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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.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Today you will be a little bit overwhelmed by money -- getting it, earning it, winning it or just holding on to it.
Witnessing the misfortunes of other people has been a sobering experience for you, and you've learned from their mistakes.
However, don't let protecting your money become an obsession -- and thereby give money too much control over your life.
After all, money is meant to be used (not buried in the backyard) -- and you can't take it with you.

Some of our readers today have been in:
 Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Cork, Cork, Ireland
London, England, United Kingdom
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Bilbao, Pais, Vasco, Spain
Vevy, Vaud, Switzerland
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Seoul, Kyonggi-Do, Korea
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei and Muara, Brunei Darussalam
Slough, England, United Kingdom
London, Ontario, Canada
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Auckland, New Zealand
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Glasgow, Scotland, 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 Glendale, Austin, Lexington, Gowrie and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, July 16, the 197th day of 2011.
There are 168 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
Cow Appreciation Day
Woodie Wagon Day
National Hot Dog Day.
As well as Hot Dog Night!

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
July 16, 2011
Today, there’s a debate going on in Washington over the best way to get America’s fiscal house in order and get our economy on a stronger footing going forward.
For a decade, America has been spending more money than we’ve taken in.  For several decades, our debt has been rising.  And let’s be honest – neither party in this town is blameless. Both have talked this problem to death without doing enough about it.  That’s what drives people nuts about Washington.  Too often, it’s a place more concerned with playing politics and serving special interests than resolving real problems or focusing on what you’re facing in your own lives.
But right now, we have a responsibility – and an opportunity – to reduce our deficit as much as possible and solve this problem in a real and comprehensive way.
Simply put, it will take a balanced approach, shared sacrifice, and a willingness to make unpopular choices on all our parts.  That means spending less on domestic programs.  It means spending less on defense programs.  It means reforming programs like Medicare to reduce costs and strengthen the program for future generations.  And it means taking on the tax code, and cutting out certain tax breaks and deductions for the wealthiest Americans.
Now, some of these things don’t make folks in my party too happy.  And I wouldn’t agree to some of these cuts if we were in a better fiscal situation, but we’re not.  That’s why I’m willing to compromise.  I’m willing to do what it takes to solve this problem, even if it’s not politically popular.  And I expect leaders in Congress to show that same willingness to compromise.
The truth is, you can’t solve our deficit without cutting spending.  But you also can’t solve it without asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share – or without taking on loopholes that give special interests and big corporations tax breaks that middle-class Americans don’t get.
It’s pretty simple.  I don’t think oil companies should keep getting special tax breaks when they’re making tens of billions in profits.  I don’t think hedge fund managers should pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries.  I don’t think it’s fair to ask nothing of someone like me when the average family has seen their income decline over the past decade – and when many of you are just trying to stretch every dollar as far it it’ll go.
We shouldn’t put the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of folks who’ve already borne the brunt of the recession.  It’s not reasonable and it’s not right.  If we’re going to ask seniors, or students, or middle-class Americans to sacrifice, then we have to ask corporations and the wealthiest Americans to share in that sacrifice.  We have to ask everyone to play their part.  Because we are all part of the same country.  We are all in this together.
So I’ve put things on the table that are important to me and to Democrats, and I expect Republican leaders to do the same.  After all, we’ve worked together like that before.  Ronald Reagan worked with Tip O’Neill and Democrats to cut spending, raise revenues, and reform Social Security.  Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich and Republicans to balance the budget and create surpluses.  Nobody ever got everything they wanted.  But they worked together.  And they moved this country forward.
That kind of cooperation should be the least you expect from us – not the most you expect from us.  You work hard, you do what’s right, and you expect leaders who do the same.  You sent us to Washington to do the tough things.  The right things.  Not just for some of us, but for all of us.  Not just what’s enough to get through the next election – but what’s right for the next generation.
You expect us to get this right.  To put America back on firm economic ground.  To forge a healthy, growing economy.  To create new jobs and rebuild the lives of the middle class.  And that’s what I’m committed to doing.
Thank you.

News Corp. Down Two

It's a start but we have a whole lot more to go ...
Rebekah Brooks, a close confidante of Rupert Murdoch, quits in the wake of the U.K. phone hacking scandal.  
    A longtime confidant of Rupert Murdoch and the woman who became his protege are stepping down.

