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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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Something is preventing you from seeing that the pressing problems are right in front of you -- is that your ego? 
Take off your rose-colored glasses and open your eyes to the light of reality. 
The good news is that it is not nearly as harsh as you feared. 
Avoiding the issue is not going to solve the issue -- it's only going to make the problem worse. 
You owe it to yourself today to step up and do what needs to be done. 
Apologies won't be necessary, but humility is.

Some of our readers today have been in: 
Morini, Morini, Comoros
London, England, United Kingdom
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Newbury, England, United Kingdom
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands
Liege, Liege, Belgium
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Madrid, Madrid, Spain

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 Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento  and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, September 28, the 271st day of 2011.
There are 94 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
There isn't one.
However it is Fish Tank Floor Show Night.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Wondrous Wednesday

Look Up! Uranus Opposes the Sun
Astronomer Mark Thompson investigates why the "ice giant" Uranus is at a very special point in its orbit.  

Did you know ...

Read one today!

Andy Rooney's last show

The 92-year-old will contribute his 1,097th essay before signing off as TV's most famous curmudgeon.  

Crabby Road


Public Service Announcement


Power Without Status Makes People Mean

Why are pencil-pusher bureaucrats - like, for example, DMV workers - are often so mean? Researchers led by Nathanael J. Fast at Stanford Graduate School of Business have the answer:
A new study shows why interactions with DMV employees and other clerical workers can be so fraught, and why it can feel like they are picking on people who just want to register a car. The research, titled The Destructive Nature of Power Without Status, concludes that people in positions with power but low social status often use their authority to demean others.The lesson is not just that power corrupts, but that putting people in demeaning roles leads them to demean others. In other words, it's a real life reminder of the trope that "misery loves company."
The study used 213 undergraduate students in role play scenarios, simulating different combinations of power and status. The researchers told some students they were high-status "idea producers" and others they were low-level workers, and split them further into low- and high-power groups. The students were asked to assign their classmates tasks from a list including everything from "clap your hands 50 times" to "say 'I am filthy' five times." The students given high power but low status were significantly more likely to assign the most demeaning tasks than members of the other three groups. That "demonstrates that power liberates one to act on the negative emotions that result when one is being disrespected by others," says Stanford's Nir Halevy, one of the study's three authors.

Unemployed to entrepreneur

These young people have found that following their passions is paying off, despite the weak economy.

Let jobless sue

Unemployed workers would be allowed to fight economic discrimination under a provision in the jobs bill.

Minimum wage spurs poverty

Many fully employed Americans earn less than $22,314 — the poverty level for a family of four.

Class Warfare

The rich don't like the rest of the people to actually fight back. No sir, they truly do not.

Taking action

Real citizens rise up against citizens united.

What If Bigness is the Problem?

If he were alive, economist and political scientist Leopold Kohr would probably say "I told you so" about the economic crises that plagued both the United States and Europe.
The problem, he argued, wasn't that the economy didn't grow. It was because it grew too big. Actually, everything grew too big and bigness was the root of the problem:
Kohr was a modest, self-deprecating man, but this was not the reason his ideas have been ignored by movers and shakers in the half century since they were produced. They have been ignored because they do not flatter the egos of the power-hungry, be they revolutionaries or plutocrats. In fact, Kohr's message is a direct challenge to them. "Wherever something is wrong," he insisted, "something is too big." [...]
Settling in the US, Kohr began to write the book that would define his thinking. Published in 1957, The Breakdown of Nations laid out what at the time was a radical case: that small states, small nations and small economies are more peaceful, more prosperous and more creative than great powers or superstates. It was a claim that was as unfashionable as it was possible to make. This was the dawn of the space age – a time of high confidence in the progressive, gigantist, technology-fuelled destiny of humankind. Feted political thinkers were talking in all seriousness of creating a world government as the next step towards uniting humanity. Kohr was seriously at odds with the prevailing mood. He later commented, dryly, that his critics "dismissed my ideas by referring to me as a poet".
Kohr's claim was that society's problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organisation, but by their size. Socialism, anarchism, capitalism, democracy, monarchy – all could work well on what he called "the human scale": a scale at which people could play a part in the systems that governed their lives. But once scaled up to the level of modern states, all systems became oppressors. Changing the system, or the ideology that it claimed inspiration from, would not prevent that oppression – as any number of revolutions have shown – because "the problem is not the thing that is big, but bigness itself".
Paul Kingsnorth wrote this intriguing article over at The Guardian: here.

