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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 18, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
The pace of your life is a lot faster than you may realize right now.
Your unconscious speed may not be bothering you, but it might be bothering the people in your life.
This go-go attitude of yours might be sending out the wrong message -- a vibe that says you're not willing to wait for anyone else to catch up, that says you've got too many important things to do.
But that's not really true, is it?
Make sure you're in step with everyone else right now.
You could use the company!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Canberra. Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Gloucester, England, United Kingdom
Gengenbach, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Hyvinkaa, Southern Finland, Finland
London, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Mlaysia
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Heidelberg, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Bergen Op Zoom, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

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 Palo Alto, Hana, Chicago, Baltimore and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, May 18, the 138th day of 2011.
There are 227 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
International Museum Day
Turn Beauty Inside Out Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

The End is Nigh, and It Is Beautiful

Stephanie Vetter captured this photograph of an aurora over Jökulsárlón, a glacial lake in Iceland.
It won an international competition for landscape astrophotography.

Egyptian Appointed Acting Leader Of Al-Qaida

An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been appointed "caretaker" leader of al-Qaida in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, according to a source with detailed knowledge of the group's inner workings.

More repugican chicanery

Get a load of this horseshit:
Clarence 'Slappy' Thomas is comparing critics of the clown court to die-hard sports fans who won't say anything good about rivals and wonders whether they suffer from a "disease of illiteracy or laziness."

Thomas told the Augusta Bar Association on Tuesday that the "nagging" that dominates public discourse must stop because society is reaching the point where it is beginning to undermine the integrity of the law.
Now this is rich - the most illiterate and lazy buffoon among them calling his critics such - but typical repugican wingnut ... accuse everyone else of being what you really are.

And as to the undermining the integrity of the law ... he as usual has it backwards - the 'nagging' critics are what's keeping he and his fellow wingnuts from scuttling the law entirely thus far.

The Town on the Wrong Side of the Fence

The United States built a fence along the Mexican border, but the mud along the Rio Grande is too soft to support a fence. In Brownsville, Texas, that means it was built a couple of miles north the river, which cuts off an American neighborhood from the rest of the U.S.

The residents are not happy.
“I’ll say right off the bat that I’m a wingnut – I believe in hard work and I believe our border needs to be secure,” says Debbie Loop, whose 15-acre citrus farm is on both sides of the fence. “But when they signed this fence into law, nobody stopped to think Texas isn’t Arizona or California. Our border does not run dirt to dirt. Any idiot could have told them that. My grandchildren now live on the wrong side. Who is going to protect them? Who protects me when I’m in my orchards after dusk? I just want to work hard and earn a living. But they’ve changed this place forever.”

It's The Economy Stupid


Government vs. private sector

The wingnut mantra is "less government, more private sector" because the private sector creates all of the jobs and polices itself so that we can trust them more.

And the Moon is made of Green Cheese.

Repugicans, bought by Big Oil, block vote to end Big Oil subsidies

The vote was nearly 100% party line, repugicans defending billions in subsidies to Big Oil while they talk about eliminating Medicare and cutting $4 trillion from programs that help you every day.

Here's the vote tally. "Yea" is a good vote, but 60 votes were needed because the repugicans were filibustering again.

More on how Big Oil bought the vote:
The 48 Senators that voted against cloture today on S. 940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, have received $370,664, on average, in campaign contributions from the employees and political action committees (PACs) of oil and gas companies during their time in Congress, while those who voted to consider the legislation received just $72,145, on average.

Cleaning Chicago River a waste of money

Chicago water boss: if we took the sewage out of the Chicago River, people might swim and drown!

Terrence O'Brien, president of Chicago's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, has told the EPA that he doesn't think that Chicago should clean the mountains of toxic sewage out of the Chicago River, because if they did, people might swim in it and drown.
Making the Chicago River safe enough for swimming would waste taxpayer money and increase the risk of people drowning, officials who oversee the waterway said today... Chicago is the only major U.S. city that fails to disinfect its sewage. The sharp contrast between the Chicago River and most other waterways can be summed up in part by tests for fecal coliform, a microscopic bacterium that indicates the presence of human waste and is measured in colony forming units, or CFUs.

