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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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Daily Drift

Nice paint job!

Today's readers have been in:

Baghdad, Iraq
Naples, Italy
Groningen, Netherlands
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Dublin, Ireland
Zurich, Switzerland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Warsaw, Poland
Nassau, Bahamas
Durban, South Africa
Makati, Philippines
Arnhem, Netherlands
Cape Town, South Africa
Accra, Ghana
Sanitago, Chile
Vantaa, Finland
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As, Norway
Saint Petersburg, Russia

as well as across the US in cities like, Ocala, Lufkin, Puyallup and Honolulu.

Today in History

Henry Raspe is elected anti-king by the Rhenish prelates in France.
King Henry VI is taken prisoner by the Yorkists at the Battle of St. Albans, during the War of the Roses.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially begins as the Corps of Discovery departs from St. Charles, Missouri.
Senator Preston Brooks of South Carolina strikes Senator Charles Sumner with a cane for Sumner's earlier condemnation of slavery.
Union General Ulysses S. Grant's second attack on Vicksburg fails and a siege begins.
The "Great Train Robbery" takes place as seven members of the Reno Gang make off with $98,000 in cash from a train's safe in Indiana.
The Amnesty Act restores civil rights to Southerners.
The United States formally recognizes Korea.
The Wright brothers register their flying machine for a U.S. patent.
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini sign a "Pact of Steel" forming the Axis powers.
The Truman Doctrine brings aid to Turkey and Greece.
The children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiers.
Ceylon becomes the Republic of Sri Lanka as its constitution is ratified.
Baseball player Pete Rose passes Hank Aaron as National League run scoring leader with 2,108.
An Iraqi missile hits the American frigate USS Stark in the Persian Gulf.
In the Middle East, North and South Yemen merge to become a single state.

Who were the Hittites?

They were a dynasty that, 3,500 years ago, vanquished armies, toppled empires, and fought off plagues - yet somehow often gets forgotten in the annals of history.

Marching hundreds of miles and perfecting the use of battle chariots, the Hittites were warriors, first and foremost.

The truth be told

German Pirate Party grows into political force

Going from nothing to 11% is pretty amazing for a political party that didn't even exist a few years ago. Is it the message? Is it disgust with the same old, same old that never goes anywhere? Whatever it is, it's taking off quickly.

More on the fast-growing Pirate Party via The Guardian:
It's a fairytale success: two years ago, hardly anyone knew that the Pirate Party even existed; now, all of a sudden, it has won seats in state parliaments in four successive elections, and a new poll puts them at 11% of Germany's national vote. And that's despite still not having any clear stand on important issues such as Afghanistan or the euro crisis. The German press is bewildered and horrified by turns. The Pirates are a chaotic bunch, they say, a protest party without a real political agenda. A group of internet addicts, nerds who primarily want to download music and films for free.

Anyone who wants to understand the potential of the Pirate Party must first realise that the internet is more than a technical means to an end and more than a playground for file sharers. The internet is the birthplace and living space of a communication society and therefore the key to the transformation of an era; its far-reaching effects will one day be ranked alongside those of trains, planes and automobiles.

Overcoming barriers is about freedom. This is the point that is clearly so difficult to convey. The Pirates are not an internet party but a party interested in freedom. The internet can be seen as a metaphor for what that means today: freedom through equal rights, freedom through the expression of opinion, freedom through open access to education and knowledge. Freedom through the erosion of hierarchy and authority. And freedom through participation and pluralism.

Reality Bites

The latest move by the catholic bishops to help the repugicans win the election

Don't think for a minute that this isn't about the election.

From EJ Dionne:
The federal lawsuits filed Monday by catholic institutions against the contraception mandate under the health care law are not surprising, but they are unfortunate. The Bishops’ Conference and many — though not all — catholic organizations are acting as if the Obama Administration had never backed down from its original, broad mandate and had never offered to negotiate.

But the administration, responding to a broadly united catholic community, did offer a compromise and has since shown a willingness to try to accommodate many of the concerns of catholic and other religious institutions. Now the catholic community is split because many of us who initially backed the bishops cannot understand why they did not respond to the administration’s olive branch. Many bishops seem to want this fight.
Keep in mind that a majority of catholic voters side with President Obama in this battle, so it's not entirely clear whose religious freedom the catholic bishops are defending. As usual, it's also not clear who the catholic bishops represent, other than the repugican party.

Proposed US law makes domestic propaganda legal

Buzzfeed's Michael Hastings reports on a revision to the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987, which prohibit the use of government disinformation and propaganda campaigns within the USA. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State, would allow the US government to knowingly tell lies to its people in order to promote the government's own policies.
The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”
According to this official, “senior public affairs” officers within the Department of Defense want to “get rid” of Smith-Mundt and other restrictions because it prevents information activities designed to prop up unpopular policies—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Critics of the bill point out that there was rigorous debate when Smith Mundt passed, and the fact that this is so “under the radar,” as the Pentagon official puts it, is troubling.
The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.

