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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Daily Drift

Happy Couple.
Probably not CN readers.

Today's readers have been in:

Groningen, Netherlands
Dublin, Ireland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Accra Ghana
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Paramaribo, Suriname
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Seoul, Korea
Cape Town, South Africa
Kulim, Malaysia
Zurich, Switzerland
As, Norway
Naaldwijk, Ntherlands
Nassau, Bahamas
Santiago, Chile
Vantaa, Finland
Galati, Romania
Prague, Czech Republic
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

and an awful lot of Chicagoans - for some reason we are extremely popular in Chicago, Illinois today.

Today in History

996 Sixteen year old Otto III is crowned the Roman Emperor.
1471 King Henry VI is killed in the Tower of London. Edward IV takes the throne.
1506 Christopher Columbus dies.
1536 The Reformation is officially adopted in Geneva, Switzerland.
1620 Present-day Martha's Vineyard is first sighted by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold.
1790 Paris is divided into 48 zones.
1832 The Democratic party holds its first national convention.
1856 Lawrence, Kansas is captured and sacked by pro-slavery forces.
1863 The siege of the Confederate Port Hudson, Louisiana, begins.
1881 The American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton.
1927 Charles Lindbergh lands in Paris completing the first solo air crossing of the Atlantic.
1940 British forces attack German General Rommel's 7th Panzer Division at Arras, slowing his blitzkrieg of France.
1941 The first U.S. ship, the S.S. Robin Moor, is sunk by a U-boat.
1951 The U.S. Eighth Army counterattacks to drive the Communist Chinese and North Koreans out of South Korea.
1961 Governor Patterson declares martial law in Montgomery, Alabama.
1970 The U.S. National Guard mobilizes to quell disturbances at Ohio State University.
1991 In Madras, India, a suicide bomber kills the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Not on Facebook? Researchers Can Still Probe the “Shadow Network”

So. You're not on Facebook - perhaps you're concerned over their privacy policy, or just don't want to be found and marketed to - but before you pat yourself in the back for being one of the holdouts, you should know that just because you're not on Facebook, it doesn't mean that it doesn't know about you.
Theoretically, of course.
Fred Hamprecht of Heidelberg University and Germany and colleagues used data of tens of thousands of Facebook users to see if they could find out "shadow connections" of people who don't use the service:
Using the network structure of four of the university campuses, a machine-learning program picked out attributes that seemed to predict whether two non-members knew each other, such as how many members knew both of them and how many knew one but not the other. The program used only the relationships between members and the email data, both of which a social network company could access.
When the researchers then used the program to predict links between non-members in the remaining college Facebook network, 40 per cent of the predictions were correct. By contrast, they calculate that using a random guessing approach, just 2 per cent of suggested connections would be right.

The Constitution

Have you ever noticed that those who are always spouting off about the Constitution are the ones that believe it doesn't apply to them. Or that their 'interpretation" of what it says is correct?

And I Quote

"American fascists are easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest..."

~ Henry Wallace, 1944

Swedish telcoms giant Teliasonera complicit in mass surveillance in the world's worst dictatorships

The Swedish news show Uppdrag Granskning has posted an hour-long investigative journalism piece establishing the link between the giant Swedish telcoms company Teliasonera and oppressive regimes around the world. Teliasonera sold and supported network equipment that was used to spy on dissidents, journalists, political reformers, union leaders, and the general public in Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. Here's EFF's writeup of the piece:
The investigative report, titled “Black Boxes,” in reference to the black boxes Teliasonera allowed police and security services to install in their operation centers--which granted them the unrestricted capability to monitor all communications—including Internet traffic, phone calls, location data from cell phones, and text messages—in real-time. This has caused concern among Swedish citizens and Teliasonera shareholders, who had previously been assuaged by assurances from the telecommunications company that they follow the law in the countries in which they are operating. After a meeting with Peter Norman, Sweden’s Minister of Financial Markets, the chairman of Teliasonera’s board of directors issued a statement, announcing that they had launched “an action programme for handling issues related to protection of privacy and freedom of expression in non-democratic countries, in a better and more transparent way.”
Teliasonera’s declaration of good intentions may be too little too late after the damning evidence of abuse compiled by Uppdrag Granskning. Documents obtained by their investigators showed an Azerbaijani had his phone tapped after he published a piece about being beaten at the hands of government security agents while covering a story. The report also found that black-box surveillance was used in Belarus to track down, arrest, and prosecute protesters who attended an anti-government protest rally following the 2010 Belarusian presidential election. One Azerbaijani citizen says he was interrogated solely due to the fact that he voted for the Armenian representative in the 2009 Eurovision song contest.
Swedish Telcom Giant Teliasonera Caught Helping Authoritarian Regimes Spy on Their Citizens

