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 26, 2012

The Daily Drift

Nothing's better than a cold iced tea on a hot day.
Today's readers have been in:
Bern, Switzerland
Ampang, Malaysia
Groningen, Netherlands
Cork, Ireland
Nyon, Switzerland
Bangi, Malaysia
Amersfoort, Netherlands
Hanoi, Vietnam
Kiev, Ukraine
Dubai, Untied Arab Emirates
Bratislava, Slovakia
Naples, Italy
Pretoria, South Africa
Zurich, Switzerland
Dublin, Ireland
Naaldwijk, Netherlands
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Limerick, Ireland
Kajang, Malaysia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Vienna, Austria
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Santiago, Chile

Today in History

Germanicus of Rome celebrates his victory over the Germans.
William of Ockham forced to flee from Avignon by Pope John XXII.
A new law bans Catholic priests from the colony of Massachusetts. The penalty is banishment or death for a second offense.
Charles II and Louis XIV sign a secret treaty in Dover, England, ending hostilities between England and France.
Jacob Leiser, leader of the popular uprising in support of William and Mary's succession to the throne, is executed for treason.
British and Chickasaw forces defeat the French at the Battle of Ackia.
The Russians defeat the Poles at the Battle of Ostrolenska.
A resolution is passed in the U.S. Congress stating that Congress has no authority over state slavery laws.
The territory of Montana is organized.
The last Confederate army surrenders in Shreveport, Louisiana.
President Andrew Johnson is acquitted of all charges of impeachment.
The last czar of Russia, Nicholas II, is crowned.
The House Committee on Un-American Activities begins its work of searching for subversives in the United States.
The evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk begins.
A patent is filed in the United States for the H-bomb.
Union Square, San Francisco, becomes a state historical landmark.
The civil rights activist group, Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee, is established in Atlanta.
A U.S. Air Force bomber flies across the Atlantic in a record of just over three hours.
Apollo 10 returns to Earth.
The movie Star Wars debuts.

Top 10 Happiest Countries list announced

Oh, I mean sure, if you like employment, health care, education and life satisfaction it may be relevant. Otherwise, you can just ignore this list.

The top ten Happiest countries are:

1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Netherlands
4. Switzerland
5. Austria
6. Israel
7. Finland
8. Australia
9. Canada
10. Sweden

Romney still fibbing about the "cost" of federal regulations

Romney is counting on American voters to be too uneducated, or lazy, to know that he's lying. And judging by recent history - Americans' "opposition" to health care reform, but support for most of its provisions, comes to mind - Romney's is a winning strategy.

Romney's vow to repeal "job-killing regulations" that are costing the economy billions of dollars may not be as easy as he makes it sound. He and many fellow repugicans complain that government regulations are a leading drag on jobs, but Labor Department data show that few companies where large layoffs occur say government regulation was the reason.

There's little evidence that the regulatory burden is any worse now than in the past or that it is costing significant numbers of jobs. Most economists believe there is a simpler explanation: Companies aren't hiring because there isn't enough consumer demand. Economists believe high levels of economic uncertainty are a leading complication for business, arising more from struggles over taxes and spending in Washington than from regulations.

Romney to woo black voters simply to convince white women that he likes blacks

Wow, that's terribly cold and calculating.

And it's consistent with what a repugican told me years ago.

I remember being worried about former rnc chair Ken Mehlman's outreach to blacks, a good eight years ago. And a repugican acquaintance corrected me, telling me not to worry about black voters defecting - the repugicans didn't want or expect their votes. What they were actually doing was trying to convince white suburban middle-of-the-road soccer moms that repugicans weren't a hateful, intolerant, racist party because - see! - we're wooing blacks!

Washington Post:
Mitt Romney’s campaign team has been quietly laying plans for an outreach effort to President Obama’s most loyal supporters — black voters — not just to chip away at the huge Democratic margins but also as a way to reassure independent swing voters that Romney can be inclusive and tolerant in his thinking and approach.
Despite the obvious difficulties, Romney’s outreach to black voters could reap dividends even if he is unable to significantly chip into Obama’s support. “Suburban voters will be a real battleground, and upscale white voters like to think of themselves as tolerant and they won’t vote for a candidate that is seen as exclusionary, and the Romney folks must be aware of that,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “He has to persuade suburban voters that he isn’t Rick Santorum. He could break the mold a little bit and do some campaigning in African American communities. It would get people talking, and it would be all gain and very little pain.”