In another bad economic sign, China rejecting raw materials

The demand for raw materials in China has been slowing, but this takes matters to a new level. Defaulting is an extreme measure in a healthy economy so this does suggest problems ahead for China.
Chinese consumers of thermal coal and iron ore are asking traders to defer cargos and — in some cases — defaulting on their contracts, in the clearest sign yet of the impact of the country’s economic slowdown on the global raw materials markets.

The deferrals and defaults have only emerged in the last few days, traders said, and have contributed to a drop in iron ore and coal prices.

“We have some clients in China asking us this week to defer volumes,” said a senior executive with a global commodities trading house, who warned that consumers were cautious. “China is hand to mouth at the moment.”

Did you know ...

... that the Chicago police have been accused of planting evidence on NATO protesters.

JPMorgan risk overseer was fired in 2007 for failed gambles

For the smartest guys ever who know risk better than any other bank, they look like the Keystone Kops. Even more disturbing is that there still are plenty of people who continue to think that the JPMorgan team is run by brilliant people.
I mean sure, besides losing badly elsewhere and launching a regulatory probe, what part didn't sound like a great hire? Add to that the label of "trader at heart" for the senior director in charge of risk and you have a real winner. Bloomberg:
Irvin Goldman, who oversaw risks in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) unit that suffered more than $2 billion in trading losses, was fired by another Wall Street firm in 2007 for money-losing bets that prompted a regulatory probe, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

JPMorgan appointed Goldman in February this year as the top risk official in its chief investment office while the unit was managing trades that later spiraled into what Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called “egregious,” self-inflicted mistakes. The bank knew when it picked Goldman that his earlier work at Cantor Fitzgerald LP led to regulatory sanctions against Cantor, according to a person briefed on the situation.

JPMorgan’s oversight of risk in its chief investment office has become a key issue as U.S. authorities examine the incident and lawmakers debate how to prevent banks from making wagers that might endanger depositors. Goldman was given the risk- oversight job after his brother-in-law, Barry Zubrow, 59, stepped down in January as JPMorgan’s top risk official, according to a person briefed on the matter. Less than a week after the loss became public, the bank stripped Goldman of those duties, appointing Chetan Bhargiri to succeed him.
By the way, why is Jamie Dimon still on the board of the NY Federal Reserve? Why is Elizabeth Warren the only person calling for his resignation?

Random Celebrity Photo

Aromatherapy to Lower Stress, Curb Appetite

More than just a pretty scent.When the massage therapist asks if you'd like to throw aromatherapy into the mix, should you spring for it? Science says it's worth it-aromatherapy isn't just New Age hype. These potent oils derived from plants and herbs can move your mood, or even quell pain in a matter of minutes.

More than just a pretty scent.For example, lavender and orange oils contain linalool, a compound that may lower stress by altering gene expression and blood chemistry. If your priority is reducing pain, thyme oil's been shown to hinder an inflammatory enzyme in the body by up to 65 percent.

Why so powerful? Just a whiff of the oils can impact your limbic system, which connects to parts of your brain controlling breath, heart rate, blood pressure, hormone balance and yes, stress.
The limbic system is a brain structure deep-seated in emotion and memory. "Because of the proximity of the nose to the limbic system, you can immediately shift your mood," says Adora Winquist, aromatherapist and Opus Gaia formulator.

And here's the great news: you can summon aromatherapy at anytime

Edible Serving Size Markers Act As Subconscious Sign to Stop Eating

Photo: Robin Wishna
"Once you pop, you can't stop" is Pringles' motto and Brian Wansink of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab is doing something about it: edible serving size markers can help act as subconscious sign to stop eating.
As part of an experiment carried out on two groups of college students (98 students total) while they were watching video clips in class, researchers from Cornell's Food and Brand Lab served tubes of Lays Stackables, some of which contained chips dyed red.
In the first study of the research, which is published online this month in Health Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association, the red chips were interspersed at intervals designating one suggested serving size (seven chips) or two serving sizes (14 chips); in the second study, this was changed to five and 10 chips.
Unaware of why some of the chips were red, the students who were served those tubes of chips nonetheless consumed about 50 percent less than their peers: 20 and 24 chips on average for the seven-chip and 14-chip segmented tubes, respectively, compared with 45 chips in the control group; 14 and 16 chips for the five-chip and 10-chip segmented tubes, compared with 35 chips in the control group.

Five Healthy Foods for Instant Energy

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Girl drinking water. What kids eat can mean the difference between being hyperactive and being happily alert. Here are five foods every kid needs.

It doesn't come with any slick advertisements or cutesy cartoon characters to sell it, but plain old H2O is one of the quickest energy boosters out there. When kids become dehydrated, their energy plummets and their brain gets foggy, which makes it hard to concentrate.