      Awesome Pictures


      Nobody wants to be mayor

      The races for mayor and three commission seats are wide open in the small North Carolina town of Tar Heel -- because no one bothered to run.
      No one has registered as a candidate for the fall elections in the Bladen County town. The story was first reported by WECT-TV.
      The ballots will be printed with blank spaces for voters to write in their choices.
      Current Mayor Ricky Martin says he's not surprised no one wants the jobs. Even in a town of 117, it's hard work with little compensation. And Martin says state budget cuts mean the next elected officials might have to raise taxes.
      Cynthia Shaw, the director of the county's board of elections, says it's the first time she has seen an entire town without a candidate.

      Six risks of using checks

      Office supply stores sell a cheap way to protect yourself against check fraud. 

        Non Sequitur


        Police shut down girls' lemonade stand

        Police in Georgia have shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to save up for a trip to a water park, saying they didn't have a business license or the required permits.

        Houses that look familiar

        These homes are dead ringers for ones like those in "Up" and "The Simpsons." 

        The Witch's House in Beverly Hills

        Photo: GottShotts [Flickr]
        This witch's house looks straight out of the Wizard of Oz, but it's actually located in Beverly Hills, California. Yes, that Beverly Hills.
        Known formally as “The Spadena House,” but better known simply as “The Witch’s House,” this bizarre, whimsical creation was built in 1921 for a movie studio in Culver City. It was used in several silent films, and then moved to this pleasant residential neighborhood in Beverly Hills in 1926, where it is now a private home.
        But the small house might as well have been created by the Brothers Grimm.
        It looks for all the world like some haunted fairy tale cottage; you half expect Hansel & Gretel to walk out the front door. The yellow walls of the house slope precariously, giving the impression of imminent collapse. Its dilapidated, pitched roof (covered with odd-shaped brown shingles) is pointed like a witch’s hat. The saggy, wooden window shutters are hung at odd angles. An eccentric picket fence surrounds the property, made of wavy, warped wooden pickets.

        Daily Comic Relief


        Worst cities for pedestrians

        Urban walkers in the southern part of the United States have the most to worry about.  

          Man replicates $1.5 mil Bugatti

          It took nine months for a Florida man to turn an old Mercury Cougar into a replica Bugatti Veyron.

          Woody Wagons

          Today it's National Woody Wagon Day in the USA. A Woodie wagon is a car body style, especially a station wagon, where the rear bodywork is constructed of wood framework with infill panels of wood or painted metal. As a variant of body-on-frame construction, woodies originated from the early 1930s practice of manufacturing the passenger compartment portion of a vehicle in hardwood.

          The Woodie wagon was popular in the United States and were typically manufactured as third-party conversions of regular vehicles. Eventually, bodies constructed entirely in steel supplanted wood construction - for reasons of strength, cost and durability.



          Facebook saves child's life

          A woman credits the social networking website with helping diagnose her son’s mystery illness.  

          Worst tech social blunders

          Facebook and text messaging make it easy to infuriate your friends and family if you aren't careful.  



          Degrees with the best value

          The difference in average earning potential between two degrees can be 300%, a study says. 

          Teachers Implicated In Atlanta Scandal Told To Resign

          The superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools has ordered that 178 educators allegedly involved in a teaching scandal resign by next Wednesday or face termination proceedings.

          Are Search Engines Changing The Way Our Memory Works?

          If you can Google it, why bother remembering? Being able to access facts with just a few keystroke definitely improved our lives, but it has actually changed the way our memories work.
          A study of 46 college students found lower rates of recall on newly-learned facts when students thought those facts were saved on a computer for later recovery.
          If you think a fact is conveniently available online, then, you may be less apt to learn it.
          As ominous as that sounds, however, study co-author and Columbia University psychologist Elizabeth Sparrow said it’s just another form of so-called transactive memory, exhibited by people working in groups in which facts and expertise are distributed.
          “It’s very similar to how we use people in our lives,” said Sparrow. “The internet is really just an interface with a lot of other people.”
          Like Einstein said, never memorize what you can look up: Full Story

          The Time Indiana Tried to Change Pi to 3.2

          Did you hear the one about the state that tried to make pi equal to 3.2 -by law? It’s not a joke. It happened in Indiana in 1897.
          The story of the “Indiana pi bill” starts with Edward J. Goodwin, a Solitude, Indiana, physician who spent his free time dabbling in mathematics. Goodwin’s pet obsession was an old problem known as squaring the circle. Since ancient times, mathematicians had theorized that there must be some way to calculate the area of circle using only a compass and a straightedge. Mathematicians thought that with the help of these tools, they could construct a square that had the exact same area as the circle. Then all one would need to do to find the area of the circle was calculate the area of the square, a simple task.
          It can’t be done, but you don’t have to be a math wuiz to be a state legislator. Besides, Goodwin had his reasons for pushing the bill to redefine pi.