Thue truth be told

JPMorgan's exit plans look better than most workers standard pay

Wow, screwing up at JPMorgan looks pretty good compared to working a normal job. The "trader at heart" who was supposed to be managing risk for JPMorgan (Ina Drew) received a very comfortable exit package. Yes, she was making millions each year and had been there for decades for let's not forget that Drew, like everyone else in that industry, never had to pay back a dime from business that was wiped off of the books during the crash.
JPMorgan may have escaped the worst of the banking crisis earlier, but they still had their fair share of bad business. Also, after a taxpayer bailout to save Wall Street's lifestyle, it's unthinkable to fire someone and see them still walk away with an exit plan that is worth millions. If Wall Street wants capitalism, for god's sake have it but this is not capitalism.

The Telegraph:
One of the best paid women on Wall Street, Ms Drew last year received a remuneration package worth $15.5m.

Corporate filings show that following her resignation she is entitled to $400,000 in severance as well as a share award that was worth $16m yesterday. On top of this, she has unexercised options that were valued at the end of last year at $3.44m, a series of retirement benefits worth a further $2.63m, and a $9.87m deferred compensation pot built up over several years.

Ms Drew, who spent over 30 years at the bank, is not expected to be the only executive to depart in the wake of a loss that has damaged JP Morgan's reputation for risk management. Achilles Macris, who ran the London division of JP Morgan's chief investment office (CIO), and Javier-Martin-Artajo, a trader who worked in the unit, are also reported to be leaving.
It was reported later in the week that "The Whale" was on his way out but it doesn't look like he or the others in that team are gone yet. European and UK workers do have more legal protections and with the amount of money involved all around, negotiations are likely to be longer.

As mentioned earlier, workers can be fired in Europe or the UK but the process always takes longer. One would think that such gross negligence would be easier but the bank is in CYA mode. It is almost certain that the failed risk managers at JPMorgan will all come out of this process making much more money that anyone in any other industry.

Once again, the game is rigged and the bankers walk away laughing with pockets full of money regardless of performance. Nice work, when you can get it.

Daily Funny

His First Job

A young man hired by a supermarket reported for his first day of work. The manager greeted him with a warm handshake and a smile, gave him a broom and said, "Your first job will be to sweep out the store."

"But I'm a college graduate!!" the young man replied indignantly.

"Oh, I'm sorry about the misunderstanding," said the manager. "Here, give me the broom - I'll show you how.”

Harbor Patrol Finds Nearly 8,000 Pounds Of Marijuana Floating In Ocean

There's just something about LA ...

Harbor Patrol agents started receiving calls just after noon Sunday about large bails of marijuana floating off the coast of Dana Point.

About 160 bales were found and confiscated. In all, officials said the pot totaled more than 7,263 pounds, and counting. It’s unclear if any arrests were made.

Random Celebrity Photo

Babe Ruth jersey sells for record $4.5m

A baseball jersey worn by the legendary Babe Ruth has sold for more than $US4,415,658 , a record for any item of sports memorabilia, according to the buyer and seller.

Bloodless Dueling with Wax Bullets

How do you get really good at anything? Practice, practice, practice.

That’s hard to manage with dueling. So in the first few years of the Twentieth Century, a Parisian doctor named de Villers founded a school where ambitious men could develop their dueling skills without dying. This was an age before paintball guns, so they used pistols that fired wax bullets:
This remarkable academy is conducted by Dr. de Villers, and combats frequently take place there by way of practice. In these mimic duels wire masks are worn to protect the face and bullets made of wax are used, so that no injury may be sustained by the combatants. In all other respects, however, the conduct of the affair is carried through as on the “field of honour,” so that when the time comes — if it ever does come — for the scholars to take part in a serious duel they may acquit themselves with credit to themselves and disaster to their adversary — although this latter point is not of much importance.

Why Men Prefer to Eat Red Meat

I'd say because it's more delicious, but that's not what Brian Wansink of Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found out: it's because meat is macho.
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American food," write the researchers. [...]
If meat represents masculinity, it would seem men would be more likely than women to prefer meat to other foods — a means of reinforcing gender. To test this idea, the researchers analyzed data of more than 2,000 university students who indicated how much they liked or disliked various foods. Male students were significantly more likely than female students to like beef, meat and orange juice; and the women were significantly more likely than guys to like salad and vegetables.
This "masculine meat" phenomenon seems to hold in other countries as well. In one study of 23 languages with gendered pronouns, the researchers found "that the vast majority of these gendered words and these languages associate meat with the masculine pronoun," Wansink told LiveScience.