Anti-Religion Billboard

I'm not much for organized atheism, but I like this campaign: Calif. Atheist Billboards Lump Magic Underwear, Voodoo With Salvation.
An atheist group continues to spread its anti-Christian, anti-religion message in the typically conservative communities of Orange County, Calif., by unveiling two more billboard signs mocking faith this week.
One of the billboards located in the city of Orange states, "Make this a better world. Reject all religious superstitions." Listed underneath the proclamation are 36 different references to Christianity, other religions, and cults. Included in the list are: "Talking Snakes," "Burning Bushes," "Resurrection," "Salvation," and "Sin."
Lumped in with the Christian references are "Voodoo," "Magic Underwear," "Astrology," and "Hand of Fatima."
The group responsible is called the Backyard Skeptics.
"I'm lumping them together to make a point that all of the religionists in the world think that the other religionists' superstitions are silly except for theirs," Gleason said. "We (Backyard Skeptics) think that people harm others because of their religious superstitions. If the world did not have any of these superstitions it would absolutely be a better place."

Fugitive hijacker nabbed

George Wright dressed as a priest to board a Delta flight with his "communal family."  

Judge Rules Iraqi Can Be Tried In Civilian Court

A federal judge has ruled that an Iraqi national charged in Kentucky with terrorism-related crimes can be tried in civilian court.

Iran planning to send ships near US waters

From the "Not the best idea they've ever had" Department:

Iran plans to send ships near the Atlantic coast of the United States, state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday, quoting a commander.

Stop Studying So Hard!

Says South Korean Government to Students
Can't get your students motivated enough to study? Not a problem in South Korea - in fact, they have the opposite problem: their students study too much.
How much? Let's say that the problem is so bad that the government started raiding study halls to stop students from studying. No, seriously.
Amanda Ripley wrote this must-read article for TIME Magazine:
In South Korea, it has come to this. To reduce the country's addiction to private, after-hours tutoring academies (called hagwons), the authorities have begun enforcing a curfew — even paying citizens bounties to turn in violators.
The raid starts in a leisurely way. We have tea, and I am offered a rice cracker. Cha Byoung-chul, a midlevel bureaucrat at Seoul's Gangnam district office of education, is the leader of this patrol. I ask him about his recent busts, and he tells me about the night he found 10 teenage boys and girls on a cram-school roof at about 11 p.m. "There was no place to hide," Cha recalls. In the darkness, he tried to reassure the students. "I told them, 'It's the hagwon that's in violation, not you. You can go home.'"
Cha smokes a cigarette in the parking lot. Like any man trying to undo centuries of tradition, he is in no hurry. "We don't leave at 10 p.m. sharp," he explains. "We want to give them 20 minutes or so. That way, there are no excuses." Finally, we pile into a silver Kia Sorento and head into Daechi-dong, one of Seoul's busiest hagwon districts. The streets are thronged with parents picking up their children. The inspectors walk down the sidewalk, staring up at the floors where hagwons are located — above the Dunkin' Donuts and the Kraze Burgers — looking for telltale slivers of light behind drawn shades.
At about 11 p.m., they turn down a small side street, following a tip-off. They enter a shabby building and climb the stairs, stepping over an empty chip bag. On the second floor, the unit's female member knocks on the door. "Hello? Hello!" she calls loudly. A muted voice calls back from within, "Just a minute!" The inspectors glance at one another. "Just a minute" is not the right answer. Cha sends one of his colleagues downstairs to block the elevator. The raid begins.

GM's OnStar Reverses Course On Tracking

General Motors' OnStar division announced Tuesday that it has changed course and decided not to collect driving data from customers who have canceled their OnStar subscriptions.



How retailers trick you

Retailers strategically display items and set up deals based on shoppers' behavior. 

The '867-5309' discount trick

The number "867-5309" from the 1980s song is the key to discounts at chains and supermarkets.

Eat for $7 or less a day

A New Yorker shares strategies anyone can use to make food bills drop dramatically.

Deadly cantaloupe kills 16 so far

Listeria poisoning causes at least 13 deaths weeks after the tainted melons are recalled. 
That is seriously messed up. AP:
Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.
The CDC said Tuesday that they have confirmed two deaths in Texas and one death each in in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Last week the CDC reported two deaths in Colorado, four deaths in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Maryland.

Foods for healthy eyes

Try these great-tasting ways to get all the nutrients you need to see well.  

Does It Really Take More Muscles To Frown Than To Smile?

It's a common phrase used in an attempt to change the mood of a potentially unhappy person or to invoke optimism. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But is the saying true?

Acid Park

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Farm - Lucama, NC
Vollis Simpson built a collection of what he calls “whirlygigs” on his property in Wilson, North Carolina, that came to be known as Acid Park. According to an urban legend, Simpson’s daughter died in a car wreck while on LSD and the whirlygigs are her drug-induced visions as interpreted by her father. None of this is true, but the eight moving sculptures are there.
Read the real story and see more pictures at Atlas Obscura.

Daily Comic Relief


Famous 'Frankenstein' tale confirmed

A scientist validates a long-disputed story of how Mary Shelley concocted her famous book.