          How doctors find a doctor

          A Harvard degree is nice, but has he kept abreast of the latest research? 

            Eight glasses of water a day?

            Drinking six to eight glasses a day is "thoroughly debunked nonsense," one doctor says. 

              How much we love ice cream

              Americans have enjoyed the treat since colonial times, but the idea dates back centuries earlier.  

              Stadium's $80 hot dog

              Your run-of-the-mill stadium delight pales in comparison to this half-pound behemoth.  

                Judge dismisses Safeway suit over SF tobacco ban

                Score another one for the good guys!

                A federal judge on Friday found that the city of San Francisco has a right to ban tobacco sales in stores with pharmacies even if the pharmacy is not the store's main business.

                Vegetables you might as well skip

                Three of the most popular items in the produce aisle are also the least nutritious options.

                What Is The Hottest Pepper In The World?

                In February, the editors of The Guinness Book of World Records announced that the Infinity chili, grown by Nick Woods, the proprietor of a hot-sauce company in Lincolnshire, England, was the hottest pepper ever - more than 250 times as hot as Tabasco sauce. Just two weeks later, Guinness declared that the Infinity had been unseated by another British-grown hybrid, the Naga Viper.

                Then things got complicated. Both peppers were sent to be tested for spiciness at the horticultural research center at the University of Warwick, and the results were submitted to Guinness. But Dave DeWitt, the founder of Chile Pepper magazine, author of 35 books about chilies and an adjunct professor at New Mexico State University, flatly dismisses the Guinness record as well.

                The Largest Gun Ever Built

                In 1939, Adolf Hitler needed to figure out how to get past the French Maginot line, a 1500km defensive wall of fortifications, tank barriers, artillery and machine gun nests running along the French-German and French-Italian borders. Before he figured out to simply run around the line via Belgium, Hitler schemed to destroy it outright.

                To that end, he recruited the Friedrich Krupp A.G. company of Essen, Germany, to build him a weapon capable of doing so. By 1941, the Krupp company had designed and built the largest gun of all time, the 'Gustav Gun.'

                A change of pace


                Armageddon has begun ...

                Coca-Cola, KFC may enter North Korea  <a href=http://www.zgeek.com/content.php/8199-Coca-Cola-KFC-may-enter-North-Korea>Coca-Cola, KFC may enter North Korea</a>
                Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken have recently agreed with North Korean officials to open branches in Pyongyang, according to news reports.

                Some 10 executives from the companies visited Pyongyang from July 5-9 on the invitation of the North’s Korea Taepung International Investment Group, a major channel for attracting foreign investment.

                Sources said their branches will be established as early as in September.

                The North’s decision to accept the symbols of capitalism and American culture is the latest in the poverty-stricken country’s moves to open up to the outside world.

                North Korea recently agreed with the Associated Press to open a permanent bureau in its capital. It also signed a video supply agreement with Thomson Reuters.

                Armageddon, I tell you ... Armageddon. This will be the downfall of that utopian fantasyland we've all come to love so much - goodbye North Korea.
                (How as that for snark?)

                Pregnant shoplifting mother banned from all UK stores

                Mother Sarah Parker, who stole 100 items from a Poundland store in one trip, has been banned from every shop in the country. Shoplifter Parker stole hundreds of pounds worth of clothes and food between May and June, a court heard.

                The mother of four pleaded guilty to a charge of shoplifting and asked for a series of offenses to be taken into consideration, including stealing £100 worth of goods in single items from Poundland in Canterbury, Kent, on May 19. Parker, of Herne Bay, Kent, also confessed to stealing £50 worth of meat from Morrisons and £176 worth of clothes from Peacocks. She was eventually caught leaving with £50 worth of goods from Poundland on June 7.

