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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Daily Drift

Inspiring, isn't it!

Some of today's readers have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Triana, Albania
George Town, Malaysia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Klang, Malaysia
Tripoli, Lebanon
Cape Town, South Africa
Tunis, Tunisia
Davao, Philippines
Jerudong, Brunei
Hanoi, Vietnam
Kuantan, Malaysia
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Valletta, Malta

as well as across the USA in cities like, Bullhead City, Lake City, Red Bluff, Point Orchard and more

Today in History

452   Attila the Hun invades Italy.
632   Mohammed, the founder of Islam and unifier of Arabia, dies.
793   The Vikings raid the Northumbrian coast of England.
1861   Tennessee votes to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.
1862   The Army of the Potomac defeats Confederate forces at Battle of Cross Keys, Virginia.
1863   Residents of Vicksburg flee into caves as General Ulysses S. Grant's army begins shelling the town.
1866   Prussia annexes the region of Holstein.
1904   U.S. Marines land in Tangiers, Morocco, to protect U.S. citizen.
1908   King Edward VII of England visits Czar Nicholas II of Russia in an effort to improve relations between the two countries.
1915   William Jennings Bryan quits as Secretary of State under President Wilson.
1953   The Supreme Court forbids segregated lunch counters in Washington, D.C.
1965   President Johnson authorizes commanders in Vietnam to commit U.S. ground forces to combat.
1966   Gemini astronaut Gene Cernan attempts to become the first man to orbit the Earth untethered to a space capsule, but is unable to when he exhausts himself fitting into his rocket pack.
1967   Israel airplanes attack the USS Liberty, a surveillance ship, in the Mediterranean, killing 34 Navy crewmen.
1968   James Earl Ray, the alleged assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., is captured at the London Airport.
1969   President Richard Nixon meets with President Thieu of South Vietnam to tell him 25,000 U.S. troops will pull out by August.
1995   U.S. Air Force pilot Captain Scott O'Grady is rescued by U.S. Marines in Bosnia.

Regulators consider JPMorgan clawbacks

Only in today's world could the issue of clawbacks on bad deals actually be debated rather than immediately forced. The deals were lousy and the bank lost money. Why should this even be debated? Weren't we supposed to have addressed this already after the 2008 crash, or was that just talk to sooth the public?U.S. bank regulators will review whether JPMorgan Chase executives should have to give back compensation due to the bank's failed hedging strategy that has produced at least $2 billion in losses, the head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said.

OCC chief Thomas Curry said his agency will evaluate the compensation of the chief investment office responsible for the trading loss, and will assess JPMorgan's determination on clawbacks as part of that evaluation.

In written testimony prepared for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Wednesday and obtained by Reuters, Curry also said JPMorgan's trading loss will affect its earnings, but does not present a solvency is

Walker may have saved his seat

But the feds are coming for his ass. Welcome to Walkergate.
When Current TV's David Shuster broke the story on Friday that Walker was a "target" of the john doe investigation he cited anonymous sources. On Saturday, Walker issued a strong denial, saying any suggestions that he has become a target of the john doe probe are "100 percent wrong." Late on Saturday, Shuster revealed more.

"I stand by my reporting 100 percent," Shuster said in a conference call reported on by the Progressive magazine, adding that Walker was also a target in a federal investigation, citing unnamed sources with the U.S. Justice Department's public integrity section. - policymic

What's wrong with this picture

Romney GM proposal would cost taxpayers $16bn

You know who else was
in favor of the GM bailout?
In the Romney family budget, $16bn is a rounding error, for the rest of America, including the federal budget, that's a huge amount of money.  What can Romney possibly be thinking? From Jia Lynn Yang at the Washington Post:
The repugican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the government should shed its stake in General Motors as soon as possible, even though selling the shares now would lock in billions of dollars in taxpayer losses.
If the government were to follow Romney’s prescription, it would mean at least $16 billion in losses. The Treasury Department and some auto analysts argue that GM’s shares are priced too low now and that waiting longer could help recoup more taxpayer money.
It's incredibly flippant of Romney to suggest that $16bn lost in taxpayer money is no big deal. But that's exactly what he's implicitly suggesting by endorsing the notion that we just up and sell our stake in GM, when many feel we can avoid those losses by simply waiting a bit longer.

But Mitt is afraid that if the US government continues to own 32% of GM, Boris and Natasha win.