The truth be told

Muslim Brotherhood claim lead in Egyptian elections

Although they weren't leading the protests that pushed out the last corrupt government, they've been around for a long time and have a solid ground game. Mubarak's government gave its best effort to shut down the Muslim Brotherhood but it was a losing battle for Mubarak.
Whoever wins in Egypt is likely to be less friendly with the US though the last regime was less friendly with the population of Egypt. Will the Muslim Brotherhood change once they come to power and the billions of US dollars is waved in front of them? That has been known to have its impact on governments, just as it does at home.

Al Jazeera:
Early on Friday morning, the Brotherhood, the country's most powerful political force, announced that its candidate was in the lead, followed by a divisive former civil aviation minister more closely tied to Mubarak than anyone else in the race.

However, the overall picture will not be clear for some time. The presidential election commission did not plan to release official results until Tuesday.

If no one wins more than half the votes needed for outright victory in the first round, the top two candidates will contest a June 16 and 17 run-off.

The Brotherhood's estimate was based on results from 236 of roughly 13,000 polling stations. Campaigns were allowed to station observers in the polls throughout the voting and counting process, and the Brotherhood had placed staff in nearly each one.

Typical CEO made $9.6 million last year

The head of a typical public company made $9.6 million in 2011, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data from Equilar, an executive pay research firm.

Chinese couple accused of burying hit-and-run victim alive

A young couple believed to have buried an elderly woman alive after knocking her down last month while drunken driving have been placed in criminal detention. "It's certain the woman was not dead when buried," a publicity officer from Yuyao public security bureau, who only gave his surname Zhou, said. "Legal medical experts detected particles identical to those in the surrounding soil in her lungs, which indicates she was still breathing," he said. But police have not formed a definite conclusion on the case, according to Zhou.
"Preliminary judgment of the cause of death is brain injury by the impact from the car and asphyxia," he said. Police in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, received a report from construction workers about a car without license plates abandoned in a remote construction site on May 1. Officers found cracks on the windshield of the car. Police received another report the next day from the same people that a body was buried in the mud nearby. They later found the corpse of an elderly woman 300 meters from where the car had been discarded.

Judging from the windshield and a bloodstain on the backseat of the car, as well as marks on the body, the police believe the woman might have been buried after being hit by the car on the morning of April 30. "A witness said he heard someone crying and saw an elderly woman lying on the ground near a Santana. A man and a woman got out and put the elderly woman in the car, saying they would send her to the hospital," said a policeman surnamed Song, from the criminal investigation brigade of the Yuyao public security bureau, who is handling the case. The woman, surnamed Fang, was a 68-year-old native of Anhui province.

The young man and woman, both 25, were captured in Liupanshui city of Guizhou province on May 9. Police believe the couple had been in a karaoke bar all night before the accident. They believe the couple worried about criminal liability because of drunken driving and causing the accident, and may have found the elderly woman was no longer groaning and breathing on their way to hospital, said Song. Shen Ning, a criminal lawyer from Shanghai Watson and Band Law Firm, said it could be considered intentional homicide if the woman was alive when buried.

Police officer fired for driving 143 mph while drunk gets his job back

In June 2010 Denver police officer Derrick Saunders was sentenced to 5 days in jail for driving 143 mph while drunk. The manager of safety fired Saunders, but yesterday the Civil Service Commission overturned the decision to fire him, based on "discretion and precedence."This is not good news for slow-moving McDonald's employees:
NewImageSaunders previously had been cleared of pointing a gun at a McDonald's employee in Aurora in 2009. The employee said Saunders, an officer assigned to Denver International Airport, grew impatient when his order wasn’t filled fast enough. He was in the drive-thru with another off-duty officer when he pulled the gun on them on May 2009, according to the McDonald's workers.
Saunders denied pointing the gun and a jury cleared Saunders of felony menacing and weapons charges in April 2010.

Stange abodes

For Sale: One Pyramid House in Arizona!
I don’t care for modern architecture. I prefer something classical — say, third millennium B.C. Those were the days of style and this home in Maricopa, Arizona is built with them in mind. The 3,200-square foot 3-bedroom home has a surprisingly light and airy interior, as you can see in the gallery at the link.

