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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, May 9, 2012

The Daily Drift

Long before tomorrow gets here it is today.

Today's readers have been in:

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Lahore, Pakistan
Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Dublin, Ireland
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Alor Setar, Malaysia
Mombasa, Kenya
Muar, Malaysia
Amersfoort, Netehrlands
Zagreb, Croatia
Bangkok, Thailand
Singapore, Singapore
Athens, Greece
Vienna, Austria
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Kuantan, Malaysia
Skudai, Malaysia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel Aviv, Israel
Cairo, Egypt
Groningen, Netherlands
Zurich, Switzerland
Prague, Czech Republic
Timisoara, Romania
Bern, Switzerland
Cork, Ireland
Nyon, Switzerland

Today In History

Christopher Columbus leaves Spain on his final trip to New World.
The first newspaper cartoon in America appears.
U.S. troops under William Henry Harrison take Fort Meigs from British and Canadian troops.
Union General John Sedgwick is shot and killed by a Confederate sharpshooter during fighting at Spotsylvania. His last words are: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist–"
Threatened by the advancing French army, the Austrian army retreats across the River Sesia in Italy.
German and French forces fight the Battle of Artois.
Explorer Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett make the first flight over the North Pole.
Fascist Italy captures the city of Addis Abba, Ethiopia and annexes the country.
The German submarine U-110 is captured at sea along with its Enigma machine by the Royal Navy.
King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy abdicates his throne and is replaced by Umberto.
A laser beam is successfully bounced off the moon for the first time.
The House Judiciary Committee begins formal hearings on Nixon impeachment.

The Sound That Only Canadians Can Hear

There’s a sound that only Canadians can hear, various described as “a large diesel truck idling, a loud boom box or the bass vocals of Barry White.”

The sound is detectable to people in Windsor, which lies on Canada’s border with the United States. But Americans across the river can’t hear it:
Windsor residents have blamed the hum for causing illness, whipping dogs into frenzies, keeping cats housebound and sending goldfish to the surface in backyard ponds. Many have resorted to switching on their furnace fan all season to drown out the noise.
Even weirder, Americans can’t seem to hear it. Canadians find that suspicious—especially since their research suggests the hum is coming from the Yankees’ side—and accuse U.S. officials of staying silent over the noise. [...]
American officials contend there haven’t been complaints on the U.S. side of the border. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality looked last year at whether the companies at Zug started up any new machinery in the past two years that might be causing the noise and found nothing.
“The only place I am hearing noise from is Canada—from politicians complaining,” Mr. Bowdler said.

James Bond Shot at 4,662 Times During His Career

What are the odds that 007 would survive? Gordon Stanger noted each time that someone took a shot at Bond and crunched the numbers.

In New Scientist, he writes:
There is some ambiguity over how many gunshots have been fired at James Bond because, in many gunfights, it is not clear who the shots are aimed at. However, by my reckoning, in the 22 Bond films to date, there have been at least 4662 shots fired at our hero. A static well-aimed shot would almost certainly have proved lethal, but assuming all 4662 were “on the run”, the probability of a single fatal shot is about 5 per cent. That is, the chance of a single shot missing is 0.95, and hence the probability of all shots missing is 0.954662 or 1.4 × 10-104, which is as close to zero as makes no difference.

Disneyland’s Club 33 Reopens for Membership

The main dining room at Disneyland's Club 33

Good news: For the first time in decades, Disney has reopened membership to its secretive Club 33.
The bad news? It costs $25,000 to join, with annual dues of $10,000.
Disney officials announced that a limited number of memberships would be offered in honor of Club 33's 45th anniversary and the completion of a major, five-year expansion project at California Adventure.
Less than 500 people are rumored to be on the Club 33 roster, and interest in membership grew to such staggering levels that, about a decade ago, even the waiting list was closed.
But now — for an initial price tag of $25,000 and annual dues of $10,000 — new members will once again have access to the New Orleans Square restaurant, get sneak peaks at new attractions and other perks.

Should a boy be permitted to play on a girls' field hockey team?

Keeling Pilaro is a 13-year old boy who grew up playing field hockey in Ireland. He is now being told that, after two years of playing on a girls' high school team following his family's move to New York, he will not be allowed to compete next year due to his gender. There are no boys' field hockey teams in the area, leading Pilaro to seek an exemption under Title IX allowing him to play alongside girls.

From NBC:
An appeals committee said it looked only at his skills, not size or strength, when upholding the decision to keep him off the field. That raises a question of discrimination.
Keeling is 4'8", weighs in at 82 pounds and, according to those who wish to see him play, there are girls in the league with skills superior to his (although he did have ten goals and eight assists this past season). Asked about the situation, he expressed frustration, saying "I don't really care if I'm on a boys' team or a girls' team, I just want to play."

Along with his teammates, the local school district supports Keeling's desire to play. But state law allows administrators to bar boys from girls' athletics if a boy's participation "would have a significant adverse effect" on girls' opportunities to compete. This clause raises a few highly problematic questions:

Where should the line be drawn regarding a boy's skill level? Skill level is a subjective measure; it's a bold claim to say that Keeling is good to the point of discrimination.