Not to mention, as the Washington Post smartly points out, the auto bailout - which has been wildly successful - is a sore point for the Romney campaign. Romney was a lead voice opposing the bailout, while he now touts its success. You'd think Romney would want to avoid talking about the bailout so as not to remind voters that he doesn't really believe in anything.
Romney has run into some political trouble for his stance on the auto bailout. In November 2008, he wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times with the headline “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” in which he argued that a bailout of the auto industry would virtually guarantee its demise.

Now, Obama has been touting the success of the auto bailouts in ads.

And I Quote

Ambulance Chasing

It’s Not Just for Lawyers Anymore
Once it was a competitive sport practiced only by lawyers, but now everyone can chase after ambulances. The Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company in northern Virginia raises money by challenging people to pursue one of its ambulances:
The run was launched by local attorney Hana Brilliant three years ago when she was president of the company, and helps purchase actual fire trucks and ambulances for the station.
“I got tired of all the ambulance chasing jokes around the firehouse,” Brilliant said, “so I decided to use it to the Fire Department’s benefit.”
It’s properly timed and organized, and last year nearly 200 runners raised $7,000.

Saving dying languages with the help of math

Languages come and go and blend. It's likely been that way forever and the process only accelerates under the influence of mega-languages (like English) that represent a sort of global means of communication. But, increasingly, people who are at risk of losing their native language entirely are fighting back—trying to encourage more people to be bilingual and save the native language from extinction.
At Discover Magazine, Veronique Greenwood has a really interesting story about a mathematician who is helping to preserve Scottish Gaelic. How? The researcher, Anne Kandler, has put together some equations that can help native language supporters target their programs and plan their goals.
Some of the numbers are obvious—you must know how many people in the population you’re working with speak just Gaelic, how many speak just English, and how many are bilingual, as well as the rate of loss of Gaelic speakers. But also in the model are numbers that stand for the prestige of each language—the cultural value people place on speaking it—and numbers that describe a language’s economic value.
Put them all together into a system of equations that describe the growth of the three different groups—English speakers, Gaelic speakers, and bilinguals—and you can calculate what inputs are required for a stable bilingual population to emerge. In 2010, Kandler found that using the most current numbers, a total of 860 English speakers will have to learn Gaelic each year for the number of speakers to stay the same. To her, this sounded like a lot, but the national Gaelic Development Agency was pleased: it’s about the number of bilingual speakers they were already aiming to produce through classes and programs.

Girl from AP's Vietnam napalm photo finds peace with her role in history

An anonymous AP story tells the life story of Kim Phuc, the "napalm girl" seen running naked down a village road in Nick Ut's 40-year-old Pulitzer-winning photo. Phuc went on to medical school, but her education was interrupted when the Vietnamese politburo demanded that she return home to serve as a propaganda mouthpiece, trapped in a grueling round of closely supervised interviews with western journalists. Later, Phuc went to Cuba, and from there made her way to Canada, where she lives today:
The media eventually found Phuc living near Toronto, and she decided she needed to take control of her story. A book was written in 1999 and a documentary came out, at last the way she wanted it told. She was asked to become a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to help victims of war. She and Ut have since reunited many times to tell their story, even traveling to London to meet the Queen.
"Today, I'm so happy I helped Kim," said Ut, who still works for AP and recently returned to Trang Bang village. "I call her my daughter."
After four decades, Phuc, now a mother of two sons, can finally look at the picture of herself running naked and understand why it remains so powerful. It had saved her, tested her and ultimately freed her.
"Most of the people, they know my picture but there's very few that know about my life," she said. "I'm so thankful that ... I can accept the picture as a powerful gift. Then it is my choice. Then I can work with it for peace."

Picturesque Austrian town secretly cloned in China

A Chinese property developer called Minmetals Land Inc secretly built a copy of a picturesque Austrian village called Hallstatt, building it in Guangdong province, the white-hot center of the Chinese manufacturing revolution, on a site 60km from Hong Kong. The Austrians are both proud and miffed, though the argument that ancient designs of buildings, or characteristic layout of ancient villages are somehow the property of their temporary residents is a bit odd -- sort of like claiming that because your town has a gothic cathedral, no one else should be able to reproduce its centuries-old design without your permission.
The original is a centuries-old village of 900 and a UNESCO heritage site that survives on tourism. The copycat is a housing estate that thrives on China's new rich. In a China famous for pirated products, the replica Hallstatt sets a new standard.
The Chinese Hallstatt features a church spire, a town square ringed by pastel-colored buildings and angel statues. They're among architectural flourishes inspired by the original, a centuries-old village of 900.
(Image: a downsized, cropped thumbnail from a larger picture on Spiegel.de)

Rectangle Oreos and cucumber gum, made in China for China

There are no bad ideas inside Kraft Foods' biscuit research lab in China, according to director Maggie Wang.

