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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, May 13, 2012

The Daily Drift

While we normally would have published around mid-day local time today we spent time with our mothers so we are publishing later in the day than usual.

Today our readers have been in:

Dublin, Ireland
Binche, Belgium
Tel Aviv, Israel
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jakarta, Indonesia
Zurich, Switzerland
Groningen, Netherlands
Tangerang, Indonesia
Bratislava, Slovakia
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Oslo, Norway
Kiev, Ukraine
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Antwerp, Belgium
Cebu City, Philippines
Klang, Malaysia
Montevideo, Uruguay
Cork, Ireland
Athens, Greece
Limerick, Ireland
Sofia, Bulgaria
Makati, Philippines
Petah Tikva, Israel
Tallinn, Estonia

Today in History

1607 English colonists land near the James River in Virginia.
1648 Margaret Jones of Plymouth is found guilty of witchcraft and is sentenced to be hanged.
1779 The War of Bavarian Succession ends.
1846 The United States declares war on Mexico after fighting has already begun.
1861 Britain declares its neutrality in the American Civil War.
1864 The Battle of Resaca commences as Union General Sherman fights towards Atlanta.
1888 Slavery is abolished in Brazil.
1912 The Royal Flying Corps is established in England.
1913 Igor Sikorsky flies the first four-engine aircraft.
1944 Allied forces in Italy break through the German Gustav Line into the Liri Valley.
1958 French troops take control of Algiers.
1968 Peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam begin in Paris.
1981 Pope John Paul II survives an assassination attempt.


ANd I Quote

The truth be told

Greek parties fail to form coalition

It's not yet to the point where new elections have to be held, but it's getting closer. There will be a push by the president to force a coalition and that may take some time. Regardless, austerity is on its deathbed in Greece.

BBC News:
Greek President Karolos Papoulias is preparing to hold talks with party leaders in an attempt to create an emergency government.

The move comes after the country's socialists became the third party to fail to form a coalition.

If the president's bid fails, another election will have to be held, probably next month.

Egypt court rules to keep elections on schedule

Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court has overturned a lower court ruling that would have suspended the upcoming presidential election.

More arrests of people linked to bizarre abduction, murder case

Four neighbors of a man who authorities say abducted a Tennessee family and killed the mother and one daughter were arrested in connection with the case, authorities said on Friday, one day after the man committed suicide as police closed in.

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Marilyn reading…

The Internet is a Strange Place

Recently I spent one afternoon of rather laborious data analysis listening to some of David Icke’s youtube videos. If you’re ...
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Artificial stones created for skipping

From a report in The Telegraph:
Ron Long, 68, who has a personal best of 187ft (57m), has long campaigned for the use of artificial skimmers to be made legal in the sport, saying they offer “a level of predictability and reliability”.

He finally got his wish in time for next month’s Welsh Open in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys.
Green Events, better known for bog snorkeling and other quirky enterprises, decided to resurrect the contest following a three-year hiatus after officials agreed to legalize the use of artificial stones.

Mr Long, from Forden, Welshpool, Powys, three times and current world over-60 champion, said: “By allowing competitors to use artificial stones it will let the sport expand, as previously it has been held back by the illegality of removing stones from beaches and water courses.”

Health News

Autism speaks … and also squeaks

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) appear during the first few years of life, impairing the brain’s development and resulting in a ...
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High-fat diet lowered blood sugar and improved blood lipids in diabetics

People with Type 2 diabetes are usually advised to keep a low-fat diet. Now, a study at Linköping University shows ...
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Even Mild Traumatic Brain Injury May Alter the Brain

Even mild head injuries can cause significant abnormalities in brain function that last for several days, which may explain the ...
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Revenue-Driven Surgery Drives Patients Home Too Early

Revenue-driven surgery and poor planning drive some surgical patients home too early, concludes a pair of logistical studies conducted by ...
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Forty-five Amazing Examples Of HDR Photography

HDR photography has become extremely popular. High Dynamic Range photography creates an unrealistic effect that amazes you every time. Photographers use Photoshop to mess around with the contrast and lighting effects to make the image a master piece.

Here's an amazing collection of beautiful HDR photography.

