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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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
There's a lot of pressure on you today, but the one who's pushing so hard is you!
Lately, you've been way too difficult on yourself, and you should stop and realize that you're doing your thing in your own way -- and that's good enough.
Part of this stress may be due to the changes that have been happening in your life, so address that issue.
If you just give yourself time to get used to the newness around you, you'll start to relax again.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
London, England, United Kingdom
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Segamat, Johor, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Canberra, Australian, Capital Territory, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Stoke On Trent, England, United Kingdom
Berne, Bern, Switzerland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
London, 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 Palm Harbor, West Newton, Artesia, San Francisco and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, June 30, the 181st day of 2011.
There are 184 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Hand Shake Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Mood and Experience

Living through weddings or divorces, job losses and children’s triumphs, we sometimes feel better and sometimes feel worse.

But, psychologists observe, we tend to drift back to a “set point”—a stable resting point, or baseline, in the mind’s level of contentment or unease.

Research has shown that the set points for depression and anxiety are [...]
Life Comes At You

Random Celebrity Photo

Bridgette Bardot (1958)

Wars steadily increase for over a century

Graph showing number of pairwise conflicts

New research by the University of Warwick and Humboldt University shows that the frequency of wars between states increased steadily from 1870 to 2001 by 2% a year on average. The research argues that conflict is being fed by economic growth and the proliferation of new borders. We may think the world enjoyed periods of [...]

Lunatic Fringe

Michele Bachmann: Husband Received $137,000 in Medicaid Funds

Fresh from our "Hypocrisy" file, MSNBC is reporting that Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Batshit Crazy Michele Bachmann (retard-Minn) has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News. 
You realize we have to get a new 'Hypocrisy Meter' now - this just blew all the gears in the old one to bits.

Repugican grandstanding on debt limit could jeopardize Social Security payments, money for troops, unemployment checks

USA Today:
It shows that in August, the government could not afford to meet 44% of its obligations. Since the $134 billion deficit for that month couldn't be covered with more borrowing, programs would have to be cut.

If Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, payments to defense contractors and interest payments on Treasury bonds were exempt, that would be all the government could afford for the month. No money for troops or veterans. No tax refunds. No food stamps or welfare. No federal salaries or benefits.

China rolls out high speed train as US sells off infrastructure

The repugicans have done an impressive job of blocking modernization of the US infrastructure system. They are the party of "no" after all. The rest of the world is not sitting still and they are investing. Five years after giving away the highway toll roads to foreign investors, repugican hero Mitch Daniels is somehow popular among his crowd for the short term cash hit. Drivers are now being blistered with outrageous toll increases and for the next seventy years, Indiana will get nothing. Brilliant.

Unfortunately there are too many stories like this from around the US.
Before Gov. Mitch Daniels leased the Indiana Toll Road to private investors in 2006, professional trucker Randy Nace would occasionally use the tollway even though it carried a $14 toll. Several toll increases later, with truckers set to pay $35.20 starting Friday, July 1, residents like Nace are reminded of why they fought so hard against the privatization deal.

“I still think it was the wrong thing to do,” Nace said from his truck on Monday. He says he’s managed to survive cost increases and the economic downturn in part by avoiding the Indiana Toll Road.

Five years ago this week, on June 29, 2006, Gov. Mitch Daniels leased the tollway to Cintra of Spain and Macquarie of Australia in exchange for $3.85 billion in cash. To date, it’s still the largest privatization deal involving a U.S. roadway and certainly one of the most controversial.
Isn't it time we shut down the wasted money funnel from Iraq and Afghanistan and start rebuilding US infrastructure?

High profile climate change skeptic paid over $1 million by oil and coal industries

How surprising.
Yet another Ivy League professor who has deep financial ties to radical right money. Nice research by Greenpeace.
One of the world's most prominent scientific figures to be skeptical about climate change has admitted to being paid more than $1m in the past decade by major US oil and coal companies.

Dr Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is known for his view that global warming and the melting of the arctic sea ice is caused by solar variation rather than human-caused CO2 emissions, and that polar bears are not primarily threatened by climate change.