How to get them to drink it: Kids often don't realize when they're dehydrated, so keep water handy and offer it often, especially if they've been playing a lot or have been out in the sun. Skip flavoring packets, which are often full of artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors. You can try adding a squeeze of lemon for flavor, but I've found that most kids don't like any "floaties" in their water. The trick is in the packaging-let your child pick out a fun water bottle (they can even decorate it themselves with permanent markers) or stock up on twisty straws and funny ice cubes. You'll be amazed at how much water they'll drink.

Grains have been getting a bad rap lately, but whole grains are still one of the best sources of energy we have-especially for little bodies that are still growing. The fiber and carbohydrates in oatmeal provide a long-lasting, consistent source of energy that can be dressed up in a million different ways.

How to get them to eat it:
Skip the pre-fab packets and cook your own. Microwaving a serving of rolled oats won't take you any longer than the packaged stuff, and you'll save on all the added sugars, flavors and colors. Add some real butter (yes, it's okay now!) for satiating fat, then cool it down by adding frozen berries (another great food for energy). To make it fun for little ones, let them add a few sprinkles or chocolate chips on top.

EGGS Everyone knows that protein builds strong muscles and helps keep you full, but I've yet to meet a young child who wants to sit down with a big steak and a bottle of horseradish. Thankfully, eggs are a clean and easy source of protein, and with as many different ways to cook them as there are kids, it's easy to keep them interesting.

How to get them to eat it: Scrambled eggs with cheese is classic kid comfort food, but a boiled egg can be a fun addition to a sack lunch (draw a funny face on it with a pen or marker!). German pancakes (or egg pancakes) are a tasty option for tots who prefer sweet to savory.

BANANAS Many kids are surprisingly potassium deficient-a problem that can manifest in a variety of ways, including lethargy and memory problems. This necessary nutrient, which is also found in dried apricots, figs, and plums, helps regulate the body's nervous and muscular systems.

How to get them to eat it: Thankfully, most kids already love bananas but if your little one has an issue with the texture or taste, try blending frozen banana chunks with yogurt and fruit for a creamy smoothie.

FISH Research shows a link between memory, test-taking skills and, gulp, eating fish for breakfast. While that's not typically pleasing to little palates, the benefits are huge. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like wild salmon have been proven to reduce depression and hyperactivity and increase focus and concentration. In addition, all that high quality protein keeps kids' blood sugar (and therefore their moods) steady while keeping them full for hours.

How to get them to eat it: Studies have shown that pregnant women who eat fish have kids that are more likely to enjoy the taste. Since the womb is a one-way ticket; however, the next best thing is repetition. Try starting with something familiar like tuna melts, then adding some canned salmon to scrambled eggs. You can also try a milder-tasting fish like cod. Encourage kids to eat whole foods over supplements. Sadly, goldfish crackers don't count (although they are yummy!).

Ten Superfoods To Make You Look Younger

Superfoods are full of antioxidants, fiber and essential fatty acids which have fantastic health benefits. When consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, superfoods improve immune system function, prevent or help treat illnesses and reduce the physical signs of aging.

Not Just Sugar

By Perri O. Blumberg
More Foods that Make You Dumb
 News flash: It's not just sugar that makes you dumb, as new research proves. We found the science to back up more foods that drain your brain.

In case you missed it: It's no secret excess sugar isn't exactly sweet where your health is concerned, but now new research indicates it may take a toll on your brain as well as your waistline. In a recent animal study, UCLA researchers found that rats fed a solution of fructose had a harder time navigating a maze, a sign of slowed learning and memory loss, compared to a second group of rats who were given the fructose solution as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to have a brain-boosting effect. The researchers suspect that the fructose-only diet decreased brain activity because it affected insulin's ability to help brain cells use sugar to process thoughts and emotions. Certain omega-3 fatty acids may buffer the brain from the harmful effects of fructose.
Use the news: While this research is preliminary, it's just general good health advice to minimize your intake of added sugar (see some shockingly sneaky sources here) and up your consumption of foods rich in omega-3s, including walnuts, salmon, flax seeds and soybeans to your meals. You've probably heard of smart foods that boost your IQ, but did you know that some less-healthy options can actually drain your brain?

Red Meat and Butter
A diet high in "bad" saturated fat may hurt brain function, according to new Harvard research published in the Annals of Neurology. When researchers studied the eating habits and tested the brain function of 6,000 women for an average of four years, they found the women who ate the most saturated fat scored lower on tests of brain function and memory. On the other hand, women who ate the most monounsaturated fats (found in foods like olive oil and avocado) had higher scores.
Use the news: You don't need to shun saturated fat sources entirely, but choose low or non-fat versions of animal products, such as cheese, yogurt, and milk. Avoid processed meat, like bacon, and stick to lean cuts. Get more protein from vegetable sources, like soy and legumes.