Seattle library hides 1,000 books around town for young people to find

The Seattle Public Library system's annual Summer Reading Program is called Century 22: Read the Future, and is tied in with the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair.

Young people are encouraged to scour the city's landmarks for 1,000 books hidden throughout town, and then to re-hide them for other kids to find.

School Forfeited Baseball Game Rather Than Playing A Girl

Mesa Prep second baseman Paige Sultzbach
There’s no crying in baseball, and now we learn that there’s also no playing against girls in baseball. At least, that’s what happened in Arizona last week:
All second baseman Paige Sultzbach wanted to do was play in her school’s state championship baseball game tonight.
But because she is a girl, that won’t happen.
Sultzbach is a freshman at Mesa Preparatory Academy, which had been scheduled to play Our Lady of Sorrows Academy in tonight’s Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship at Phoenix College.
But Our Lady of Sorrows, a fundamentalist Catholic school in Phoenix that lost twice to Mesa Prep during the regular season, chose to forfeit the championship game rather than play a team fielding a female player.
Our Lady of Sorrows school officials would not comment, but Sultzbach’s mother, Pamela Sultzbach, said her daughter and the rest of the teamreceived the news after Wednesday afternoon’s practice.
"This is not a contact sport, it shouldn’t be an issue," Pamela said. "It wasn’t that they were afraid they were going to hurt or injure her, it’s that (they believe) that a girl’s place is not on a field."
David Rookhuyzen of Arizona Republic was there: more.

Toxic cloud of Axe Body Spray triggers fire alarm in high school locker room

A student going a little too heavy on a brand of spray-on stench popular with teens set off the fire alarm at a Connecticut high school: “It was some kid in the locker room using body spray and it created a cloud of mist right underneath the sensor,” Fire Marshal Albert Santostefano told the Middletown Press. “The mist could trip the fire alarm, steam from a shower could trip it. It looks like he used an overabundance, and they said it was Axe Body Spray.” Hm. How did "they" know it was Axe? Could it have been... the smell? The awful, awful, awful smell? 

Man Stole Own Bicycle Back After Spotting it on Craigslist

Danny Lesh noticed that his stolen bike ended up for sale on Craigslist. When police declined to intervene, Danny decided to take justice into his own hands (or feet, in this case):
After haggling over the Craigslist price, Lesh says, he asked for a test ride. The vendor agreed, and Lesh pedaled around the block back to the waiting cab. He tossed the Cannondale in the trunk and rode off. The vendor called about half an hour later, demanding Lesh return the bike and threatening to notify the police himself, though it appears that call never materialized.
The DCist has the story: here | Video Clip over at NBC4 Washington

OK, now that is something you don't see everyday.


The Hashtag Tower

Now this is something to tweet about: Danish architects BIG have designed an apartment tower complex that looks like a hashtag.
“The Cross # Towers constitute a three-dimensional urban community of interlocking horizontal and vertical towers. Three public bridges connect two slender towers at different levels – underground, at the street and in the sky. Catering to the demands and desires of different residents, age groups and cultures the bridges are landscaped and equipped for a variety of activities traditionally restricted to the ground. The resultant volume forms a distinct figure on the new skyline of Seoul – a “#” that serves as a gateway to the new Yongsan Business District signaling a radical departure from the crude repetition of disconnected towers towards a new urban community that populates the three-dimensional space of the city.”
Take a look at the rest over at BIG: here.

Man Advertised on Billboard to Get a Job

Bennett Olson was unemployed and desperate for a job, so he decided to do a bit of creative advertising to get hired:
In April, Olson paid $300 for an 8-second time slot on an electronic billboard near downtown Minneapolis. His ad was up for 24 hours, rotating with other ads on the billboard. The words "Hire Me!" appeared next to his website address and a picture of his face.
And yes, he landed a job. 