Random Celebrity Photo

Another rare shot from this classic photo shoot by Chris Stein.  I want them all.

Arafat moneyman gets 15 years for corruption

A Palestinian anti-corruption court has sentenced the shadowy money-man of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to 15 years in prison.

Couple charged in 'phantom finger' case plead guilty to possessing meth

The Stillwater couple charged last winter for possessing methamphetamine after woman was seen frantically searching a vehicle for her boyfriend's "missing finger" have pleaded guilty to felony drug charges. Ashley Marie Brooker, 23, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of a controlled substance and fifth-degree possession of methamphetamine last month. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 15. Nicholas Thomas Doyle, 25, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. His sentencing date is scheduled for Aug. 2.
According to the criminal complaint: Stillwater police responded to the Lakeview Hospital parking lot after an emergency medical technician (EMT) reported seeing an "extremely agitated" woman flailing her arms. When approached by the EMT, Brooker said she was looking for a finger as she frantically searched the passenger's side of the vehicle.

The EMT noticed what was described in the complaint as "severe pock marks, scarring and scabs on the woman's face" and believed her behavior to be consistent with methamphetamine use. The EMT then called police. Responding officers questioned Brooker and were told that her boyfriend, Doyle, severed a finger and that she believed it to be somewhere inside the vehicle. Officers found the cap to a hypodermic syringe on the driver's seat when Brooker got out of the car.

She then admitted to having a syringe full of what was later found to be methamphetamine in the driver's console. Meanwhile, a second responding officer located a man inside the hospital fitting the description of Doyle. When questioned by police, Doyle said he cut his finger but did not sever it. Doyle also admitted Brooker drove him to the hospital. Police searched Doyle and found a hypodermic syringe cap in his left front pocket.

Mother cited after toddler removed from baby seat to make room for gas can

Veteran Aurora police and highway officials were stunned by a photo taken during a recent traffic stop, which shows a toddler who is not properly restrained, sitting next to a gas can belted into a baby seat. "This could be one of the extreme incidents we've ever seen,"said Aurora Police spokesman Frank Fania.
The photo was taken during a recent "Click It or Ticket" campaign conducted by the Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement. The car was stopped May 30 by an officer doing improper turn enforcement near East Iliff Avenue and Tower Road. He found that none of the occupants were using seat belts.

A 14-year-old was also a passenger in the car. The female driver, the mother of the children, was cited for no proof of insurance and three counts of seat belt violations, Fania said. The driver's name was not released.

Under Colorado law, the boy should have been placed in a rear-or-forward facing car seat, said Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Stacey Stegman. The photo drew wide attention when it was posted on CDOT's Facebook page. "People were pretty outraged," Stegman said. "Besides not wearing seat belts, people were also angry about the gas can. Even if it was empty, people worried the boy was being exposed to toxic fumes."

Random Photo

Diseases From Warmer Climates Reach U.S.

Diseases From Warmer Climates Reach U.S. 
Climate change may be making the U.S. a more hospitable place for diseases ranging from Chagas to dengue fever. Read more

Sheryl Crow's Brain Tumor Explained

Sheryl Crow's Brain Tumor Explained 
What is a meningioma and why don't they require immediate treatment? Read more

Why Do We Have Personal Space?

personal space
Why do we feel so icky when we stand too close to others? Read more

Health News

Depression Therapy: Phone Sessions Sometimes as Good as In Person
Telephone therapy may be just as good as in-person therapy for treating depression symptoms, at least for the short term, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association .

Aspirin Bleeding Risks Outweigh Benefits
For years, the advice for preventing heart disease has been simple: take an aspirin every day; it can't hurt.