Non Sequitur


How To Deal With A Difficult Boss

Survey results indicate that approximately 40% of employees have had to deal with a bad boss. Further, a Gallup survey of over 1,000,000 employees found that the most prevalent cause for people leaving is their immediate supervisor. Clearly, bad bosses are a significant problem for their employees and their companies in terms of innovation, turnover and profits.

Badbossology.com provides the latest news on bad bosses along with relevant resources to assist people in: Understanding and analyzing their boss to develop an action plan, protecting themselves safely, reducing their boss's power over them, and achieving career success in spite of their boss.

The truth be told


Family's plan to save $12,975

They’ll still be able to take a vacation, thanks to a few painless budget cuts.  

Awesome Pictures


Odds and Sods

A retired prison guard from Wisconsin who appeared in the anti-fast food documentary "Super Size Me" ate his 25,000th Big Mac on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, the 39th anniversary (to the day) of eating his first ... nine.

The good news for an 18-year-old Texas man is he has his wallet back. The bad is that it has landed him under arrest, facing fraud and drug charges.

Russian police said on Tuesday they had detained a man who was caught eating an acquaintance's liver.

An Alaska bear hunter who was severely mauled by a grizzly over the weekend has been flown to Seattle in critical condition, authorities said on Monday.

It's all Baloney anyway

Big Border Bologna Bust: 
U.S. seizes nearly 400 pounds of illegal Mexican meat

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers intercepted 385 pounds of Mexican bologna after finding the contraband luncheon meat behind the seat of a pickup truck stopped at the port of Santa Teresa, New Mexico, last Friday. I wonder how they sniffed that one out. Guess the smuggler didn't do a very good job of hiding the salami, so to speak.
"Usually officers see one or two rolls of bologna, not 35 as in this case," quoth the AP. "Officials say this marked the largest bologna bust ever recorded at the Santa Teresa crossing."

Panera bakery chain tries "pay what you can" model for "community kitchens"

Panera Bread has been experimenting with "pay what you can" restaurants for about a year, at three of its 1500 US locations. So far, the model seems to be working.
Most patrons, it finds, drop the entire retail cost, or more, into the voluntary donation box, in essence subsidizing a meal for somewhat who can't pay the full amount. Panera says about 60 percent leave the suggested amount; 20 percent leave more; and 20 percent leave less. The largest single payment so far? One person paid $500 for a meal. Few people seem to be taking unfair advantage of the system. Most know that wouldn't be fair. Not paying when you could "is like parking in a handicapped spot," Mr. Shaich says. "The lesson here is most people are fundamentally good."

The Science and Art of Cheese

KQED's excellent QUEST science TV program explores the "Science and Art of Cheese." From QUEST:
Cheese. It comes in more than 2,000 varieties – hard, soft, fresh and aged - and it’s been with us for thousands of years. Take a journey to Cowgirl Creamery in West Marin to learn how artisan cheese is made and how scientists are putting cheese under the microscope to gain new insights about this incredible, edible food.
"The Science & Art of Cheese" And also from QUEST, this bonus Web short, "The Terroir of Cheese":
"Terroir" is a French word that has historically been used to describe the geographical features such as climate, soil and topography that lend unique flavor characteristics to a wine. Now this term is being applied to artisan cheese, underscoring the importance of location in the production of award-winning, handmade cheese.
"The Terroir of Cheese"

Police admit boy aged nine arrested for drink-driving was actually nineteen

A police force has admitted a records mix-up after it wrongly declared that a nine-year-old boy had been arrested for drink-driving. The "schoolboy" was in fact a 19-year-old male but his date of birth had been initially inputted incorrectly on to the custody system.

Cumbria Constabulary released the information at the weekend in response to a Freedom of Information request for details of under 18s arrested for car crime in the north of England over the past two years. However, the birth date error was repeated as the disclosure made national and local newspaper headlines.

