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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, July 11, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You are very insightful right now, and your front door is a likely stop along the way for people who are looking for answers.
You'll be quite in demand today, by folks who simply want to compare notes and by folks who need major life help.
Yet the tone of your day will not be filled with hopelessness, crisis or sadness.
It will be all about connecting with other people.
There will be a lot of laughter and bonding.
Realize that life is a crazy ride.

Some of our readers today have been in:
 Florence, Toscana, Italy
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Izmir, Izmir, Turkey
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, Croatia
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
London, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia

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 Cambridge, Stuart, Lexington, Monroe and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, July 11, the 192nd day of 2011.
There are 173 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Town Criers Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Stunning win for U.S. team

The women's team overcomes a few controversial calls to beat Brazil and advance to the semis.

Non Sequitur


The earthquake you might have missed

Lunatic wingnut Russell pierce, the Arizona senate president and architect of sb1070 anti-immigrant law, has been recalled.

Score one for the Good Guys!

Mimi and Eunice


Anger over new burqa law

A new Australian bill targeting Muslim women is slammed for being "culturally insensitive."  

U.S. cuts aid to Pakistan

There is no way the relationship could continue as it did in recent years. The blank check had to stop. Now if only the blank check to the US military can be stopped.

Al Jazeera:
The US is withholding some $800 million in aid to Pakistan, almost a third of the $2.7bn in security assistance it provides each year to the South Asian nation, Barack Obama's chief of staff has confirmed.

Relations between the key allies, always tricky, have drastically deteriorated since US commandos shot and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a Pakistani garrison town, sowing distrust on both sides.

Last month, Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, warned that the US would slow down military aid to Pakistan unless it took unspecified steps to help the US.

Now, it appears, it has, as William Daley, the president's chief of staff, confirmed a New York Times report that the administration was suspending and, in certain cases, cancelling some $800m of military aid.

Dozens of students killed in Bangladesh accident

A vehicle packed with schoolchildren returning home from a soccer tournament crashed into a canal in southeastern Bangladesh on Monday, killing at least 40, a police official said.

Random Celebrity Photo


Drunk 15-year-old caught driving car with drunk mom in backseat

An underage, intoxicated and unlicensed teenager has been caught driving a car full of drunks, including his mother, in country Victoria, Australia.

Astonished police say they detected the 15-year-old, who is not old enough to hold even a learner's permit, driving his three intoxicated passengers in an unregistered Ford station wagon traveling along McDonell St, Nathalia, near Shepparton.

But after pulling the teen up late at night on July 6, their shock turned to dismay when they found an inebriated woman in the backseat of the car was the boy's mother. The teen, who blew .107, more than twice the limit for a fully licensed adult driver, is set to be charged on summons.

Senior Constable Kerry-Anne Rappell said the actions of the driver and the passengers were "dangerous and irresponsible''. "These people are lucky they weren't involved in a serious collision,'' she said. "This is totally unacceptable. People need to start thinking about actions and consequences on the road.''

Coheed and Cambria Bassist Arrested in Bizarre Walgreens Robbery

The bassist for progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria was arrested Sunday for walking into a Massachusetts Walgreens and telling a worker he had a bomb, and would detonate it if he wasn't given Oxycontin.

Daily Comic Relief


How to Resolve Office Conflict

7 Dance-Battle Moves You Should Know
While office conflict can lead to delinquency, substance abuse, and gang involvement, conflict can also have positive results by increasing productivity and helping everyone understand each other better. Learn to dance battle instead of argue.

Business cards—a lasting impression

Like your American Express card, you should never leave home without your business cards. Business opportunities can pop up at any time — it could be at the grocery store, in line at the movies or at Starbucks.

When a business opportunity presents itself, you need to take advantage by having a business card available.

The business card is a lasting impression that is left behind after you are gone. You need to make it work for you. The appearance of your business card says as much about you as your physical appearance.

Degrees worth the investment

Focusing your education on these fields can lead to rock-solid careers.  

How to re-grow the U.S. economy

Fire All the MBAs
What do we need to do to grow the US economy again? Fire the MBAs, and let engineers run the show.

