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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.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks of your life?
It might do you some good to trim back on your lifestyle.
If you pare things down to just the bare necessities, you'll find that life can be a lot simpler than you thought.
This self-imposed hectic energy is not good for the relationships you're trying to build.
People don't need fancy surroundings or scheduled itineraries.
They just need you.
So clear your schedule, make a lunch date -- and keep it simple!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Gloucester, England, United Kingdom
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Berne, Bern, Switzerland
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 Folsom, Gowrie, Utica, Boise and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, May 16, the 136th day of 2011.
There are 229 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Sea Monkey Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Tales of North Carolina's gutsy twins still go on

They were born 200 years ago this month and became North Carolina's most famous homesteaders. They were superstar performers better known in their day than Abraham Lincoln. They toured the globe and were received by royalty.

Their names were Chang and Eng Bunker, but you know them as the Siamese Twins.
Though their relationship would later unravel, Eng, left, and Chang Bunker were a sensation for their era.

North Carolina groups try to curb public records access

The 2010 law brought to light misconduct by CMPD officers, along with teachers, others.

Groups representing counties, sheriffs and school boards are fighting a North Carolina law that opens more personnel records of government workers to the public.

The law took effect last year and led to the disclosure of disciplinary actions against police officers, teachers and other local and state employees, as well as salary information.

Among the revelations: Six Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers were fired in the last five years for misbehavior such as domestic assault, lying in court and filing a false police report, according to documents released by the department.

The officer who lied in court caused the dismissal of more than 100 cases because of credibility problems. Another officer was fired after he allegedly assaulted three women and had sex in a cemetery with a fellow officer while on duty.
But groups who want to limit the law say much of the newly available information should no longer be public.

Wrong! They should be made more easily accessible to the public!

Texas close to banning TSA searches, TSA invents desperate new constitutional interpretations

The Texas House of Representatives just passed a bill banning TSA searches without probable cause ("A person who is a public servant [acting under color of his office or employment] commits an offense if the person: (2) while acting under color of the person's office or employment without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense: (A) performs a search for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation;). The TSA has responded with headless chicken hysteria, making up gradeschool misinterpretations of the nature of US federalism.
This time, the TSA is on the defensive, and published an official statement about the Texas bill on their blog: "What's our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government. " The problem here? The statement is false. Ignorance from the TSA is unlikely, so I'll call a spade a spade. They're lying.

Shuttle lifts off on historic flight

Gabrielle Giffords looks on as husband Mark Kelly leads the next-to-last shuttle trip into space.  

Walls at Vicksburg strain as Mississippi River tops record

The temporary walls erected at Vicksburg to hold back floodwaters were under fresh strain on Sunday as Mississippi River water levels set new records.

Overwhelming junk donations

Mountains of broken toys and other useless items create new headaches.  

The wingnuts' 'Big Lie' Strategy

The wingnuts's 'Big Lie' Strategy: 
When Losing, Simply Rewrite History

Contemporary wingnuts aim to disseminate an alternate version of reality through the media echo chamber and the schools.

ICC to issue war crimes arrest warrant today for Gaddafi

The Independent:
The international Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is today expected to formally seek the arrest of Muammar Gaddafi for crimes linked to the brutal suppression of demonstrations against his 42-year rule.

The court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is expected to issue warrants against Colonel Gaddafi and at least two other leading members of the Libyan regime on charges related to killing unarmed protesters and displacing civilians.

Gunmen kill Saudi diplomat in southern Pakistan

Gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed a Saudi diplomat as he was driving in Pakistan's largest city on Monday, just days after two hand grenades were tossed at the Arab state's consulate building, police in Karachi said.

China artist allowed to see wife

Small, but progress.
Ai Weiwei's wife has been able to meet the detained artist and activist for the first time since he went missing 43 days ago, a relative said today.

No one had been able to contact the 53-year-old since officials stopped him at Beijing airport on 3 April.

But his sister Gao Ge said police took Ai's wife Lu Qing to meet him at an undisclosed location on Sunday night. She was able to see and speak to him briefly and reported that he seemed healthy and was being given access to the medication he needs for diabetes.