What is a "significant adverse effect" on girls' opportunities? Keeling is preventing, at most, one girl from playing on the team (assuming the coach makes cuts, which is not always the case at the high school level); does this adverse effect rise to the level of significant? If it does:

How bad would he have to be in order to play? Do boys have to be below average in skill to be allowed to play? Does they have to ride the bench so they don't take playing time away from girls? Do they have to be the worst players on the team so they don't take spots on the roster away?

What if a girl took a spot away from a boy? In the absence of their own teams, girls are granted Title IX exemptions to play football and wrestle on a regular basis. Surely if a girl beat out a boy for a spot on the football team the state would let her play. Moreover, the state's decision to let her play would be based on the fact that she wouldn't have the opportunity to play elsewhere, as is the case in this situation.

Keeling Pilaro doesn't want an unfair advantage, he just wants a chance to play. Since he doesn't have an opportunity to compete in a boys' league, his only option is to play on the girls' team. Equality means equality, regardless of the direction in which that equality flows. The State of New York should recognize this and let Keeling Pilaro remain on the team he has been playing for the past two years.

Buddhists and Hindus Are On the Rise in U.S.

Hindu and Buddhist groups have grown steadily in the United States since changes in immigration laws in 1965 and 1992 ...
Someone better alert the bigots that there is someone 'new' to hate!

Random Celebrity Photo

Meet the new generation of welfare queens

Master's and Doctorate degree holders who can't find work.

Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Stacey Patton explores the stories of highly educated people who are jobless, broke, and on food stamps. In 2010, there were 22 million Americans with master's degrees or higher, and about 360,000 of them on public assistance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2010, a total of 44 million people nationally received food stamps or some other form of public aid, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. People who don't finish college are more likely to receive food stamps than are those who go to graduate school. The rolls of people on public assistance are dominated by people with less education. Nevertheless, the percentage of graduate-degree holders who receive food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.
During that three-year period, the number of people with master's degrees who received food stamps and other aid climbed from 101,682 to 293,029, and the number of people with Ph.D.'s who received assistance rose from 9,776 to 33,655, according to tabulations of microdata done by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. He drew on figures from the 2008 and 2011 Current Population Surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
Read the full story: From Graduate School to Welfare - Graduate Students - The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Income and Health

A quarter of U.S. families have no savings or liquid assets

As the country emerges from the Great Recession, a substantial number of U.S. families are underwater – and not just ...

Income inequality killing Americans

A new study provides the best evidence to date that higher levels of income inequality in the United States actually ...

Americans fall short of federal exercise recommendations

Americans spend, on average, only about two hours each week participating in sports and fitness activities, according to researchers at ...

Things to ponder

A living wage law passes in new york

The 99% wakes up

Will there be a backlash against swift boaters: the next generation?

Netherlands becomes first EU nation to enshrine Net Neutrality in law

Ot from the Dutch technology activist group Bits of Freedom writes, "Good news from The Netherlands: on 8 May 2012 The Netherlands adopted crucial legislation to safeguard an open and secure internet. It is the first country in Europe to implement net neutrality in the law. In addition, it adopted provisions protecting users against disconnection and wiretapping by providers. Digital rights movement Bits of Freedom calls on other countries to follow the Dutch example."

Random Photo

TSA saves America from 16yo diabetic ...

... by breaking a $10K insulin pump which totally could have been a bomb

You probably thought you have heard all the idiotic shenanigans from the TSA by now.

You thought wrong.

Via MSNBC today, the story of Savannah Barry, a 16-year-old diabetic girl who says the TSA broke her insulin pump. Savannah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, and her pump is a specialized medical device that can cost up to $10,000 to replace, according to MSNBC.

The Colorado teenager says TSA screeners forced her to go through a full-body scanner in Salt Lake City last week, breaking her $10,000 insulin pump in the process. According to Sandra Barry, Savannah’s mother, her daughter was coming home from a school trip when screeners required to her to go through a full-body scanner despite the fact that the girl had a doctor’s note describing her condition and stating that she should be given a pat-down rather than subjected to screening machines.
“Believe me, being 16 and female, she probably doesn’t want the pat-down but she knows that this is what’s required,” Sandra Barry told msnbc.com. “She tried to advocate for herself and they just shut her down.”
Full story here.

Her pump, which MSNBC reports is made by Animas, has since been replaced.

The local ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City has more, including a larger version of the photo above of Savannah with her wearable medical device. From the interview, she sounds like a smart, articulate young woman who is aware of her rights, and rightly pissed.

Ever have one of those days?


Father’s Day Off 1953

The Ghost Who Helped Solve Her Own Murder

The Greenbrier Ghost is the name popularly given to the alleged ghost of Elva Zona Heaster, a young woman in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, United States, who was murdered in 1897. The events surrounding the haunting have led to it becoming a very late instance in American legal history in which the so-called 'testimony of a ghost' was accepted at a murder trial.

According to local legend, Elva Zona Heaster appeared to her mother in a dream four weeks after the funeral. She said that her husband was a cruel man who abused her, and who had attacked her in a fit of rage when he believed that she had cooked no meat for dinner. Autopsy on the exhumed body verified the apparition's account. Her husband, Edward Shue, was found guilty and sentenced to the state prison.

