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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.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Do everything you can to try new things today -- exploration is something that will provide you with the stimulation and fulfillment you've been waiting for.
You don't have to take on a major international expedition or anything -- simply do things in a different way and express yourself in a unique manner.
If you treat the world the same way all the time, you'll miss all those novel new paths that are waiting for you.
So keep your eyes and ears open.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
London, England, United Kingdom
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Weert, Limburg, Netherlands
Gloucester, England, United Kingdom
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Helsinki, Southern Finland, Finland
Stoke On Trent, England, United Kingdom
Gengenbach, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France

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 Laguna Niguel, Cedar Rapids, New Orleans, West Chester and more.

Today is:
Today is Friday, May 6, the 126th day of 2011.
There are 239 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:

No Diet Day
No Homework Day
No Pants Day
Tuba Day.

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

What are some things you LIKE about Americans?

Reddit asks the question  of its non-American readers.  Here are some of the answers:American_flag_background
  • The thing that stands out to me from times that I’ve visited to US is the phrase ‘Have a nice day’ and the sincerity with which Americans will say it and appear to mean it.
  • Your drive. As an Australian whose duties extend to leaving the hammock once a fortnight to grab more beer, I’m always amazed at how driven Americans are to do things. I sometimes wish I had that sort of passion for achievement.
  • Costco. Costco is amazing. I felt like Mitchell in the costco modern family episode the first time I went.
  • Imagination is an integral part of the educational system. This makes Americans IMO more interesting as adults.
  • They are charitable and often open to lending a helping hand.
  • Your breakfast items. The works with pancakes AND toast AND cornbread AND you name it. Amazing.
  • Stealth helicopters that thwart evil.
  • What do I admire most about Americans? They work hard. I know there’s the stereotype of laziness, but I think that this is inaccurate. Most Americans work their asses off, and many never complain.
  • Americans love innovation. It’s a great place to take a novel idea an run with it.
  • Americans are proud to be whoever they are, proud to be American, proud of American things. This sometimes goes too far but I wish the average Brit wasn’t so full of self loathing of themselves and their country.
  • I really like the fact that America is made up of so many cultures. If you migrate to America, you keep (and share) your old culture AND add some American. There’s no bullshit about rejecting one or the other.
  • When I was over there I noticed how easy-going, social, friendly and open people seemed to be. I like it a lot, here in Norway people seem to be much more introvert.
  • Americans contribute the biggest portion of lulz available on the internet.  
  • I like your principles, especially your interpretation/application of Voltaire’s idea that: “I don’t agree with you but I will fight for your right to say it.”
  • Most Americans are ridiculously good looking. I like that.
  • Your military is what really keeps us safe, because ours is completely irrelevant.
  • I love that you can hold such a huge amount of cultural diversity within a single national identity.
  • Can do attitude and frontier spirit, Canadians have it too but Americans are a little bit more badass (for better or worse)
  • Almost all Americans I’ve met have been really nice persons and not like those fat gun loving muslim bashing health care hating abortion-doctor-killing death penalty loving guys we see on the news every other day.
  • Your contributions towards the ongoing development of the internet, for without it, I would have to talk to real people.
  • McChickens in Boston were only $1. In Canada they’re $4.19.
The complete list

Non Sequitur


Just when you thought the repugicans couldn't stoop any lower

Every time you think they could not stoop any lower! They manage it ...
Now the repugicans are complaining about Obama taking a 'victory lap at ground zero.' This is the same party that moved their party convention to New York City so that they could use Ground Zero as a backdrop. And the shrub is the guy who put on a military uniform to prance around on an aircraft carrier and declare "mission accomplished" eight years before Bin Laden was nailed.
The reason Obama went to Ground Zero is simple and obvious: He was reminding the world of what OBL did, that he murdered thousands of civilians.

Waiting till the tenth anniversary of 9/11 would not have had the same effect. Going to the Pentagon would have obscured the message that OBL and his followers murdered civilians.

OBL's death does not mean the end of Al Qaeda, but it could lead to their former allies abandoning them. The main sticking point in the negotiations attempting to end the Afghan war is that the US will not accept any Taleban involvement unless they renounce Al Qaeda.

That is rather easier for them to do now that OBL is dead. I note that many people who know better are talking down Zawahiri's role in Al Qaeda, I suspect that is part of a strategy. The Taleban may even be willing to sell out Al Zawahiri (if they are able to) if that will get the US out of the country.
Remember what I always say: repugicans accuse everyone else of what they do. Which has a number of benefits [for them that is], including: 1) It deflects attention away from what they're doing; 2) It scares others away from ever doing what they're doing, and reaping the same benefits.

