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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.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Sometimes the road you're traveling on gets shrouded in fog.
If that happens, don't pull over and wait for the weather to clear.
Time is not to be wasted -- keep going, slowly but surely, on the same path.
If you let little things stop you from where you want to go (or what you want to accomplish), your confidence will take a beating.
Soon enough, you'll see a clear sign that will put your fears to rest and your mind at ease.
You were on the right path the whole time.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Gloucester, England, United Kingdom
Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Weert, Limburg, Netherlands
Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, 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 Lamoine, Chandler, Brick, Dallas and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, May 4, the 124th day of 2011.
There are 241 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:

The Great American Grump Out
and
Respect For Chickens Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Rare twin waterspouts

The sight of two water funnels off the coast of Oahu sends some seeking cameras instead of shelter.
Also: 

The most stolen cars and trucks

One car company makes the two models that thieves covet most. 
Also: 

Marijuana Grannies

California women ages 65, 72 facing marijuana charges
Two women described by a prosecutor as "marijuana grannies" were jailed on allegations that they were growing hundreds of pot plants in their San Bruno home, authorities said Tuesday.

John Ashcroft is Blackwater's new ethics chief

Talk about sick jokes ...

Seriously.  

From WIRED:
The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.
First order of business? Cover up all those nude statues.

Aaron Rents spying on customers

A major furniture rental chain has software on its computers that lets it track the keystrokes, screenshots and even webcam images of customers while they use the devices at home, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Wyoming couple who said they learned about the PC Rental Agent "device and/or software" inside the computer they rented last year when an Aaron's Inc. store manager in Casper came to their home on Dec. 22.

The manager tried to repossess the computer because he mistakenly believed the couple hadn't finished paying for it, the couple said. Brian Byrd, 26, said the manager showed him a picture of Byrd using the computer — taken by the computer's webcam. The image was shot with the help of spying software, which the lawsuit contends is made by North East, Pa.-based Designerware LLC and is installed on all Aaron's rental computers.


Ziggy

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UN could bring "crimes against humanity" charges in Libya

The ICC could find itself very busy throughout north Africa and the Middle East in the coming months.

Al Jazeera:
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says he has unearthed "enough evidence" to pursue up to five warrants for crimes against humanity committed by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo made the announcement on Tuesday, a day before he was to brief the UN Security Council on his investigation into alleged crimes committed by Gaddafi's forces.

Gaddafi's forces have been battling rebels who are seeking to end the Libyan leader's more than 40-year rule. The fighting has resulted in human misery and led to allegations of excesses being committed against civilians.

Bahrain government arresting and jailing doctors and nurses who helped injured protesters

Several doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during months of unrest in Bahrain have been charged with acts against the state and will be tried in a military court, the justice minister has said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa, the justice minister, read the charges against the medical staff, which included "promoting efforts to bring down the government'' and "harming the public by spreading false news.''

Al Khalifa also said that another 23 doctors and 24 nurses faced charges included participating in attempts to topple the Gulf island's Sunni monarchy and taking part in illegal rallies.



Did you know ...

Osama bin Laden's will states his children must not join al Qaeda.
Funny thing that ...

The Ghost of bin Laden

They dumped his body in the ocean, but I suspect the ghost of Osama bin Laden will hover over repugican super-hawks for some time to come as a stinging rebuke to their incompetence.

When they might have captured Osama nine years ago, they let him slip away.

They launched two incoherent wars in his name.

They used Osama’s phantom existence as a pretext for restarting the cold war with borderless possibilities.

This great nation mobilized its awesome military resources to engage in a bellicose version of Where’s Waldo?

Arctic ice melting at faster rate than projected

Now that Washington is full of climate change deniers, problems like this will go nowhere. If it was January, they'd be making jokes about the weather again in their home town. Classy people, those new repugicans. Clever too.

Al Jazeera:
The study released on Tuesday by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) said there is a "need for greater urgency" in fighting global warming as record temperatures have led to the increased rate of melting.

The AMAP report said the corresponding rise in water levels will directly threaten low-lying coastal areas such as Florida and Bangladesh, but would also affect islands and cities from London to Shanghai. The report says it will also increase the cost of rebuilding tsunami barriers in Japan.

"The past six years (until 2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic," said the report.

"In the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9 meters to 1.6 meters by 2100 and the loss of ice from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet will make a substantial contribution," it added.

