.

Blessed Be!

The Gael


Non Sequitur


Gaddafi forces cross into Tunisia

It was limited, but not a very good sign.
The Libyan civil war briefly spilled into Tunisia yesterday as the west of the country saw heavy fighting on two fronts and NATO reported that Muammar Gaddafi's forces were laying anti-shipping mines in the sea off Misrata.

Pro-Gaddafi troops made incursions over the border into Tunisia in a battle to retake a key crossing from rebel hands, drawing condemnation from Tunis.

Libyan soldiers were captured by Tunisian forces after firing indiscriminately in clashes that lasted about 90 minutes, according to reports. Witnesses said three Tunisians were injured.

Protests continue in Syria as government violence escalates

If the reports are true, it is at least good news that the number of protesters is at least holding steady and possibly increasing. Violence by Assad's security forces continues as well.

The Guardian:
Thousands of Syrians defied their government's bloody attempts to suppress protests, braving gunfire from security forces to demonstrate in Damascus and across the country.

At least 42 people were killed, most of them in the opposition stronghold of Deraa, where villagers tried to break through the security cordon to relieve its besieged population.

Further deaths were reported in Latakia and Homs after the security forces opened fire on demonstrators. There was news of protests in 50 towns and villages including Hama, Aleppo, the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias, Deir Ezzor in the east, and Qamishli in the north-east. Unrest was also reported on the Syria-Jordan border, which is straddled by the Haurani tribes.

Uganda anti-government protests put dictator at risk

Oh deary me. The repugicans must be worried since their poster child for loony christian beliefs is in trouble. The wingnut christian cabal always loved referencing various nutty policies from Uganda. What loon will they turn to next?

The Guardian:
In Uganda there is an inchoate revolution struggling to be born. Protests have spread to several towns, leaving seven people dead and hundreds in jail. The riots, in which roads have been barricaded with burning tires and vehicles pelted with rocks, mark a new level of defiance. Facebook and Twitter, which the government unsuccessfully tried to block, are reverberating with dissent. Museveni's heavy-handed attempts to put out the fire only appear to be fanning its flames.

The subversion here began on 11 April with nothing so spectacular as an act of self-immolation: rather, a defeated politician and half a dozen allies walking down a street. The walk to work campaign is intended to highlight the soaring food and fuel prices, which leave many Ugandans unable to afford public transport.

If Besigye, who has lost three elections to Museveni, had been ignored the protest might have fizzled out. But instead riot police blocked the group, used teargas and arrested him. At a stroke this waning establishment figure was reborn as a hero of resistance.

Wizard of Id


Repugicans have a problem with Democracy

And this is surprising, how?

Donald "China is raping this country" Trump's line of hideously ugly clothes are made in China

"China is raping this country," Mr. Trump said, adding that the United States has fallen short on technology and innovation.

Tax, spending divisions laid bare in public forums

Peter Cass could stand it no longer as he listened to the repugican defend a plan to cut taxes and Medicare simultaneously.

Oil profits rise with prices

As oil companies report huge gains, President Obama renews his plan to end their tax breaks.  

Big Oil blames government for high oil prices

OK, for starters, let's scrap every last free handout for Big Oil tomorrow since taxpayers are supporting billions per year in tax breaks for that industry. Then let's have a deeper look at how Big Oil invests money to destroy climate change initiatives that might have an impact on how Americans view the oil industry. After that we can dig in deeper to look at how Big Oil does their best to eliminate any ideas that might move people away from oil and onto alternative energies.
It's a pity Congress and the White House are so afraid of taking this destructive industry on. Someone needs to step in and end this blamestorming Bull Shit.
Shortly after posting first-quarter earnings of nearly $11 billion Thursday, Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) issued a defensive statement arguing that it's not to blame for $4 gas. The company put part of the blame for soaring oil and gas prices on the U.S. government.

"For every gallon of gasoline and other products we refined and sold in the United States, we earned about 7 cents," said a statement from Exxon vice president Ken Cohen. "Compare that to the 40 to 60 cents per cents per gallon that went to the government (state and federal) in gasoline taxes."

The industry's top lobbyist also went on the offensive, saying the earnings that these companies reported this week reflect a strong economy and are a boon for investors, including many pension funds.

"The U.S. oil and natural gas industry's strong earnings signal growing strength in our economy," said Jack Gerard, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute. He said Americans "should be proud" of an industry that supports millions of jobs and provides income for retirees who have shares of profitable oil companies in their retirement accounts.
No, oil is expensive not because of the strength of the economy, but because of the weakness of the US dollar.

Crude Oil Chemical Linked to Heart Defect in Babies

baby nursery
For the first time, scientists have shown that exposure to a compound in crude oil is associated with congenital heart disease.  

And I Quote

"A new study found that Americans spend $1.2 trillion every year on stuff they don’t need. Or as Republicans call it: health care."
~ Jimmy Fallon

Did you know ...



Roman 'murder victim' unearthed

The body of a girl thought to have been murdered by Roman soldiers is discovered by archaeologists in southeast England.

Green moon

We've all heard about the green flash of the Sun, a phenomenon where, just for a moment, the light from a setting or rising Sun appears green, rather than the customary red, pink, or gold. It happens when Earth's atmosphere separates the wavelengths of light coming from the Sun in just the right way.
The image above is the one of the best known photographs of the green flash of the Moon. Yes, the Moon can flash green, too. But it's a lot harder to spot. Engineers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile took this series of photos.

A Geography Puzzle

Computer scientist Haym Hirsh wrote this puzzle. See if you can figure it out:
I am in one of the great capitals of Europe. I just learned that Bob, Carl, and I are in countries that share physical borders with each other. The official language of Bob’s country is Dutch, and Carl’s is Portuguese. It is 9:00am local time for both Bob and Carl.
Now: What is Hirsh’s local time?
You can view eight other good puzzles by Hirsh at the link.

Ruth Law, an early aviatrix

Bought her first airplane from Orville Wright in 1912 at age 21. 
First woman to do a loop-de-loop.   
First woman authorized to wear a uniform by the U.S. Military.

Ten Natural Wonders To See Before They Disappear

You've heard the grim timelines: if warming continues, the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached by 2030; glaciers in the Swiss Alps, on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and in Glacier National Park will disappear in under 40 years; and Arctic ice melt will send polar bears into extinction. The immediacy of these timelines prompts flocks of curious eco-tourists to travel to environmentally fragile areas.
Here are 10 areas under threat - some lesser known than others - that can still be visited responsibly.





Bonobos 'chat' about good foods

Upping the cute factor


Little chimp proves smarter than human baby after 1 year

Back in 1931, Gua the chimpanzee was raised as though she were a human child by scientists Winthrop N. Kellogg and Luella A. Kellogg alongside their son Donald. Gua and Donald were raised as brother and sister. In tests Gua often tested ahead of Donald in reading and understanding.

Slight differences in their placement included people recognition. Gua recognized people from their clothes and their smell while Donald recognized them by their faces.

The parting difference came with language. Donald was about 16 months and Gua was a little over a year old when they had language testing. Gua could not speak, but Donald could form words.

When Donald began to copy Gua's sounds the experiment ended. On March 28, 1932, nine months into it the Kelloggs officially ended the experiment. Gua was returned to the primate center with Dr. Robert Mearns Yerkes in Florida.

There's a longer video here.

Pigs have 'evolved to love mud'

Pig in mud (Image: Science Photo Library)Pigs have 'evolved to love mud'

A scientist is suggesting that a pig's love of mud is more than just a way to keep cool.

Animal Pictures

The Three Graces