A spokeswoman for Cumbria Constabulary said: "The information used in this article came from a Freedom of Information request that was submitted to Cumbria Constabulary regarding the number of people under the age of 18 involved in vehicle-related crime.

"Unfortunately, the data provided by the constabulary about a nine-year-old drink-driver was incorrect. This error occurred because the male's date of birth was initially recorded on our custody system incorrectly, but this was later amended to his correct age of 19. We apologize for any inconvenience caused."

Chinese man has chilli pepper removed from lung after year-long cough

A chilli pepper has been removed from the lung of a man in China's Heilongjiang province, one year after he choked on it.

Wang Yuxiang from Longjiang county visited his local hospital to treat his year-long cough, but doctors soon found the cause to be something rather unusual.

The First Caddie


Ancient Sports

If you think American football and rugby are rough, then you should check out some of these Ancient sports.

While some may be comparable to modern mixed martial arts, boxing and wrestling, others are pretty extreme including “The Game” which was played by rowing out into the middle of the river and beating your opponent to death with your oar.

Five Archaeological Sites That Changed The Face Of History

To some, archaeology is merely the study of past worlds. Some may say that sifting through broken remains of decimated cities and exploring relics of forgotten peoples only provides us with interesting souvenirs from a time now inconsequential. While these artifacts and architectures are mere glimpses of the past, archeology provides us with a lens into what has been and could be.

By exploring the material culture and environment of past human societies we are able to illuminate generalities about human civilization and social evolution. With most of human history occurring within prehistoric cultures without written language or record studying the material remains of those civilizations is the only way to learn about them.

These 5 archaeological sites changed the face of history.

The Strangest Trees on Earth

Wizard of Id



Psychology in the Arctic
Pibloktoq is a psychological phenomenon associated with the cold, dark, snowy parts of the world. The first written case studies happened to Inuit people, but it's not actually limited to them. When someone suffers an episode of pibloktoq, she (it apparently usually happens to women) will scream, flail, and often strip off clothing and take off running. But within a couple hours she calms down, even falling asleep. Afterwards, she goes back to normal and may never have another attack of pibloktoq again. At the Providentia blog, psychologist Romeo Vitelli writes about the history of pibloktoq, the way it was used as part of racist and sexist narratives in the past, and how scientists interpret it today.
Since pibloktoq is most common during long Arctic nights, Inuit tradition holds that it is caused by evil spirits possessing the living. Shamanism and animism are dominant themes in Inuit traditional beliefs with the angakkuk (healer) acting as a mediator with the various supernatural forces. Considering angakkuit used trance states to communicate with spirits and carry out faith healing, there is a longstanding view among Inuit that individuals entering trance states be treated with respect given the possibility of a new "revelation" emerging as a result. For that reason, treatment with pibloktoq cases usually involved simply allowing the episode to run its course without interference. While pibloktoq can often be confused with other conditions (including epilepsy) in which failure to intervene can lead to the victim coming to harm, most cases tend to be more typical.
Although Brill classified pibloktoq as a hysteria (since women were the most common victims), later authors have argued that it is a form of primitive dissociation or, perhaps, an acute psychotic reaction with multiple possible causes that can include epilepsy or depression. A more recent author has suggested that pibloktoq may be linked to an overdose of vitamin A considering that humans and animals suffering from hypervitaminosis A can show many of the same symptoms as a pibloktoq episode.
This is really interesting. But I was also surprised that this article didn't also bring up paradoxical undressing—a symptom of hypothermia that can cause symptoms similar, in some ways, to the ones associated with pibloktoq.

Science News

Horus Help Us - Diagnosing Heart Disease From 1580 B.C.
Whole body computerized tomography (CT) scanning has helped diagnose the earliest confirmed case of coronary artery disease in history.

