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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Daily Drift


Aspire to awesomeness.
Life well played sir.  Peace out. 
Just one more thing ...
Today our readers have been in:
Amersfoort, Netherlands
Cape Town, South Africa
Durban, South Africa
Zurich, Switzerland
Singapore, Singapore
Tranbjerg, Denmark
Santiago, Chile
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Chisnau, Moldova
Manama, Bharain
Tripoli, Libya
Puck, Poland
Kabul, Afghanistan
Geneva, Switzerland

But is must have been CN day in Malaysia today because we had readers from all over that country in cities such as - Alor Setar, Batu Pahat, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuantan, Petalina Jaya and more.

Today in History

1098   Christian Crusaders of the First Crusade seize Antioch, Turkey.
1539   Hernando De Soto claims Florida for Spain.
1861   Union troops defeat Confederate forces at Philippi, in western Virginia
1864   Some 7,000 Union troops are killed within 30 minutes during the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia.
1888   The classic baseball poem "Casey at the Bat," written by Ernest L. Thayer, is published in the San Francisco Examiner.
1918   The Finnish Parliament ratifies a treaty with Germany.
1923   In Italy, dictator Benito Mussolini grants women the right to vote.
1928   Manchurian warlord Chian Tso-Lin dies as a result of a bomb blast set off by the Japanese.
1938   The German Third Reich votes to confiscate so-called "degenerate art."
1940   The German Luftwaffe hits Paris with 1,100 bombs.
1942   Japanese carrier-based planes strafe Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands as a diversion of the attack on Midway Island.
1952   A rebellion by North Korean prisoners in the Koje prison camp in South Korea is put down by American troops.
1965   Astronaut Edward White becomes the first American to walk in space when he exits the Gemini 4 space capsule.
1969   74 American sailors died when the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans was cut in two by an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.
1974   Charles Colson, an aide to President Richard Nixon, pleads guilty to obstruction of justice.
1989   The Chinese government begins its crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Hundreds are killed and thousands are arrested.

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Random Celebrity Photo

Can you guess which one?

Oil prices down over 20%

Since the repugicans were criticizing Obama for high oil prices when they were climbing, shouldn't they now congratulate Obama on the lower prices? No?
U.S. July crude fell to $87.95 at 2:30 p.m. Singapore time (6.30 a.m. GMT), 20.6 percent lower than the year’s high of $110.85 hit on February 24. Front-month crude prices are headed for a loss of about 17 percent for May, the biggest monthly drop since December 2008.

Analysts say there could more declines for oil amid uncertainty over the global economy and on selling by speculators who had hoped that prices would go higher because of a supply disruption in the Middle East.

Andrew Su, CEO of Compass Global Markets, who has been ‘short’ oil since it was at $102.50 per barrel, said he expected it to fall to $78 at the end of September.
Obama may not have had much to do with the price declines but he had very little to do with the prices increases as well. Even with lower prices, it's still critical for the US to move forward with alternative energies. The challenge of increasing oil prices is not going to ever go away permanently so to whether it's solar, wind, sea or whatever, we still need investments for the long run.

While Solyndra was nothing short of a failure, it doesn't mean the entire program should be scrapped. The repugicans ignore the billions in handouts that taxpayers give to Big Oil (who then screw consumers) each year. Shouldn't we be putting at least the same amount of subsidies into new energy development as we do for Big Oil?

Tax-refund fraud

Filing someone else's return to rip them off 

In the New York Times, Lizette Alvarez reports on a "tsumani of fraud" in the form of tax-refund identity theft. Using only a very little information, crooks file tax returns in their victims' names (the IRS helpfully corrects any mistakes they make in the particulars), then collect the victims' tax refunds:
The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.
The government-approved cards, intended to help people who have no bank accounts, are widely available in many places, including tax preparation companies. Some of them are mailed, and the swindlers often provide addresses for vacant houses, even buying mailboxes for them, and then collect the refunds there.
...J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testified before Congress this month that the I.R.S. detected 940,000 fake returns for 2010 in which identity thieves would have received $6.5 billion in refunds. But Mr. George said the agency missed an additional 1.5 million returns with possibly fraudulent refunds worth more than $5.2 billion.

