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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, November 14, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Not everyone is as comfortable with change as you are.
Be very mindful of that fact when new ideas shake up your group today.
Some folks may freak out a little bit -- and they may have trouble making sense of it all.
Try to convince these people that new ideas are nothing to be afraid of.
Suggest that they take a 'wait and see' attitude about things, and remind them that all the transitions that are coming won't be happening overnight.

 Some of our readers today have been in:
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Gengenbach, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Trail, British Columbia, Canada
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sofia, Sofyia, Bulgaria
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Bath, England, United Kingdom
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Granada, Andalucia, Spain
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Den Haag, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
London, England, United Kingdom
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Newbury, England, United Kingdom
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Enschede, Overijssel, Netherlands
Woking, England, United Kingdom
Rivine, Rivnens'ka Oblast, Ukraine
Regina, Sasketchewan, Canada
Hanover, Niedersachsen, Germany

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 Front Royal, Hyde Park, Spanish Fork, Stone Mountain
and more!

Today is:
Today is Monday, November 14, the 318th day of 2011.
There are 47 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National American Teddy Bear Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Manic Monday


Seven terrific places to retire

These underrated gems boast low taxes, affordable homes, and job opportunities.

The Truth Hurts

Especially if you're a wingnut living in denial.

Did you know ...

Four of the reasons the wingnut noise machine has failed to destroy #occupywallst.

When pressured to name its leader, #occupydenver elects Shelby, a border collie.

The truth be told


Dallas police push Occupy protester off ledge, on purpose, for no apparent reason

The police are claiming that the protester "assaulted" the cop first.  Really?  As always, there's video, and as always it tells another story.  Funny how being shoved off of a wall and crashed to the ground makes you the assaulter. Click through and make your own judgement by watching the video.

Crabby Road


Banks still adding new fees to customers

There was a lot of rightful celebration when Bank of America and other major banks were forced to drop planned debit card fees following major protests from the Occupy Wall Street movement and other community groups. But, not shockingly, the major banks are still finding ways to squeeze money out of customers. The New York Times has a report at the more subtle ways banks are using to extract more wealth from the 99%. Citing the need to make up billions of dollars in lost overdraft penalties and swipe fees that were eliminated by Congress, banks are trying to make up the difference in other areas.
For consumers, the result is a quiet creep of new charges and higher fees for everything from cash withdrawals at ATMs to wire payments, paper statements and in some cases, even the overdraft charges that lawmakers hoped to ratchet down. What is more, banks are raising minimum account balances and adding other new requirements so that it is harder for customers to qualify for fee waivers.

Even the much-maligned debit usage charges have effectively been bundled into higher monthly fees on checking accounts. Bank of America abandoned its $5 a month debit card usage fee in late October amid a firestorm of criticism. Yet, it more quietly raised the cost of its basic MyAccess checking account by more than $3 a month earlier this year. Monthly maintenance fees now run $12 a month, up from $8.95.
The Times' report notes that Senators Dick Durbin and Jack Reed are pushing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to have banks "adopt a more consumer-friendly disclosure form, akin to the nutrition label on food packaging, for all the fees attached to a checking account." This is a pretty good idea, in that it would make decision making by consumers easier. But the whole problem consumers are facing today is that they already have accounts with banks and the banks are changing the fee structure on them. While the Move Your Money campaign is a great start, it's also clear that a complete banking shift isn't the same thing as switching from Frosted Flakes to Cheerios.

Most importantly, what's clear is that when you fight the big banks, you can win, but no win is final. Stopping the $5 debit card fee was a great victory for the Occupy movement and consumer advocates, but it's hardly the whole war. Banks will keep trying to extract every penny possible from consumers in the absence of regulation which prevents them from doing it and regulators committed to enforcing the regulations. Consumers need to stay wary and consumer advocates have to keep fighting back against bank greed. As the banks continue to find new and innovative ways to screw their customers, credit unions will keep gaining customers as people stand up and say, "Enough!" To put it differently, the more banks abuse their customers, the more the market will speak and tell them that this is not a behavior consumers are interested in supporting.

When $50K isn't enough

After Laura Cone adds up her work expenses, she concludes she's not making much money.  

Smart ways to spend a dollar

Instead of blowing a buck on the lottery, put it towards something worthwhile.

World's Most Expensive Tea Made from Panda Poop

An Yashi, a professor at Sinchuan University in China, has produced tea which is fertilized with panda droppings. At $80,000 per kilogram, it’ll be the most expensive tea in the world when it reaches the market. Yashi claims that it’s worth the price because of special health benefits:
“Pandas have a very poor digestive system and only absorb about 30 percent of everything they eat. That means their excrement is rich in fibers and nutrients,” he told Chinese website Scol.com.cn.
“It has a mature, nutty taste and a very distinctive aroma while it’s brewing.”
He also believes there are serious health benefits to the drink.
“Just like green tea, bamboo contains an element that can prevent cancer, and enhance green tea’s anti-cancer effects, if it is used as fertilizer for the tea,” the professor said

Culinary DeLites

This chicken 'n' dumpling soup is a great comfort food for winter, and it takes only 30 minutes.