The truth be told

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Repugican House believes every rich white male deserves a lawyer, but if you're a poor woman beaten by your husband, sayonara

ThinkProgress notes the hypocrisy of the repugicans in Congress claim that every bigoted piece of legislation deserves a lawyer when they don't believe that actual human beings, especially poor people and women beaten by their husbands, deserves lawyers.
Sensenbrenner’s argument that “everyone deserves a lawyer” may be noble, but it is also hypocritical. Republicans have recently stripped nearly $16 million from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which defends tenants against slum lords, helps women obtain court orders against abusive husbands, protects consumers against exploitative lenders, or to otherwise provides legal representation to Americans who can’t afford it. As Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) quipped, “I’m delighted to hear the observation of the gentleman from Wisconsin — that everyone is entitled to a lawyer — and I look forward to his support of greatly increased appropriations for legal services and legal aid so that people who need lawyers in this country can get it.”

Get a load of this ...

400 individuals earn 10% of all capital gains in the U.S.
Wow.

Paul Krugman:
One of the more interesting documents published by the IRS — I know, I know, not the hardest criterion in the world — is its report on the income and taxes of the top 400 taxpayers (pdf). A lot of attention gets focused, rightly, on the remarkably low average tax rate these people pay — less than 17 percent in 2007, the lowest on record.

But I was struck by something else: in several years during the last decade the top 400 accounted for more than 10 percent of all capital gains income in America. Just 400 people!
You don't have to posit a Bilderberg Club, or whatever, to realize that these guys all know each other and hang out together. It's a whole lot easier for a couple dozen billionaires to get coordinated than millions of Democrats. The billionaires can do it after golf.

By the way, I'm willing to bet the guys at the IRS who released that report will be getting a little phone call. Any takers?

You're richer than you think

Most people make a big mistake when estimating how much they’re worth.
Also: 

Ten reasons to quit your job

Most people get into their jobs for all the wrong reasons, one financial expert says.
Also: 

He's a Dead Man

Perhaps you've heard of the man who thought he was dead? In reality he was very much alive. His delusion became such a problem that his family finally paid for him to see a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist spent many laborious sessions trying to convince the man he was still alive.

Nothing seemed to work.

Finally the doctor tried one last approach. He took out his medical books and proceeded to show the patient that dead men don't bleed. After hours of tedious study, the patient seemed convinced that dead men don't bleed.

"Do you now agree that dead men don't bleed?" the doctor asked.

"Yes, I do," the patient replied.

"Very well, then," the doctor said.

He took out a pin and pricked the patient's finger. Out came a trickle of blood. The doctor asked, "What does that tell you?"

"Oh my goodness!" the patient exclaimed as he stared incredulously at his finger ... "Dead men do bleed!!"

Non Sequitur

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Foods with healing powers

The nutrients in kiwifruit and cherries help your body fight off heart disease, even cancer.  
Also: 

New cotton candy-like glass fibers appear to speed healing in venous stasis wound trial

Imagine a battlefield medic or emergency medical technician providing first aid with a special wad of cottony glass fibers that simultaneously slows bleeding, fights bacteria (and other sources of infection), stimulates the body’…
New cotton candy-like glass fibers appear to speed healing in venous stasis wound trial

Six things I learned on a yoga retreat

How to look 2 inches taller

Develop a long, lean dancer's body with these three simple back strengtheners.  
Also: 

Nine top theme park thrills

Brave souls zoom from zero to 128 mph in just over three seconds on one thrilling ride. 
Also: 

The Amazing Origin of Silly Putty

Silly Putty was invented by accident when GE engineer James Wright was working to develop new types of rubber for the US military during World War II.
Wright spent over a year experimenting with different combinations of chemical compounds, hoping to produce a synthetic, “hard rubber” silicone that could withstand the high heat of jet engines or the freezing cold of nights on Navy ships. Towards the end of the summer in 1943, he and his team tried adding boron nitride as filler to an experimental silicone compound. But the scientists then learned that the substance they thought was boron nitride was actually a mixture of other chemical compounds, including boric acid. So they tried adding just boric acid.
The rest, as they say, is history. The resulting substance was gooey, not hard. Frustrated, Wright threw the goop onto the floor and to his surprise, it bounced right back up at him. A reporter from the Saturday Evening Post described the scene in a story (which, alas, is not online): “‘Golly,’ the scientist exclaimed as he dropped a ball of silicone putty, ‘look at it bounce!’”
They weren’t sure what to do with the stuff, but they had fun playing with it. Read how this mistake became the classic putty toy we all know and love.

Acupuncture needle removed from lung of former South Korean president

The former president of South Korea was admitted to hospital with a bad cough only to end up on the operating table to remove an acupuncture needle from his right lung.