Seven tips for good behavior, circa 1500 A.D.

Gretchen Ruben, author of the terrific Happiness Project book, posted seven tips for good social interaction, written by Desiderius Erasmus around 1500 A.D. in his book De Civilitate Morum Puerilium Libellus: A Handbook on Good Manners for Children:
NewImageAccording to Erasmus, you should not…
1. gossip
2. tell unkind stories
3. boast
4. indulge in self-display
5. seek to defeat others in argument
6. interrupt people when they tell a story
7. be too inquisitive
Gretchen added two more to the list:
8. don’t “top” (meaning, don’t say things like, “Wow, you think that was bad, wait until you hear what happened to me”)
9. don’t keep bringing the conversation around to your favorite topics if other people don’t seem as obsessively interested in them as you are.
7 Tips for Good Behavior–from the 16th Century

"Let’s hurl some acid" at female Democratic senators

The repugican war on women continues. What kind of a sicko proposes this kind of violence against women? Why does Jay Townsend still have a job?
Townsend's comments (which have since been removed) were posted Thursday on a local Facebook discussion forum for New York's 19th congressional district. Townsend was responding to comments made by a commenter named "Tom" during an online debate over gas prices. Townsend wrote:

"Listen to Tom. What a little bee he has in his bonnet. Buzz Buzz. My question today … when is Tommy boy going to weigh in on all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let's hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won't abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."

The repugicans gather

The Utah National Guard Contingent Prepares for the repugican national convention in Tampa Bay.

"Your First Amendment rights can be terminated"

Something stinks in Chicago and it isn't Lake Michigan

Just another fine day with the Chicago police force. When they're not inflicting damage on your ears, they're urinating on the US Constitution and making up the law as they see fit.

See the video of Chicago's finest here and read more about the arrests of NBC journalists at MSNBC.com.
"Your First Amendment rights can be terminated," yells the Chicago police officer, caught on video right before arresting two journalists outside a Chicago hospital. One, an NBC News photographer, was led away in handcuffs essentially for taking pictures in a public place. He was released only minutes later, but the damage was done. Chicago cops suffered an embarrassing "caught on tape" moment, and civil rights experts who say cops are unfairly cracking down on citizens with cameras had their iconic moment.

Tales of reporters, protestors and citizen journalists being threatened or arrested for filming law enforcement officials during disputes are on the rise, critics say, with Occupy Wall Street protests a lightning rod for these incidents. The National Press Photographers Association claims it has documented 70 such arrests since September and, in May, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to focus attention on the issue.
Maybe it's time for the Justice Department to pick up the phone and restore some order out there.

Wingnut Nebraska cattle ranchers upset over EPA flyovers

If I'm understanding this new outrage from Nebraska, government drones looking for illegal immigrants is just honky dory and makes sense but when the EPA flies over cattle ranches to photograph, that's an invasion of privacy. Suddenly the "if you have nothing to hide, why should you care?" mentality is out the window when it's them. I see.
Have I missed something here or are the repugican politicians and cattle ranchers hypocrites?
A Nebraska cattlemen’s group is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to stop pollution-control flights over ranches, claiming it amounts to spying on citizens. EPA, meanwhile, says the flights are an effective way to quickly spot -- and stop -- pollution from manure lagoons and other waste at large livestock operations.

Nebraska's five federal lawmakers joined the fight this week, demanding to know on what authority EPA is flying over and photographing private property. The lawmakers sent their demands to EPA chief Lisa Jackson on Tuesday, listing a battery of questions and demanding answers by June 10.

