Welcome to ...

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.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift where we put a little whimsy into your life.

It's Friday by the way. No, wait, that was yesterday. Oh, well.

Today's readers have been in:

Bratislava, Slovakia
Hong Kong, Hong Knog
Oslo, Norway
Kiev, Ukraine
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Vantaa, Finland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Marrakesh, Morocco
Dublin, Ireland
Moscow, Russia
Antwerp, Belgium
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Lagos, Nigeria
Singapore, Singapore
Bangkok, Thailand
Montevideo, Uruguay
Cork, Ireland
Athens, Greece
Groningen, Netherlands
Jakarta, Indonesia
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Limerick. Ireland
Zurich, Switzerland
Puchong, Malaysia
Brussels, Belgium
Bern, Switzerland
George Town, Malaysia
Nyon, Switzerland
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Cebu City, Philippines
Klang, Malaysia
Tangerang, Indonesia

Today in History

St. Stephen I begins his reign as Catholic Pope.
King Henry III flees Paris after Henry of Guise triumphantly enters the city.
The chief advisor to Charles I, Thomas Wentworth, is beheaded in the Tower of London
Charleston, South Carolina falls to British forces.
The Tule River War ends.
With a victory at the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi, Union General Ulysses S. Grant closes in on Vicksburg.
Union General Benjamin Butler attacks Drewry's Bluff on the James River.
The last land battle of the Civil war occurs at Palmito Ranch, Texas. It is a Confederate victory.
Tunisia, in North Africa become a French protectorate.
In the Battle of Batoche, French Canadians rebel against the Canadian government.
The Airship Norge becomes the first vessel to fly over the North Pole.
The body of Charles Lindbergh's baby is found.
Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in Akron, Ohio by "Bill W.," a stockbroker, and "Dr. Bob S.," a heart surgeon.
The Nazi conquest of France begins with the crossing Muese River.
The Soviet Army launches its first major offensive of the war, taking Kharkov in the eastern Ukraine.
Axis forces in North Africa surrender.
The Berlin Blockade ends.
Viet Cong sappers try unsuccessfully to overrun Landing Zone Snoopy in Vietnam.
The U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez is seized by Cambodian forces.

Charting the rise of stupidity

Smart v. Stupid: As America grapples with a long-term decline, we have only Ronald Reagan to blame.

Kansas lawmakers pass anti-Islamic law measure

A bill designed to prevent Kansas courts or government agencies from making decisions based on Islamic or other foreign legal codes has cleared the state Legislature after a contentious debate about whether the measure upholds American values or appeals to prejudice against Muslims.

Austerity crushes UK economy more than previously thought

Ya don't say?

What a shock to hear that austerity is failing miserably because the repugicans keep telling us that it's the only thing that will save America.

As long as you ignore the fact that jobs growth is better under Obama than it was under the shrub and that austerity keeps dragging down the UK and Europe, austerity is probably great.

Ignorance is bliss, truly it is.
Britain’s economy may have shrunk more than previously estimated in the first quarter after the statistics office reported a deeper slump in construction.

Building output plunged 4.8 percent in the three months through March, the Office for National Statistics said today. That compares with a 3 percent drop in the first estimate of gross domestic product on April 25, which showed the economy contracted 0.2 percent. The revision on its own would shave 0.1 percentage points off GDP, the statistics office said.

The building data may add to concerns about weakness in the U.K. economy as it grapples with a double-dip recession. Bank of England policy makers hadn’t seen the revision before their decision yesterday to halt their quantitative-easing program at 325 billion pounds ($524 billion), according to statistics office officials.

“The lazy assumption was that because GDP was drastically below forecasts, it would go up with subsequent revisions,” said Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotia Capital in London. “The economy was in the eye of the storm in the fourth and first quarters.”

'Spiderman' strikes again west of Paris

The French skyscraper climber known to some as Spiderman has struck again: This time, on France's new tallest building.

Did you know ...

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being sued by the Justice Deparment thus proving there is still a small modicum of justice left in the world.

From the Newswire

Teacher faces firing over cone of shame
A Florida high school science teacher faces dismissal amid allegations that she used a "cone of shame" dog collar to discipline students.

Twin Waterspouts

Photo: Tim Osborn / NOAA Coast Survey 
Tim Osborn, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coast Survey, was on Grand Isle, Louisiana. when he spotted something weird in the sky:
"[A man] came running in and said, 'There's a waterspout out there!'" Osborn told OurAmazingPlanet. So Osborn grabbed his camera and started snapping, catching the birth of not one, but two waterspouts as they spun up over waters just north of the island.
"You could clearly see them forming in the sky," he said, "and I was able to get them on the camera as they were starting to drop."
Two spinning vortexes formed in the clouds and dropped lower and lower, until they reached the waters below, kicking up spray as they moved in formation toward the island.
Osborn said he immediately called colleagues at the National Weather Service, who told him they'd been tracking the storm system. Less than 30 seconds later, tornado sirens began to wail.
Osborn said that, in comparison to waterspouts he's seen in the past, these twisters were "really surprising. They not only grew in size, they traveled in tandem, and lasted longer than most — about 10 or 15 minutes."
Our Amazing Planet has the story and image gallery here.