Dimbulb, like all repugicans, just makes shit up

Dimbulb: "I, Me, My... 3 of the most used words in President Obama's media appearance"

The truth be told


Life satisfaction, state intervention go hand in hand

People living in countries with governments that have a greater number of social services report being more satisfied with life, according to a study by a Baylor University researcher.
Well, that explains why the wingnuts are like they are - they can't be satisfied.

American Healthcare


Record floods swamp 8 states

A slow-motion disaster triggered by the overflowing Mississippi River threatens millions.  

Redneck Games




What Do Bosses Do All Day?

Besides pestering you with thankless tasks, what exactly do CEOs do all day? Thanks to a new Harvard Business School study, now we know:
Researchers asked the chief executives of 94 Italian firms to have their assistants record their activities for a week. You may take this with a grain of salt. Is the boss’s assistant a neutral observer? If the boss spends his lunch hour boozing, or in a motel with his assistant, will she record this truthfully? Nonetheless, here are the results.
The average Italian boss works for 48 hours a week and spends 60% of that time in meetings. The most diligent put in another 20 hours. And the longer they work, the better the company does.
Less diligent chief executives are more likely to have one-to-one meetings with people from outside the company. The authors speculate that such people are trying to raise their own profile, perhaps to secure a better job. Bosses who work longer hours, by contrast, spend more of them meeting their own employees.

Things They Won't Tell You

Your office mates may secretly resent you for bringing in fattening treats.

Where workers are scarce

U.S. manufacturers are scrambling to fill positions that pay $50,000 to $80,000, plus benefits.  

Homes to sell for $1 down

A Florida developer raises fears with a plan to offer $150,000 houses for buyers with a buck. 

Ways to pay less for gas

Avoid stations near the highway, which charge 10 to 15 cents extra per gallon. 

Feeling sorry for yourself ... break out the plastic

People shop for high status items when they’re feeling low, and they’re more likely to make those expensive purchases on credit, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science.
When self-esteem is threatened, people pay with credit cards

Road to Nowhere


Food prices higher due to warmer climate

But wait, climate change doesn't really exist so there must be a mistake.
Global warming has already harmed the world's food production and has driven up food prices by as much as 20% over recent decades, new research has revealed.

The drop in the productivity of crop plants around the world was not caused by changes in rainfall but was because higher temperatures can cause dehydration, prevent pollination and lead to slowed photosynthesis.

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, Washington DC, said the findings indicate a turning point: "Agriculture as it exists today evolved over 11,000 years of reasonably stable climate, but that climate system is no more." Adaptation is difficult because our knowledge of the future is not strong enough to drive new investments, he said, "so we just keep going, hoping for the best."

Generating Electricity with Whiskey

Photo: Murdo MacleodWhisky. Is there anything it can’t do? Here’s what the Scots are going to do with the byproducts of whisky-making process:
It is the spirit that powers the Scottish economy, and now whiskey is to be used to create electricity for homes in a new bioenergy venture involving some of Scotland’s best-known distilleries.
Contracts have recently been awarded for the construction of a biomass combined heat and power plant at Rothes in Speyside that by 2013 will use the by-products of the whiskey-making process for energy production.
Vast amounts of "draff", the spent grains used in the distilling process, and pot ale, a residue from the copper stills, are produced by the whiskey industry each year and are usually transported off-site. The Rothes project, a joint venture between Helius Energy and the Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) will burn the draff with woodchips to generate enough electricity to supply 9,000 homes. It will be supplied by Aalborg Energie Technick, a danish engineering company. The pot ale will be made into a concentrated organic fertilizer and an animal feed for use by local farmers.
Sure gives a new spin on "drunk with power," doesn’t it?

Odds and Sods

Talk about a robust wine. A 500-year-old grapevine, an ancestor of Austria's storied gruner veltliner, has survived a vandal's attack and is sending out new shoots after being hacked into pieces two months ago.

Pricey miniature airport

A miniature version of Hamburg's airport goes on display in Germany after 6 years of construction.

Pakistani Homemade Machine Gun Market

From the folks at Vice Magazine comes this mini documentary on the Pakistani Homemade Machine gun market. It gives an in depth look (with photos and video) of how arms are created, bought and sold in that part of the world.
The bulk of Pakistan’s homemade automatic weapons and explosive devices are forged, built and sold at Darra Adamkhel, a village located near Peshawar where main street is an open-air arms market.

Mind-boggling optical illusions

Watch — and be amazed — as these cute bugs appear to move before your eyes.

'God of Silence' Statues Give Few Hints About Origins

More lost artifacts are being returned to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo -- some of which the museum never owned.  

Paper announces discovery of 1 of earliest minerals formed in solar system

In the May-June issue of the journal American Mineralogist, a team of scientists announced the discovery of the new mineral krotite, one of the earliest minerals formed in our solar system.

