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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.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Daily Drift

Nothing gets by us ... oops!
Today's readers have been in:
Krakow, Poland
Zurich Switzerand
Singapore, Singapore
Hanoi, Vietnam
Vlissingen, Netherands
Ashtarak,  Armenia
Tonsberg, Norway
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Athens, Greece
Liege, Belgium
Bern, Switzerland
Santiago, Chile
Groningen, Netherlands
Islamabad, Pakistan
Kiev, Ukraine
Pretoria, South Africa
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Jakarta, Indonesia
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Budapest, Hungary
Sampaloc, Philippines
Dublin, Ireland
Varna, Bulgaria

Today in History

585 BC A solar eclipse interrupts a battle outside of Sardis in western Turkey between Medes and Lydians. The battle ends in a draw.
1805 Napoleon is crowned in Milan, Italy.
1830 Congress authorizes Indian removal from all states to the western Prairie.
1863 The 54th Massachusetts, a regiment of African-American recruits, leaves Boston, headed for Hilton Head, South Carolina.
1859 The French army launches a flanking attack on the Austrian army in Northern France.
1871 The Paris commune is suppressed by troops from Versailles.
1900 Britain annexes the Orange Free State in South Africa.
1940 Belgium surrenders to Germany.
1953 Melody, the first animated 3-D cartoon in Technicolor, premiers.
1961 Amnesty International, a human rights organization, is founded.

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The Enemies Within

The 20 Most Dangerous Wingnuts And Their Organizations
By Stephen D. Foster Jr.