Chips, pizza, and other junk food
Will junk food rot kids' brains? A 2011 British study of nearly 4,000 children found that those who ate primarily junk food (lots of processed and fast food) at age three had a small drop in IQ five years later compared with children who ate healthier diets. (And the link remained after researchers accounted for confounding variables, such as socioeconomic status and parents' education.) Early diet choices especially seemed to affect kids' verbal abilities, according to Time.com. The study suggests that smart diet choices may be particularly crucial during early years of rapid brain development.
Use the news: It can be tricky to get young picky eaters to eat healthy foods, but remember that kids need repeated exposure (sometimes a dozen or more times) to "like" a new food. So don't give up so easily! And many classic kid favorites, like string cheese and yogurt, make for healthy snacks instead of processed cookies and chips.

Low-Carb Diets
Ditching carbs can sap brainpower (along with energy and mood). A small Tufts University study of 19 women between the ages of 22 and 55 found that when dieters eliminated carbohydrates, they showed a gradual dip in cognitive skills (particularly on memory-related tests) compared to a group who stayed on a low-calorie diet that included carbs.
Use the news: Carbs aren't evil-your body needs them for many important functions, including fueling your brain. So avoid diets that eliminate or severely restrict them, and choose healthy options, like whole grain pastas and breads, brown rice, and quinoa.

Does blowing that bubble boost or bust your brainpower? Here, the research is mixed. A recent British study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology found that chewing gum during a memorization exercise impaired participants' short-term memories. The researchers believe the act of chewing may get in the way of concentrating on memory tasks (In this case, participants were asked to learn the order of items in a list) The finding contradicts previous research, which found a positive association between chewing gum and mental tasks.
Use the news: Because of mixed study results, you might not want to spit just yet. But be sure to include other brain-boosting habits in your daily routine, such as drinking water (dehydration can affect focus and acuity), getting plenty of sleep, and playing brain games.

What to Buy - and What Not to Buy - at a Garage Sale

By Raechel Conover
Check your local yard sales for great deals on books, toys and more.Check your local yard sales for great deals on books, toys and more. With spring in the air, garage sales are popping up like daffodils. And with the economy still struggling, many people are trying to stretch their dollars by buying things used. Before you head out to tour the neighborhood, take heed: While some garage sale finds are perfectly fine to pick up secondhand, some things are better bought new, regardless of cost.
Let's take a look.

Buy Used. Experts generally agree that the following can be excellent purchases at garage sales: small furniture, home decor, books, DVDs, toys, board games, hand tools, sports and exercise equipment, lawn furniture, and gardening tools.

With other garage sale finds such as musical instruments, be sure to test any moving parts to make sure they work properly. If they do, you can put off investing in a new instrument until it seems more likely that a stint in the school band will turn into a lasting hobby. Editors at Popular Mechanics say certain used electronics and power tools may be bargains but should be tested before purchase. Their advice: Ask the seller to turn on the device so you can see that it still works. Any refusal should raise a red flag. Of course, if you're mechanically inclined, even a nonworking item could be a good buy. One of Popular Mechanics' experts tells of a $10 Toro snow blower that simply needed a new spark plug and fuel. It's run for 10 more years and counting.

Buy New. What not to buy at a garage sale generally comes down to two questions: Is it safe? And is it sanitary? The answers put potential garage sale finds including child car seats, cribs, shoes, tires, mattresses, swimsuits, hats, and helmets on a Reader's Digest list of items to avoid. An old crib may not be up to today's safety standards, for example, and a used car seat could have been in an accident without your knowledge, rendering it useless. Shoes, mattresses, and hats may not be too clean -- or worse, carry lice, bedbugs, etc. Helmets fail on both fronts.

It Depends. There are a few categories where experts have differing opinions. Take clothes, for instance. First of all, no one will tell you it's smart to buy used undergarments of any type (see above). Most research we found indicates that clothes just aren't the best value -- with the exception of formal wear, maternity clothes, and kids clothes, according to US News & World Report. Formal wear is generally taken care of and worn sparingly; maternity wear is worn for only a few months; and children outgrow clothes so fast that often an outfit is worn only a handful of times. Carefully inspect any garage sale finds for stains and signs of wear and tear.

Another debated category is kitchenware. While some say buying used dishes and glasses isn't sanitary, kitchenware should be fine as long as you wash it well (check to see if your dishwasher has a hot/sanitize cycle).

The bottom line here is to follow your instincts and use some common sense. If you buy things like secondhand clothes and dishes, simply examine them with an eye toward whether you can get them sufficiently clean. Likewise, with electronics and other machinery, if you have a hunch something will work with only a minor repair that you're capable of doing, negotiate a good price and go for it.
That brings us to one final point: When you buy used, especially at a garage sale, don't be afraid to negotiate. In general, such sales are set up so that people can get rid of what they don't want. They're not trying to make back what they spent on the item; they're just trying to see if they can earn a little money before dumping the lot at the Salvation Army. So, ask before you shell out for a garage sale find -- you could save even more.