The World's Largest Chocolate Sculpture

Chocolate-lovers need look no further for a place to pay homage to their favorite treat after chocolatiers created a mouth-watering edible sculpture of an ancient Mayan temple.

Chocolatiers have broken the world record for the largest chocolate sculpture after building a replica of the Kukulcan pyramid based in Chichen Itza in Mexico weighing an incredible 18,239lb - the equivalent of two adult elephants.

MIT Solves the Ketchup Problem

No more hitting the 57!  Thanks to MIT researchers, pouring ketchup out of a bottle will be easy:
[MIT grad student Dave Smith] and a team of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists at the Varanasi Research Group have been held up in an MIT lab for the last two months addressing this common dining problem.
The result? LiquiGlide, a "super slippery" coating made up of nontoxic materials that can be applied to all sorts of food packaging--though ketchup and mayonnaise bottles might just be the substance’s first targets. Condiments may sound like a narrow focus for a group of MIT engineers, but not when you consider the impact it could have on food waste and the packaging industry. "It’s funny: Everyone is always like, 'Why bottles? What’s the big deal?' But then you tell them the market for bottles--just the sauces alone is a $17 billion market," Smith says. "And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year."
Fast Company has the video clip of the fancy schmancy nanotech coating: here.

Salt Made From Various Types Of Human Tears

Who knew the tears that we cry could be used to make a variety of different salts? The people at We Made This, that’s who!
They’ve bottled our pain, pleasure and culinary sacrifice and created a line of salts suitable for various occasions and functions.
Slap on a label with literary flair and flavor suggestions and you’ve got a product that’s perfect for a store called Huxton Street Monster Supplies, one of the 826 National Stores.
Not familiar with 826 National? Check it out.

Random Photo

The Cursing Stone

Say your prayers! An ancient "cursing stone" used by Christian pilgrims to curse their enemies has just been found in the island of Canna, Scotland:
The round stone with an early Christian cross engraved on it, also known as a “bullaun” stone, is believed to be the first of its type to be found in Scotland, and was discovered by chance in an old graveyard on the island.
More commonly found in Ireland, the stones were used by ancient Christian pilgrims, who would turn them either while praying or when laying a curse, and were often to be found on sacred pilgrim routes. Traditionally, the pilgrim would turn the stone clockwise, wearing a depression or hole in a bigger “socket” stone underneath.

Six Lies Your School Taught You About America’s Founding

This article about the founding of America and the many lies we’ve been taught about it are all pretty fascinating.
 In the decades between Columbus’ discovery of America and the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock, the most devastating plague in human history raced up the East Coast of America. Just two years before the pilgrims started the tape recorder on New England’s written history, the plague wiped out about 96 percent of the Indians in Massachusetts.
If that is true, it certainly explains a lot. In fact, many of their other list items in the article fit in with this idea.

Ten Latin Phrases You Pretend to Understand

Because you weren’t going into botany, the priesthood, or coin manufacturing, you thought you were safe to dismiss Latin as a dead language. Obviously, you didn’t graduate cum laude. Latin is about as dead as Elvis (who, by the way, made $54 million in 2004). Whether you’re deciphering a cryptic state seal or trying to impress your Catholic in-laws, knowing some Latin has its advantages. But the operative word here is “some.” The ability to translate The Aeneid probably isn’t going to come in handy anytime soon, so we’ll start you off with ten phrases that have survived the hatchet men of time (in all their pretentious glory).
1. Caveat Emptor
(KAV-ee-OT emp-TOR): “Let the buyer beware”
Before money-back guarantees and 20-year warranties, caveat emptor was indispensable advice for the consumer. These days, it’d be more fitting to have it tattooed on the foreheads of used-car salesmen, infomercial actors, and prostitutes. For extra credit points, remember that caveat often makes solo appearances at cocktail parties as a fancy term for a warning or caution. Oh, and just so you know, caveat lector means “let the reader beware.” (not that you’ll ever, ever need to know that!)
2. Persona Non Grata
(puhr-SOH-nah non GRAH-tah): “An unacceptable person”
Remember your old college buddy, the one everybody called Chugger? Now picture him at a debutante ball, and you’ll start to get a sense of someone with persona non grata status. The term is most commonly used in diplomatic circles to indicate that a person is unwelcome due to ideological differences or a breach of trust. Sometimes, the tag refers to a pariah, a ne’er-do-well, a killjoy, or an interloper, but it’s always subjective. Back in 2004, Michael Moore was treated as a persona non grata at the Republican National Convention. Bill O’Reilly would experience the same at Burning Man.
3. Habeas Corpus
(HAY-bee-as KOR-pus): “You have the body”
When you wake up in the New Orleans Parish Prison after a foggy night at Mardi Gras, remember this one. In a nutshell, habeas corpus is what separates us from savages. It’s the legal principle that guarantees an inmate the right to appear before a judge in court, so it can be determined whether or not that person is being lawfully imprisoned. It’s also one of the cornerstones of the American and British legal systems. Without it, tyrannical and unjust imprisonments would be possible. In situations where national security is at risk, however, habeas corpus can be suspended.