America has enemies. Not just abroad, but within our shores as well. And our domestic enemies, as it turns out, are MORE dangerous and destructive than the terrorists could ever hope to be. Because while the terrorists want to destroy us, the following people and their organizations are doing far more damage.
1. Roger Ailes: The President of Fox News keeps the right-wing mouth piece biased and unbalanced. He literally proposed a right-wing news network as a propaganda tool to use during the Nixon Administration. And now, Fox News makes every effort to slander Democrats, lie to the public, and support conservative groups, activists and politicians at all costs.
Want to tell Ailes what you think of him? Feel free to contact Fox News Channel by mail, phone, or email.
FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-301-3000
Web: www.foxnews.com
2. The Koch Brothers: Yes, there is more than one Koch brother, but rather than jotting down the same paragraph twice, it makes more sense to combine the two. Charles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries, a private oil and chemicals company. They have spent big money in elections and have pretty much bought and paid for all of Republicans that sit on the energy committee. They also have ties to The John Birch Society, of which their father was a founding member, and several other conservative think tanks and organizations including, Americans For Prosperity which David Koch leads as chairman, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Cato Institute. They helped create and fund the Tea Party and have been very influential in the watering down of environmental laws and the destruction of unions. If you really want to see the scope of their influence look at what is happening in Wisconsin and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
I know you must be dying to contact Koch Industries to give them your opinion, so here’s how you can do that.
Koch Industries, Inc.
P.O. Box 2256
Wichita, KS 67201-2256
3. Dick Armey: His FreedomWorks organization helped to create the Tea Party and he has worked closely with the Koch brothers. Armey’s organization seeks to deregulate and tear down reform. He opposed health care reform and is largely responsible for hatred, paranoia and anti-government sentiments displayed at town halls during the health care debate.
400 North Capitol Street, NW
Suite 765
Washington, DC 20001
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-564-6273
Local Phone: 202-783-3870
Fax: 202-942-7649
4. Tom Donohue: The US Chamber Of Commerce President gained a hell of a lot more power in the wake of the Citizens United ruling. The Chamber is the largest conservative lobbying group in the country. Representing big corporations more than small businesses, the Chamber opposed health care reform and Wall Street reform. The group is in favor of tearing down any and every law designed to protect the American worker. Donohue once stated that “there are legitimate values in outsourcing — not only jobs, but work….” and once told unemployed people in Ohio to “stop whining”. So, not only is he for deregulation, he supports job killing policies. That is a double dose of dangerous.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20062-2000
Main Number: 202-659-6000
Phone: 1-800-638-6582
5. Tony Perkins: Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Council opposes abortion for any reason, believes homosexuality should be against the law, believes in teaching “intelligent design” in schools, and believes global warming is a hoax. FRC was listed as a hate group after it falsely linked gay males to pedophilia. It basically lobbies the government to make laws that govern our personal and private lives. The Council is a Christian Right-wing organization that has a heavy influence on the Republican Party, hence all the abortion laws being proposed by them.
Family Research Council
801 G Street, NW
Washington DC 20001
Phone: 1-800-225-4008
6. Pat Robertson: Robertson founded the Christian Coalition in 1989 and claims to be non-partisan. The problem with this claim is that it’s a bunch of crap. The Christian Coalition passes out “voter guides” in churches and yet is granted tax exempt status. It clearly supports a conservative agenda and is associated with Christian fundamentalism. It is yet another group that believes that America should be a Christian state. They are a threat to the Constitution.
Mailing address:
Christian Coalition of America
PO Box 37030
Washington, DC 20013-7030
Phone: 202-479-6900
7. Edwin Feulner, Jr.: Feulner is the President of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that took a leading role in the conservative movement during the 1980′s and continues to push conservative ideals today. The Foundation has strong ties to many Republican politicians, and many Heritage personnel members have gone on to serve in senior governmental roles. Not only does it stand by supply side economics and tax cuts for the rich and corporations which led to the current economic crisis, it also believes in a strong defense which has become more and more expensive. Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program and is perhaps the most powerful public policy think tank on this list. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has taken money from the organization. It has far too much influence on American policy and that influence must be brought to an end.
The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington DC 20002-4999
Phone: 202-546-4400
8. Arthur Thompson: Thompson leads the radical right-wing John Birch Society, which is yet another organization that has Koch family connections. Founded in 1958 by Robert Welch, Jr., the John Birch Society is an anti-communism group that has pretty much denounced every liberal person and policy as socialist. It opposes the Civil Rights Act, the United Nations, and believes in immigration reduction. It aims to dismantle the Federal Reserve System and wants to return to the gold standard. The group is a sponsor of CPAC and is no longer exiled from the mainstream. Another interesting fact is that Fred Koch, father of the aforementioned Koch brothers, was a founding member.
John Birch Society
770 N. Westhill Blvd
Appleton, Wisconsin 54914
Phone: 920-749-3780
9. Rupert Murdoch: Known as “the man who owns the news”, Murdoch controls a vast media empire around the world including Fox News, The New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal here in America. Advertising his media outlets as “fair and balanced” Murdoch and his News Corporation relentlessly push conservative talking points and provide campaign donations to many Republicans running for various positions. News Corporation now has to answer for hacking cell phones and impeding investigations. Long the mouthpiece for Republican propaganda, Murdoch is a threat to Freedom of the Press and the foundations that keep America free.
If you want to contact News Corporation and tell them what you think of them, here is their contact information.
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of Americas
New York, New York 10036
Phone: 212-852-7000
Web: www.newscorp.com
10. Grover Norquist: Norquist is an especially dangerous individual. In fact, at the moment, he has the most influence on Republican congressmen. Republicans in the House and Senate refuse to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and Norquist and his group, Americans For Tax Reform, have made sure Republicans continue to do so. 235 members of the House and 41 Senators signed the Norquist pledge to not raise taxes and now our economic future hangs in the balance. Norquist is basically calling the shots and holding America hostage on behalf of the rich. And he isn’t even an elected official.
Americans for Tax Reform
722 12th Street, NW
Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Office: 202-785-0266
Fax: 202-785-0261
11. David Bossie: Citizens United isn’t just a bad Supreme Court ruling. Citizens United is the conservative organization that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of in 2008. Founded in 1988, located near Capitol Hill, and led by President and Chairman David Bossie, Citizens United’s goals include withdrawal from the United Nations, and defeat of campaign finance laws, among others. They also produce “documentaries” that serve the conservative agenda. The group is mostly a threat because of their fight to allow corporate ownership of elections. The Koch brothers, and many conservative think tanks and organizations have flooded elections with cash since the ruling. The Supreme Court decision alone is enough to put this dangerous organization and Bossie on the list.
