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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.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
The competition might be intimidating today, but you have one thing that none of your adversaries has: Creativity. 
Use it to your advantage, and it will never let you down. 
You can see new ways of doing things, and this ability will help you pull away from the pack right after the starting gun is fired. 
Don't look back today as you leap over obstacles and wow everyone in sight with your knowledge, ability and charisma. 

Some of our readers today have been in:
Berne, Bern, Switzerland
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Woking, England, United Kingdom
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
London, Ontario, Canada
London, England, United Kingdom
Albury, New South Wales, Australia
Reykjavik, Reykjavik, Iceland
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Dusseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Napoli, Campania, Italy
Nice, Provence-Alpes-Cote D'Azur, France

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 Santa Rosa, Baton Rouge, Reading, Redland and more.

Today is:
Today is Sunday, August 14, the 226th day of 2011.
There are 139 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
There isn't one.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

S&P: Credit downgrade was the repugican’s fault

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some repugicans.

Without specifically mentioning repugicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”
When the Luddites are denying evolution, it's one thing, but when they bring their uniquely misinformed religiously-inspired "facts" to the economic sphere, what happens is you get downgraded.

The tea party Has Already Cost America $10 Trillion

Simon Johnson writes:

America’s tea party has a simple fiscal message: the United States is broke.

This is factually incorrect – US government securities remain one of the safest investments in the world – but the claim serves the purpose of dramatizing the federal budget and creating a great deal of hysteria around America’s current debt levels. This then produces the fervent belief that government spending must be cut radically, and now.

There are legitimate fiscal issues that demand serious discussion, including how to control growth in health-care spending and how best to structure tax reform. But the tea party faction of the repugican party cares more about small government than anything else: its members insist, above all, that federal tax revenue never be permitted to exceed 18% of GDP.

Their historical antecedent is America’s anti-revenue Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, not the original anti-British, pro-representation Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Most importantly, their tactics have proven massively destructive of wealth in the US. Since the prolonged showdown over the budget began earlier this year, the stock market has lost about 20% of its value (roughly $10 trillion). In effect, the tea party is working hard to reduce publicly funded social benefits – including pensions and Medicare – even as its methods dramatically reduce the value of private wealth now and in the future.

Part of the tea party’s founding myth, of course, is that smaller government will lead to faster growth and greater prosperity for all. Never mind that the eye-popping growth projections in Paul Ryan’s budget plan, for example, are utterly implausible; these projections matter politically, because, without them, the full sting of Ryan’s proposed Medicare cuts would be readily apparent.

Standard & Poor’s has received some justified criticism for the analysis behind its recent decision to downgrade US government debt; after all, there was little economic news that could explain the move’s timing. But S&P’s assessment of the political situation is on target: by creating a dysfunctional paralysis at the heart of government, the tea party has shown that it is willing to impose dramatic costs on the broader economy and to ensure significantly slower growth.

Confrontation and brinkmanship have become the new watchwords of American politics, even when the US government’s legal ability to pay its debts is on the line, owing to the tea party’s ideological rigidity. And the tone of political debate, not surprisingly, has become much nastier.

By signing a pledge not to raise taxes, tea party representatives have credibly committed themselves not to acquiesce in any middle-of-the-road compromise. If they break this pledge, presumably they will face defeat in the next round of repugican party primaries. So, while a budget deal would technically be easy to achieve, it looks politically impossible in the near term.

Indeed, while Congress and the repugican party have become less popular during 2011, support for the tea party has remained remarkably constant, at around 30% of the population. Its tactics thus appear politically sustainable, at least through the 2012 elections.

Perhaps the most damaging outcome of these tactics is to take countercyclical fiscal policy off the table completely. Regardless of what happens to the global economy in the weeks and months ahead, it is inconceivable that any kind of meaningful fiscal stimulus would get through the House of Representatives.

It remains to be seen whether the US Federal Reserve will also feel constrained by the political mood on Capitol Hill. Clearly, influential tea party supporters would strongly resist any attempt now by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to find unorthodox ways to run a more expansionary monetary policy.

And, as for protecting the financial system against disaster, the current majority on the House Financial Services Committee is clear – they favor use of the bankruptcy system when megabanks get into serious trouble. If the Eurozone crisis continues to spiral out of control, the US should expect to see Lehman or near-Lehman-type collapses among exposed financial institutions.

