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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 30, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Unenthusiastic people might test your endurance, but today your creativity is at an all-time high, and you are up for the challenge!
You can make this day a blast, even if you're stuck in a boring situation with a bunch of folks who think talking about the weather is scintillating conversation.
Use your imagination -- it's your ticket out of boredom every time.
Toss a lifeline to other bored folks and suggest alternative places for your minds to wander.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Canberra, Australian, Capital Territory, Australia
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
London, England, United Kingdom
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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 Cranston, New Castle, Sunset, Utica and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, May 30, the 150th day of 2011.
There are 216 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebrations is:
There isn't one today.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today is Memorial Day


Iconic shots of Arlington National Cemetery

America's most hallowed ground is the ultimate memorial to our nation's fallen soldiers.  

Wizard of Id


Russian and American Soldiers Shot Together

Rare photos of Russian and American soldiers photographed together during World War II. 

Nowhere Man

The Beatles

Duff Beer: Yes, It Does Exist!

If you’re in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia or Chile anytime soon, you can pick up a bottle of Duff, Homer Simpson’s lager of choice. Though the product is probably in violation of licensing agreements–or more specifically, being produced without one–it’s a hot seller in South American markets.
Fox has never licensed the beverage in the United States. According to several reports, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening fears that bringing Duff into the real world would be tantamount to pushing alcohol on minors.
The Duff dearth north of the border has only made fans more desperate. Online message boards buzz about where to find Duff. On eBay, an empty bottle of Duff beer from Argentina sells for $14.99; a decal off the Colombian product is being offered for $8.99.
At Rock Garden, a bar in Bogotá, Duff commands import prices — about $5.50 a bottle — even though it’s brewed in the nearby city of Medellin.
Duff Sudamerica, the Chilean producer, expects to sell $750,000 worth of Duff beer this year, but personally I think they’ll surpass that once Simpsons superfans get in on it.

Odds and Sods

No more impromptu open-air concerts near Central Park's Bethesda Fountain. New York City officials are muzzling musicians who perform near the fountain by slapping them with nuisance summonses.

Definition of an optimist?

Somebody who buys a 64 oz. soda before driving across Kansas.

Random Celebrity Photo

Rare Marilyn evening…
Or as you may best recognize her ...
Rare Marilyn evening…

Melting wrecking ice roads

The famous ice roads are built on land for a fraction of what permanent roads cost.  

In China: 34 million impacted by drought

It's like Europe will start talking about drought as well sometime soon.

But remember, climate change doesn't exist.
A debilitating drought along China's Yangtze river has affected more than 34 million people, leaving farmers and livestock without water and parching a major grain belt, according to the government.

More than 4.23 million people are having difficulty finding adequate drinking supplies, while more than five million are in need of assistance to overcome the drought, the Civil Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"The special characteristics of this drought disaster is that it has persisted a long time," the ministry said.

"Secondly the losses to the agricultural and breeding industries have been severe... while drinking water for people and livestock have been seriously impacted."

Epic Fail

Jaywalking numbskull.

Son defends Ratko Mladic

Ratko Mladic, indicted for mass murder almost 16 years ago, maintains his innocence.  

Saudi Prince Worries We Might Find Alternatives to Oil

saudi oil photo  
As the price of oil continues to rise amid political and social unrest in the Middle East, there's one unlikely advocate for making fossil fuels cheaper -- someone who stands to profit from the world's addiction to oil -- Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. In a revealing interview with CNN, the grandson of the current king of the energy rich nation outlines the urgent need to make oil prices dramatically less expensive: to avoid the rise of a more viable alternative.

Gmail Hackers Used US Government Backdoor

Remember the Chinese hackers who hacked into gmail last year? Turns out they were able to do that because Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts for the US Government.

Security expert Bruce Schneier says it’s not just Gmail that’s affected:
China’s hackers subverted the access system Google put in place to comply with U.S. intercept orders. Why does anyone think criminals won’t be able to use the same system to steal bank account and credit card information, use it to launch other attacks or turn it into a massive spam-sending network? Why does anyone think that only authorized law enforcement can mine collected Internet data or eavesdrop on phone and IM conversations? [...]
In Greece, between June 2004 and March 2005, someone wiretapped more than 100 cell phones belonging to members of the Greek government: the prime minister and the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and justice.
Ericsson built this wiretapping capability into Vodafone’s products and enabled it only for governments that requested it. Greece wasn’t one of those governments, but someone still unknown — A rival political party? Organized crime? Foreign intelligence? — figured out how to surreptitiously turn the feature on.