Robot Can Use The Microwave

Today nuking food in the microwave, tomorrow nuking humanity for world domination!
Seriously though, what more can we ask from our robot pals now that they've mastered the skills of microwaving frozen food?
IEEE Spectrum's Automation blog reports:
Herb, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, has been hard at work at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute learning how to be, well, a home exploring robot butler. Siddhartha Srinivasa's group has effectively ended robotics research as we know it by teaching Herb to microwave frozen food.

The Top 10 Most Common Gardening Mistakes

Nursery owner Flora Grubb shares the 10 most common mistakes made while shopping at the garden nursery and how to avoid them.

1. MISTAKE: shopping for just flowers, and not foliage.

SOLUTION: "I often tell my customers that every flowering plant is beautiful at its prime - full of lush, abundant blooms," says Flora. "But then I'll ask, 'How does it look for the rest of the year?'" Before you buy, consider the plant's leaves and structure. Include specimens with spectacular foliage, like the annual coleus, the shrub cotinus, or decorative grasses to help keep beds interesting when flowers are not at peak.

2. MISTAKE: Buying insufficient amounts of a single variety

SOLUTION: "Taking home only one or two pots of a particular specimen is a surefire way to make your garden look hodgepodge," says Flora. Depending on the size of the pot and the type of plant, she suggests buying at least three containers (though six or more of a species is preferred) for a unified, well-designed look.

3. MISTAKE: Purchasing unhealthy or diseased plants

SOLUTION: Leaves can tell you a lot about the health of the plant. Avoid picking specimens with brown, yellow, or wilted leaves, which could signify poor health (left) or neglect. Also inspect the foliage for insect damage like aphids (little green bugs), scale (translucent bumps or blisters), and spider mites (webs). You don't want to spread pests throughout your garden. Instead, go for plants with lush, perky, vibrant-looking foliage.

4. MISTAKE: Choosing flowers in full bloom.

SOLUTION: "Don't be seduced by pots with abundant flowers," says Flora. Instead, look for healthy foliage and plump buds. Let the plants peak in the ground at your home, rather than in pots at the nursery.

5. MISTAKE: Picking plants with poor root systems.

SOLUTION: Steer clear of anything that is root-bound (you'll notice a mass of roots coming out of the bottom of the container), because tangled roots can suffocate and rob the plant of its nutrients. Also leave those with underdeveloped roots (ask a nursery employee to check) to mature longer at the nursery.

6. MISTAKE: Ignoring the labels

SOLUTION: The plastic tags sticking out of nursery pots contain vital plant information. In addition to water and light requirements - and bloom times, if applicable - they describe how large a plant will get. While it may seem obvious, mistakes like planting a tall perennial in the front of a border or tucking a dwarf variety toward the back of a bed are very common.

7. MISTAKE: Not knowing the dimensions of your garden.

SOLUTION: Flora recommends bringing a photograph of the bed you are shopping for and the measurements of the space to the nursery, so that employees can help you buy the right number of plants, choose the correct size, and find colors that go well together.

8. MISTAKE: Failing to determine a color scheme.

"All colors can be beautiful, but not all colors can be beautiful together," notes Flora. When you're shopping for plants, don't think of each one separately; instead, consider the plant as part of an ensemble cast. "Gardens look best with a specified color scheme. Pick one you like and stick to it!" recommends Flora. "If you love cool colors like blues and purples, but also want a hot palette of oranges and yellows, put them in different beds."

9. MISTAKE: Waiting too long to put pots in the ground.

SOLUTION: Try to place plants in the ground as soon as you bring them home. To help you figure out where they should go, set the pots out in the beds where you'd like to see them positioned, and then move them around to suit your design. If you have to delay planting, keep them in a shady or partly shady area where they won't dry out and put them in the ground as soon as you can. Don't leave pots in the hot sun where they'll dry out.

10. MISTAKE: Trying to do it all yourself.

SOLUTION: "Ask a lot of questions of nursery staffers. Don't go it alone," advises Flora. She recommends seeking out a local nursery with a knowledgeable crew who is passionate about plants. These establishments are often more adept at knowing what grows best in your region than the big-box stores.