Six errors when roasting chicken

Savvy cooks make sure to pat the bird dry before putting it in the oven.  

Seafood you should skip

Contaminants like mercury and antibiotics outweigh the health benefits of certain fish.

Tiny changes for better health

None of the tweaks involve eating less — in fact, some of them call for consuming more.  

Could you have diabetes without knowing?

Measuring a large waist
An estimated 500,000 people in the UK have type 2 diabetes but don't know it yet. 

Depression linked to heart disease risk

Depression among young adults can have an unwanted spinoff -- it could elevate their chances of dying from heart disease.



Austrian student takes on Facebook for violating EU privacy laws

Rightly so. Facebook has been overreaching since the start and somehow believe that your private data is theirs.

Austrian law student Max Schrems may be just one of about 800 million Facebook users, but that hasn't stopped him tackling the US giant behind the social networking website over its privacy policy.

The 24-year-old wasn't sure what to expect when he requested Facebook provide him with a record of the personal data it holds on him, but he certainly wasn't ready for the 1,222 pages of information he received.

This included photos, messages and postings on his Facebook page dating back years, some of which he thought he had deleted, the times he had clicked "like" on an item, "pokes" of fellow users, and reams of other information.

Is Facebook under a porn attack by 'Anonymous' hacker group?

Facebook users have been inundated with images of graphic brutality and pornography for over a week, and the onslaught has many asking the question if this is a delayed attack originally set for November 5th by the online hacker group 'Anonymous'. What started out as a trickle of inappropriate images showing up on Facebook walls and news feeds last ...

Test your geek IQ

We're back again for our annual survey of your certifiable geek cred, so dust off your pocket protector, suck face with your closest Ewok doll, and dig into your Bag of Holding to bring forth the answers to our nerdiest set of 20 questions yet.

Awesome Pictures


New theory on Austen death

A suspicious line in an old letter leads a crime author to suggest an entirely different cause. 

Buzludzha Monument

Abandoned Relic Of Bulgaria's Communist Past
Buzludzha National Park in the beautiful Central Stara Planina is situated right in the middle of Bulgaria at the heart of its rose growing area. Yet when one arrives at the Shipka Pass there awaits something quite unexpected. It is as if a huge flying saucer has chosen this spot in the Balkan Mountains for a leisurely pit stop and was then signposted, but abandoned by its owners.

Just the Facts?

 Bizarre UFO Over Berlin -- Unusual Radiation In Europe -- Another Butt Implant Death
This bizarre object was captured over Berlin, Germany on November 10th. It displays no obvious evidence of tampering...quite different than most alleged UFO videos.

Random Photos


Mysterious grids in China desert

A group of people studying online maps stumble across giant lines made of an unknown material. 

Ancient Star Gazers

Astronomy wasn’t invented a couple of hundred years ago. The study of stars is almost as old as humanity itself.

(Image credit: Wikipedia member Prof saxx)
The oldest and most famous cave paintings (16,000 to 20,000 years old) are in Lascaux, France. The animals and human figures in the cave were long thought to be symbols of magic or worship to help hunters. Eventually someone noticed that the dots of paint that decorate the animals are actually diagrams of groups of stars. Most constellations have different symbols today, but the giant bull (possibly the best-known image in cave art) is actually the constellation we still call Taurus -the bull. His eye is the star Aldebaran, and a V-shaped decoration of dots around it represents the Pleides star cluster.
The first ancient monument to be identified as an astronomical observatory was England’s Stonehenge. It’s attracted a lot of interest from wanna-be Druids over the years, but current researchers think it was built and rebuilt by three separate cultures between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago. While it’s not clear exactly what it was used for, the astronomical alignments of the stones are unquestionable. The stones mark out the sunrise at midsummer and midwinter, and the rising and setting of the moon (which repeats in a cycle of 8.6 years). Some people claim to have found many more significant alignments and have suggested that Stonehenge could have been used to predict eclipses -pretty sophisticated stuff. But did the Druids actually make these calculations? We’ll probably never know, darn it.

(Image credit: Wikipedia member Raymbetz)
Just as mysterious is the recently discovered stone circle of Nabta, Egypt, which at 7,000 year old is the oldest astronomical observatory of its kind so far discovered. Like Stonehenge, it marks sunrise and sunset at midsummer, but other than that, no one knows who built it or what else it might be for. The site was abandoned after 2,000 years, just before the rise of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Did the ancient Egyptians get their astronomical knowledge from an older civilization in the Sahara?