It is the main component of an unusual inclusion embedded in …

Stay Up Late, Get Up Early to Catch Shooting Stars

Halley's Comet debris will light up the sky late Thursday and into early Friday morning.

How Many Intelligent Aliens are Out There?

Drake Equation
Mark Thompson explores the famous Drake Equation and estimates how many communicating extraterrestrials could be out there.



Listeria has evolved to live in your fridge

Cold cuts are pretty much delicious little hostels for listeria—a bacteria that can cause serious food poisoning, and even kill vulnerable populations like babies, the elderly, and the sick.

That's why doctors advise pregnant women to not eat them, and why the CDC suggests that older people reheat their "cold" cuts to 165 degrees before eating them.

Why are listeria able to get such a foothold on a food product that's already been cooked, and that is generally stored in refrigerators? Shouldn't those two factors impede bacterial growth?

Turns out, this is another case where we have evolution to thank for a public health predicament. Listeria has actually adapted to survive at refrigerator temperatures.

So, all it takes is some improper handling of the meat, somewhere along the production chain, and a little listeria can bloom—inside your fridge—into a potentially serious problem.

Infectious polio virus stolen during car hijacking

A shipment of potentially infectious polio virus destined for a South African research center is missing after the vehicle carrying it was hijacked in Johannesburg.

The potentially deadly virus is considered a biohazard, said South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), though the government research center downplayed the threat of a polio outbreak.

"The risk is fairly small, but we'd like to advise that if the package was found for the public not to tamper with it. Simply return it to the NICD or to the police," said Adrian Puren, deputy director of NICD.

He said there was no risk the package could be used in a terrorist attack and that the carjackers who stole the courier vehicle carrying it probably did not realize what the box contained – stool specimens from the Congo being sent to the NICD for polio testing. The NICD said the vehicle was stolen on Tuesday and later recovered, but that the specimen shipment was missing.

Monkeys Born With AIDS-Blocking Gene

The gene, identified as TRIM5, appears to offer protection from the deadly virus.

Oceans Could Rise 5 Feet by 2100

Melting ice and snow due to climate change has already accounted for 40 percent of recent increases in ocean levels.

Nice to meet you

How's the wife and kids?

One can never be too polite, you know.

Battle Scars Discovered on Dino-Era Sea Monster

The battle scars on the remains of a 120-million-year-old marine reptile suggest ocean life during the time of the dinosaurs was rough.  

Chimps have a language all there own


Wild chimpanzees use at least 66 distinct gestures to communicate with each other, according to scientists. Earth News

Amazon dolphins recover from drought

Pink river dolphin in the Samiria River - November 2010  
Pink dolphins are intelligent like their distant cousins, the sea dolphins
Several months ago, parts of the Amazon rainforest were in the grip of one of the most severe droughts on record.

Scientists Create All-Female Species of Lizard

New all-female lizards, bred in the lab in one generation

We've all heard about those weird lizard species that are all-female and breed parthenogenically—basically, they clone themselves. But how long does it take for natural selection to evolve a species into that state? Apparently, not real long at all. It's just luck of the draw on having the right parents.
In a lab in Kansas, Aracely Lutes has created a new species of all-female lizard that reproduces by cloning itself. There wasn't any genetic engineering involved; Lutes did it with just a single round of breeding ...
Some groups are exceptionally good at making hybrids. ... The North American whiptail lizards (Aspidoscelis) are grandmasters at it. The genomes of the living lizards testify to their weird origins, but it's much harder to actually witness these beginnings. When scientists find first-generation hybrid whiptails in the wild, they're almost always sterile. One group even spent 29 years trying to breed a new hybrid species in the lab, a project that involved 230 lizards, nine species, five sterile hybrids, and zero success.
There has been one tantalizing exception to this catalog of failure. In 1967, William Neaves (who was also involved in this new study) described two eggs that had been laid by a hybrid lizard, the offspring of a Western whiptail (A.inornata) and a Chihuahuan spotted whiptail (A.exsanguis; itself a hybrid). The lizard seemed fertile, but its eggs dried out before they could hatch. No one could prove that the hybrid would truly have raised viable young.
But that was enough for Lutes. She set about trying to breed a hybrid whiptail, using the same combination of parent species that Neaves described.
She succeeded.

Who needs males when you have parthenogenesis? With a little help from science, biologist Peter Baumann and colleagues have created an all-female lizard species:
Researchers have bred a new species of all-female lizard, mimicking a process that has happened naturally in the past but has never been directly observed.
“It’s recreating the events that lead to new species,” said cell biologist Peter Baumann of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, whose new species is described May 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “It relates to the question of how these unisexual species arise in the first place.”

Gray Wolf Removed From Endangered Species List

gray wolf
The 1,300 gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain region are considered recovered and are losing federal protection.  

Animal Pictures