The Top 20 Things We Throw Away that We Shouldn't

By Tina McCarthy

How often do you have to empty the trash cans around your home? If you take a trip outside to the dumpster every couple days, it's time to examine why your garbage bins fill up so quickly. To cut down the amount of waste you send off to the landfill, here's a list of things you shouldn't be throwing away.

Water Bottles

Yes, they can be recycled but, with a water filter on your faucet and a reusable thermos, there's no need for disposable water bottles. Stopping the bottle habit is one of the best things you can personally do for the environment.

Tissue Boxes

When you go to the store to restock your supply, buy refills for the boxes you already have instead. Better yet, switch to a handkerchief.

Paper Napkins

Cloth napkins are a much better choice in all regards. They're reusable and much more stylish.

Paper Towels

Bar towels are just as effective as their disposable counterparts. Though washing cloth towels year after year may seem counter-intuitive to eco-friendly folks, in the long run it's much better for the environment than disposables.

Razor Blades

Buy a razor sharpener to make dull blades like new again. (Whoever invented the idea of throwaway shaving razors has a special place in a melting ice cap.)

Counter Wipes

Your counters will gleam all the same when you clean them with a sponge or rag.

Paper Coffee Cups

When you swing by your favorite café for a steaming cup of joe, bring your own reusable cup. Consider purchasing personalized photo mugs for yourself and your loved ones, and spread the eco-friendly inspiration.

Cotton Balls

There's nothing a disposable cotton ball can do that a washcloth or reusable make-up applicators can't.

Plastic Utensils

If you're going on a picnic, bring along a reusable flatware set.

Paper Plates

Laziness is not a sufficient excuse for using paper plates. So, when you throw a big party, suck it up and wash a massive load of dishes instead. Or, our favorite, put the kids to work!

Plastic Shopping Bags

When you go shopping, bring along a reusable tote to carry your purchases. You'll look more stylish than you would lugging around flimsy old plastic bags, and you'll make a non-confrontational eco statement, too.

Dryer Sheets

You can easily make your own reusable dryer sheets and kiss the disposable alternative goodbye.

Printer Cartridges

When you run out of ink, refill your printer cartridges at places like Walgreen's or CVS instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

Coffee Filters

Replacing disposable coffee filters with one that's reusable will cut down your amount of daily waste.

Ziploc Bags

To keep food fresh, rinse out empty containers of cottage cheese or yogurt to store leftovers time and time again.

Swiffer Pads

Convenient? Yes. Eco-friendly? Not by a long shot. So, stick to your old-fashioned mop.

Baby Wipes

Considering how many times you have to wipe your baby's butt every day, the environment would be better off if you used washcloths instead.

Paper Lunch Bags

Pack your lunch in a reusable bag instead of the more traditional paper alternative.

Plastic Hand Soap Dispensers

Invest in a reusable hand soap dispenser. In addition to giving your bathroom a decorative touch, it's less expensive to refill them with bulk quantities of liquid hand soap.

Disposable Contact Lenses

As long as you take proper care of your contact lenses and clean them in solution every night, substitute disposables with non-disposables. Instead of tossing a pair after a couple weeks, they can last up to a year.



Bash-Bish Falls (c. 1855-1860): John Frederick Kensett

Five Nazi Plans That Prove They Were Dumber Than You Think

As much chaos and grief as Adolph Hitler gave Europe, his aspirations were much, much worse. Luckily, not all those plans turn out the way he wanted. Some were never implemented, for god reason. And others, like the V-weapons program, did not live up to the specifications.
It’s hard to read about the V-weapons program without picturing an Aryan version of Wile E. Coyote engineering the whole thing behind the scenes. Especially when rockets routinely failed for such hilarious reasons as “too steep,” “fell on airport” and “steam generator misbehaved.” According to one disgruntled engineer whose V-2 exploded only three seconds after ignition, “We just blew a million marks in order to guess what could have been reported accurately by an instrument probably worth the price of a small motorcycle.”
Of the nearly 6,000 V-2 rockets constructed, only 3,170 were actually launched. Of the 1,403 lobbed at England, nearly 300 somehow missed. And we mean they missed England, a 50,000-square-mile target. The V-2s aimed at London fared no better, with only 517 hits out of 1,359 attempts. It seems like you could consistently do better with huge, cartoonish catapults.
The plans that were abandoned were even more ridiculous. Read about them all at Cracked.

Heaven And Hell Themed Nightclubs Of 1890s Paris

Late 19th century Paris was a swinging place, with nightclubs that promised to send your spirit straight to heaven, leave you lingering in a drunken limbo, or help you sin your way into the depths of hell.
These clubs provided theatrical ambiance, astoundingly detailed architecture and a never ending array of alcoholic beverages, and they were designed to take patrons on a trip to the other side, a true escapists paradise.
These amazing clubs no longer exist, but they were well documented in the 1899 book Bohemian Paris Of To-Day by William Chambers Morrow and Edouard Cucuel, which is now available via archive.org.