EPA has been operating these flights across the country for nearly 10 years.
When the repugicans owned Washington, aggressive invasions of privacy (including obviously the EPA flights) somehow made sense and were for freedom and protection. Why was it OK then or for other issues? Both parties will easily abuse any rights given to them as we are about to see with drones flying over the country.

In the case of EPA flyovers, it's difficult to imagine how much more the flights can provide compared to satellite images that have been possible for decades.

Income inequality can be seen from space

How? It's surprisingly simple. Turns out, demand for trees in neighborhoods behaves a lot like a luxury item, as opposed to a basic necessity.
Tim De Chant at The Per Square Mile blog wrote about research on this a couple of weeks ago. Then, he went out and found examples, using images from Google Earth.

Research published a few years ago shows a tight relationship between per capita income and forest cover.
...They found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent. That’s a pretty tight correlation. The researchers reason that wealthier cities can afford more trees, both on private and public property. The well-to-do can afford larger lots, which in turn can support more trees. On the public side, cities with larger tax bases can afford to plant and maintain more trees.
The trouble, as De Chant points out, is that the disparity here is about more than aesthetics. It's about air quality, cooling effects in the summer, and documented impacts on stress, crime, and quality of life. It's also interesting because it seems to go against the stereotype of wealthy suburbs where all vegetation has been eliminated in favor of houses.
That's Houston's Fourth Ward above, and River Oaks neighborhood below. But De Chant found satellite examples all over the United States, as well as in South America and China.

The truth be told

Gitmo prisoners tortured with Sesame Street music

https://encrypted-tbn2.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTvzxuB-4ik8spHuW9jhVjIsfpUaG9VkLrU5sJUsRqd5AtGFmW5According to Al Jazeera , prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were "tortured" with Sesame Street .

Egypt's Mubarak gets life in prison

Life sentence against Egypt's Mubarak caps fall from war hero to prison inmate.

Hosni Mubarak should have the pleasure of spending out the rest of his life in one of the prisons that he so often used for opponents, though he's more likely to have special conditions.

Handing down the verdict before a packed courtroom, Refaat praised the revolution and said it offered people relief after living "in 30 years of dark without any hope."

While the judge found Mubarak guilty for his role in the killings, he cleared the deposed leader of corruption and misappropriation of funds.

Refaat also chose the lesser of two sentences. Mubarak could have received the death penalty.

Bastoy Prison

Private Island Paradise for Norway’s Most Hardened Criminals

Photo: Der Spiegel
We've told you about Norway's luxurious Halden prison before, but that's for common two-bit lawbreakers. Hardened criminals have their own place - actually their own private island that they run themselves:
Located about an hour away from Oslo, Bastoy Prison, if you can even call this place a prison, is located on a scenic island accessible by ferry. The unique philosophy governing this place can be observed from the moment you set foot on the boat, which is manned almost exclusively by inmates. Instead of just trying to make a run for it as soon as they reach the mainland, these hardened criminals greet visitors and help dock the boat. But once you get to the island and see the kind of freedom and resort-like leisure prisoners enjoy at Bastoy, it becomes clear why they wouldn’t want to go anywhere.
This holiday version of Alcatraz has plenty of beaches where inmates actually sunbathe during the warm summer months, plenty of great fishing spots, tennis courts and even a nice relaxing sauna. Instead of tiny cells, the around 115 prisoners on Bastoy Island live in cozy wooden cottages painted in warm colors, and carry the keys to their own quarters so they can come and go as they please. But you know what they don’t have at Bastoy Prison? Armed guards and fences preventing anyone from escaping. And just so we’re clear, the men here have been convicted of serious crimes, ranging from drug trafficking to rape and murder. Still, they enjoy the kind of lifestyle that is just unthinkable anywhere else, and that most people would actually pay for as a vacation.

