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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, October 3, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
This is a great day to start on some big adventures. 
You should put upcoming travel plans into high gear today (do you have your plane tickets yet?), because the earlier you make some financial commitments, the better prices you'll get. 
If your destination is only a road trip away, today you should make an appointment to take your car in for a tune-up. 
This type of preparation now will make the trip all the more enjoyable.

 Some of our readers today have been in:
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
London, England, United Kingdom
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Berne, Bern, Switzerland
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Woking, England, United Kingdom
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Manila, Manila, Philippines
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Delhi, Delhi, India
Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Morini, Morini, Comoros
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Newbury, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Cork, Cork, Ireland
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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 Rocky Point, Pilot Mountain, Stoney Point, Chimney Rock and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, October 3, the 276th day of 2011.
There are 89 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
None today.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Manic Monday


"Koch Brothers Flout Law With Secret Iran Sales"

Nice way to start a new work week :

First we have "improper payments" to win contracts abroad.
A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.
Then we have them doing business with quite possibly the world's number one terrorist-sponsoring state.
Internal company documents show that the company made those sales through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban. Koch Industries units have also rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada.

From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Koch paid a $25 million settlement to the U.S.
Yes, you heard it right. The repugican party's number one donor and supporter is sneaking around US law in order to help the world's biggest terrorist state enrich itself.

Of course it's not the first time that top repugicans enriched themselves by enriching the world's number on terror state. Dick Cheney's Halliburton did the same thing.
The award for oddest geopolitical couple of 2005 goes to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Houston-based Halliburton.

You might not think that a charter member of President Bush's "axis of evil" could enlist the oil-services firm once run by Vice President Cheney to bolster its bargaining position with an international community intent on curbing its nuclear ambitions.

But that is apparently what happened last month.
What is it with repugicans and their desire to help terrorists states enrich themselves by doing a runaround US anti-terror laws? If the top Democratic party donor, and former VP, did this we'd never hear the end of it (and the VP would have been impeached).

I'm thinking there are going to be some serious Senate hearings about this. There had better.

The repugican attempt to turn US into France

Reading Francis Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order, one is struck by some of the features of the French Ancien Regime:
  • The state was constantly at war.
  • The rich were exempt from taxation.
  • The constant wars and tax cuts for the rich resulted in an enormous debt.
  • Innovation was focused on moving money, not investments that generated wealth.
  • The elite were entirely self-absorbed in their own interests, regarding the common people with contempt.
  • Elections were corrupted and eventually eliminated.
Sound familiar?

Twenty-One Stunning Pictures of Autumn Colors

Al Qaeda bombmaker who blew up own brother killed in U.S. attack

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, believed to have been behind the attempt to take down a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009, was killed in Yemen, officials say.

A notorious Al Qaeda explosives expert who turned his own brother into a human bomb was among those killed in a successful U.S. terrorist strike in Yemen. Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri - whose fingerprints were found on the deadly device concocted for the 2009 "Underwear Bomber" - was the key bombmaker for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).



Wall St. protest in 3rd week

The activists enter their third week of camping out in New York’s financial district.  

Don't count on consumers to bring back the economy

The economic downside to a vibrant consumer society is that when you have an extended recession, they go into hiding. We're a few years into this economy and we're likely to be here for a few more years so there's nothing out there to give anyone enough comfort to freely spend. Even when the economy rebounds, should they really be spending like they did before the crisis?

Fresh data from the government Friday confirmed that American consumers are tapped out. Consumer spending in dollar terms rose 0.2 percent in August. But those extra dollars went to cover higher prices for food and gasoline; when adjusted for inflation, spending was flat.

Wages, meanwhile, slipped 0.1 percent -- the first decline in nearly two years. To make up the difference, American households had to dip into savings: the savings rate in August fell to its lowest level since late 2009.

"What you're basically getting is a scene where consumers are losing momentum, they're losing momentum on income and as a result of that they're slowing down on spending," said Steven Ricchiuto, U.S. chief economist at Mizuho Securities in New York.
That spending slowdown has rippled through the economy, creating one of the biggest drags on an already weak recovery.

Cities that are going broke

Bloated pensions, struggling employers, and bad investments put these places on the sick list. 

Random Photos


When Foreclosure Isn't the End of the Nightmare

An underwater homeowner decides to walk away from his house, which then goes into foreclosure. The bank takes the house and then sells it. End of story, right?
Maybe not. Some banks are suing "strategic defaulters" for the amount of money they lost:
Joseph Reilly lost his vacation home here last year when he was out of work and stopped paying his mortgage. The bank took the house and sold it. Mr. Reilly thought that was the end of it.
In June, he learned otherwise. A phone call informed him of a court judgment against him for $192,576.71.
It turned out that at a foreclosure sale, his former house fetched less than a quarter of what Mr. Reilly owed on it. His bank sued him for the rest.
The result was a foreclosure hangover that homeowners rarely anticipate but increasingly face: a "deficiency judgment."
So what, you think - they can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. Ah, but there's money to be made. Lots of money:
Because most targets have scant savings, the judgments sell for only about two cents on the dollar, versus seven cents for credit-card debt, according to debt-industry brokers.
Silverleaf Advisors LLC, a Miami private-equity firm, is one investor in battered mortgage debt. Instead of buying ready-made deficiency judgments, it buys banks' soured mortgages and goes to court itself to get judgments for debt that remains after foreclosure sales.
Silverleaf says its collection efforts are limited. "We are waiting for the economy to somewhat heal so that it's a better time to go after people," says Douglas Hannah, managing director of Silverleaf.
Investors know that most states allow up to 20 years to try to collect the debts, ample time for the borrowers to get back on their feet. Meanwhile, the debts grow at about an 8% interest rate, depending on the state.

