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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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Daily Drift

photo by Matt
Coming at you!

Some of our readers today have been in:
London, England
Jakarta, Indonesia
Kuantan, Malayslia
Sanaa, Yemen
Belgrade, Serbia
Triana, Albania
Skopje, Macedonia
Hagatna, Guam
Krakow, Poland
Moscow, Russia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Amman, Jordan
Hanoi, Vietnam
Phatthaya, Thailand
Luqa, Malta
Aberton, South Africa
Bandung, Indonesia
Valletta, Malta
Ipoh, Malaysia
Islamabad, Pakistan
George Town, Malaysia
Kathmandu, Nepal
Cape Town, South Africa
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Klang, Malaysia

Today in History

1777   The Marquis de Lafayette arrives in the American colonies to help in their rebellion against Britain.
1863   Confederate forces on their way to Gettysburg clash with Union troops at the Second Battle of Winchester, Virginia.
1920   The U.S. Post Office Department rules that children may not be sent by parcel post.
1923   The French set a trade barrier between occupied Ruhr and the rest of Germany.
1927   Charles Lindbergh receives the Distinguished Flying Cross and is treated to a ticker-tape parade to celebrate his successful crossing of the Atlantic.
1940   Paris is evacuated as the Germans advance on the city.
1943   German spies land on Long Island, New York, and are soon captured.
1944   The first Germany V-1 buzz-bomb hits London.
1949   Installed by the French, Bao Dai enters Saigon to rule Vietnam.
1971   The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers.
1978   Israelis withdraw the last of their invading forces from Lebanon.
1979   Sioux Indians are awarded $105 million in compensation for the 1877 U.S. seizure of the Black Hills in South Dakota.
1983   Pioneer 10, already in space for 11 years, leaves the solar system.

Daily Comic Relief


The truth be told

US banks continue to slip in customer charges, to tune of $29bn a year

Bankers being bankers. Wouldn't it be nice if anyone among the political class actually cared enough to step in? For the umpteenth time, the bankers have no problem slapping those who saved their precious lifestyle.
Instead, two new studies show, banks are charging more, hiding the fees deeper than ever and making it difficult to have charges reversed.

Fees in the latest year totaled $29 billion, according to Moebs Services. And the charges are rising again without customers' awareness, said the advocates.

Notice of pending charges are buried in bank account consumer disclosures that average 69 pages, said Pew Health Group in a report released Friday. For consumers who complain, the banks require “binding arbitration” through industry channels, not independent regulators, a practice that Pew said discourages customers from being reimbursed.

"Nixon was far worse than we thought"

Woodward and Bernstein on Watergate

A really interesting piece in the Sunday Washington Post by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who broke the Watergate story for the Washington Post in the 1970s. They do a great job of breaking down what Watergate was and why it mattered, and presenting it in a way that's comprehensible. Here's their conclusion:
The Watergate that we wrote about in The Washington Post from 1972 to 1974 is not Watergate as we know it today. It was only a glimpse into something far worse. By the time he was forced to resign, Nixon had turned his White House, to a remarkable extent, into a criminal enterprise.

On the day he left, Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon gave an emotional farewell speech in the East Room to his staff, his friends and his Cabinet. His family stood with him. Near the end of his remarks, he waved his arm, as if to highlight the most important thing he had to say.

“Always remember,” he said, “others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

His hatred had brought about his downfall. Nixon apparently grasped this insight, but it was too late. He had already destroyed himself.

Things they don't want you to know

They don't want you to know

Whose (no-so 'free') "speech" it really is.
...the house appropriations financial services subcommittee voted along party lines to prohibit the FCC from implementing their proposal to add another layer of transparency to the political ad process. committee chair Hal Rogers (r-Ky) argued that fiscal matters are private and should remain that way, according to the LA Times

And I Quote

Woman shoots Ramen noodle-stealing Elvis with paintball gun

A woman armed with a paintball gun pelted an intruder on Friday inside her home. Galveston police arrived and found the accused burglar inside covered in yellow paint, authorities said.
Elvis Alexander, 53, was charged with burglary of a habitation with intent to commit theft, said Lt. Michael Gray, a Galveston police spokesman. Police took Alexander to the Galveston County Jail, and he remains in the building on a $40,000 bond, authorities said.

Carrie King, 34, called police at about 10:30 a.m., saying she was hiding from an intruder inside her home in the 1100 block of 36th Street, Gray said. An officer arrived, heard yelling and went inside. “He heard her firing the paintball gun and the sound of the impacts of the paint balls,” Gray said.

Alexander was shot about four times, but he didn’t need medical treatment. Police arrested him inside King’s house, Gray said. Police accused Alexander of taking coins and Ramen noodles from inside the home. Alexander lives within four blocks of King and had cut her grass in the past, Gray said.

Subliminal Messages You'd Never Notice in Everyday Life

Chances are you're going to want a Coke after looking through these.

Ford Model A Half-Track

This 1931 Ford Model A has been heavily modified to get it through the snowy winters of the Great Lakes region. You can swap the front wheels for skis, a process the owner describes as “like changing a tire.” It’s for sale on eBay.