Norway to Hire “Friends” for Mass Murderer

Ah, Norway. It has luxury prison for common criminals, island getaway for hardened ones, and now, it is looking to hire friends for a mass murderer.
That's right: the Norwegian prison where Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people - mostly children - last year, is being held, is trying to hire friends for him.
To avoid keeping the confessed killer in total isolation, the high security prison, northwest of Oslo, could let him play sports with the guards and hire someone to play chess with him, among other things, [prison director Knut Bjarkeid] added.
"We are planning a professional community around him, with employees and hired personnel," he told the paper.
Norwegian law forbids keeping prisoners in total isolation for long periods of time because it is considered an unduly cruel punishment.

The 11 Most Badass Last Words Ever Uttered

You’ve seen lists of famous last words, but they are usually only famous because of who said them. These last words are famous because of what the words were.
Everyone hopes to leave a legacy. To be remembered after our passing is the closest thing humans have to immortality, at least until cryogenics figures out how to reanimate Walt Disney's head.
Some people try to pull off immortality with a lifetime of achievements and noble acts. But why piss away all that energy on altruism when you can simply spout one badass quote before you take the dirt nap and live on through eternity known as a guy who needed a second casket for his balls?

Fifteen Words Most People Have Trouble Spelling

Can you spell these commonly misspelled words?
Forget about "saccharolytic," "admittatur," and "arrondissement." While 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati had no problem with those advanced vocabulary words during the National Spelling Bee on Thursday (she won by spelling "guetapens," which means "ambush"), most adults have a hard time with words that are much easier.

According to the experts at Oxford DictionariesYourDictionary.com, and Spellchecker.net -- as well as some longtime English teachers -- the words we misspell most often aren't archaic or obscure. In fact, the most commonly misspelled words are ones we use all the time (including, ironically, "misspell"). Here are 15 words you already know but probably don't always spell correctly, along with handy hints for getting them right every time.
  • A lot. That's right, it's two words.
  • A while. Again, two words.
  • Believe. This one follows the old "I before E except after C" rule.
  • Congratulations. It's easier to remember to use a "t" (instead of a "d") if you just say "Congrats!"
  • Embarrass. The word is long enough for two sets of double letters ("rr" and "ss").
  • Fiery. The "e" from "fire" hides inside when things get hot.
  • Grateful. There's no "great" in "grateful."
  • Its. Like "his," "hers" and "ours," this possessive doesn't have an apostrophe.
  • It's. If you mean to say "it is," use an apostrophe to join the two words together.
  • Lose. Lose the extra "o."
  • Misspell. Mis + spell.
  • Principal. The head of the school is your pal.
  • Receipt. The "except" part of the "I before E except after C" rule.
  • Separate. The two "e"s are separated by two "a"s.
  • Weird. Remember that "I before E except after C" rule? This word breaks it.

Spellcheckers seem like a godsend, but they can't help when the word is incorrect but not misspelled. For example, this excerpt from an error-filled poem -- "Candidate for a Pullet Surprise" by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar -- would get the green light from any spell checking program:

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw's are knot aloud.

(There are eight other verses, but you probably get the point.)

And don't rely on your auto-correct function, either. Since it can't recognize most foreign words or proper names, it can cause more problems than it fixes.

Making Your Kitchen Sizzle

5 Oils Every Pantry Should Have
With so many (sometimes expensive) cooking oils on market shelves, how do you choose which ones to have on hand in your kitchen? It's hard to know which oil to use for frying? For salad dressings? For drizzling? For searing?? Which oil is the healthiest? 

A well-stocked pantry should include a five basic oils to make recipes sing. Read on as Kalena Ross decodes the rainbow of bottles on grocery store shelves:

1) Canola Oil

Canola Oil is said to be one of the healthiest cooking oils due to its low saturated fat content. Plus, a hefty dose of omega-3s also keeps hair and skin looking nourished. Surprisingly, the canola seed used to make the oil is actually a cousin to veggie powerhouses cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Why it will help that heart of yours: Its high monounsaturated fat levels help reduce blood cholesterol levels and it is a rich source of vitamin E.
Seasonal must-cook recipes: Commonly used for frying, canola oil creates crisp textures and its light flavor doesn't mess with the taste of pies and cakes. Go ahead and get sinful (in moderation!) with this Deep Fried Oreo recipe and sub in canola oil.

2) Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the most common oils on shelves for a reason; it's a delicate, versatile oil, high in monounsaturated fats, which you can drizzle unheated on just about anything. Remember olive oil comes from a fruit (yep, olives are technically fruit), so air, heat and light will cause it to go bad. Keep it in the cupboard, away from heat and sunlight.
Why it will help you live longer: It's loaded with polyphenols, which are natural anti-oxidants that can prevent heart disease, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Seasonal must-cook recipes: Olive oil is one of the secrets to the super-healthy Mediterranean diet. It tends to be the best oil to use in salad dressings, for drizzling over cheese, or for any Mediterranean-inspired dish. Dig into this Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta and Prosciutto recipe and finish it by drizzling extra virgin olive oil over the top.

3) Peanut Oil

You probably guessed that this oil comes from peanuts, a staple in Asian cuisines. It often has a light nutty flavor and is a great frying oil because it does not absorb the flavors of other foods.
Why it's heart-healthy: It is trans fat-free and low in saturated fats.
Seasonal must-cook recipes: Great for light sautéing and deep-frying, peanut oil is your go-to for Southeast Asian stir-fries. Grab your wok and try Epicurious' Spicy Stir Fried Chicken and Greens with Peanuts recipe. On movie night, we love to use it to pop our corn!

4) Grapeseed Oil

Extracted from the crushed seeds of grapes, grapeseed oil is a byproduct of the wine industry. Grapeseed oil is very light in taste and can be a replacement for olive oil because it can withstand higher temperatures.
For a health boost: You'll get some of the same cardiovascular health benefits from grapeseed oil as you will from a glass of red wine, so swap out your nightly glass of vino for a serving of the oil instead.
Seasonal must-cook recipes: Before you sauté veggies, toss them in this oil. Virtually flavorless, grapeseed oil allows the fresh flavor of spring and summer produce to shine. On a hot day this summer, cool down with this Pan-Roasted Sea Bass with Citrus and Avacado recipe.

5) Walnut Oil

Walnut Oil packs a punch when it comes to its nutty taste, but be wary of heating it, as it doesn't perform well at high temps.
Same benefits as walnuts, but less calories: Walnut oil is jam packed with alpha-linolenic acid, a heart health, anti-inflammatory omega-3. Women especially will want to note that it's high in vitamin K, which is great for strengthening bones.
Seasonal must-cook recipes: Walnut oil is best used uncooked in cold sauces, sprinkled over salad greens or tossed with pasta. We're big on using it in our dessert recipes to take advantage of its nutty flavor. For a uniquely delicious dessert, roast grapes in walnut oil, serve with vanilla yogurt and top with cinnamon. How easy is that?

LA Police Officer Sets Ferris Wheel Ride Record

After a record-breaking 25 hours on a Ferris Wheel, Los Angeles police Detective Gus Martinez likely knows better than anyone that what goes around comes around.

Little Mermaids around the World

Carl Jacobsen’s famous mermaid sculpture in Cøpenhagen harbor isn’t the only seaside mermaid statue. It has inspired many similar sculptures around the world, including this one in the estuary of Britain’s Dart River. You can view several others at the link. Content warning: artistic nudity.

ET ain't answering

'No signal' from targeted ET huntVLBA telescope, Hawaii

Astronomers use a high-resolution radio technique for the first time to hunt for signals from potentially habitable planets - but turn up nothing.

And I Quote

“They've promised that dreams can come true - but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Flerovium and Livermorium

New Elements in the Periodic Table

Let's welcome two new elements to the Periodic Table: Flerovium and Livermorium!
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially approved names for the elements – which sit at slot 114 and 116, respectively — on May 31. They have until now gone by the temporary monikers ununquadium and ununhexium. [...]
In addition to providing new trivia for fifth-graders to memorize, the names honor the labs of their creation. Flerovium was chosen for Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Russia, a facility where many superheavy elements have been produced. The lab is named after physicist Georgiy N. Flerov, who discovered the spontaneous fission of uranium, which led to the USSR’s development of an atomic bomb.
Livermorium honors Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which has been involved in the discovery of heavy elements 113 through 118. Another element, Lawrencium at 103, is already named after the lab’s founder, Ernest O. Lawrence.