But according to a Greenpeace US investigation, he has been heavily funded by coal and oil industry interests since 2001, receiving money from ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and Koch Industries along with Southern, one of the world's largest coal-burning utility companies. Since 2002 every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.

The no-baby boom

Faced with a tough economy, couples increasingly elect to stay married without children.

Best household cleaners

One top-rated spray is powered by an extract of thyme, to eliminate germs naturally.  

America's dirtiest cities

Smog, grit, and litter haven't deterred tourists from these popular destinations.

Man pays $1 Orlando parking fine 35 years late

A Michigan man has paid a $1 Florida parking ticket more than 35 years overdue. Orlando police say they received Stanley Baker's payment for a November, 1976 ticket.

Bizarre reason for loss to U.S.

North Korea's manager gives a reason for the defeat that no other World Cup team can match.

Write a Letter, Earn €450,000

A German tax lawyer took advantage of a very unusual case to earn €450,000. His client earned little money, but the government mistakenly attributed an enormous income to him and sent him a proportionate tax bill:
In 2001, a German pensioner went into the tax collector’s office to fill out his tax return. He put down an annual income of €11,000 — which, it turns out, was an error. He filed a correction, restating his income to be €17,000. Unfortunately, the tax official working on his paperwork failed to enter the correction properly. Instead, the pensioner’s income was listed at an absurd €1,100,017,000 — the GDP of a tiny country.
Given those “earnings,” the pensioner’s tax bill came in at €287 million and change.
Clearing up the error was not hard. The pensioner’s lawyer, Dr. Graefe, simply wrote a letter to the German tax authorities explaining the error. His client’s tax liability was corrected and he went on with his life. Dr. Graefe, thereafter, looked to collect his fee.
In the United States, typically, the client pays the fee for services provided, and in a matter like this, the fee would (likely) be an hourly one; the American equivalent of Dr. Graefe would probably earn $100 or so. Not bad. But in Germany, the law holds that when an attorney wins such a reduction, the lawyer’s fee — paid for by the tax man — is a percentage of said reduction. In this case, Graefe’s cut should have been about €450,000, but of course, the tax department disputed this amount as excessive.
The court agreed with Graefe’s reasoning and paid him.

Expensive Parts

Defense news: Boeing Overcharges Taxpayers By Up To 177,000 Percent For Army Helicopter Parts.
Mega-defense contractor Boeing has been vastly overcharging the Army for basic spare parts, forcing taxpayers to pay more than twice the “fair and reasonable” price, according to an audit conducted by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General and leaked to the Project on Government Oversight. The IG looked at spare parts sales to the Corpus Christi, Texas Army Depot for two helicopters systems and found some egregious price gouging, such as charging $71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents:
$644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.
Hey Department of Defense, would you like to buy some Excel add-ins?

The Book of Knighthood

Christine de Pizan wrote Othea’s Epistle to Hector (the Book of Knighthood) around the beginning of the 15th century. She is considered to be the first female professional writer. In 1460, a manuscript of the Book of Knighthood was commissioned, written in Middle French and illustrated with miniatures. Sixteen of those miniatures are reproduced for your pleasure at BibliOdyssey.



The new 'Silicon Valley'

A surge in startups and a top tech school make this Mideast country a global leader. 

Has Mars Ever Had Life?

NASA’s  Mars Science Laboratory hopes to answer the question  has Mars ever been able to sustain life. The new rover will have on-board equipment to experiment on soil samples testing for possible microbial life forms past or present. Watch full animation depicting the mission at the link.
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet’s “habitability.” Scheduled to launch in November or December of this year, the Curiosity rover should land on Mars in August 2012. (Just before the apocalypse, yay!)

At First Glance, I Thought That This Was Lightning Hitting a Porta-Potty

But no, this is some sort of instrument used by the people at the Lightning Research Laboratory at the University of Florida. They’ve got some amazing photos and videos linked in their sidebar. Check ‘em out. Full Story

Practical Science

 Will Grilling Kill E. Coli In Your Sirloin Steak This Weekend?
Given the news recently about yet another E. coli outbreak, you may be concerned E. coli is not just a plague in 'organically' processed and prepared vegetables but perhaps in regular steak - and you would be correct.