A $26 Million Stradivarius Cello Broken

A Stradivarius cello at the Spanish Royal Palace was broken after an accident, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

A 19-Year-Old Busted Using Bouncer's Stolen ID at Bar

A Chicago teen was busted in his college town in Iowa for trying to get into a bar with somebody else's ID - the bouncer's.

And I Quote

A 13-year-old girl invents hiccup-curing lollipops

A 13-year-old girl has not only supposedly cured the hiccups, but she has become a CEO in the process. Mallory Kievman is CEO and founder of Hiccupops, a company that might just have cured one of the world's oldest and most annoying conditions. Kievman is preparing to launch her product, the Hiccupop, a hiccup-stopping lollipop of her own invention, with a patent pending, financial backers, and a team of business consultants.

Kievman says that she got the idea after trying to tame a stubborn bout of hiccups two years ago by using any home remedy she came upon: Drinking saltwater, sipping water out of an upside-down cup, eating spoonfuls of sugar, slurping pickle juice. She had developed the product in her family’s Manchester, Conn., kitchen, amalgamating her three favorite cures — lollipops, apple cider vinegar and sugar — into a single confection.

"I'm still "tweaking the taste," she says. But the combination of ingredients "triggers a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc... It basically over-stimulates those nerves and cancels out the message to hiccup."

Speculation as to whether Hiccupops is a profitable company has provoked some people to come out and advocate for the 13-year-old CEO. "It's very rare, when you're evaluating businesses, that you can envision a company or product being around 100 years from now," Danny Briere, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Startup Connecticut, which nurtures new companies, including Hiccupops, and is a regional affiliate of the Startup America Partnership, said. "Hiccupops is one of those things. It solves a very simple, basic need," he added.

Paralyzed Woman Completed London Marathon in a Bionic Suit

Sixteen days after the London Marathon began, 32-year-old Claire Thomas completed the race.
Before you think that's awfully slow, be assured that it's quite a remarkable achievement: See, Claire is paralyzed form the chest down and wore a bionic suit for the marathon race.
The £43,000 ReWalk suit she used for the marathon, designed by Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer, enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk and climb stairs through motion sensors and an on-board computer system.
A shift in the wearer's balance, indicating their desire to take, for example, a step forward, triggers the suit to mimic the response that the joints would have if they were not paralyzed.

Is sunscreen bad for your health?

Since summer is almost here, it's worth reading and then coming to your own conclusion. The arguments against sunscreen have been out there for a while and the FDA has been noticeably quiet on the matter.
More on the subject of sunscreen from Natural Society:
Studies conducted indicate the dangers of certain chemical compounds within sunscreen could be causing a variety of skin damaging ailments, especially when reacting with the sun’s intensive heat. Though the FDA had supervised and funded the studies showing key ingredients related to vitamin A as carcinogenic, they knowingly prevented the information from being released to the public whatsoever – up until recently. The synthetic vitamin A compound found in many sunscreen brands contain retinol and retinyl palmitate, both found to react negatively in the sunlight, becoming toxic to the system. This isn’t to be confused with the health-enhancing vitamin A that is found in many foods – it is a purely synthetic and ultimately useless ingredient. When combined with the extensive use over time, this kind of sunscreen can lead to skin damage in its users.

The Meteorological Ghost

Meteorologist Jessica Starr of channel 2 in Detroit should have known better than to wear green to work this morning -as that is the color her weather map is projected on! But then again, we wouldn’t be posting her picture if she hadn’t.

Light from 'super-Earth' seen for first time

Light from an alien "super-Earth" twice the size of our own Earth has been detected by a NASA space telescope for the first time in what astronomers are calling a historic achievement.

Black Hole Eating a Star

This black hole was caught eating a star by a team of astrophysicists:
Usually when we get to see a star being swallowed by a black hole, we’ll end up turning to take a look at it only after the destruction has already begun. “What makes this so special was the fact that they actually caught the black hole as it was ripping the stellar core apart,” says Dr. David Floyd from the Monash Centre for Astrophysics in Melbourne.
The fact that we’ve managed to observe this event from beginning to end means that there is a lot more information available than ever before. We know the size of the black hole (approximately the same as the Milky Way’s central black hole), the fact that the star was probably a late-stage Red Giant and that it suffered its terrible fate because it got to within about 150 million kilometres of the supermassive black hole (about the same distance from the Sun to the Earth).



Yawning is Contagious to Dogs

Yawning is contagious, that much we know. A new study has shown that yawning is contagious to man's best friend:
Yawn next to your dog, and she may do the same. Though it seems simple, this contagious behavior is actually quite remarkable: Only a few animals do it, and only dogs cross the species barrier. Now a new study finds that dogs yawn even when they only hear the sound of us yawning, the strongest evidence yet that canines may be able to empathize with us.

Smallest Mammoths found on Crete

Mammoth toothSmallest mammoths found on Crete The smallest mammoth ever known to have existed roamed the island of Crete millions of years ago, researchers say.

Strange things lurk ...

... in unseen places.

Animal Pictures