Australian man dies in 'planking' incident

An Australian man fell seven stories to his death on Sunday, participating in a new craze called "planking." In planking, people lie face-down on objects, pretending to be a plank of wood while someone else takes their picture.

Awesome Pictures


Culinary DeLites

You can whip up this delicious pasta with creamy mushroom-pea sauce in a jiffy.
Store managers share insider tips and tricks on how to score the best values. 

Things not to buy at Ikea

You'll find bargains at the Scandinavian retailer, but don't skimp on items you'll use every day.  

Craft a smart career strategy

Figure out your long-term vision instead of hopping from one job to the next.  



Healthy Living

Obesity 'master switch' found

Unlocking the secrets of KLF14 could lead to radical new treatments for heart disease and diabetes.

Repugicans choke on own Medicare Kool-Aid

Even though we can't afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy 

A funny thing happened along the Roadmap for America's Future.

Ordinary citizens smoked out its actual impact on their lives while much of the Washington celebrity pundit class were still uttering hosannas ...

Health insurance industry enjoying record profits

Isn't it nice to see things working out for the health insurance industry? They're always there for everyone. Well, everyone in the board room who needs to buy a new yacht thanks to cushy bonuses. How fair is it that everyone else keeps doing with less or even without yet the big money never ends for this industry?

NY Times:
The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.

Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Sympathy card foils fake death money scam

If you’re going to extort money from your employer by saying your wife died from cancer, make sure she doesn’t get the card at home expressing condolences on her death.

That’s what Hudson police say happened in the case of Scott Wellington, a 31-year-old Greenville man, who is facing two counts of theft by deception for allegedly telling his employer, C&M Machine Products in Hudson, that his wife was seriously ill with cancer with the intent of getting money out of them.

After being told of his wife’s illness, the company donated $7,000 to the Wellington family. According to police, Wellington then told his company his wife had died, prompting a sympathy card to be sent to their residence.

The the ruse was rumbled when the wife received the card at their home. She called the authorities to let them know she was in fact still alive and never had cancer. Bail for Wellington was set at $2,500 cash or surety. Wellington is being held for arraignment on Monday.

Non Sequitur


How you're tempting thieves

These security missteps can endanger your home, your computer, and your personal finances.

Unabomber items auctioned

Ted Kaczynski's infamous manifesto is among the personal belongings being sold to benefit his victims.

Scotland Yard still won't allow people to read the Jack the Ripper files

Scotland Yard is fighting an extraordinary legal battle to withhold 123-year-old secret files which experts believe could finally provide the identity of Jack the Ripper.

Four thick ledgers compiled by Special Branch officers have been kept under lock and key since the Whitechapel murders in 1888.

Trevor Marriott, a Ripper investigator and former murder squad detective, has spent three years attempting to obtain uncensored versions of the documents.

But he has been repeatedly refused because the ledgers contain the identities of police informants - and the Metropolitan Police insist that revealing the information could compromise the gathering of information from ''supergrasses'' and other modern-day informants.

Really to protect informants from over a century ago? Curious.

For all the conspiracy nuts out there

The "Bisley Boy" 
(an old conspiracy theory)
Elizabeth I never married, went bald early and forbade a post-mortem on her body, so conspiracy theories about her life abound. One of the best is the “Bisley Boy”.

The young Princess Elizabeth was staying at the royal hunting lodge of Over Court in Bisley, Gloucestershire, with her father, Henry VIII. While he was out one day, she got a sudden fever and died. No one wanted to upset her father (he had just had Catherine Howard beheaded for adultery) so Elizabeth was buried in Over Court and a hunt began in Bisley for a replacement. The best they could manage was a boy of the same age who had red hair.

In 1870, the vicar of Bisley, Thomas Keble, claimed he had found a coffin containing a girl in Tudor dress while renovating Over Court. He then secretly reburied the coffin in an unmarked location so the house didn’t become a shrine.

World's most majestic ruins

The United States is home to one of the top centuries-old architectural wonders in the world.  