E. coli outbreak hits Europe

The news started in Germany but now France is also warning over possibly tainted cucumbers from Spain. Most of the cases have been in Germany but other EU countries have also been hit with problems. So far there are at least 2 deaths that they believe are directly associated with E. coli.

An E. coli outbreak in Germany which has infected more than 270 people and killed at least five is one of the biggest of its kind worldwide and the largest ever in Germany, European health experts said Saturday.

German officials said Thursday they suspected cucumbers imported from Spain as a possible source of the outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of a type of E. coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

In a risk assessment of the outbreak, the Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors disease in the European Union, called it "one of the largest described outbreaks of STEC/HUS worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany."

Brazilian farmer found dead in the Amazon

Police said Sunday they are investigating the death of a farmer whose body was found near where a land activist and his wife were recently killed in Brazil's Amazon.



Kids paid to skip college

Tycoon Peter Thiel offers two dozen students $100,000 each to develop tech projects.  



How to improve your eyesight

Exercises will help you maintain optimal vision and may also prevent annoying floaters.

Heterochromia Iridum

It's about eye color:
Heterochromia of the eye is of two kinds. In complete heterochromia, one iris is a different color from the other. In partial heterochromia or sectoral heterochromia, part of one iris is a different color from its remainder.

Culinary DeLites

Avoid common barbecue mistakes with these tips from experts on timing and technique.
A secret ingredient makes this version of the summer picnic staple stand out.

    Workout-ruining mistakes

    Protein shakes and energy bars could actually hinder your tone-up routine.
    Don't fall for the 'after-burn' myth 

    Manage Your Life

    Spring Cleaning

    How to Tell if you Need to Do Some Spring Cleaning

    1. Do you make panic runs to the garbage can for fear that someone has thrown away something "important"?
    2. Could you feed a family of four for more than two weeks from supplies found inside your sofa?
    3. Have you put off purchasing a refrigerator until you can find a self-cleaning model?
    4. Have you written to Dow to ask how you can get your Janitor in a Drum out?
    5. When you hear the phrase "cleanliness is next to…" do you fill in the blank with "impossible"?
    6. Do you own more than 5 sets of keys you had made when the current set was "missing in action"?
    7. Is there something growing inside your refrigerator that puts your houseplants to shame?
    8. Have you ever put off a diet because you lost the book?
    9. Do you put off redecorating the den because you haven't seen the floor in so long that you've forgotten what color the carpeting is?
    10. Do you know laundry can reproduce in a hamper?
    11. Do you have at least three bags of "stuff to sort later" stashed somewhere in the house?
    12. Have you ever lost something in your bedroom, like the bed?
    13. When visitors suggest that they'll throw their coats on the bed, do you offer to set up a cot in the hall?
    14. Does your storage system consist of 30 boxes marked "miscellaneous"?
    15. Have you ever gone to put up the holiday decorations, only to discover that you hadn't taken them down from last year?

    A Quick One

    This Brit goes to Australia for a tourist trip and on the border they ask him if he had ever stayed in jail or had been arrested.

    So he says: "I did not know that was still required."

    Boy and sea otter race at zoo

    At first, these two adorable pals appear to just be coincidentally moving in the same direction.

    Record surf off famous bluff

    Four surfers take on record waves at a famous Tasmanian break known for its fury even on average days.

    The Straw Hat Riot

    The Straw Hat Riot of 1922 is an example of what can happen when folks take fashion too seriously. Unbelievable as it sounds, a gang of young hoodlums in New York City decided to enforce an unwritten rule that straw hats were not to be worn after September 15. Beginning a little early on September 13, 1922 they snatched straw hats from people’s heads and trampled them, beating with sticks those who resisted. The mob’s numbers swelled to 1000 and the brawling continued through the next night leading to hospitalizations and imprisonment for some.
    The tradition of hat smashing continued for some time after the riots of 1922, although they marked the worst occurrence of hat smashing. In 1924, one man was killed when he resisted having his hat smashed. 1925 saw similar arrests made in New York. The tradition died out along with the tradition of the seasonal switch from straw to felt hats.

    A "glis"

    A "glis" (primitive ice skate)

    From the collections of the Memory of the Netherlands, this bone converted to an ice skate is dated to approximately 1100-1550 A.D.  

    While looking for more information, I found this (at The Virtual Ice Skates Museum):
    There is a written 'description of the most noble city of London', drawn up in Latin and published in 1180, which was translated by Stow, a London chronicler, into English in the 16th century. The account was written by a man named Fitzstephen, who, at that time, was secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Beckett, and reads as follows: "(...) when the great fenne or moore (which watereth the walles of the citie on the North side) is frozen, many young men play upon the yce, some striding as wide as they may, doe slide swiftly (...) some tye bones to their feete, and under their heeles, and shoving themselves by a little picked staffe, doe slide as swiftly as birde flyeth in the aire, or an arrow out of a crossbow. Sometime two runne together with poles, and hitting one the other, eyther one or both doe fall, not without hurt; some break their armes, some their legs, but youth desirous of glorie, in this sort exerciseth it selfe against time of warre (...)". From this description it appears that it is likely that in the 12th century ice skates with metal blades did not yet exist.