Earth Suffers From CO2 Allergy

Earth Suffers From CO2 Allergy
Allergy alert: Earth's climate responds more now to CO2 fluctuations than it did during the past 12 million years. Read more

Black Hole Ejected From Home Galaxy

Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Civano et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Optical (wide field): CFHT, NASA/STScI 
Astronomers from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory spotted a black hole being evicted from its home galaxy:
"It's hard to believe that a supermassive black hole weighing millions of times the mass of the sun could be moved at all, let alone kicked out of a galaxy at enormous speed," said Francesca Civano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who led the new study. "But these new data support the idea that gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of space first predicted by Albert Einstein but never detected directly -- can exert an extremely powerful force."
Although the ejection of a supermassive black hole from a galaxy by recoil because more gravitational waves are being emitted in one direction than another is likely to be rare, it nevertheless could mean that there are many giant black holes roaming undetected out in the vast spaces between galaxies.
"These black holes would be invisible to us," said co-author Laura Blecha, also of CfA, "because they have consumed all of the gas surrounding them after being thrown out of their home galaxy."
Black holes freely roaming the universe? Aspiring sci-fi writers, there's your cue!

Awesome Pictures

Isle of Skye, Hebrides, Scotland, Moonenbay

The Cellular Symphony of a Developing Embryo

Micrograph: Keller et a./Nature Methods Scientists have created a new technique to capture 3-D images of a developing fruit fly embryo:
Order emerges from cellular tumult in this video of a developing fruit fly embryo imaged with unprecedented cell-by-cell three-dimensional detail.
The technique, called simultaneous multiview light-sheet microscopy, illuminates a biological sample with thin sheets of light positioned at the focal planes of multiple high-resolution digital cameras. Together they collect 175 million voxels–the 3-D version of pixels–of information per second. The photographs are then combined and assembled to create a 3-D image.
Brandon Keim of Wired Science has the post and mesmerizing video clip here.

From the newswire

Man Fills Home with Woolly Mammoth Bones He Dug from Yard
A puppy fell almost 30 feet and survived after a hawk swooped down from its perch in Los Banos, California, picked up the pooch, then dropped it a few moments later into it's new home.

And more here:

Iowa family finds prehistoric mammoth femur in their backyard
A backyard in Iowa has become an excavation site after a family went blackberry-picking behind their house two years ago and came back with a prehistoric mammoth femur.
A man identified only as John discovered the bone when one of his sons saw what he believed to be a ball while walking in the forest behind their property in 2010, according to Des Moines’ ABC5-WOI.

Warming Arctic Tundra Producing Pop-Up Forests
In the northernmost foothills of the Polar Ural mountains on the southern Yamal Peninsula in West Siberia, Russia, tundra shrubs are turning into small trees, with big implications.

Endangered historic places: Post offices, Ellis Island join list
Hundreds of historic U.S. post offices nationwide face uncertain futures as the U.S. Postal Service downsizes, so preservationists on Wednesday added these American institutions to the list of the country's most endangered historic places.

The Colors and Personalities of Gouldian Finches

Scientists studying the Gouldian finches of Australia discovered that the bird's colorful head actually correspond to their personalities:
Scientists from Liverpool John Moores University and The Royal Veterinary College investigated the "highly sociable" Australian birds.
The team set the finches a series of behavioral tests to understand the purpose of their bright appearance.
They found that red-headed finches were more aggressive, while black-headed birds were bolder and took more risks.

How Monkey and Ape Ancestors Colonized Africa

We learned that humans evolved from earlier primates in Africa and then spread around the world. But what about those earlier primates? Where did they originate?
Until about 20 years ago, the answer seemed obvious: Africa. That’s where the earliest fossil evidence was found, mainly from Egypt’s Fayum Depression. Starting in the 1990s, however, relevant fossils started popping up in Asia. Paleoanthropologists now consider a 45-million-year-old primate discovered in China, called Eosimias, to be the earliest anthropoid, the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes and humans. Eosimias was tiny, weighing less than half a pound. But it possessed certain dental and jaw characteristics that link it to living anthropoids.
The newly discovered species, named Afrasia dijijidae, dates to roughly 37 million years ago and was found in Myanmar. So far, all that’s known of Afrasia is based on four isolated teeth. But the nooks, crannies, crests and bumps on those teeth reveal a few things about where the ancestors of today’s monkeys and apes came from.
Find out more about this new, yet very old, ancestor at Hominid Hunting.

Animal News

jumping spiders

How Vampire Spiders Choose a Blood Meal

They are picky eaters and love a meal of freshly blood-filled mosquitoes.

Rare Photos Show Jaguars At Palm Oil Plant

The camera traps were set to gather information about the impact of Colombia's increasing oil palm plantations on jaguars. Read more
Rare Photos Show Jaguars At Palm Oil Plant

Australian Great White Sharks -- Two Species?

Two sharks swimming in the same waters are genetically distinct. Read more
Australian Great White Sharks -- Two Species?

Animal Pictures


 “Lynx” by Rob Janné :)