Citizens United
1006 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
Office: (202) 547-5420
Fax: (202) 547-5421
12. Tim LaHaye and Kenneth Cribb: Once again, you’ll notice that two people occupy this spot. After some thought, I decided this was necessary to avoid repetition. Tim Lahaye founded, and Kenneth Cribb is the current President of, the Council for National Policy. The CNP is a conservative organization for social conservative activists. Described by The New York Times as a “little-known group of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,” the organization is perhaps the most powerful group on this list. Members include many who are already on this list such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly, and Edwin Feulner Jr. What makes this group particularly dangerous is that they support theocracy and Dominionism as national policy. They are also incredibly secretive and that’s scary all by itself.
CNP is apparently so secret that no address or phone number is available, so you’ll have to email them.
13. Steven J. Law: Law is President and CEO of American Crossroads, a conservative organization that has raised and spent tens of millions of dollars to defend and elect Republican candidates to federal office, and was very active in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections. Basically, Law and his group are listed because they have taken advantage of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision the most since the ruling. The Kochs and Karl Rove have connections with the group and are a major reason why the House is under GOP control.
American Crossroads
P.O. Box 34413
Washington, DC 20043
Phone: ( 202) 559-6428. info@americancrossroads.org
14. James Dobson: Dobson is the Family Talk radio personality and Family Research Council founder that contributes greatly to all the hate we see from conservatives. A frequent guest on Fox News, he is perhaps the most influential religious leader on the Christian-Right even though he has never been ordained. Dobson believes that women should only focus on mothering (and probably cooking too) and is totally against gay rights. He supports private schools and special tax privileges for religious schools. He opposes sex education and only supports abstinence as the only technique for pregnancy prevention. Dobson is on this list because he is the one that began all of the anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-education speeches that are now commonplace in the Republican Party.
Family Talk Radio
540 Elkton Drive
Suite 201
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Phone: 877-732-6825
15. Phyllis Schlafly: She is the only woman on this list. Undoubtedly, you may have thought that Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin would be, but they are not. I consider Palin and Bachmann mere pawns compared to Schlafly. As founder and President of the Eagle Forum, Schlafly opposes feminism and equal rights for women. Eagle Forum promotes a pro-life, anti-gay, anti-sex education, and anti-vaccination agenda that has contributed to the current wave of social conservative extremism in the Republican Party. She believes women should remain in the home and that there is no such things as marital rape. She is certainly the most influential woman in right-wing activism and as such, the most dangerous one too.
Eagle Forum
PO Box 618
Alton, IL 62002
Phone: 618-462-5415
Fax: 618-462-8909 eagle@eagleforum.org
16. David Keene: Up to now David Keene led the American Conservative Union, which is the oldest operating conservative lobbying organization in the country. The ACU runs the event known as CPAC and spends money on lobbying and political campaigns. Keene is still the current President of the National Rifle Association. Which is also a strong lobbying group that is virtually an arm of the Republican Party that glorifies guns and believes that people should be able to carry guns anywhere they go, even near the President of the United States. Keene is mostly on this list because of the NRA. The NRA used to actually serve a valid purpose but has since become a pro-Republican political organization that has mixed guns and politics. It makes them a danger to the political process.
The American Conservative Union
1007 Cameron Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-836-8602
Fax: 703-836-8606
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 1-800-672-3888
17. Tim Wildmon: Classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Family Association is headed by Tim Wildmon. AFA is just like every other conservative Christian group. It opposes abortion and gay rights, as well as other public policy goals such as deregulation of the oil industry and lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act. The group has actively boycotted just about any business that disagrees with them. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the AFA released a video in which “God” tells a student that students were killed in schools because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore and blamed the shootings on abortion and lack of prayer in schools. AFA is against all other religions and has an obsession with Christmas, often boycotting companies that do not mention Christmas in their advertising. AFA is here on this list because they represent one of the biggest threats to intellectual and personal freedom in America.
Want to boycott AFA? Send them a “friendly” letter.
American Family Association
P.O. Box 3206
Tupelo, MS 38803
18. David Barton: Despite not having any history or law credentials David Barton passes himself off as an expert in early American history. Most of his claims have been disputed and written off as false by real historians. Barton’s organization is Wallbuilders, which seeks to destroy one the basic foundations of American life: the separation of church and state. Barton’s mission is to revise history in an effort to turn America into a Christian state with Biblical law instituted as the law of the land. He has also created false quotes to justify his claims. Barton is a danger to the history of America, the Constitution, and education.
PO Box 397
Aledo, TX 76008
Phone: 817-441-6044
19. Noble Ellington: American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC. The Council is basically a pay to play organization that carries the corporate agenda into state legislatures across the country. They work to end unions, end environmental and labor regulations, and end consumer protection laws. ALEC has been funded by the Koch brothers for two decades. The price for corporate participation is an ALEC membership fee of as much as $25,000. For that price, corporations are basically writing the legislation that you are currently seeing being proposed and implemented in Republican controlled states across the country.
American Legislative Exchange Council
1101 Vermont Ave. N.W., 11th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 202-466-3800
Fax: 202-466-3801
20. Edward H. Crane: Crane is the founder and current leader of the Cato Institute. While they have supported some liberal policies and claim to abhor neo-conservatives, the Cato Institute does push many objectives that should make everyone cringe. Among the various policies that Cato supports, privatizing Social Security, abolishing the minimum wage, abolishing affirmative action, and some environmental regulations, are among them. Of course, it’s understandable why Cato holds these positions considering Charles Koch is chairman of the board and a major funding source. Even Rupert Murdoch had a place on the board at one point which connects the Kochs and the right-wing media.
Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington D.C. 20001-5403
Phone: 202-842-0200
Fax: 202-842-3490
And there you have it. All of these people and their organizations pose a serious threat to the American people. They target women, senior citizens, minorities, homosexuals, non-Christians, and American workers. So which person or organization is the most dangerous to democracy? The common thread throughout the list is the Koch brothers. They have ties to many of the people and organizations on the list and share many of the same goals. If one were to remove the Koch brothers from the equation an important source of funding and leadership would be eliminated from the conservative sphere. The Koch brothers are by far the biggest threat to American values and institutions. The truly evil thing about this group is that NONE of these monsters are elected by the people. Yet they have more power and influence over our elected officials and system of law and government, than we do.