    In the 19th century, when archaeology became a science, these bones were found at several places in Europe when making excavations. Generally they concern bones out of the legs of cattle like horses, cows and sheep. They were made suitable for gliding by flattening one side and drilling holes athwart for fastening them with laces. Further research has made clear that the use of bones as gliders under sledges and feet in northern Europe has been wide spread.
    And this from a more recent era:
    Though the enemy could iron their boots and thus walk on the slippery surface they had few chances against the defenders that moved around at great speed on their ice skates. The picture shows that regiments were drilled to move on frozen water, here on the River Merwede before the city of Dordrecht. 
    And finally, the word "glis" for the skate is not to be confused with glis glis, which is an edible dormouse.



    Bubbling sea signals coral threat

    Bubbling sea signals coral threatHealthy brain coral, Bahamas (Jeff Yonover)

    Findings from a "natural laboratory" in seas off Papua New Guinea suggest that acidifying oceans will severely hit coral reefs by the end of the century.

    Awesome Pictures


    Entoloma hochstetteri

    New Zealand's Sky Blue Mushroom

    It looks like a piece of Photoshop trickery, but that bit of fairlyand fungus is Entoloma hochstetteri, the Sky Blue Mushroom.

    In its native New Zealand the mushroom is well known, appearing on a postage stamp and on the back of the country’s $50 note, but it is virtually unheard of outside the Land of the Long White Cloud.

    The Sky Blue Mushroom is probably poisonous, but no daring forager has offered to find out. 
    There are more pictures and information at Kuriositas.



    Woman bites woman in fight over dog

    A 25-year-old Florida woman was arrested on Friday morning after biting her roommate when the two were arguing about a dog. Nicole E. Levine, of Naples, was charged with battery-intentionally causing bodily harm to another.

    Naples police officers arrived shortly before 2 a.m. on Friday at the apartment Levine shares with her 23-year-old roommate. Officers say they found the 23-year-old woman, who said she began arguing with her roommate. Police say they observed a bite mark on the victim's left hand.

    Police determined that Levine bit her roommate on the hand and also on her arms near the bicep. Officers determined the fight was over Levine's dog. The victim became angry with the dog, which she said "always" gets in the way.

    So, the victim kicked the dog, which agitated Levine. As the fighting ensued, Levine bit her roommate. Levine was determined to be the aggressor in the fight so she was arrested, police said.

    Threatened Tortoise Finds New Romance at Age 130

    aldabra tortoises photo  
    At long last, love is in the air for two old tortoises from the Knoxville Zoo. Al and Tex, a pair of male Aldabra tortoises aged 130 and 90, respectively, have been living the bachelor lifestyle for the last few decades -- but thanks to a little matchmaking from the facility's reptile expert, the duo are getting another chance at romance. Recently, the two males were introduced to a couple of females tortoises on loan from a zoo in Atlanta, and it didn't take long for the sparks to fly.


    I wanna watch TV with Yogi and Boo-Boo…
    Well, he was smarter than the average bear - then he started watching TV.

    As Koala Populations Plummet, A Fight Unfolds Over Endangered Species Protection

    Australia's koalas are in trouble. Since 2003, populations have fallen 20%, leaving the total number of animals somewhere between 43,000 and 80,000. One of Australia's most emblematic animals, koalas are chiefly threatened by three factors: climate change, sexually transmitted diseases, and habitat loss. Things are looking so bad, some estimate that the animal will be extinct by the year 2040.
    But now, scientists at the Australian Koala Foundation are mounting an effort to list the koala as an endangered species, and to thwart the animals' doom.
    Article continues: As Koala Populations Plummet, A Fight Unfolds Over Endangered Species Protection

    Snow frogs

    I had heard of ice worms before, but not "snow frogs." 

    Frogs are capable of freezing solid, but for an ectothermic animal to be physically active on an ice field is still quite remarkable. 

    The story is at National Geographic.

    Arsenura batesii

    The Silkworm caterpillar

    A tropical species: this one photographed in Ecuador.

    Architectonica perspectiva

    The Sundial snail
    This little critter has the interesting name Architectonica perspectiva.  
    The body is apparently striped to match the shell.  
    More info here.

    Animal Pictures