JPMorgan lost $13bn from value Friday, could be "tip of iceberg"

The rumor of this story was out there a month ago, but the most arrogant man on Wall Street dismissed it. Jamie Dimon has known about the $2 billion trading loss for weeks and finally went public with the news Thursday night after trading hours. The actual trading loss by the man known as Voldemort or "The Whale" in London was "only" $800 million (a fraction of the value of JPMorgan, which is a few trillion dollars) so the bad trade will not bring down the company.
The much larger concern is what else is out there. JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon sold himself as the expert on risk. The old "trust me, I know better" routine. Just like the "trust me, I know better" crowd at Enron and later Wall Street circa 2008, they didn't know better. Dimon's strength had been his bluster. He bullied Washington and demanded that they leave him alone because he knew better. Dimon called attempts to regulate "anti-American" and he ripped into all attempts at reforming the greed culture of Wall Street.

As the week ended, more began to emerge on the JPMorgan scandal. The Chief Investment Officer, Ina Drew, previously had a reputation for being a genius with handling risk. Despite the reports that she had a reputation for being a "natural trader" she was in charge of addressing risk for the bank. This is not unlike asking a sales person to be in charge of accounting or a fox guarding a hen house. It's an obvious conflict of interest for any industry other than Wall Street.

The risk team at JP Morgan had been growing its supposed hedges in recent years, growing from a relatively small division to an increasingly large division. Profits were rolling in (which means bonus money was flowing) so nobody was going to rock the boat. If it sounds like a familiar story, it is. It's this kind of problem that triggered the Wall Street collapse back in 2008. Nobody was asking serious questions because the money faucet was flowing.

What is also curious not to mention scary about this latest loss is that the trader was not known to be a high risk person. He made lots of money for himself and for JPMorgan but he was considered to be a conservative family man, as opposed to the flashy car type of trader.

All of this now has many worried that there is more. Bloomberg reported on Friday that this may be the tip of the iceberg for JPMorgan. The theory is that if Jamie Dimon came out this early in the quarter with such bad news, there's a high likelihood that there is a lot more bad news to come.

What we should be hearing on Sunday during the morning talk shows is a strong demand for reform of Wall Street. No more apologists, no more nice guy talk and no more excuses. What we also need to hear is no more bailouts of any kind for Wall Street, especially JPMorgan. We may not be there (yet) but Washington has to be crystal clear that if they want to gamble, they need to live with the full consequences. That's how actual capitalism works. If you risk and lose, you risk and lose.

Verizon refused to help police locate unconscious man unless they paid his phone bill

Nancy Schaar at the Times Reporter:
A 62-year-old Carrollton area man was found unconscious and unresponsive Thursday morning during an intense search overnight by Carroll County sheriff deputies, an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper and the patrol’s airplane. [Sheriff] Williams said he attempted to use the man’s cell phone signal to locate him, but the man was behind on his phone bill and the Verizon operator refused to connect the signal unless the sheriff’s department agreed to pay the overdue bill. After some disagreement, Williams agreed to pay $20 on the phone bill in order to find the man.
Though this case is from a while ago—operators are now made available to assist emergency services—it got me thinking about what makes carriers and telcos such horrible companies to deal with once you're a customer. It's because accepting a long term cellular contract is a lot like going a couple of grand in debt.
As a result, their corporate culture gravitates toward that of a collection agency. It's inevitable, even if they try to avoid it, because that's the economic bottom line of the customer-facing part of their business. If an operator is actually having to talk to you, you must be a deadbeat or some other kind of problem.
Verizon, when asked by police to find a cellphone, suffered from a perverse blind spot: it could not see beyond the fact that the cellphone's owner owed it money.

Awesome Pictures


Microsoft to go carbon neutral this summer

Definitely a good trend for big business.
Microsoft has pledged to help protect the environment by reducing its carbon footprint.

From July 1st 2012 its data centers, software development labs and office buildings would all be carbon neutral, the firm announced.

Environmental groups have called on the technology industry to adopt more renewable energy sources.

Rivals Facebook and Google have pledged to move away from coal-powered data centres.

sage wisdom

UN adopts 'land grab' guidelines

UN adopts 'land grab' guidelinesMan next to a pile of hay

The United Nations adopts global guidelines to protect local communities when rich countries buy up land in developing nations.

Nature and culture loss 'linked'

Nature and culture loss 'linked'Brazilian tribesman (Image: AP)

A study by US researchers highlights a link between the loss of biologically rich areas and a decline in linguistic and cultural diversity.

Ok, now what are you going to do with it?

You've all heard of the 'tiger by the tail' proverb ... well ...

Animal Pictures