Potholes look like Munch’s The Scream

Derek Martin thought there was something familiar when he took a photograph of potholes in Barns Green, near Horsham, West Sussex.

The ‘face’ in the road reminded him of The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The iconic painting recently fetched a record £74m at auction in New York.

Meanwhile, Barns Green villagers are hoping the county council spends some money - filling in the potholes.

Random Photos


Scientists May Resurrect Beer From an 1840s Shipwreck

Researchers may be able to recreate beer found on an 1840's shipwreck off the coast of Finland from the living bacteria they discovered.

New twist on ancient math problem could improve medicine, microelectronics

A hidden facet of a math problem that goes back to Sanskrit scrolls has just been exposed by nanotechnology researchers ...

Well-Known Egyptian Symbol Is Actually An Early Math Problem

Chances are you've seen this symbol before, because it's one of the most well-known Egyptian symbols. It's called the Eye of Horus. It's been in the background of plenty of mummy movies, and been turned into a lot of necklace charms. Some people think it's writing. Actually, it's math.

The Eye of Horus is, from a design standpoint, both beautiful and iconic. And whoever created it might have been thinking of exactly that while dreaming it up. But it's not just a stylish symbol. It has a deeper meaning: The Egyptians used it to express fractions of volume. Each stroke counts for a subdivided piece of the whole.

The World’s Oldest Copyleft Book

The Diamond Sutra
In 1907, archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein discovered the Diamond Sutra, a 16-foot scroll containing the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit Buddhist text, from the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, China (the discovery in itself is fascinating, but that's a different story).
The Diamond Sutra has the colophon at the inner end that reads:
Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong.
That date translates to May 11, 868, which makes the Diamond Sutra not only the world's oldest surviving copy of dated printed book, but also the oldest copyright-free /public domain work as well!

Awesome Pictures

The paradox of scientific research

The paradox of doing science is the quantity of natural resources used in the process. Present- day scientific research generally ...

Mayan Skull Believed Magical Takes a Tumble in German Lab

German scientists dropped an ancient Mayan skull - one that perhaps resembled this relief sculpture from the "wall of skulls" at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza - and broke off a piece of its chin.

Ancient Ballgame Reveals More About Early Mesoamerican Society

New research explores the importance of the ballgame to ancient Mesoamerican societies. Dr. Blomster's findings show how the ...  

Surpassing the Pyramids

 Image Detail

The planet that might have been

This is Vesta, the second largest asteroid in our solar system's main asteroid belt. Specifically, this is a view of Vesta's south pole, taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft last September.
As it turns out, Vesta is a great illustration of the power of chance in the universe. Data collected by Dawn is showing that, once upon a time, this asteroid was on its way to planethood. But, for several reasons, it simply never grew large enough. From Science News:
... according to Dawn observations, Vesta did indeed agglomerate enough rocky debris as it grew to heat itself by the decay of the rock's radioactive elements. That heat led to the separation of the primordial body into a rocky crust, an underlying rocky mantle, and a central metallic core, hallmarks of planet Earth and the other rocky planets. Dawn was the first to detect Vesta's now-solid core.
Vesta isn't unique in this, but it does provide an interesting moment to stop and think a little bit about randomness and the process of planetary birth. This news about Vesta is a nice reminder that there's really no reason why our solar system has to have eight planets. It could have had fewer. It could have had more. And some bodies—like Ceres and Pluto—are really only a trick of taxonomy away from being planets.

Vesta is 'last of a kind' rockA young crater on Vesta that is 15km in diameter

The Vesta asteroid is the only remaining example of the original objects that came together to form the rocky planets like Earth, say scientists.

The truth be told

Man to stand trial accused of yawning in court

A man is to face trial accused of yawning loudly in court. Thomas Tams faces a single charge alleging he conducted himself in a disorderly manner and committed a breach of the peace.

The incident is said to have happened at Alloa Sheriff Court on February 20. At Stirling Sheriff Court, Tams, 35, pleaded not guilty to the alleged offense.

It is claimed that, in addition to yawning while the court was sitting, Tams, of The Wynd, Alva, Clackmannanshire, defied an instruction from the clerk of court and swore and shouted.

After hearing that both defense and prosecution were ready, Sheriff Wyllie Robertson continued the case for trial on June 6 and ordered Tams to re-appear.

Casual robber held up newsagent while carrying a cup of coffee

A man robbed a newsagent armed with a cup of coffee. The masked raider walked into the shop holding a mug of black coffee in his right hand - then told the sales assistant to empty the stock of cigarettes into a binbag. He also stole cash during the raid at the Oasis News store in Woodhouse Park, Wythenshawe, Manchester before walking out. The man disguised himself in a bandana and a hooded jacket but his accomplice didn't cover his face, despite security cameras recording the 10.45am hold up.