4. Cogito Ergo Sum
(CO-gee-toe ER-go SOME): “I think, therefore I am”
When all those spirited mental wrestling matches you have about existentialism start growing old (yeah, right!), you can always put an end to the debate with cogito ergo sum. RenĂ© Descartes, the 17th-century French philosopher, coined the phrase as a means of justifying reality. According to him, nothing in life could be proven except one’s thoughts. Well, so he thought, anyway.
5. E Pluribus Unum
(EE PLUR-uh-buhs OOH-nuhm): “Out of many, one”
Less unique than it sounds, America’s original national motto, e pluribus unum, was plagiarized from an ancient recipe for salad dressing. In the 18th century, haughty intellectuals were fond of this phrase. It was the kind of thing gentlemen’s magazines would use to describe their year-end editions. But the term made its first appearance in Virgil’s poem “Moretum” to describe salad dressing. The ingredients, he wrote, would surrender their individual aesthetic when mixed with others to form one unique, homogenous, harmonious, and tasty concoction. As a slogan, it really nailed that whole cultural melting pot thing we were going for. And while it continues to appear on U.S. coins, “In God We Trust” came along later (officially in 1956) to share the motto spotlight.
6. Quid Pro Quo
(kwid proh KWOH): “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”
Given that quid pro quo refers to a deal or trade, it’s no wonder the Brits nicknamed their almighty pound the “quid.” And if you give someone some quid, you’re going to expect some quo. The phrase often lives in the courtroom, where guilt and innocence are the currency. It’s the oil that lubricates our legal system. Something of a quantified value is traded for something of equal value; elements are parted and parceled off until quid pro quo is achieved.
7. Ad Hominem
(ad HAH-mi-nem): “To attack the man”
In the world of public discourse, ad hominem is a means of attacking one’s rhetorical opponent by questioning his or her reputation or expertise rather than sticking to the issue at hand. Translation: Politicians are really good at it. People who resort to ad hominem techniques are usually derided as having a diluted argument or lack of discipline. If pressed, they’ll brandish it like a saber and refuse to get back to the heart of the matter. Who said the debate team doesn’t have sex appeal?
8. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(ad-MA-yor-em DAY-ee GLOR-ee-um): “All for the Greater Glory of God”
Ad majorem dei gloriam is often shortened to AMDG. In other words, it’s the WWJD of the Jesuits, who’ve been drilling the mantra into their followers since (Saint) Ignatius of Loyola founded the Catholic Order in 1534. They believe all actions, big or small, should be done with AMDG in mind. Remind your Jesuit-educated buddies of this when they seem to be straying from the path. (Best used with a wink and a hint of irony.)
9. Memento Mori
(meh-MEN-toh MOR-ee): “Remember, you must die”
Carpe diem is so 20th century. If you’re going to suck the marrow out of life, trying doing it with the honest, irrefutable, and no less inspiring memento mori. You can interpret the phrase in two ways: Eat, drink, and party down. Or, less hedonistically, be good so you can get past the pearly gates. Naturally, the latter was the one preferred by the early Christian Church, which would use macabre art—including dancing skeletons and snuffed-out candles—to remind the faithful to forgo temporal pleasures in favor of eternal bliss in heaven. The phrase also served to prevent swelling heads. Some historians say that victorious, parading Roman generals would have servants stand behind them and whisper “memento mori” in their ears to keep their egos in check.
10. Sui Generis
(SOO-ee JEN-er-is): “Of its own genus,” or “Unique and unable to classify”
Frank Zappa, the VW Beetle, cheese in a can: Sui generis refers to something that’s so new, so bizarre, or so rare that it defies categorization. Granted, labeling something “sui generis” is really just classifying the unclassifiable. But let’s not over-think it. Use it at a dinner party to describe Andy Kaufman, and you impress your friends. Use it too often, and you just sound pretentious.