                Lucy Walsh, defending, told the court that Parker was ‘extremely ashamed’ of her actions. She added: ‘She’s at a loss to explain why she committed these offenses but says it is something that will never happen again.’ The 29-year-old, who is pregnant with her fifth child, was told she faces jail when she is sentenced next month.

                She was bailed by Canterbury magistrates’ court on condition she does not enter ‘any retail premises’ in the UK. Before leaving court she asked: ‘What does retail mean? Can I go in Asda and Tesco?’ before being told by magistrate Beryl Goodall: ‘No, you can get your partner to do the shopping.’

                Scotland's Garden of Cosmic Speculation

                The Garden of Cosmic Speculation has occasionally been called the most important garden in the 21st century.

                Read the story about the park and enjoy more pictures over at Environmental Graffiti.

                Massive lottery win

                The jaw-dropping prize makes Colin and Christine Weir Europe's biggest lottery winners.  

                'No toking' signs banned in Amsterdam

                Legal experts in Holland have told Amsterdam to take down signs banning the smoking of marijuana. The city put up signs in "no toking" zones of the city four years ago in an attempt to crackdown on marijuana-smoking youth.

                But the Dutch government's top legal adviser has now ruled that the city had no right to establish the zones - as smoking cannabis is already theoretically illegal. In practice, possession of small amounts of the drug is allowed in the city, and it is sold and smoked openly in designated 'coffee shops'.

                The signs portray a cannabis joint, with little marijuana leaves in the background, inside a bold red circle. They were stolen so often as collectors' items that the city opened its own merchandise line and began offering them for £80.

                Amsterdam city spokeswoman Iris Reshef acknowledged the ruling probably meant the signs would have to go - but she said the city could still issue fines to smokers. "The measures we have taken can remain in place," Ms Reshef said. "Just the signs cannot be there."

                Head of Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency Says It Is Not His Job to Protect the Environment

                From the "Someone clearly does not understand his job" Department:
                amazon in fog photo  
                As the President of Brazil's environmental protection agency IBAMA, which oversees regulationion in the world's largest rainforest, Curt Trennepohl has a very important position -- the only problem is, he says that protecting the environment isn't part of it. In an interview with Australia's "60 Minutes", when asked if his job was to guard the environment from destructive projects, Trennepohl replied: "No, my job is to minimize the impacts." And as if that were not controversial enough, the IBAMA chief then suggested that indigenous tribes which stand in the way of progress should be dealt with harshly.
                Article continues: Head of Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency Says It Is Not His Job to Protect the Environment

                Peru Celebrates Machu Picchu Amid Tourism Worries

                Tourists love the enigmatic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu high in Peru's Andes.

                They may love it too much.

                Lessons from baboon study

                Alpha males pay a steep price for perks like easy access to food and mates, a new study finds.





                Why Are Cattle Drought Deaths Across Texas Being Blamed on Too Much Water?

                cattle photo
                This summer has thus far been brutal across the nation. Drought and high temperatures are making life difficult for farmers and ranchers alike. And it's no surprise that widespread drought in Texas specifically is causing the deaths of cattle, but the reason behind it is certainly unexpected. According to the Associated Press and seen on Accuweather.com, the deaths are caused by too much water. Cattle aren't dehydrated in the way you would expect. Instead, they drink too much.
                Article continues: Why Are Cattle Drought Deaths Across Texas Being Blamed on Too Much Water?

                Sea Anemones Have Personalities

                Sea anemones may look like lumps of gelatinous blobs to you and me, but they've actually got lots of personalities.
                Scientists from the University of Plymouth, UK, discovered that they behave differently (and consistently) to stimulus:
                Animals are considered to have personalities when individuals show consistent differences in behavior across time or situations. In a paper published online this month in PLoS ONE, researchers showed that over the course of 3 weeks, individual wild beadlet anemones, Actinia equina, were remarkably reliable in how long they kept their tentacles withdrawn after being surprised by squirts of water.
                Each anemone maintained its "startle response" for anywhere from about 3 to 20 minutes, but the duration was roughly the same in response to every squirt. And the trend held regardless of the temperature in the anemones' tide pool homes, a variable that can affect behavior.
                In fact, the anemones showed more consistency than most other animals tested for personality in the wild. A variety of vertebrates and a handful of invertebrates, including octopuses and spiders—even a bacterium—are members of the personality club, but the researchers say sea anemones set a new bar as the animal with the simplest nervous system.

                Animal Pictures