Cheese vendors on N.Y. rules: No whey

 State enforcing stricter rules on how farmers markets sell sliced cheese 
Dairy farmers who sell hand-crafted cheese at New York farmer's markets say the state is taking the art and the ease out of artisan cheese.

Warehouse club deals

You’ll save a bundle on certain big-ticket items, but don’t expect steals on appliances.  

Pepsi aims to get its fizz back

The soda and snacks maker woos consumers after its top brand falls to No. 3.

Ain't it the truth


Get a load of this ...

... after taking a $10 billion bailout, Goldman Sachs will outsource 1,000 jobs.

The $1 Billion That Nobody Wants

The U.S. Mint is manufacturing, and will continue to manufacture, one dollar coins that just pile up in the Federal Reserve because no one wants to use them. They’ve already stockpiled over a billion dollars in coins, and may reach two billion!
In 2005, Congress decided that a new series of dollar coins should be minted to engage the public. These coins would bear the likeness of every former president, starting with George Washington. There would be a new one every quarter. So, far, the Mint has produced coins through the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant.
Members of Congress reasoned that a coin series that changed frequently and had educational appeal would make dollar coins more popular. The idea came from the successful program that put each of the 50 states on the backs of quarters.
The reserve also has plenty of Susan B Anthony and Sacagawea dollar coins. If the public does not want to use dollar coins, why are they being made? The answer is a bit complicated, and is explained in this article at  NPR.

The $8.5 billion mortgage settlement

Bank of America was under fire for investments that soured when the housing market crashed. 

Worst refinance mistakes

Low interest rates don't necessarily mean homeowners will save money on their mortgages. 

Home prices on the rise

Prices rose in 13 of 20 major cities, but other metro areas are still in a housing slump.

Benefits of small savings

Don't fool yourself by thinking that you have so little to save for retirement that it's not worth it.

Manage your life

Culinary DeLites

Healthy Living

Healthiest food choices on the road

Six health myths – busted

6 health myths –  busted
Do you opt for the hand dryer over paper towels?

Load up on vitamin C every time you get the sniffles?

Then it’s time to find out the science behind all those daily practices and cures we cling to.

Here’s the skinny on the top six health myths.



Chihuahua shows talent for herding sheep

She may only weigh 2.5lb, but Nancy the Chihuahua makes quick work of showing five sheep who is boss, despite the animals being more than ten times her size.

Rescue dog Nancy's potential for herding flocks was discovered after she was adopted by a sheep dog trainer. Ali Taylor, who trains rescued border collies, said the tiny dog picked up herding straight away.

"I started in a very controlled environment but it quickly became evident that Nancy has natural ability and loves herding sheep," she said. Nancy was hand-reared after being taken to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home at just three weeks old with a skin disease caused by parasitic mites.

"People sometimes under-estimate rescue dogs, but they really are fantastic and go on to do amazing things," Ms Taylor, who also works at the dogs home, said. The charity stresses that no-one should try sheep herding without expert supervision.

Elderly lady fed cannabis to pet rabbits

Police in Brandenburg who discovered a large plot of cannabis called on the neighboring house only to find an 84-year-old woman who had been feeding her rabbits with the plants. “The rabbits really like it,” the woman told officers who called on her in the village of Golzow near Belzig.

A police officer had seen the healthy, meter-high plants from the road while on his way to work and told his colleagues, who visited the plot’s owner – the elderly woman. She told them that she had not grown the plants herself, but that they had simply started growing there, and had proven to be excellent rabbit food.

Not only did the rabbits love eating the plants, they grew back very quickly after she cut them down, she told the investigating officers. A spokesman for the Brandenburg police said her explanation had sounded plausible, but the officers could not leave her with the plants, rather cut them all down and took them to the forensics laboratory for testing.

The three large plastic sacks of weed will now be tested to determine the level of THC – the psycho-active ingredient in cannabis - they contain. There was no official comment on what the elderly woman was expected to feed her rabbits with now.

Animal Pictures