North Carolina To Outlaw Rise in Sea Level

Global warming causing sea level to rise? North Carolina legislators ain't panicking - they've got the perfect solution: simply outlaw the rise in sea level!
Scott Huler of Scientific American's Plugged In blog wrote:
In a story first discussed by the NC Coastal Federation and given more play May 29 by the News & Observer of Raleigh and its sister paper the Charlotte Observer, a group of legislators from 20 coastal NC counties whose economies will be most affected by rising seas have legislated the words “Nuh-unh!” into the NC Constitution.
Okay, cheap shot alert. Actually all they did was say science is crazy. There is virtually universal agreement among scientists that the sea will probably rise a good meter or more before the end of the century, wreaking havoc in low-lying coastal counties. So the members of the developers’ lobbying group NC-20 say the sea will rise only 8 inches, because … because … well, SHUT UP, that’s because why.
That is, the meter or so of sea level rise predicted for the NC Coastal Resources Commission by a state-appointed board of scientists is extremely inconvenient for counties along the coast. So the NC-20 types have decided that we can escape sea level rise – in North Carolina, anyhow – by making it against the law. Or making MEASURING it against the law, anyhow
You got to hand it to'em. If you want something totally stupid done leave it to politicians ... especially repugicans.

Shining Light Into Ears Can Stimulate The Brain

Here's something I bet you didn't know: you can stimulate brain activity by shining light ... into your ears!
Bright light stimulation was found to increase activity in brain areas related to processing of visual sensory information and tactile stimuli. The findings are the first ever published scientific article about functional modulation of the brain with bright light delivered to the brain through the ears. [...]
"The research results confirm that it is possible to influence brain functions with bright light delivered directly to the brain through the ear," says researcher TuomoStarck from the Oulu University Hospital. "The group that received bright light demonstrated in the analysis significant increase in neural network activity especially in brain areas connected with visual perception."
"There is earlier proof of the existence of photosensitive proteins, such as opsins, in the brain. This study confirms light-responsiveness of the brain itself, and that bright light given through the ear canal is a very viable method for influencing mood," says Professor and Leading Senior Physician Timo Takala from Oulu Deaconess Institute.

American Heads Are Getting Bigger

Anthropologists who examined 1,500 skulls dating back to the mid-1800s noticed one trend: American heads are getting bigger.
The researchers cannot pinpoint a reason as to why American head shapes are changing and whether it is primarily due to evolution or lifestyle changes.
"The varieties of changes that have swept American life make determining an exact cause an endlessly complicated proposition," said Lee Jantz. "It likely results from modified growth patterns because of better nutrition, lower infant and maternal mortality, less physical work, and a breakdown of former ethnic barriers to marriage. Which of these is paramount we do not know."
In a few short years, we'd all look like Mr Medulla (from Sky High, pictured above): More

Signs Humans Are Still Evolving

Homo sapiens is not a finished product. In fact, there is evidence that modern humans are evolving faster than ever before, as mutations and natural selection continue to change us. How so? For one thing, we drink milk.
Historically, the gene that regulated a human’s ability to digest lactose shut down as they were weaned off of their mother’s breast milk. But when we began domesticating cows, sheep and goats, being able to drink milk became a nutritionally advantageous quality, and people with the genetic mutation that allowed them to digest lactose were better able to propagate their genes.
A 2006 study suggests this tolerance for lactose was still developing as early as 3,000 years ago in East Africa. That genetic mutation for digesting milk is now carried by more than 95 percent of Northern European descendants.

Animal Pictures