Famous People With Law Degrees

You may have heard that law schools are currently cranking out more graduates than the market can handle. But those with law degrees have gone on to careers outside their area for a long time. Can you believe some of the folks who have a degree in law?
4. John Cleese. One of the funniest men in the history of comedy has a law degree from no less than Cambridge. But he didn’t leave the jury rolling in the aisles: Cleese never actually practiced. After meeting writing partner Graham Chapman at school, Cleese went on to co-found a little comedy troupe called Monty Python.
9. Ozzie Nelson. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet star graduated from Rutgers, law degree in hand, in 1930. This no doubt came in handy when he negotiated the first-ever “noncancellable ten-year contract,” an agreement with ABC that gave the Nelsons a salary for 10 years, even if they weren’t working.
17. Fidel Castro. Castro was admitted to the bar in 1950 after studying at the University of Havana. He had his own firm for a time – Azpiazo, Castro & Resende.
But that’s just a few examples from a list of 30 at mental-floss.

Random Celebrity Photo


Eight Interesting International Tripoints Worldwide

An international tripoint is a geographical point at which the borders of three countries meet. There are currently 157 international tripoints by some accounts. Usually, the more neighbors a country has, the more international tripoints that country has.

China with 16 tripoints and Russia with 11 to 14 lead the list of states by number of tripoints. This is list of 8 interesting international tripoints worldwide.

Nevada Ghosts

Ben Cosgrove of Life says:
As the prospect of nuclear weapons testing by nations like North Korea and Iran once again makes headlines, LIFE.com presents rare and (mostly) unpublished pictures from the Nevada desert by photographer Loomis Dean shortly after a 1955 atomic bomb test.
These are not "political" pictures. They are, instead, eerily beautiful, unsettling photographs made at the height of the Cold War, when the destructive power of any atomic blast was jaw-droppingly huge, but positively miniscule compared to today's truly terrifying thermonuclear weapons. In short, these pictures from more than half a century ago serve as a quiet reminder of just how insane the very notion of nuclear warfare really is.
Nevada Ghosts: photos from an early A-bomb test

The Codex Mendoza

The Codex Mendoza is an Aztec codex, created about twenty years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico with the intent that it be seen by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain.

It contains a history of the Aztec rulers and their conquests, a list of the tribute paid by the conquered, and a description of daily Aztec life, in traditional Aztec pictograms with Spanish explanations and commentary. The Codex Mendoza is named after Antonio de Mendoza, then the viceroy of New Spain, who may have commissioned it.

Inner workings of planet helped boost oxygen in atmosphere

The influence of the ground beneath us on the air around us could be greater than scientists had previously thought ...
Continue Reading

Martian Life

Mars 'has life's building blocks'Mars artist's impression

New evidence from meteorites suggests that the basic building blocks of life are present on Mars.

When Goblins Attack

Goblins attack Zimbabwe family

 "Three huts and a house were flattened last Sunday, while people are occasionally being pelted with stones by unseen things, believed to be goblins at a Chisumbanje homestead in Chipinge South where mysterious occurrences are haunting the Sithole Family," reports The Zimdiaspora.

Hamelin Rats

City of Pied Piper fame again faces rat problem
City officials say a popular fountain has been put out of service after the rodents gnawed through a power cable, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

You See - They See

Humans obviously don’t see the world like animals do, and that can cause a lot of confusion on both sides.
We wonder why they keep getting into the trash, destroying our furniture and coming home covered in muck, while they wonder why humans forbid them to do the things they love.
This cute series of pictures might help clear up some of the confusion, letting us look at the world through the eyes of our favorite critters, for the good of human-animal relations.

The Most Amazing Jellyfish In The Sea

Jellyfish have enchanted humanity since we first laid eyes on them. Unsubstantial and wispy, they float around our oceans almost without thought or effort, their tendrils carelessly drifting behind them as they go. Jellyfish have existed in one form or another for about 700 million years and in that time they have evolved some rather amazing attributes.

Animal Pictures

Giraffe nap