That’s what Bob Lutz, the former Vice Chairman of General Motors, suggested. He noted that American companies started to lose its way when the MBAs took over from the engineers:
The auto industry is actually a terrific proxy for a trend toward short-term, myopically balance-sheet-driven management that has infected American business. In the first half of the 20th century, industrial giants like Ford, General Electric, AT&T and many others were extremely consumer-focused. They spent most of their time and money using new technologies to create the best possible products and services, regardless of development cost. The idea was, if you build it better, the customers will come. And they did.
The pendulum began to swing in the postwar era, when Harvard Business School grad Robert McNamara and his "whiz kids" became famous for using mathematical modeling, game theory and complex statistical analysis for the Army Air Corps, doing things like improving fuel-transport times and scheduling more-efficient bombing raids. McNamara, who later became president of Ford, brought extreme number crunching to the business world, and soon the idea that "if you can measure it, you can manage it" took hold — and no wonder. By the late 1970s, M.B.A.s were flourishing, and engineers were relegated to the geek back rooms.

This is not to say that the Whiz Kidding of American business yielded no positives; things like the hyperefficient FedEx logistical hubs and the entire consulting industry were born out of it. But ultimately, moving numbers around can do only so much. Over the long haul, you’ve got to invent or improve real products and services to grow.

New federal policy aims to expand US fish farming

The federal government is moving to open up large swaths of coastal waters to fish farming for the first time in an effort to decrease Americans' dependence on imports and satisfy their growing appetite for seafood.

Grocery stores removing self checkout lanes

 The concept is great but when anything goes wrong you have to wait for someone to come around and fix it. Finding them is usually the start to the problem. It's faster and easier to go through the old fashioned but effective lines where actual people are working.
Albertsons LLC, which operates 217 stores in seven Western and Southern states, will eliminate all self-checkout lanes in the 100 stores that have them and will replace them with standard or express lanes, a spokeswoman said.

"We just want the opportunity to talk to customers more," Albertsons spokeswoman Christine Wilcox said. "That's the driving motivation."

Wilcox said the replacement of automated checkout lanes with human-operated lanes likely would mean more hours available for employees to work.

Dirty Secrets of Supermarket Tomatoes

To-may-to, to-mah-to … fruit, vegetable – whatever you call it, one thing’s for sure: people love it. But if you have only tasted tomatos bought from the supermarket shelves, you’re missing out on flavor.

Barry Estabrook of Politics of the Plate blog has the inside story of the dirty little secrets of supermarket tomato over at NPR:
… the tomatoes you see in those supermarkets have been bred for high yields and durability, not flavor. "As a farmer once said — an honest farmer — ‘I don’t get paid a cent for flavor,’" Estabrook says.
There’s an even darker side to the modern commercial tomato, too, he says. Up until recently, workers on many of Florida’s vast industrial tomato farms were basically slaves. "People being bought and sold like animals," Estabrook says. "People being shackled in chains. People being beaten for either not working hard enough, fast enough, or being too weak or sick to work. People actually being shot and killed for trying to escape. That sounds like 1850’s slavery to me, and that, in fact, is going on, or has gone on."
Estabrook adds that there have been seven successful slavery prosecutions in Florida in the past 15 years.

Awesome Pictures


The science of happiness

Although genetics help determine your sense of well being, life choices and goals play an important part as well.

Measuring happiness is a tricky business. Still, that hasn't stopped individuals and institutions from trying to gauge how happy people…

New genetic clues for schizophrenia

De novo mutations – genetic errors that are present in patients but not in their parents – are more frequent in schizophrenic patients than in normal individuals, according to an international group of scientists led by Dr. Guy A. Rouleau of the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. The discovery, published today in Nature [...]
New genetic clues for schizophrenia

Holes in fossil bones reveal dinosaur activity

New research from the University of Adelaide has added to the debate about whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded and sluggish or warm-blooded and active. Professor Roger Seymour from the University’s School of Earth & Environmental Sciences has applied the latest theories of human and animal anatomy and physiology to provide insight into the lives of dinosaurs. [...]
Holes in fossil bones reveal dinosaur activity



A turn of a phrase

Fair to middling


Slightly above average.