Arctic melt releasing ancient gas

Arctic melt releasing ancient gasScientist beside methane seep. Image: University of Alaska / Nature Geoscience

Scientists identify thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane stored for millennia is bubbling out, potentially accelerating global warming.

Toxic mercury, accumulating in the Arctic, springs from a hidden source

Toxic mercury, accumulating in the Arctic, springs from a hidden source
Environmental scientists at Harvard have discovered that the Arctic accumulation of mercury, a toxic element, is caused by both atmospheric ...
Continue Reading

The Fire Rainbow

If you are very lucky you may see a fire rainbow once or twice in your life. It sounds like it could be one of a series of children's books - Harry Potter and the Fire Rainbow has a certain ring to it, but this phenomenon is not fiction.

If you are in the right place and at the right time then a fire rainbow is something that you will remember witnessing forever.


Stonehenge c.1895

Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb

The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange - located in County Meath, on the eastern side of Ireland - was built around 3200 BC. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb at Newgrange would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years.

The passage and chamber of
Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn on the Winter Solstice and for a few mornings either side of the Winter Solstice.

How past land use affects the current landscape

Do you see how the ground level is higher on the left-hand side of this photo? To the right of the stone wall, the ground distinctly drops by a foot or more.

That wall is more than 200 years old. It marks the border between what was once a plowed field (on the left) and grazing pasture (on the right). Today, this site is woodland—part of the Harvard Forest, the most-studied forest in the world. But for generations, this land was farmed by Jonathan Sanderson and his descendants. And, even two centuries later, you can still see the way different uses of the land changed the land.

For instance, the ground level is higher on the left because plowed fields erode more easily. This site is on a slight slope. Water runs downhill, toward the right hand corner of the photo. As it did that, it carried bits of plowed field along with it—sediment that washed up against the stone wall and stayed there. Over many years, the effect changed the level of the land.

The past ain't past. History is recorded in geology and ecology as surely as it's recorded in books. 


Look out! It's a new species of handfish.

Alien Landscapes On Earth

Slime Mold 
Just the thought of mold is something that makes many people involuntarily shudder. There are thousands of known species of molds which include opportunistic pathogens, saprotrophs, aquatic species and thermophiles.

Like all fungi, molds derive energy not through photosynthesis but from the organic matter in which they live. They are like alien landscapes on Earth. Take a look at this enigmatic and beautiful world on our own doorstep.

Glow-in-the-dark lamps

An American firm “The Amazing Jellyfish” has made such unique lamps from bio-luminescent bodies of dead jellyfish which have the ability of glow-in-the-dark. Jellyfish are the one of the most copious creature in oceans. These jellyfish have the properties of glow-in-the-dark and to change their color as well. They have been preserved in such a way that their glow-in-the-dark ability remains same in-spite of losing their life. So lamps do not need electricity, all they need is darkness

Funny Pictures

Dog named stay

The Dhole

 Asia's Unique Species Of Endangered Wild Dog
The Dhole is also called the Asiatic Wild Dog or Cuon alpinus. It is not closely related to any other canine, so it is a species apart from dogs, wolves, foxes or dingoes. This native of Southern Asia is an endangered species. A Dhole is roughly as large as a border collie.

A pack of Dholes may number about ten, although sometimes four times that number have been reported in one group. A pack generally has only one breeding female; males usually outnumber females. Many of us whistle to summon our dogs. The Dhole whistles too to summon other members of the pack, if they become separated while hunting.

Vegetarian Shark Eschews Meat

Florence is a nurse shark who lives in an aquarium in Birmingham, UK. She’s a strict vegetarian. Even when her caretakers wrap fish in lettuce, she turns away from it. Instead, she competes with other herbivores for plants:
Florence’s mouth is filled with razor-sharp, serrated teeth designed for demolishing fish and crustaceans.
Instead she uses them for pulping broccoli and cabbage and any other greens she can steal from fellow ocean tank resident Molokai the green turtle.
I suspect that she simply hasn’t encountered bacon yet.

Naked Mole Rat's Long Life Due To Cellular Garbage Men

The naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) is a burrowing rodent native to parts of East Africa. It has a highly unusual set of physical traits that enables it to thrive in an otherwise harsh, underground environment, including a lack of pain sensation in its skin and a very low metabolism.

The naked mole rat is also of interest because it its extended lifespan of up to 28 years. A a new study from the University of Texas, USA, that could be due to differences in protein destroying machinery in their cells.

Animal Pictures


Octopus (by ~Cirindell)