Postal Service Issues Stamps That Benefit Endangered Species Protection

Now you can help protect endangered species while you mail in your rent. Or your electricity bill. Or when you are paying just about anything thanks to the United States Postal Service, which has debuted a special set of stamps the sale of which benefits several eNGOs dedicated to species protection.
Article continues: Postal Service Issues Stamps That Benefit Endangered Species Protection

Wizard of Id


Let the Noise commence

cicada530 Cicadas Wake Up from 13 Year Slumber, Prepare to Swarm
After a 13-year nap, cicadas are waking up in the South, and with them comes an ear-splitting mating call that will soon fill the air across the southern U.S.
The 13-year cicadas of what is known as Brood XIX (the 19th brood) have been living underground since 1998. That was the last time they held their famous two-month, above-ground mating frenzy.
Brood XIX, also known as the Great Southern Brood, is the country’s largest group of 13-year cicadas, stretching across 12 states, including Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Illinois. Already rising in some parts of Georgia, they should all be hatched by mid-May.



Monsanto's Gift To North Carolina State University

A Gift From Monsanto?

Trojan horse? N.C. State Receives Cabbage Germplasm Collection From Monsanto.
cabbage N.C. State University's Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus recently received an extensive cabbage germplasm collection for its research program. Monsanto Company gifted the collection to N.C. State.
"The private to public transition of an advanced vegetable breeding program is unique," says Dr. Allan Brown, a researcher with the Plants for Human Health Institute. "To our knowledge, this cabbage germplasm collection represents the last large-scale cabbage breeding program in the United States. We intend to utilize this generous gift to address the needs of cabbage growers in North Carolina by developing new and improved varieties that will increase demand and expand production."
Monsanto's Consuelo Madere sez:
"Monsanto is pleased to contribute cabbage germplasm to N.C. State University's Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus.  We sell cabbage seed under our Seminis brand in several world areas," she said, "and we are delighted that the Institute will be working at NCRC to develop cabbage varieties well suited to the local production needs in North Carolina."
Yeah, right. Just wait a few years. Monsanto has a trick up its corporate sleeve. You can bet on that.



Animal Babies


Funny Pictures


Dog's mystery lump was grass seed growing inside him

Vets were baffled by the mysterious lump growing on Riley the springer spaniel's side – and they were even more 
surprised when they discovered the cause. Vicky Betts of Hadleigh, Suffolk, noticed the lump on her pet last month and, being a 
veterinary nursing assistant, she decided to take him to work for some expert advice. The 25-year-old, who works at Highcliff Veterinary Practice in Hadleigh, said: “The vet had a feel and took a biopsy and gave Riley some anti-inflammatories.”

She added: “It just looked like he had knocked himself but when the drugs didn’t work and the lump got even bigger, I brought him back into work.” Veterinary surgeon Sarah Tavener decided the best option was to remove the lump from the two-year-old. It was not until Riley was on the operating table that the vet realized the full extent of what had happened. She said: “After considerable 
probing, I found a tract leading in towards the chest which indicated that it was likely to be a foreign body.

“I managed to free the lump from the body wall and stitch up the dog’s wound. The lump was cut in half and seemed to have pockets of pus, but when we squeezed it a tiny grass seed popped out from its center.” She said Riley must have inhaled the grass seed last 
summer and since then it had been migrating through his body, causing a reaction under the skin. He effectively had grass growing inside him.

Mrs Betts said while it was rare for cases like Riley’s to be seen at the practice, they did see a lot of dogs with grass seeds stuck in between their paws in long hair. It is very common to see dogs, 
particularly springer spaniels, with grass seeds that have worked their way into the skin around paws or ears, but this was quite unusual,” she added.

Whales slurp up $6-a-pound butterfish catch

Sperm whales, the world's largest toothed cetaceans, for more than a decade have bedeviled fishermen catching sablefish, also known as black cod, a deep-water fish that tastes like butter and sells for more dollars per pound than any other Alaska finned fish.

Thorn treehoppers

Umbonia crassicornis is a common and widespread member of the family Membracidae, and one of numerous species colloquially referred to as thorn bugs... This is a variable species as to size, color and structure, particularly the pronotal horn of males (which is more angled posteriorly than the females’ and often somewhat expanded apically). This tall, essentially perpendicular thorn-like pronotum discourages birds and other predators from eating it, if only by mistakenly confusing it with a thorn... The range of this species is from Northern South America all the way to Mexico and Florida.

Animal Pictures