'Heads I Win, Tails You Lose'


You might think that the declining price of gasoline means that we don't have to pay attention to all that talk about oil speculation driving up the price of oil.



Even though the price of gas has fallen, you're still lining the pockets of Wall Street every time you gas up.

As Memorial Day approaches and summer driving season kicks off, remember that speculators will clean up even as the price of oil drops.

It's a rigged game, with rules that make you give your hard-earned money to financiers no matter what. It's like the bully on the playground who established the ground rules for a coin toss game as "heads I win, tails you lose." Under those rules, the bully always wins.

In this case, the bully is Wall Street. With oil markets, loose rules allow speculators -- not end users -- to dominate the volume of trading, increasing price volatility and making more money the more the price changes -- whether that price is going up or down.

Goldman Sachs has admitted that speculation adds as much as $23.39 per barrel to the price of crude. That translates to 56 cents per gallon.

WRITE TO CONGRESS to tell them to enforce our laws
and protect the American consumer.

CEO earnings continue to increase

In yet another sign of a completely dysfunctional economic system, public company CEO pay has gone up yet again. They will argue that the reason is because profits are up, which is accurate. At the same time, there's a problem when the financial upside is always about the select few. What ever happened to thinking about a company as a whole rather than just the CEO or his close network?
For all of the griping by Baby Boomers about how narcissistic today's youth can be, they should step back and look at this culture of greed and selfishness. The problem has been growing since the Gordon Gekko 1980s Wall Street days. Each decade it gets worse and corporate culture becomes more self-centered and all about greed.

This trend has to stop if we're to have a future. It's not just about a handful of people yet that's what we see year after year from public companies. Why is it so socially acceptable to fire by the thousands (ahem, Meg Whitman) yet when companies keep employees, the executives make less?

There continues to be something profoundly wrong with the modern corporate world. If this is the best modern capitalism can offer, we have no future.
Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs.

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.

That was up more than 6 percent from the previous year, and is the second year in a row of increases. The figure is also the highest since the AP began tracking executive compensation in 2006.

As I Said ...

Omnes mundi scaena et sunt tantum histriones ...

You think you have long working hours?