Virtual Monkeys Recreate the Works of Shakespeare

The infinite monkey theorem proposes that a group of monkeys, or even a single one, could reproduce the collected works of William Shakespeare by hitting random keystrokes if given sufficient time. It is, however, hard to prove this theorem with an experiment that uses actual monkeys. So computer engineer Jesse Anderson created a simulation that successfully reproduced 99.9% of the Bard’s published writings:
“The computer program I wrote compares that monkey’s gibberish to every work of Shakespeare to see if it actually matches a small portion of what Shakespeare wrote. If it does match, the portion of gibberish that matched Shakespeare is marked with green,” Andersen explained on his blog. “The parts of Shakespeare that have not been found are colored white. This process is repeated over and over until the monkeys have created every work of Shakespeare through random gibberish.”
Anderson developed the project to test Amazon’s web servers, but also to satisfy his curiosity of whether an infinite number of monkeys could randomly reproduce Shakespeare’s work by pecking away on an infinite number of typewriters.



Prehistoric Beetles Sported Hotrod Colors

Many beetle fossils have color, but they are a far cry from the hotrod shades these insects once flashed.  

How to Hatch a Dinosaur

Jack Horner is seeking funding for a project in which he would reverse-engineer a dinosaur using chickens. Horner has already rejected the Jurassic Park method of cloning dinosaur DNA (he was a consultant on the film). Instead, he plans to switch on ancient traits that still exist in the DNA of modern birds.
Already, researchers have found tantalizing clues that at least some ancient dinosaur characteristics can be reactivated. Horner is the first to admit that he doesn’t know enough to do the work himself, so he’s actively seeking a developmental biology postdoctoral fellow to join his lab group in Montana. Horner has the big ideas, and he has some seed funding.
Now all he needed to make it happen, he told his TED audience, was a few breakthroughs in developmental biology and genetics and all the chicken eggs he could get his hands on. “What we’re trying to do is take our chicken, modify it, and make,” he said, “a chickenosaurus.”
Wired magazine looks at the genetic research that led Horner to believe that such a project is feasible. What could possibly go wrong?  

Jack the sheep barks, herds his own kind and thinks he's a dog

A rescued lamb raised with a springer spaniel is now convinced he is a dog. Six-month-old Jack is so sure he is a canine he fetches sticks, jumps up on his hind legs and even tries to bark.

Photo from SWNS.

The farm in Market Drayton, Shropshire, where Jack was raised is owned by Alison Sinstadt and her partner Simon, who both began to notice the sheep's dog-like behaviour ever since it built a friendship with the couple's dog. ‘He makes this strange half baa, half woof noise which everyone finds hilarious,’ Alison said.

‘Jack doesn’t even recognise sheep as his own kind as he tries to herd them up when he’s in a field with them.’ The friendship between Jack and the springer spaniel has been the main cause of the sheep's new-found characteristics. So much so, that they accompany each other along the canal when going on 'dog' walks and share the same sleeping box.

'He was born one of three lambs, which is quite rare,' explained Alison. 'He was very small and we decided to bring him in the house and put the hairdryer on him and forced him to drink milk. He thinks he’s a dog, but he doesn’t eat dog food. He grazes along the canal towpath. He is very much part of the family now. We wouldn’t want him ending up as lamb chops.'

The Toughest Little Bird You've Never Heard Of

They're nothing to look at. They're not colorful. They seem so ordinary, in mottled brown, black and gray. But you'd be so wrong. Bar-tailed Godwits are special. They are the only birds known to fly more than 7,000 miles nonstop. That means no food breaks, no water breaks, no sleep breaks, no pausing, just pushing through cyclones, storms, headwinds, flappity flap, flap for days and nights.

In September and October the Bar-tailed Godwits leave Alaska, head straight for the ocean. Though they are land birds, and cannot fish or rest on the sea, they will cross most of the Pacific Ocean, and fly all the way to New Zealand. Many of them are young, and have never done this before. No other bird can do what they do, and they're doing it right now.

Fish Tales

An unsuspecting crew of anglers fight day and night to land a blue marlin in waters off Mexico.  
On her very first trip, Lindsay Schutte lands a fish not seen in Texas in over 30 years. 

Crafty snake in the cracks

A crafty garter snake manages to stay warm with an amazing act of contortion.

Retired Lab Chimps Finally Experience Life Outdoors

chimps see outdoors photo 
Screenshot via YouTube
For most of their lives, they were kept in tiny enclosures as guiltless prisoners, mere test subjects exploited for having a physiology analogous to our own. But now, after nearly 40 years of captivity, seven retired lab chimpanzees are learning what it means to be alive outdoors. Gone are the cold, metal cages and sterile biomedical equipment, replaced with a playground haven and the golden warmth of sunlight. All of this was made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers, who, over the last year, worked to build the chimps a new retirement facility. And seeing the animals joyfully exploring their new home, they say, makes it all worth it.

Article continues: Retired Lab Chimps Finally Experience Life Outdoors (Video)

Animal Pictures