Yesterday, Greater Manchester Police issued CCTV of the men during the raid and said both robbers were ''clearly nonchalant''. Shop assistant Mubin Najib said despite the casual nature of the men, he had felt threatened: ''I noticed the guy carrying a cup of coffee but I was more worried about the way he was acting. I actually thought he had a knife with him and he making threats saying: 'Don't move or tell anyone otherwise we will come back and kill you'.

''I had been working since 6am and I remember them coming into the shop at about 11am and one placing a binbag on the counter and demanding cigarettes. The guy with a coffee actually came round the counter and I was very frightened. He may have been carrying a cup of coffee but I was on my own in that shop and had no idea what he was capable of. I quit my job shortly afterwards and there is no way I want to work in that area or a newsagents store again.'' Police said the two men handed a bin bag to a cashier and demanded he fill it with cigarettes and tobacco. In total four bin bags were filled with cigarettes and tobacco. The men also stole cash from the till.

Police released the CCTV in a bid to trace the men. Det Con Matthew Farrell, of West Didsbury CID, said: "We have carried out a thorough investigation into this incident and while we have charged two people, we now need to trace the two men in the CCTV. These two offenders are clearly nonchalant in their attitude to this crime: one has made no attempt to conceal his face and the other is casually carrying round a hot drink. Someone will almost certainly know who they are."

Mexican police arrest couple arguing over heroin-stuffed teddy bear

Police in Juárez arrested a man and a woman who were arguing loudly over a child's stuffed bear that turned out to be stuffed with heroin, officials have said.

The unlikely arrest took place when police came across the couple arguing at Maria Martinez and Pipila streets, officials with the municipal police said.

When police talked to the couple, the woman told them the bear was hers, that it was a gift and that her boyfriend was jealous because someone else had given it to her.

After police convinced the man to turn it over to the woman, an officer noticed a hole in the bear and decided to inspect it. Inside, officials said, police found 245 aluminum packets filled with heroin. Police then took Efraín Vera Chávez, 39, and Edith Ortiz Sandoval, 29, into custody and turned them over to federal prosecutors.

Royal Pain

Man stole horse-drawn carriage before punching horse

Police have arrested a man they say attacked the driver of a horse-drawn carriage then took the reins in downtown St. Louis on Tuesday night. Police said the victim was steering a horse-drawn carriage southbound on 8th Street between Chestnut and Market around 8:25 p.m. when he saw the suspect running toward him.

Authorities said Johnny Medina, 40, jumped into the side of the carriage and hit the victim in the head with a cane. Medina then took control of the reins and the victim jumped out of the carriage, according to police. A witness in the area called police, who responded to the scene and followed the carriage. Police said the horse, whose name is Harry, continued pulling the carriage and ran back to his barn at the St. Louis Carriage Company stables, located at 1000 Cerre Street.

The carriage then crashed into and damaged a trolley bus on the parking lot. Police said another employee of the carriage company ran out and started to remove the horse from the carriage to get it back inside the stable. Medina then jumped down from the carriage and started punching and kicking the horse. Police said the employee and witnesses pushed Medina to the ground and detained him until police arrived.

Carriage company employees told police the horse did not have any visible injuries, but would be checked by a veterinarian. The victim refused medical treatment at the scene. The suspect was taken to the hospital and remains in custody. Medina has been charged with second degree robbery and third degree assault.

Crooks tried to smuggle money by stuffing rolls of cash up horses' backsides

Sniffer dogs have uncovered a plot to smuggle cash stuffed up horses’ bottoms, it has been alleged. Several large rolls of notes, worth tens of thousands of pounds, were discovered inside the animals, which were being taken to abattoirs. The horses had been transported from Northern Ireland by ferry when police pounced in the ferry port of Cairnryan, Wigtownshire, on May 1.

Officers also seized cannabis with an estimated street value of almost £500,000 from the lorry the horses were in. A source said: “Some people are saying it brings a new meaning to the phrase dirty money. But it’s no laughing matter, really. The horses were waiting to go through port security when the sniffer dogs started going crazy.

“They were extremely agitated and the driver of the vehicle and his assistant were requested to stand aside while a full check of the vehicle and its occupants was carried out. It took a while, but eventually a large sum of money was recovered. It’s a most unusual case and very cruel and distasteful. But it goes to show the lengths people will go to.”

Officers were alerted to the vehicle by the police dog working on port duty. The animals were scanned by a vet to check if they had been used to conceal any other items. Two men have appeared at Stranraer Sheriff Court on drugs charges. One was remanded in custody and the other bailed.

Retro Photo

Crows know familiar human voices

Carrion crow (c) Photolibrary.comCrows know familiar human voices

Crows recognize and respond to familiar human voices and the calls of other bird species, according to researchers. BBC Nature