The Unglamorous, Punishing Hours of Working on a Hollywood Set
 You think you have long working hours? Shooting a movie or TV show can mean you spend the majority of your time -and the vast majority of your waking hours- at work. Gavin Polone has first-hand experience.
A week and a half ago we had an unusually long shooting day on the show I’m currently producing, Jane by Design. The crew call time was at 7 a.m. and we wrapped at 10:46 p.m. — fourteen hours and 45 minutes after subtracting our one-hour lunch break. And some had an even longer day: Our actors, including guest star Teri Hatcher, showed up for hair and makeup at 5 am, which meant that hairstylists and makeup artists, as well as someone from the transportation department and the set production assistant, also showed up to meet them and were there until wrap, giving them a total of sixteen hours and 45 minutes. Many of you who are less familiar with the culture of filmmaking may find these hours to be pretty crazy, but those of us who regularly work on sets know there was nothing out of the ordinary about this day — and it wasn’t even that extreme compared to other movies and TV series, which often go beyond the standard schedule of a twelve-hour day.
Stars get paid well for those hours, but the many others on the crew are just making a living, and they rarely complain. Polone talked with different workers about how they view their work schedules in an article at Vulture.

Wit of the World


Does the Supreme Court Believe in Double Jeopardy Protections?

Of all the rock-ribbed beliefs that accompany our understanding of the American legal system, the idea that criminal defendants are free from being tried twice for the same crime -- double jeopardy -- is perhaps the most overstated and misunderstood. The truth is that defendants get tried twice all the time for the same conduct -- in federal court and then state court, for example -- and the constitutional protections of "double jeopardy" we all like to talk about at cocktail parties have been shaved down over and over again by judges eager to aid prosecutors at the expense of defendants.

Casey Anthony is being sued for defamation

Case won ... Casey Anthony holds hands with her defence attorneys as they listen to the verdict. 
Casey Anthony, the Florida mother convicted of lying to police as they investigated the death of her 2-year-old daughter, is set to be served with a defamation lawsuit.
Anthony has been in hiding since a jury acquitted her of murder, manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse in July 2011. But investigators for a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez tracked Anthony down, The Huffington Post reports.
Gonzalez is suing Anthony for allegedly ruining her life with a sordid lie, but she had trouble finding Anthony in order to serve a subpoena. A judge's ruling changed that.
The judge ruled last week that Casey Anthony's attorney must accept service on Anthony's behalf, or Anthony would have to release her address to be served, Orlando's WFTV reports.
Given those options, Anthony's lawyer said he would accept the subpoena for his client. Formal service is expected later this week.
The Casey Anthony defamation lawsuit stems from a lie that Anthony told investigators: that a woman named "Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez" kidnapped her missing daughter, who was later found deceased.
"Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez" was a made-up name for a non-existent person, Anthony later admitted. But a woman with the similar name of Zenaida Gonzalez does exist, and claims she's been subject to ill treatment because of Anthony's lie.
In a defamation case, a victim must generally prove there was a false and defamatory statement about her, and that the statement was made to at least one other person. Gonzalez must also prove Anthony acted negligently in making the false statements.
In Anthony's defense, her lawyer emphasizes the fake name "Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez" is not an exact match for the real Zenaida Gonzalez. Casey Anthony may even apologize to Gonzalez for the unfortunate coincidence, Anthony's lawyer told WFTV.
That's the least of what Zenaida Gonzalez is hoping to get from her Casey Anthony defamation suit. A trial date is set for January.

The UPS Van Smuggler

Photo: U.S. Border Patrol
An enterprising human smuggler tried to use a phony UPS van to make a special delivery to the United States: 13 illegal immigrants from Mexico.
What can Brown do for you? Apparently not human smuggling as the scheme was foiled by U.S. Border Patrol:
The van looked like a legitimate United Parcel Service Inc. delivery vehicle, except the company decal on the back door was slightly crooked. [..] Migrants told authorities they had agreed to pay between $5,000 and $8,000 each to be smuggled into the United States, according to the criminal complaint. 