'Fair to middling' comes to the party with two friends, fair to middlin' and fair to midland. Both of these gatecrashers derive from the original phrase, but in different ways. Fair to middlin' is just a colloquial version written in the way that the expression is often spoken, in mid-west America at least, which, as we will see, is where the expression originated.
Fair to midland is an odder fish and comes from the mispronunciation of 'middling' as 'midland'. The question is, why would anyone do that? It could be just a simple mistake, although that seems unlikely as 'fair to midland' doesn't really mean anything. More likely is that it was the result of a deliberate jokey mispronunciation, along the lines of san fairy Ann, taking the Miguel etc. This could have originated in the English Midlands. It is widely used there and the English are inveterate 'accidentally on purpose' mispronouncers - Cockney Rhyming Slang is an entire dialect built along those lines. In the case of 'fair to midland', the origin is more likely to be the USA, specifically Texas, the reference being to that state's city of Midland. The earliest printed citation of 'fair to midland' that I can find comes from The New York Times, May 1935:
Dr. William Tweddell, who is what might be called a fair-to-Midland golfer...
Fair to MidlandThe current usage of the expression is predominantly American and has been boosted by the popularity of the US hard rock band that has adopted it as its name.
As to the original version of the phrase 'fair to middling', that is also of American origin. 'Middling' was and is a term used by farmers to describe the quality of farm produce, especially sheep. There were several loosely defined grades of produce: 'good', 'fair, 'middling', 'ordinary' and 'poor'.
'Middling' is an old Scots word and has been in use since at least the 15th century with the same meaning as now, that is, 'of medium or moderate size, strength, quality'. Around 1450, the Marquis of Bute wrote the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, which includes what appears to be the earliest example of 'middling' in print:
'The ynch sulde be with the thoum off midling mane nother our mikil nor our litil bot be tuyx the twa'.
I interpret that Old Scots text as meaning 'The inch should be measured with the thumb near the middle, neither at the largest point nor the smallest but between the two' but, if there are any old Scots out there who know better, I would be happy to be enlightened.
'Fair' was used in the UK from the 18th century onward to describe farm produce. An example of that usage is found in John Mortimer's farming handbook The Whole Art of Husbandry, 1707:
As you gather your Fruit, separate the fairest and biggest from the middling.
These farming terms traveled to America with the early Scottish and English settlers. Like sailors who, when they needed finer designations of direction than North, East South and West, came up with South-west, North-east etc., farmers needed a name for 'not quite fair but better than average' and they opted for 'fair to middling'. The earliest uses of the expression all come from the USA, as does this example from an 1829 edition of John Stuart Skinner's farming journal The American Farmer:
Two or three lots of good wethers [castrated rams] brought from $2.50 a 3 per head, and a few lots of fair to middling, $1.50 a 2.
Farmers didn't stop there and came up with other intermediate grades, like 'good fair'. Needing finer and finer classifications of quality, they again followed the sailors' lead and copied their 'North-north-east' style. In 1873, Beeton's Dictionary of Commerce described a delivery of cotton as:
Good fair to good saw-ginned Surat cotton.

Ten Fascinating Facts About Phone Numbers


You probably dial a few of them every day, but do you ever stop and think about the history behind a phone number? When were the first numbers introduced? How did you end up with a particular area code?

Here are 10 fascinating facts that you might not know about the common phone number.

Lazy Housekeeper Mop Slippers

Lazy Housekeeper Mop Slippers.
Lazy housekeepers rejoice! Instead of wasting your time with the dust broom, you can just wear these Mop Slippers every day and they'll sweep up dust bunnies while you shuffle back and forth from the couch to the fridge. Great for bachelors, college students and obsessive multitaskers.

Random Photos

Is it just me or is this photo a little bit disturbing ... I mean look at all those Disney masks!

