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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, October 2, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
A fretting friend will definitely receive all the recognition that she or he has been working so hard to gain, but not for a while -- so be prepared to endure a lot more of this pal's worrying and stressed-out behavior.
You can try to explain that everything will be fine until you're blue in the face, but it won't help.
Plan a fun outing that'll get both of your minds off of your worries -- an evening at a comedy club, perhaps. 

 Some of our readers today have been in:
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
London, England, United Kingdom
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Manila, Manila, Philippines

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 Escondido, San Jose, San Clemente, Oakland  and more.

Today is:
Today is Sunday, October 2, the 275th day of 2011.
There are 90 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
World Farm Animals Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Subtle Sunday


Look Out For My Love

Neil Young

Obama blasts repugican gay stance

The president tells Republicans how a commander in chief should act when a soldier gets booed.  

Daily Comic Relief


Hundreds arrested in N.Y.

Police clash with anti-Wall Street demonstrators after they swarm the Brooklyn Bridge.  

Bits and Pieces

The American empire is collapsing, and Americans will be the last to know.

It's a crock that millions can't get work precisely because they're out of work.

The Koch brothers are freaking out over unpublished scandal story.

Hot off the presses: The occupied Wall Street Journal.

Are you aware that 10% of Wisconsin lives in poverty.

Crabby Road


Bank of America Web Site down, coincidence or hacked?

Nobody seems to know why the Bank of America Web Site has been down. Was it due to hackers irate at the new $5 debit card fee or is the timing of the outage merely coincidence?
From a security point of view it does not actually matter. If the site it down, it is down. For a major commerce site to suffer an unscheduled outage of this type is a major embarrassment no matter what the cause. That your Web sites are down because you did not plan enough capacity or redundancy does not make it OK.

As a security specialist, I have worked in the payments sector from time to time. The effort by the Fed to reduce the fees charged by banks to merchants was completely justified in my view. The charges that are made through the debit card network should carry absolutely no credit risk for the bank and the fraud risk is entirely the fault of the banks for their bad choice of security technology. Neither risk is sufficient to justify even the 22 cent per transaction fee that will be allowed after the Fed mandated cut. The 44 cents charged is utterly ludicrous.

The Chip and Pin system deployed in Europe and many other parts of the world has practically eliminated card present fraud at a cost of about $1 per card issued plus some infrastructure. There are technical flaws in the particular scheme deployed that I would prefer to see fixed, but it has proved more than sufficient to dramatically reduce fraud.

My email inbox is currently stuffed with mendacious emails on this topic from K-Street lobbyists and their astroturf fronts. Like many a campaign hatched on K-Street it seems to be more about furthering the interests of the lobbyists than their clients. The Republican shills running this campaign will win kudos in their party hierarchy and be rewarded with invitations to prestigious functions, but if they had an ounce of honesty they would have told their client that the effort is futile and will only damage them.

The change in the interchange fee only applies to banks with over $10B in assets. Thus it is unlikely that the smaller banks will be charging fees and the probability that BofA will actually follow through and charge the fee is practically nil.

That's what they think ...


Where to live like the wealthy for less

These five neighborhoods on the outskirts of expensive ZIP codes boast lower housing prices.  

Money-wasting mistakes

Eliminating these three mistakes when you go appliance shopping can save you cash.  

Slash your bills with lemons

Lemons in the bathroom
Have you ever cleaned your bath with a lemon, your windows with vinegar and your oven with salt? 

Random Photos


How to take the perfect photo

Camera / Fotolia
Learning to hone your eyes is the first step to a great snap, and photographer Rachel Warne shows how. Thirds rule 

Retro Photo


Shasta County, California by Russell Lee c.1940

I bet this was a great place to hang out…

Shasta County, California  c.1940

Comes A Time

Neil Young

KISS rocker Simmons weds

The KISS rocker and Shannon Tweed tie the knot in front of hundreds of guests.  