The star Sirius was worshiped by a whole range of ancient peoples, from the Arabs and ancient Egyptians to the West African tribes of the Dogon and the Bozo (don’t laugh; they’re real). The Egyptians built whole rows of temples pointing at the spot on the horizon where Sirius would rise each year. This was the beginning of their calendar year and marked the flooding of the Nile. For them, Sirius was the resting place of the dead and the most important star in the sky.
Among the Arabs and some tribes in Mali,  there was a belief that Sirius had a companion, which the tribesmen called the Eye Star, and which was supposed to have supernatural qualities. Sirius really does have a companion: a small white dwarf star called Sirius B, which is not visible to the naked eye. So how did these primitive people know about it? The Dogon have precise astronomical information about its movements, which they celebrate with rituals, even though they admit that it’s invisible. (We don’t know about you, but we’ve got chills.) They even had a story about a third star, the Star of Women, which was also invisible. And guess what? In 1995, it was discovered that there really is a third star, a red dwarf that’s been named Sirius C.

(Image credit: Wikipedia member Sybz)
Because questions remain about the alignment of ancient monuments, the field is wide open for speculation. New Agers (who speculate wildly at least three times before breakfast) will tell you that the Egyptian pyramids are time machines, UFO bases, or gates to other dimensions. Thank heavens (no pun intended) for the Mayans of Mexico, who left detailed written documents to explain the astronomy behind the construction of their pyramids. It turns out that the Mayans had a highly developed calendar system, using astronomical events to fix magical dates for sacrifices and other rituals. Their pyramids were built on alignments that pointed toward the positions of the Sun, the Moon, planets, and stars at these special dates. It can’t be definitely proven that the Egyptian pyramids, or the similar ziggurats of Mesopotamia, were built on the same kind of idea, but the astronomical alignments are similar, and so far no one have come up with a better explanation.
For the Mayans, the two most interesting objects in the sky were the planet Venus and the Sun. While Stonehenge and other ancient sites fixed the position of the midsummer sun at dawn, the Mayans used the moment when it directly overhead. Venus dips below the horizon at a variable date in the year and rises about 50 days later. The Mayans were able to calculate this period, and they were also able to predict eclipses. They marked these occasions with human sacrifice and chose days to go to war by consulting their astronomical calendars.
In the hills of Wyoming, there’s an ancient stone construction called the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, which some have called the American Stonehenge. A similar construction is the Moose Mountain Wheel in Alberta, Canada. Both were sacred sites for local Native Americans, but archaeologists date them from before the Plains Indians arrived to some unknown indigenous people.
The Big Horn Wheel has been dated to AD 1000-1400, and Moose Mountain to about 2,000 years ago. The markers -this time neat piles of stone-  pick out important events in the sky: the summer solstice and the rising of the bright stars Aldebaran, Rigel, Sirius, and Fomalhaut. there are lots of other medicine wheels and similar constructions in North America, many of which are so damaged that it’s impossible to reconstruct their original alignments. But since the positions of dawn and the rising of the stars have changed a little over the centuries, it’s possible to date the construction of them (and all the others) by accurate scientific methods.
It’s not surprising that great civilizations like the Egyptians and the Mayans could develop a kind of astronomy. What’s amazing is that people from the Stone Age -or people still living Stone Age lifestyles- also had detailed knowledge of astronomy. Native Americans, nomads in the Sahara desert, and even genuine cavemen were doing the math and measuring the angles. How many people today could build an astronomical observatory out of lumps of rock?



Upping the cute factor


NC couple sues Air Tran over cockroaches on flight

A North Carolina couple is suing Air Tran Airways, alleging they were sickened by cockroaches coming out of air vents and storage areas on a recent flight.

Animal News

Spoon-billed sandpiper (c) MJ McGillEndangered birds arrive in the UK

Conservationists bring one of the world's most threatened bird species to the UK in order to start a captive breeding program. BBC Nature

Arthropod Mythbusting

Afraid of spiders? Maybe it’s because of all those stories you’ve heard about their creepy ways. Some of those stories hold no water, according to science writer Kim Hosey. She’s got a good list of busted spider myths.
The daddy long-legs does not “have the most potent venom to humans, but its mouth is too small to bite humans.” They’re not venomous. Still, how would we test this, exactly? Extract the venom and kill a bunch of people on purpose?
No spider ever laid eggs in someone’s skin, mouth, or beehive hairdo. Spiders are not waiting in airplane toilet seats to bite your butt.
Millipedes do not have a thousand legs. If it’s roundish and has two pairs of legs per segment, it’s a millipede.
For the love of god, it’s venomous. Poisonous is when it’s ingested or inhaled. Venom is injected into your bloodstream or deeper tissues. Most venom isn’t even poisonous. And I am picturing you eating spiders when you say they’re poisonous.
Read more at Arizona Writer.

Spinning Silk

The shrimp Crassicorophium bonelliiShrimp has 'silk-spinning skills' New

A tiny marine shrimp spins silk in order to bind together its sand grain house, researchers discover. BBC Nature

Adopted dog saves owners

Six hours after being rescued from the pound, a Saint Bernard named Hercules repays the favor.  

Animal Pictures