The Witches’ Market

 wp-image-49050Take a visit to the Mercado de Hechecer√≠a, or The Witches’ Market in La Paz, Bolivia. But be prepared for what you will find.
We stepped inside one of the stores to get a closer look. Note: this is serious, sacred business to the people who shop and work here, and irony-seeking tourists aren’t exactly appreciated. But after we made a “contribution”, the elderly owner of the store, Dominga, agreed to answer our questions and let us take pictures of her wares.
Of course, we went straight to the dead baby llamas; their hollow eyes and ghastly, grimaced mouths beckoned us. The rows and rows of llama corpses, in stages of development ranging from fetus to toddler, are by far the most disturbing image in the Witches’ Market. Dominga explained that burning these corpses is a powerful way to bless a home, or improve a sick person’s health. Sometimes, they’re buried underneath the lot of a new house.
The llamas are what most tourists stop to take pictures of, and Dominga seemed to disapprove of our morbid fascination with them. She directed our attention to other, more cheerful items.
See some of those cheerful items, but be aware that there are pictures of the llamas as well at For 91 Days.

Icelandic Elves

Nothing worse than a bunch of angry elves: Icelandic town hopes angry elves have been soothed by songs.
elves It is hoped that elves and hidden people around the north-western Icelandic town of Bolungarvik will start to calm down again following their recent dangerous pranks and humans’ subsequent efforts to appease them.
Local residents sang songs and said prayers in honor of the peeved hidden folk and elves this week in an effort to smooth ruffled feathers. Dynamiting began again midweek following a nasty incident, reported here, where rocks and soil rained down on Bolungarvik.
Some people pointed the finger of blame on angry elves who had finally snapped. The dynamiting for the town’s new avalanche defense barrier comes less than a year after a new road tunnel through the Oshlid hill was completed — neither of which with the prior blessing of the hidden people.
Seers requested the Bolungarvik municipal government make a full apology to the hidden people and elves for the disturbance the avalanche barrier and tunnel have caused them.
Apparently, many Iceland residents actually believe in elves.
Expression of belief in huldufólk or "hidden folk", the elves that dwell in rock formations, is common in Iceland. If the natives do not explicitly express their belief, they are often reluctant to express disbelief.

Nighttime look inside Alcatraz

Visitors get a rare sundown tour of the notorious prison that once housed Al Capone.  

Sun dog

A "double sunset"
Photo from Paul Douglas' On Weather blog:
I took this photo a few days ago (with my trusty new Olympus SZ-30 MR), showing a spectacular example of a "sun dog". An example of parhelia, sun dogs are triggered by sunlight being refracted (bent) off hexagonal ice crystals about 25,000 feet above the ground. Cirrus clouds act as billions of microscopic prisms, bending white light into the colors of the rainbow. Pretty cool.



Upping the cute factor


Baths' algae fuels biodiesel hopes

Algae growing in Bath's Roman Baths could one day be used to make fuel for our cars, scientists have claimed.

Species Placed in Simulator of Earth's Future Climate

hot sun photo  
If the projections of countless scientists are correct, the climate of this planet will be markedly different by the end of this century -- but for a group of plants and animals, that future is now. A team of biologists have undertaken an unprecedented experiment to see how species native to the Amazon rainforest will fare in changing climates by subjecting them to conditions that mimic the hotter, more polluted world that may be on its way.

Article continues: Species Placed in Simulator of Earth's Future Climate
Via Treehugger

Jellyfish Cause 4 Nuclear Reactor Shutdowns

Four reactors in Japan, Scotland and Israel were recently shutdown after jellyfish blocked the screens used to filter out the seawater needed to cool down the reactors. Apparently there have been dozens of similar shut downs over the last few decades and scientists still are struggling to figure out why there has been such a large increase in the jellyfish population.

I have faced wild buffalo, elephants and lions but I will never cross another Scottish cow

A safari guide who faced down lions and elephants is lucky to be alive after she was flattened...by a herd of Scots cows.

Bear Caught Napping with Fish

This photograph was taken by Rick Sheremeta, who tells us about the shot.
On a recent photo trip to Alaska’s McNeil River, I spent four days observing and photographing Brown Bears. The bears routine became pretty obvious – they’d fish for a while until their bellies were full, then they’d wander off into the grass for a little nap. This ole gal never quite got that far – after snaring this salmon, she wandered into a shallow pool at the side of the river, cradled the fish under her arm, and promptly nodded off. It was really comical to see her just sitting there sound asleep.
It’s an entry in the 2011 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, which is still open for entries, but only through July 11th! Find out all about the contest at National Geographic Traveler.

Animal Pictures