Two Climbers and Thumb Rescued from El Capitan

Monday, one of two Austrian climbers on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California took a fall. He didn’t fall to the ground, but his safety rope snapped off his right thumb. The thumb landed on the ledge that the climber’s partner was on, so he saved the severed digit. The climbers had a phone with them, and called for help. YOSAR (Yosemite Search and Rescue) made a difficult and dramatic retrieval of the injured man from the cliff face, as you’ll see in an account from climber and photographer Tom Evans.
I couldn’t believe it… they were going to send up Rangers Jeff Webb, and Dave Pope, on the end of a 100ft line hanging from the bottom of the NPS Fire chopper, and somehow have the climbers pull them into the belay!  I have never seen such a mission on an EC rescue as the chopper would be awfully close to the face and it isn’t that easy to pull people hanging on a rope 30 or so feet into a stance.  The late afternoon light was fading fast so they send the chopper, flown brilliantly by Richard Shatto, up to take a look and judge if the wind conditions were within limits.
After the initial flight the Rangers were attached to the long line and the mission was on.  The chopper lifted up and the men were soon riding the rocket to the face of ElCap!  Impressive to say the least!
Evans took plenty of breathtaking photographs of the rescue operation. Oh yeah, the thumb was surgically reattached.

Six Real Cool and Real Spy Gadgets

It’s easy to look at this picture and wonder, “why is this umbrella so special that it is locked in a glass case?” But that’s before you learn it was a brilliant Soviet spy weapon:
So it was that one day, while Markov was walking to his car in London, he felt a sharp bite on his thigh. When he turned around he saw nothing, only a man who fumbled briefly with an umbrella before running off. The next day he became deathly ill, and died, as one is wont to do when becoming deathly ill. To this day no one has ever been tried for the murder.
Yes, a man shot him with an umbrella that held a BB gun covered in deadly poison. Read about more insane spy weapons over at Cracked.

And now, for something completely different ...

Bohemian Rhapsody gets the Hayseed Dixie treatment.

Health care law goes to court

The high court's most momentous docket in decades will confront a slate of charged issues.

Help choosing a health plan

Re-enrolling in the same plan you have now could be costly in light of what employers are doing.

Early signs of breast cancer

Breast cancer / Fotolia
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, so it's crucial to spot these warning signs.  

Ten facts about headaches

Headaches can be caused by all kinds of things, but the last one on this list is necessary for life.

Eat more slowly or risk diabetes, a new study warns

People who eat food quickly are twice as likely to develop impaired glucose tolerance, known as pre-diabetes, according to a new study.

The five most important supplements

Some mainstream multi-vitamins are inadequate, so it's best to find out what you need.  

Culinary DeLites

Tasty potato dishes
Did you know it's Potato Week? Celebrate with one of our 10 delicious potato recipes. 
Tasty stir-fry (library photo)

Annabel Karmel shows how to make a delicious meal from scratch quicker than ordering a takeaway.  



Hurricane Irene and Extreme Weather Killed the Northeast's Pumpkins

The effects of Hurricane Irene are still being felt long after the storm's passing. As we start gearing up for Halloween, it turns out there's a major glitch in the plans, the AP reported: a severe pumpkin shortage. Irene did major damage to farms in the Northeast, destroying hundreds of pumpkin patches. Predictably, the shortage has led to the doubling of wholesale prices of the pumpkins that have survived.
Article continues: Hurricane Irene and Extreme Weather Killed the Northeast's Pumpkins. So No Halloween?

The Alnwick Poison Gardens

Deadly Gates
The Alnwick Poison Gardens in Alnwick, England was established in 2005 by the Duchess of Northumberland. The grounds contain nearly 100 deadly plants that produce poisons or hallucinogens. Some are so dangerous, they are displayed only behind glass. And yes, there are opium poppies, cannabis, and magic mushrooms as well, but you can’t get close to them. Read about the poison gardens and other strange gardens that are (or once were) open to the public around the world in a list called Gardens of Death and Other Horticultural Marvels at Atlas Obscura.