The irony of the tea party revolt, of course, is that it undermines the private sector more than it reins in “big government.” The S&P downgrade resulted in a “flight to quality,” meaning that investors bought US government debt – thus increasing its price and lowering the rate that the federal government pays to borrow.
It was the value of the stock market that fell sharply – which makes sense, given that counter-cyclical policy is now severely constrained. The government part of the credit system has been strengthened, relatively speaking, by developments over the past few months.

It is the private sector – where investment and entrepreneurial activity are needed to generate growth and employment – that has taken a beating.

Unless and until America’s private sector recovers, investment and job creation will continue to stagnate. But today’s atmosphere of fear and aggressive budget tactics are combining to undermine private-sector confidence and spending power.

As Jonathan Swift put it in 1727, “Party is the madness of many, for the gain of the few.”

Non Sequitur


Dalai Lama begins 3-day spiritual visit to France

The Dalai Lama began a three-day spiritual visit to France on Saturday, saying that rapprochement with Beijing was possible and that if all rights are genuinely implemented "then it's in our interest to remain within" China.

Harry kept quiet about Arctic trek

Prince Harry has revealed he did not inform the Queen of his daring trip to the Arctic in which he battled sub-zero temperatures in a punishing charity trek.

Are online classes for you?

Getting a degree electronically is a way to go to school on your own time.

How to raise credit score

Savvy consumer Tal Boldo shares an easy-to-follow plan that ended up saving her $450 per month. 

Tough money questions

Deciding whether to refinance or keep paying a mortgage deserves more than a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Gold is overvalued

Gold bars
The continuing overvaluation of gold bears scrutiny - is it a reflection of the dire state of the economy? 'Bubble' 

Large diamond heads to auction

The 43.51-carat diamond was seized in a sting operation, but its origin remains a mystery.  

Austrian says he Won Millions, Casino says No

It seemed too good to be true - a slot-machine jackpot of almost 43 million euros.
Full Story

Government pays for empty flights

Airlines get subsidies to fly to small rural airports, even if no passengers are on board.

Statue of Liberty Closing

Statue of Liberty
Visitors to New York might be shocked to find the Statue of Liberty closed from the end of October.

Most amazing hotel pools

Swim among sharks — or around a Jurassic-era rock formation — at these resort stunners. 

Arrest Costs Thief Transplant Chance

A thief who was released from a New York jail so she could get a heart transplant is back behind bars - possibly for good - after she was caught shoplifting again.

State says soldier can't play

Eddie Nuss can't play in his high school team’s first game because of a "safety issue."  

Legal ruling on red-soled shoes

From the "How and Why is this news" Department:
A judge rejects Christian Louboutin's request to block sales of similar shoes by Yves Saint Laurent.  

    Train riders' phones blocked

    San Francisco transit officials thwart a planned demonstration by turning off mobile towers.  

    The London Riots and 7 Other Things Blamed on Social Media

    When people get together and cause trouble, it’s very easy to blame the medium of communication instead of looking deeper. That’s why social networking sites get cited as the cause of so many evils. Why, don’t you know that MySpace is “worse than crack”?
    Back in 2006, Ron Vietti, Senior Pastor of Valley Bible Fellowship in Bakersfield, CA, made headlines for being a vocal critic of then-popular social networking site MySpace. He argued the site — which he called both “worse than crack, cocaine or meth” and “My Waste of Space Dot Com” — was luring boys into pornography and making young girls targets of sexual predators. As David Burger reported in The Bakersfield Californian, Vietti said the site fostered bisexuality and called the Internet “the devil’s biggest scheme he has ever inserted into our lives.” He urged his congregation to go to places young people hang out (“like bars”) to convince them to delete their MySpace profiles.
    I wonder what the telephone was blamed for in the 19th century.

    Woman Has Tongue Lengthened to Speak Korean Better

    Rhiannon Brooksbank–Jones of Beeston, UK, loves the Korean language and plans to study it in college. But she found that some sounds are hard for her to duplicate. So she’s taking a surgical solution:
    Her parents agreed to her having a lingual frenectomy, a 15–minute operation under local anaesthetic that involved an incision in the flap of skin. Rhiannon admitted that it was “agony at first” but her tongue is now about 1cm longer and she can say words that were impossible before.
    “I’d been learning Korean for about two years, and my speaking level was high, but I was really struggling with particular sounds,” she said.
    “It became apparent after a little while that I was having trouble with the Korean letter ‘L’, which is very frequent and comes from a slightly higher place in the mouth than the English ‘L’, and that my tongue was too short.
    “The surgical procedure was my only option. My pronunciation was very ‘foreign’, but now I can speak with a native Korean accent.”