Worm Regenerates Entire Body from a Single Cell

Planarians, a type of flatworm, reproduce by asexual fission. Cut one in half, and the missing parts will regrow until you have two planarians. Scientists have known for a while that the regeneration took place among a cluster of cells called cNeoblasts. Some wondered if was possible to grow an entire worm from a single such cell, and so performed an experiment:
Wang and Reddien harvested a single cNeoblast from one type of planarian. Then they gave a different kind of planarian, one that did not have its own neoblasts and couldn’t regenerate, a lethal dose of radiation. Its tissues started to die, from the head down toward its tail. Then they implanted the first worm’s neoblast into the tail of the second, dying worm.
They watched as the transplanted cNeoblast multiplied, differentiated and “ultimately replaced all the host’s tissues,” according to a news release from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Descendants of the single neoblast cell differentiated into neuronal, intestinal and other adult cell types, taking over the jobs of the host’s dying cells. The newly restored worm was an exact genetic copy of the cNeoblast donor. All this from one single cell.

Life out there?

A rocky distant world may be the first capable of supporting life, a new study reveals.  
Another take on this story:
Gliese 581d: An Exoplanet Fit for Humans?
Gliese 581d
The world -- located 20 light-years from Earth -- might sustain liquid water, but it would be a very alien place to visit.  

The Billion Year Technology Gap

While some contend that there could exist extraterrestrial civilizations that have been around for a billion years and therefore a billion years more advanced than us, others stand by the Fermi Paradox which asserts if they were out there we would have heard from them.
Fermi reasoned, if there are other advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, then why is there no evidence of such, like spacecraft or probes floating around the Milky Way. His question became famously known as the Fermi Paradox. The paradox is the contradiction between the high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and yet the lack of evidence for, or contact with, any such civilizations.

Japanese Wind Tower

Japan has been developing an alternative source of energy using wind power, however instead of traditional windmills this giant wind tower can utilize wind from different directions.
Japan-based ZENA Systems is working on developing a new type of wind energy generator that will dwarf anything before it. The 50 meter-tall hexagonal building essentially acts as a huge scoop that compresses wind from all directions and then runs the rushing air through a series of ground-based generators.

Incredible Dust Storm Photos

Photos of dust storms, strong, turbulent winds carrying large clouds of dust. In a large storm, clouds of fine dust may be raised to heights well over 10,000 ft and carried for hundreds or thousands of miles.


Marine Reserves Pick Up Pace of Ocean Protection
Marine protected areas are good. Big marine reserves are better.  

New Marine Species Bubble Up in Bali
The new species include eels and damsels, the colorful little fish that dart among coral branches and help give reefs their dazzling appearance.

Noisy Humans Drowning Out Fish
Persistent, low-intensity noise from humans cause serious stress to fish, research shows.  

Iron-laden Icebergs Fertilize Ocean
Icebergs are nature's iron fertilizers in the Southern Ocean, nurturing phytoplankton blooms that draw out carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere.

Are Humans Reshaping Earth?

For the first time in Earth's history, a single species has not only radically changed the planet, it is now aware of having done so.  



Humans 'wiped crabs from Hawaii'

A fossil from an extinct Hawaiian land crab

Land crabs unique to Hawaii, able to travel huge distances inland, were wiped out by the first human colonists, scientists deduce.

Dinosaurs May Soon Go Extinct—Again

Certain dinosaurs may have only existed in the minds of paleontologists.

Giant snake flees Mississippi floods

Morganza Snake.jpg
This photo, purportedly taken near Louisiana's Morganza Spillway, is simultaneously horrifying and kind of amusing. The snake just looks so purposeful, with its head raised like that. As though it's out running some errands, or on a morning commute.
That said, I kind of hope somebody spots the pixels that prove this image is a fake. Because the idea of giant snakes hanging out alongside American highways is little disturbing to the Mrs..

Daytime Bites for Zombie Ants

Zombie Ant
Most ants in the grip of a deadly fungus spend their last moments on Earth around midday.  

Animal News

Francisco the baby black lion tamarin (Image: Durrell)
A black lion tamarin monkey is the first born outside of Brazil for eight years.

Animal Pictures