The Most Incredible Slot Canyons On Earth

A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than 3 ft across at the top but drop more than 100 ft to the floor of the canyon.

Hidden away, and with walls that remind one of abstract art, they are like sanctums provided by nature, but they can also be dangerous - even deadly. Notwithstanding, here are some of the most interesting and beautiful slot canyons on Earth.

Dead Sea Not Quite Dead Yet

Dead Sea Not Quite Dead Yet
SCUBA divers have explored the bottom of the Dead Sea and found microbial life and freshwater springs.

Did Life on Earth Begin at Deep Sea Smokers?

How did life on Earth begin? Well, there are a few hypotheses.
In the beginning, for example, there's the 6-day theory. Then came the Aristotle and his readily observable truths that flies came from decaying matters and that crocodiles came from rotting logs and so on. Then - fast forward a few hundred years - in Soviet Russia, primordial soup creates you.
But now, some scientists say we owe life on Earth on a white smoker (no, not that one though arguably he was old enough to have been the first living thing on this planet):
Scientists, disenchanted with an 80 year old theory that life began in a "primordial soup," are focusing on deep-sea pressure cookers that were unknown just a couple of decades ago. Life may wemall have begun in tiny "chimneys" in a green rock that is common on earth, as well as other celestial bodies, when the ocean was 100 times more acidic than it is today, and the planet was much warmer.
Serpentine, California's official state rock, is on center stage today as a possible major player in generating the first life on Earth, more than 3.8 billion years ago.
This green stone, which looks a lot like jade, could have been a "rich incubator" of the unicellular life that first flooded the earth so long ago, according to geophysics professor Norm Sleep of Stanford University. Sleep didn't invent the idea of serpentine as an incubator, but he set out to learn if the theorizing of biologists could survive a geological inquiry. Were the geological conditions of early Earth compatible with life originating in serpentine?



The Top 10 Misunderstood Creatures

Many animals unfortunately suffer from a rather negative image in human culture, regarded by us as frightening, disgusting or just plain lowly. Nature, however, has no 'vermin' or 'pests' -all things have their place in the natural order of things, and in most cases, the benefits of an organism far outweigh its (accidental) inconveniences.

Even animals many of us find 'ugly' are only demonstrating the perfect body shape for their particular ecological niche. Open up your mind a little, and you just might find some beauty in something that once made your skin crawl.

Single Gene Turns Subservient Mouse into Boss Mouse

Two mice meet in a narrow plastic tube that's not wide enough for both of them. That sounds like the opening of a really bad science joke, but stick with me. The punchline is downright amazing:
One of them must give way. In their earlier encounter, the first mouse exerted its dominance by forcing its rival to reverse down the tube. This time, things are different; the second mouse pulls rank and the first one backs down.
Mouse hierarchies don’t change this readily, but the second mouse has been given a boon by Fei Wang at the Chinese Academy of Science. By injecting a single gene into one part of its brain, Wang turned the subordinate animal into a dominant one.

The gene that gave the mouse a burst of social mobility is GluR4. It creates part of a protein called the AMPA receptor, which allows signals to flow quickly between two neurons. By injecting extra GluR4 into a mouse’s brain, and producing more AMPA receptors, Wang strengthened the connections between its neurons. The effect is like building expressways between two cities overnight – you can have a much larger and faster flow of traffic between them. [...]
By manipulating this signalling, he could push mice up or down the social ladder. With an extra dose of GluR4, the mice gained social standing. When they confronted other mice in a cramped plastic tube, they were more likely to force their rivals to retreat, even if they had previously given way. With their new rank, they were also more likely to court female mice with high-pitched ultrasonic songs.

Shark Rescued By Venice Beach Surfers

great white shark photo
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulmannix/552060084
In light of the hard-to-swallow story I wrote about shark fin soup a few weeks ago, I was thrilled see humans show some compassion for this stunning predator. Venice beach surfers risked getting bitten by a baby great white shark this week in order to save the little guy from almost certain death, according to a story on NBC Los Angeles.

Animal Pictures