Drunk golfer used city as driving range

A man was arrested on Saturday for using the center of the historic German city of Cologne as a driving range, after one of his wayward iron shots hit a taxi. The taxi had just stopped to let in a new passenger when there was a loud bang against the car.
"I saw some damage on the taxi to the right of the trunk," the startled taxi driver said. "Then I looked on the ground and found a golf ball." When he got out he was amazed to see the rogue golfer holding a club and repeatedly hitting balls on to the street.

The driver confronted the 44-year-old, who merely began swearing at him, packed up his clubs and walked off. According to a police report filed on Sunday, the taxi driver then followed the man in his car to remonstrate with him further, and got out to confront him.

This apparently riled the golfer, who pulled out a knife and pointed at it. It is understood the cabbie decided not to be the caddy. Police then arrested the inebriated golfer and took him to a cell to sober up. He has been arrested on charges of dangerously interfering with traffic, property damage, abusive and threatening behavior.

Woman charged with trying to infect landlord with scabies

A woman in Salem, Massachusetts, will be summonsed to court on a charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after trying to infect her landlord with scabies. The woman told police, who entered her Turner Street apartment on Saturday morning, that she had argued with the landlord after he arrived with exterminators to deal with her complaint of bugs and mice in the place.

But the exterminator refused to enter the apartment. The tenant said she complained to the landlord that he "was treating her like a 'leper,' and she went into the hallway toward him, wiping her arms on him." In response, she added, the landlord slapped her across the face. She declined any medical attention. Police advised her that she could attempt to bring an assault charge at court.

Police note that the tenant had many red scab marks on her arms, an indication of scabies which is caused by tiny parasites infesting the body. She conceded it was "a severe case," according to the log. Outside, officers interviewed the landlord who told them the tenant "intentionally went toward him to wipe her contagious skin condition on him. He did react by slapping her in the face."

Noting that the landlord is over 60 and regarding her contagious state as a dangerous weapon, police decided to seek to have the woman summonsed. They have also notified the Board of Health regarding the property. The landlord and tenant had involved police in a previous argument regarding the state of the apartment "a few weeks ago." Her ailment was evident then as well, according to the log.

Man who dressed as dead mom sentenced

A man who dressed up as his mother in a bizarre real estate fraud that involved doctoring her death certificate and cashing her Social Security checks for six years after she died was sentenced Monday to more than 13 years behind bars.

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The Benefits of Zoning Out

The next time your teacher scolds you for "zoning out," refer him to this study by psychologists Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler at the University of California Santa Barbara:
History is rich with 'eureka' moments: scientists from Archimedes to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are said to have had flashes of inspiration while thinking about other things. But the mechanisms behind this psychological phenomenon have remained unclear. A study now suggests that simply taking a break does not bring on inspiration — rather, creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the mind to wander. [...]
As well as revealing that breaks on their own do not encourage creative thinking, Baird’s work suggests an explanation for one of psychology’s great mysteries: why we zone out.
From an evolutionary perspective, mind-wandering seems totally counterproductive and has been viewed as dysfunctional because it compromises people’s performance in physical activities. However, Baird’s work shows that allowing the brain to enter this state when it is considering complex problems can have real benefits. Zoning out may have aided humans when survival depended on creative solutions.

Anger in spats is more about marital climate than heat of the moment

How good are married couples at recognizing each other’s emotions during conflicts?

In general, pretty good, according to a study  ...
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Why Do Paper Cuts Hurt So Much?

There are a couple things at play here, some involving the paper, some involving your skin. For one thing, what part of your body comes in contact with paper the most? Right, the majority of paper cuts happen on the fingers and hands. Your hands are pretty complex sensory instruments, and they're absolutely jam-packed with nerve fibers called nociceptors.

These guys sense temperature, pressure and pain, and there are more of them per square inch in your hands and fingers than most other parts of your body. Injuries there are noticed much more than similar injuries elsewhere. The same small paper cut on a less nerve-dense area, such as, say, your leg, won't send nearly as many pain signals to your brain.

Awesome Pictures

Eclipse over missouri

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Strange Facts About Einstein

Albert Einstein in a famous 1951 photo by Arthur Sasse.

So you think you know Albert Einstein: the absent-minded genius who gave us the theory of relativity (two of them, in fact, special theory and general theory of relativity), but did you know that Einstein was born with such a large head that his mother thought he was deformed? Or that Einstein had a secret child before he was married?