The butler did it

Vatican confirms pope's butler arrested in scandal

The Vatican confirmed on Saturday that the pope's butler has been arrested in its embarrassing leaks scandal, adding a Hollywood twist to a sordid tale of power struggles, intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of Catholic Church governance.Paolo Gabriele, a layman and member of the papal household, was arrested Wednesday after secret ... (more)

Lady Gaga deemed too risque for Indonesia

Lady Gaga canceled her concert in Indonesia, her management said Sunday, citing security concerns after Islamic hardliners denounced her costumes and dance moves as too risque. If the concert is held, there are concerns the singer, her crew and attendees may be in harm's way, said Minola Sebayang, the lawyer for the promoters.

Altercation over nail polish stirs public debate over rights of Saudi woman

An altercation between a young Saudi woman and an agent of the country's morality police over her nail polish in a Riyadh mall has stirred a public debate in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
In a video the woman can be heard demanding the agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to leave her alone, as they instruct her to leave the mall at once.

“Why are you chasing me? The government said no more chasing! Your duty is to advise people… why are you looking at my manicure? I will never leave the mall!” she can be heard saying.

Later in the video, the woman asked mall security to intervene in the incident and to get the morality police to stop harassing her. The security guards refused to do so, instructing her to listen to the agent, who they know to be "a good man."

Awesome Pictures


Autumn Rain by *Lavaspawn

The Alpine Finger Wrestling Championships

Think alpine sports and you'll probably think of skiing and snowboarding, but there's another alpine sport that doesn't get the same coverage - Alpine Finger Wrestling. The 35th edition of the annual Alpine Finger Wrestling Championships took place in the Bavarian region of Schnaitsee, Germany recently - with a handful of winners across the weight divisions thrilling the highly enthusiastic crowd.

The sport began when the art of finger wrestling was used as a method of settling disputes in the Alps back in the 17th century. But today, in 2012, finger wrestling is a sport in its own right. Well, in Bavaria at least.


A Graveyard Of Ships In The Desert
Many have visited an abandoned city and wondered what catastrophic event could have caused such an exodus from a metropolis once so evidently thriving. Yet these cities are usually hundreds if not thousands of years old, the everyday clamor and cry of civilization just an echo.

Visit Mo'ynaq in Uzbekistan, however, and you can see apocalypse right here, right now. It looks like a scene from a science fiction disaster movie: big ships adrift in the desert.

Ten Incredible Confluences Around the World

A confluence is a place where two (or more) bodies of water meet. When two rivers meet and mix, especially rivers with water of different colors, the confluence is quite dramatic. See pictures of the most interesting meetings of contrasting waters from around the world at Twisted Sifter. Shown here is the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers in China.

Daily Funny

A large two engined train was crossing America. After they had gone some distance one of the engines broke down. "No problem," the engineer thought, and carried on at half power.

Farther on down the line, the other engine broke down, and the train came to a standstill.

The engineer decided he should inform the passengers about why the train had stopped, and made the following announcement:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that both engines have failed, and we will be stuck here for some time. The good news is that you decided to take the train and not fly."

Sketches from Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook

The Large Hadron Collider
You may already know about Leonardo da Vinci’s submarine design, or his sketches for helicopters, parachutes and airplanes. But you not have seen his plan for a compact muon solenoid detector, almost identical to the one now used by CERN in its Large Hadron Collider. That, at least, is the idea behind this drawing by physicist Sergio Cittolin. View more images at the link.

Hostile Alien Invaders Are Unlikely

Sorry Stephen Hawking, I agree with Jill Tarter. Hostile alien invaders are unlikely–at least not the kind envisioned in SciFi ...
Continue Reading

How I Stopped Worrying (about science accuracy) And Learned to Love The Story

Dr. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, has worked in TV and film quite a bit, often as a science consultant, and sometimes as a “personality.” But even before that he was a blogger - and a critic.
Not long after creating my first website (back in the Dark Internet Ages of 1997) I decided it would be fun to critique the science of movies, and I dove in with both glee and fervor. No movie was safe, from Armageddon to Austin Powers.
I was right; it was fun. It was surprisingly easy to deconstruct Hollywood accuracy, or lack thereof. Any mistake was fair game; a flubbed line with bad math was just as likely for me to mock as a plot device upon which the entire movie rested. Blowing up a giant asteroid? Pshaw. Saying “million” instead of “billion”? Please. Shadows moving the wrong way at sunset? Let me sharpen my poison keyboard.
Phil wrote a guest post for The Science and Entertainment Exchange about how he eventually reconciled the differences in the world of science and the business of entertainment. But he still wants to bring better science to your science fiction!