    Home-made scones recipe

    Scones / Rex
    These scones are great for Sunday afternoon tea, plus they're simple, rich and delicious. 



    Lollipipe candy creating sour mood in Washington state

    A controversial candy called the Lollipipe is creating a sour mood in the state of Washington.

    Things They Won't Tell You

    Food facts not on labels
    Hidden fats and inaccurate calorie counts are only two hurdles to eating for good health.  

    Synthetic Skin From Spider Silk Heals Wounds

    golden spider photo
    Photo by I'll Never Grow Up via Flickr CC
    Researchers have been looking for better alternatives for providing skin grafts to wounds, and it turns out they need look no further than the animal kingdom. Spider silk is legendary for its strength, as well as its possible healing properties. Tissue engineer Hanna Wendt at Medical School Hannover in Germany honed in on this and found that by creating an artificial skin spun from spider silk, we could have an ideal answer for helping heal wounds.


    This is a bronze sculpture by Sukhi Barber. That is possible to make such an object self-supporting is mind-blowing.
    One of Barber’s major themes is “the transcendence of our limiting view of a solid reality.” So, appropriately, this sculpture is entitled “Appearance/Emptiness.”

    The Moon




    Ten Most Beautiful Urban Parks On Earth

    For city dwellers, it is often hard to get away into the country to breathe fresh air and enjoy rambling in nature, but many urbanites are lucky enough to have green spaces in their own backyard. City parks consist of gardens, hiking trails, zoos, observatories and so much more.

    Here are ten of the most beautiful urban parks from around the world.

    Travel To Near-Space In A 400-Foot Diameter Balloon

    A Spanish entrepreneur wants to give you a glimpse of the black expanse of space and the curvature of the earth from a most unusual vantage point - a balloon. José Mariano López-Urdiales is offering what he calls the 'near-space' experience of viewing the planet and the space beyond it from 22 miles (36km) above the earth.

    He hopes to have the first passengers aloft in the near-space vehicle called a 'bloon' by the middle of this decade. Passengers aboard the near-space ship will spend five to six hours on their journey, including two hours at cruise altitude with the blackness of space above them and the curvature of the earth below.

    Arctic Sea Ice Could Make Comeback Tour

    Arctic Sea Ice Could Make Comeback Tour
    Arctic summer ice coverage may hold strong for a decade, despite global average temperatures rise.  

    Awesome Pictures


    'Gladiators' busted as Rome police crack down

    Rome police have donned togas, capes and sandals to bust a ring of "gladiators" on assault charges outside the Colosseum and other Italian capital landmarks.

    Sunken Treasure Found in the Seas Of Sicily

    Sunken Treasure Found in the Seas Of Sicily
    Ancient bronze coins dating back to 241 BC, were discovered by chance during a survey to create an underwater archaeological itinerary.



    Groups ask court to halt Idaho wolf hunts

    Environmentalists have filed a request for an emergency injunction to halt wolf hunts scheduled to start in a few weeks in Idaho and Montana.

    Brown Cow

    Eddie Izzard goes to Friesland to try and speak old English.
    The English language as we know it originated from Holland in its earliest form 1000 years ago (old English - Angle/Saxon). Eddie proves it by going to Holland to buy a cow ...
    It should be noted that his pronunciation of old English is more akin to modern German. 

    Rare Sand Kitten Born

    Nearly extinct in the Middle East, the rare Sand Cat has finally been bred in captivity.
    After 63 days of gestation, a rare Sand Cat Kitten was born at Israel’s Zoological Center Tel Aviv Ramat Gan – Safari. Once plentiful in numbers in the dunes of Israel, the Sand Cat has become extinct in the region. This is Safari Zoo’s first successful Sand Cat birth and it is hoped this kitten will join Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program in order to help reintroduce the species into the wild.
    Three weeks ago, the kitten’s mother Rotem refused to go into the night chamber at the end of the day. Keepers let her stay outside and the next night she gave birth to a tiny baby in the den in the outdoor enclosure. Keepers first saw the kitten when it poked it’s tiny head and looked out from the den.

    Animal Pictures