Roh Tae-woo, 78, who served as South Korean president from 1988 to 1993, has been in poor health since 2002 when he received surgery for prostate cancer.


He was released from Seoul National University Hospital on Monday after surgery to remove the 2.6 inch needle. Doctors are puzzled how the needle ended up in his lung, and acupuncturists say that none of their procedures involved penetrating the lung.

"I can't figure out how the needle got into there," Dr Sung Myung-whun said at the hospital after the operation. "It is a mystery for me, too."

After giving out tickets traffic wardens park in disabled space so they can do their shopping

Pam Speakes snapped these traffic wardens parked in a disabled space while they popped into Tesco in Oldham to do their shopping. Minutes earlier, the wardens had issued 21 tickets to inappropriately parked cars at Dovestone Reservoir in Greenfield.

Pam said: “I understand the wardens are just doing their job but this takes the biscuit. Three of them arrived in one car on Monday afternoon so they must have known they would get the chance to issue a load of tickets. Most of the drivers had paid for tickets but they were forced to park in places outside the marked bays as it was so busy. Parking is notoriously bad up there but no one was causing an obstruction so it seems really mean spirited to issue so many parking tickets.


“I could understand if these cars had been obstructing a main route in the town centre but they weren’t causing any problems at all. And then to see the wardens parked in a disabled bay at Tesco Greenfield just seemed so hypocritical. I know they have a pass to park in certain places when they are issuing tickets but they weren’t, the driver had nipped in to do some shopping.”

Tim Cowen of NSL, which provides parking enforcement for Oldham Council, said: “Our job is to encourage people to park their cars properly so we are extremely disappointed that one of our staff has failed to do so. It is not acceptable for anyone to park in a disabled bay unless they are genuinely disabled, and we apologise for this incident and assure the public that we have taken this matter very seriously.”

Awesome Pictures

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Twelve Societies That Vanished In Mystery

Why would a flourishing civilization, advanced for its time, suddenly cease to exist, its inhabitants gone and its architecture abandoned?

Conspiracy theorists offer all manner of offbeat explanations including alien abduction, but usually the causes were likely more mundane: natural disasters, climate change, invasions and economic irrelevance.

Still, we don't know - and likely never will - exactly what happened to bring about the end of the Khmer Empire of Cambodia, the Minoan society of Crete or two ancient civilizations in the United States.

Heidelberg Man Links Humans, Neanderthals

Heidelberg Man
What was thought to be a cousin turns out to be parent on the human evolutionary family tree.  

The Original 'Snow Man'

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Alien planet's fast - and nearly as dense as lead

A simulation of the silhouette of planet 55 Cancri e transiting its parent star, compared with the Earth and Jupiter transiting our sun, as seen from outside the solar system.

Rotating Sunspots Triggered Massive Solar Flare

An image of the sun on Feb. 15, 2011, using composite data of the sun's surface from SDO/HMI and the sun's corona from SDO/AIA. The cutout region shows the five rotating sunspots of the active region , and the bright release of light from the X-class solar flare.

B.C.

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Chimps Are Self Aware

male chimp
The finding challenges assumptions about the boundary between humans and non-human animals.  

Giant ants spread in warm climes

The discovery of fossil ants as big as small birds shows they crossed between continents during warm periods in Earth history, scientists say.

Ancient Protein Found in Sea Lizard Fossil

Preserved tissues from an extinct marine lizard fossil show that even sea-loving animals can keep their collagen cool under pressure.

Italy's Rare Bear in Losing Battle Against Extinction

marsican brown bear photo  
In the forests of Italy's Abruzzo National Park live one of the rarest creatures on Earth: the Marsican brown bear. For the last several decades the species has been on the brink of extinction -- with current estimates putting their population at less than 50 individuals, down from over 100 in the early 1980s. Recently, a program funded by the EU set out to help preserve the threatened animals, though a sad event today suggests that it may not be enough.
Article continues: Italy's Rare Bear in Losing Battle Against Extinction

Farming Bison to Regenerate a North American Breed

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Image credit: Food Curated
A few days ago I posted a video from inside a humane slaughter house. It seems film maker Liza de Guia of Food Curated has a talent for thoughtful, intelligent pieces on the ethics and practicalities of food production, and in particular the question of why and how we raise animals for food. This earlier video, for example, takes a look at the renaissance of the North American bison, talking to one bison farmer who is helping to bring this beast back from near extinction.
Article continues: Farming Bison to Regenerate a North American Breed (Video)

Animal Pictures

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