The Science of Carrying Things on Your Head

Why do people in some cultures regularly carry heavy objects on their heads? It’s because, biomechanically speaking, head-loading is an efficient means of hauling cargo:
Based on studies of women of the Luo and Kikuyu tribes of East Africa, researchers have found that people can carry loads of up to 20 percent of their own body weight without expending any extra energy beyond what they’d use by walking around unencumbered.
But don’t strap gear to your head just yet. Head-loading only works well if you’ve been practicing it for many years:
The subjects in these studies began head-loading as children and had developed a peculiar gait that’s one-third more efficient than the one we’re likely to use.
For untrained controls who have not had years to strengthen the right muscles and build up spinal bone density, carrying things on your head actually requires more energy than using a backpack.

Meet Eobelisaurus mefi

Eobelisaurus mefi: The Dinosaur with Arms Even More Ridiculously Tiny Than T. rex

Image: Diego Pol and Oliver W.M. Rauhut / Proceedings of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Move over, T. rex! There's another dinosaur with even ridiculously tinier arms: meet Eobelisaurus mefi.

Stray dog runs 1,700km to Tibet with Chinese cyclists

Call her a canine with a dogged determination to keep running, wherever the road may lead. The homeless dog, known as Xiao Sa, has been following a team of cyclists for 24 days along 1,700 kilometers of highway from Kangding, Sichuan province, to Lhasa in Tibet. Zhang Heng, 22, a student in Wuhan, Hubei province decided to face the challenge of riding to Lhasa alone. On the way he met a lonely dog.

"She was lying, tired, on the street around Yajiang, Sichuan province," he said. "So we fed her, and then she followed our team." They thought she was following for fun, but found she insisted on sticking around them day and night. "We felt she might want to come along with us, so we decided to bring her along to the end. We thought the dog was encouraging us," he said.

They created the name Xiao Sa by combining xiao meaning "little" with the last syllable of Lhasa. During their journey, Xiao Sa, Zhang and his team covered more than 1,700 kilometers and climbed 10 mountains higher than 4,000 meters. Xiao Sa just ran up the mountains or along dirt roads. "Many people stopped cycling in some sections, then took the bus, but the dog made it," he said.

Zhang put the dog on the back of the bike when the team was riding downhill. "The speed can reach 70 kilometers per hour, impossible for the dog to catch us." Zhang Heng, who accompanied Xiao Sa for 20 days, called her "a buddy and a friend". "I would like to take the dog home and take care of her. She has been a stray on the road for a long time. She needs a home."

The Cedar Waxwing's Diet Causes Them To Fly Drunk

A new report in the Journal of Ornithology reports that cedar waxwings are flying drunkenly to their deaths at an alarming rate due to their habit of gorging on berries.

Here’s more on this drunken mayhem:
Cedar waxwings have evolved to live on a diet that averages 84 per cent fruit. But those evolutionary innovations backfired on several occasions between 2005 and 2007 when flocks of them died after crashing into windows and fences in broad daylight in the Los Angeles area.
Now Kinde and colleagues report that the downfall of the flocks came from eating too many berries. Lacking a crop – the expandable pouch near the throat used to store food – waxwings stow meals in a distensible oesophagus. “When the fruit stays in the oesophagus, it ferments and produces ethanol,” says Kinde.
The waxwings had ingested so many berries that their large livers “could not keep up with the alcohol produced by the fermentation”, with ethanol concentration as high as 1000 parts per million. By the time they finished stuffing themselves with berries, they were too drunk to fly safely.
It appears that no species is safe from the effects of alcohol abuse. Time to develop some little birdie breathalizers to make sure they’re flying straight!

The Pink Katydid

pink katydid
A pink katydid is rare, but not so rare that we don’t have photographs to enjoy! It’s not a separate species, but a condition somewhat similar to albinism. Read more about pink katydids and see stunning pictures at The Ark in Space here.

Animal Pictures