Read on for more obscure facts about the life of the world’s smartest genius:

1. Einstein Was a Fat Baby with Large Head

When Albert’s mother, Pauline Einstein gave birth to him, she thought that Einstein’s head was so big and misshapen that he was deformed!
As the back of the head seemed much too big, the family initially considered a monstrosity. The physician, however, was able to calm them down and some weeks later the shape of the head was normal. When Albert’s grandmother saw him for the first time she is reported to have muttered continuously "Much too fat, much too fat!" Contrasting all apprehensions Albert grew and developed normally except that he seemed a bit slow. (Source)

2. Einstein Had Speech Difficulty as a Child

Earliest Known Photo of Albert Einstein (Image credit: Albert Einstein Archives,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
As a child, Einstein seldom spoke. When he did, he spoke very slowly – indeed, he tried out entire sentences in his head (or muttered them under his breath) until he got them right before he spoke aloud. According to accounts, Einstein did this until he was nine years old. Einstein’s parents were fearful that he was retarded – of course, their fear was completely unfounded!
One interesting anecdote, told by Otto Neugebauer, a historian of science, goes like this:
As he was a late talker, his parents were worried. At last, at the supper table one night, he broke his silence to say, "The soup is too hot."
Greatly relieved, his parents asked why he had never said a word before.
Albert replied, "Because up to now everything was in order."
In his book, Thomas Sowell [wiki] noted that besides Einstein, many brilliant people developed speech relatively late in childhood. He called this condition The Einstein Syndrome.

3. Einstein was Inspired by a Compass

When Einstein was five years old and sick in bed, his father showed him something that sparked his interest in science: a compass.
When Einstein was five years old and ill in bed one day, his father showed him a simple pocket compass. What interested young Einstein was whichever the case was turned, the needle always pointed in the same direction. He thought there must be some force in what was presumed empty space that acted on the compass. This incident, common in many "famous childhoods," was reported persistently in many of the accounts of his life once he gained fame. (Source)

4. Einstein Failed his University Entrance Exam

In 1895, at the age of 17, Albert Einstein applied for early admission into the Swiss Federal Polytechnical School (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule or ETH). He passed the math and science sections of the entrance exam, but failed the rest (history, languages, geography, etc.)! Einstein had to go to a trade school before he retook the exam and was finally admitted to ETH a year later. (Source)

5. Einstein had an Illegitimate Child

In the 1980s, Einstein’s private letters revealed something new about the genius: he had an illegitimate daughter with a fellow former student Mileva Marić (whom Einstein later married).
In 1902, a year before their marriage, Mileva gave birth to a daughter named Lieserl, whom Einstein never saw and whose fate remained unknown:
Mileva gave birth to a daughter at her parents’ home in Novi Sad. This was at the end of January, 1902 when Einstein was in Berne. It can be assumed from the content of the letters that birth was difficult. The girl was probably christianised. Her official first name is unknown. In the letters received only the name “Lieserl” can be found.
The further life of Lieserl is even today not totally clear. Michele Zackheim concludes in her book “Einstein’s daughter” that Lieserl was mentally challenged when she was born and lived with Mileva’s family. Furthermore she is convinced that Lieserl died as a result of an infection with scarlet fever in September 1903. From the letters mentioned above it can also be assumed that Lieserl was put up for adoption after her birth.
In a letter from Einstein to Mileva from September 19, 1903, Lieserl was mentioned for the last time. After that nobody knows anything about Lieserl Einstein-Maric. (Source)

6. Einstein Became Estranged From His First Wife, then Proposed a Strange "Contract"

After Einstein and Mileva married, they had two sons: Hans Albert and Eduard. Einstein’s academic successes and world travel, however, came at a price – he became estranged from his wife. For a while, the couple tried to work out their problems – Einstein even proposed a strange "contract" for living together with Mileva:
The relationship progressed. Einstein became estranged from his wife. The biography reprints a chilling letter from Einstein to his wife, a proposed "contract" in which they could continue to live together under certain conditions. Indeed that was the heading: "Conditions."
A. You will make sure
1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons…

There’s more, including "you will stop talking to me if I request it." She accepted the conditions. He later wrote to her again to make sure she grasped that this was going to be all-business in the future, and that the "personal aspects must be reduced to a tiny remnant." And he vowed, "In return, I assure you of proper comportment on my part, such as I would exercise to any woman as a stranger." (Source)

7. Einstein Didn’t Get Along with His Oldest Son

After the divorce, Einstein’s relationship with his oldest son, Hans Albert, turned rocky. Hans blamed his father for leaving Mileva, and after Einstein won the Nobel Prize and money, for giving Mileva access only to the interest rather than the principal sum of the award – thus making her life that much harder financially.
The row between the father and son was amplified when Einstein strongly objected to Hans Albert marrying Frieda Knecht:
In fact, Einstein opposed Hans’s bride in such a brutal way that it far surpassed the scene that Einstein’s own mother had made about Mileva. It was 1927, and Hans, at age 23, fell in love with an older and – to Einstein – unattractive woman. He damned the union, swearing that Hans’s bride was a scheming woman preying on his son. When all else failed, Einstein begged Hans to not have children, as it would only make the inevitable divorce harder. … (Source: Einstein A to Z by Karen C. Fox and Aries Keck, 2004)
Later, Hans Albert immigrated to the United States became a professor of Hydraulic Engineering at UC Berkeley. Even in the new country, the father and son were apart. When Einstein died, he left very little inheritance to Hans Albert.
More about Hans Albert: Obituary by UC Berkeley