House built in a sand dune

The architect of this odd Florida home says it's "like being in a submarine."  

Awesome Pictures


Lower breast cancer risk

Maintaining a healthy weight lowers your risk and increases your chance of survival. 

Just Great!

Researchers say men may be more likely than women to develop type 2 diabetes because they are biologically more susceptible.

Your Desk Job is Killing You

You know what's worse than NOT having a job? Having a desk job.
A new study in Australia has found that sitting down for long periods of time will hasten your death:
The study of more than 200,000 men and women in NSW has found that the longer people sit each day the greater their chances of going to an early grave.
Even when exercise was taken into account, it was often not enough to offset the effects of sitting for several hours.
Those who sat for more than 10 hours a day had a 48 per cent increased risk of death compared to more active people who sat for less than four hours a day.
That's why you should seriously look into standing desks: Full Story

Five tips from early retirees

The Charltons' careful planning included cutting housing costs and living below their means.

Degrees to earn online

Pick up a bachelor's or master's without quitting your day job or commuting to school.

Manage your life


Why did the chicken cross the road? 
Here's why
Finally some clarity to a question that long has bedeviled mankind: Why did the chicken cross the road?
The answer: He was going global.
Full Story

About 2,000 Take Part in Paris Yoga Session

Around 2,000 people took part in France's biggest ever yoga session on Sunday. The session, held near the Eiffel Tower, was held to mark the UN International Day of Non-Violence which falls on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

Daily Comic Relief


Tiny nation's water woes

Parts of Tuvalu, a group of low-lying Pacific atolls, may run out of fresh water within days. 

Why so many food outbreaks?

Recent epidemics can be blamed on the long road food takes from the farm to your fork.  

Denmark starts taxing fat to curb unhealthy habits

Denmark has imposed a "fat tax" on foods such as butter and oil as a way to curb unhealthy eating habits.

Things that a waiter won't tell you

Waiter / Fotolia
Servers reveal their pet hates, requests they consider 'picky' and what goes on behind the scenes. 

Culinary DeLites



"Dry ice pits on Mars"

From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website.
Part of Mars is defrosting. Around the South Pole of Mars, toward the end of every Martian summer, the warm weather causes a section of the vast carbon-dioxide ice cap to evaporate. Pits begin to appear and expand where the carbon dioxide dry ice sublimates directly into gas. These ice sheet pits may appear to be lined with gold, but the precise composition of the dust that highlights the pit walls actually remains unknown. The circular depressions toward the image center measure about 60 meters across. The HiRISE camera aboard the Mars-orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the above image in late July.

Prehistoric Preschool Artists

Psst, parents! Did your kids draw on the wall? Well, take heart: you're not alone. In fact, prehistoric preschool "artists" decorated their cave walls, too.
Cambridge archaeologist Jess Cooney will explain how meticulous research, using methodology tailor-made for the task, has made it possible to identify both the age and gender of the children who made the simple art form known as finger flutings around 13,000 years ago during the hunter gatherer period.
Her work reveals that some of the flutings studied were made by a three-year-old child with the most prolific young artist being a girl of five.
I can just imagine a cavemom yelling at her kids: "What do you think you are? Neanderthals? Wait whatamIthinking... you guys are Neanderthals!"

Mount Nemrut

Home To Gods Beheaded  
The Adiyaman Province of Turkey in the south east of the country is not wealthy - it is still classified as a developing rural region. Yet 25 miles from the small town of Kâhta the visitor discovers the remnants of once fabulous wealth. High on the summit of Mount Nemrut is a huge but little visited necropolis, home to the beheaded gods of the past.

The Most Amazing Geological Wonders On Earth

Just try to navigate this massive stone forest in Madagascar.The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar is home to a number of critically endangered lorises, which might actually be a good thing -who is going to brave traveling though this terrifying area just to poach a loris?



Bringing Dogs to School Helps Curb Bullying

Man’s best friend is getting a trial run as little-man’s best friend. Educators across the country are using canines to teach compassion and social responsibility, in efforts to curb school-age bullying.
Kansas City Schools have a program called No More Bullies, in which program volunteers, accompanied by trained dogs, teach kids about fairness, compassion, and integrity for one hour a day over five days. “The animals are the glue that helps the children stay focused and understand the message,” says Jo Dean Hearn, an ex-teacher who developed the program. “Children can easily identify with an animal. And it’s easy for them to transition when we ask them to consider how an animal feels (if ill treated) to how the kid sitting near them feels (if poorly treated).”
It’s a great program that’s showing promising results, and it isn’t the only one. Check out the rest of the story on The Week.

Pacific Shark Sanctuary

Hammerhead shark (Shark Alliance)Vast shark sanctuary for Pacific

The Marshall Islands creates the world's biggest shark sanctuary, covering nearly two million sq km of ocean, with a ban on commercial shark fishing.

Frisbee Dogs Champions

Frisbee dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching. The sport celebrates the bond between handler and dog, by allowing them to work together.

Five Animal Friendships That Belong In A Disney Movie

Did you know snakes and hamsters can be friends? Or cats and crows? Or pigs and tigers? Ok, these friendships might not be common, but the do happen. Cracked has a great list of animal friendships that could make writers of Disney movies feel ashamed of their lack of ingenuity.

Animal Pictures