8. Einstein was a Ladies’ Man

Einstein with his second wife and cousin, Elsa (Image credit)
After Einstein divorced Mileva (his infidelity was listed as one of the reasons for the split), he soon married his cousin Elsa Lowenthal. Actually, Einstein also considered marrying Elsa’s daughter (from her first marriage) Ilse, but she demurred:
Before marrying Elsa, he had considered marrying her daughter, Ilse, instead. According to Overbye, “She (Ilse, who was 18 years younger than Einstein) was not attracted to Albert, she loved him as a father, and she had the good sense not to get involved. But it was Albert’s Woody Allen moment.” (Source)
Unlike Mileva, Elsa Einstein’s main concern was to take care of her famous husband. She undoubtedly knew about, and yet tolerated, Einstein’s infidelity and love affairs which were later revealed in his letters:
Previously released letters suggested his marriage in 1903 to his first wife Mileva Maric, mother of his two sons, was miserable. They divorced in 1919, and he soon married his cousin, Elsa. He cheated on her with his secretary, Betty Neumann.
In the new volume of letters released on Monday by Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Einstein described about six women with whom he spent time and from whom he received gifts while being married to Elsa.
Some of the women identified by Einstein include Estella, Ethel, Toni and his "Russian spy lover," Margarita. Others are referred to only by initials, like M. and L.
"It is true that M. followed me (to England) and her chasing after me is getting out of control," he wrote in a letter to Margot in 1931. "Out of all the dames, I am in fact attached only to Mrs. L., who is absolutely harmless and decent." (Source)

9. Einstein, the War Pacifist, Urged FDR to Build the Atom Bomb

Re-creation of Einstein and Szilárd signing the famous letter to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. (Image credit: Wikipedia)
In 1939, alarmed by the rise of Nazi Germany, physicist Leó Szilárd [wiki] convinced Einstein to write a letter to president Franklin Delano Roosevelt warning that Nazi Germany might be conducting research into developing an atomic bomb and urging the United States to develop its own.
The Einstein and Szilárd’s letter was often cited as one of the reasons Roosevelt started the secret Manhattan Project [wiki] to develop the atom bomb, although later it was revealed that the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 probably did much more than the letter to spur the government.
Although Einstein was a brilliant physicist, the army considered Einstein a security risk and (to Einstein’s relief) did not invite him to help in the project.

10. The Saga of Einstein’s Brain: Pickled in a Jar for 43 Years and Driven Cross Country in a Trunk of a Buick!

After his death in 1955, Einstein’s brain [wiki] was removed – without permission from his family – by Thomas Stoltz Harvey [wiki], the Princeton Hospital pathologist who conducted the autopsy. Harvey took the brain home and kept it in a jar. He was later fired from his job for refusing to relinquish the organ.
Many years later, Harvey, who by then had gotten permission from Hans Albert to study Einstein’s brain, sent slices of Einstein’s brain to various scientists throughout the world. One of these scientists was Marian Diamond of UC Berkeley, who discovered that compared to a normal person, Einstein had significantly more glial cells in the region of the brain that is responsible for synthesizing information.
In another study, Sandra Witelson of McMaster University found that Einstein’s brain lacked a particular "wrinkle" in the brain called the Sylvian fissure. Witelson speculated that this unusual anatomy allowed neurons in Einstein’s brain to communicate better with each other. Other studies had suggested that Einstein’s brain was denser, and that the inferior parietal lobe, which is often associated with mathematical ability, was larger than normal brains.
The saga of Einsteins brain can be quite strange at times: in the early 1990s, Harvey went with freelance writer Michael Paterniti on a cross-country trip to California to meet Einstein’s granddaughter. They drove off from New Jersey in Harvey’s Buick Skylark with Einstein’s brain sloshing inside a jar in the trunk! Paterniti later wrote his experience in the book Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain
In 1998, the 85-year-old Harvey delivered Einstein’s brain to Dr. Elliot Krauss, the staff pathologist at Princeton University, the position Harvey once held:
… after safeguarding the brain for decades like it was a holy relic — and, to many, it was — he simply, quietly, gave it away to the pathology department at the nearby University Medical Center at Princeton, the university and town where Einstein spent his last two decades.
"Eventually, you get tired of the responsibility of having it. … I did about a year ago," Harvey said, slowly. "I turned the whole thing over last year [in 1998]." (Source)

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