World’s Largest Coffin Is Actually a Restaurant Run by Undertakers

The food at this restaurant won’t kill you, but the ambiance will remind you of your own mortality. Allegedly, this is a picture of a huge coffin in Truskavets, Ukraine. Local undertakers built it to serve as a death-themed restaurant:
Single candles light the intimate tables, where patrons can order morbid dishes with ominous, vague names such as “Let’s meet in Paradise”, or more the more distinctly death oriented “Forty Day Salad”, which eludes to local mourning ritual of repeating memorial services 40 days after a soul’s sad departure.

Vampire-Slaying Kit for Sale

Worried about attacks from the undead?
 Fear no more: a 19-century vampire-slaying kit can help you out.

Tightrope Walker Will Attempt Niagara Falls

Tightrope Walker Will Attempt Niagara Falls
Nik Wallenda will make the first attempt at crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope in over 100 years on June 15.  

The First Objects Created in the Universe?

These faint objects above, imaged in infrared by NASA's Spitzer space telescope, may just be the very first objects created in the universe.
SPACE.com explains:
"These objects would have been tremendously bright," Alexander "Sasha" Kashlinsky of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement Thursday (June 7). "We can't yet directly rule out mysterious sources for this light that could be coming from our nearby universe, but it is now becoming increasingly likely that we are catching a glimpse of an ancient epoch."
Spitzer spotted these ancient structures after observing two patches of sky for more than 400 hours each. The telescope sees in infrared light, the long-wavelength range of the electromagnetic spectrum that's less energetic than optical light.

Random Celebrity Photo


Marilyn Monroe
Bet you didn't know Marilyn Monroe was a treehugger.

How the world's travel guides describe America

The Atlantic's Max Fisher does a survey of foreign tour guides to the USA and finds in them a frank view into how America is viewed outside the USA. Travelers are advised that the real price for restaurant food is 20% higher than advertised ("You have to calculate 20%, write it under the subtotal, and sum to arrive at the real price. Taxis work the same way."), to avoid small towns if they are gay, to be punctual, and to let Americans lead when it comes to hugging and cheek-kissing.
You might say that global food cultures tend to fall into one of two categories: utensil cultures and finger cultures. The U.S., somewhat unusually, has both: the appropriate delivery method can vary between cuisines, and even between dishes, and it's far from obvious which is which. Baked chicken is a fork food, but fried chicken a finger food, depending on how it's fried. If you get fried pieces of potato, it's a finger food, unless the potato retains some circular shape, in which case use your fork. And so on. Confused yet?
The books emphasize that the U.S. is safe, with one big exception they all note: "inner cities," which are described with a terror that can feel a little outdated. "When driving, under no circumstances you should stop in any unlit or seemingly deserted urban area," Rough Guide warns, going on to describe dangerous scams - a strange man waving you down for "auto trouble," another car hitting yours out of nowhere so that you'll get out - in a way that makes them sound commonplace.

Incredible Places to Visit in Guatemala

There's nothing like a little travel to spice up your life! These 5 beautiful locations in Guatemala are sure to feed your travel bug and get you craving for adventure. More

How Deforestation Caused Easter Island's Society to Collapse

Easter Island is a prime example of what can happen when resources are overused. The loss of trees had a devastating impact on the island's birds – and its people. More

A 20th Century Empire in Decay

Crumbling Soviet Military Bases
2nd Guard Tanks Division44th Mixed Air Corps41st Motor Rifle Division44th Independent Command Complex14th Submarine Squadron677th Artillery Regiment
The collapse of the Soviet Union left many military bases abandoned and decaying. Their haunting quality is captured brilliantly in these stunning photographs. More

The Aral Sea Is Dying

The Aral Sea is an endorheic saline lake in Central Asia located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Since the 1960s its level and its amount of water are promptly decreasing due to drawing of water from main feeding rivers - the
Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. Before the shallowing the Aral Sea was the fourth biggest lake in the world. By today the drying Aral Sea has moved 100 km away from its former coastline near Muinak, Uzbekistan.

UFO in Astrakhan?

An unusual phenomenon was noticed in the Astrakhan sky the other day. People cannot explain what
they saw. Some of them believe it was a dry thunder, others are sure it was a UFO.

Lightning Over Greece

Zeus must've been really pissed! Photographer Chris Kotsiopoulos took this photo sequence of 70 lightning over Ikaria Island, Greece:
Fire in the sky! This is a photo sequence containing 70 lightning, taken at Ikaria island during a severe thunderstorm that took place the night of the total lunar eclipse at June 15, 2011.
In order to make the sequence, I set the camera to a tripod taking 20 second shots continuously. After 83 minutes I ended up with approximately 90 lightning shots. I had to exclude around 20 because the photo condensed so much that didn't look nice. Also, in many shots I have captured more than one lightning. I believe that the number of actual lightning captured that night is more than 100.
I do landscape photography since 2006 and this is my lightning personal record! The previous is this one with 42 lightning captured.

Random Photo


Aime Lingerie

That's what friends are for ...

How the Mantis Shrimp Can Revolutionize Body Armor

Mantis shrimp, which ironically is neither mantis nor shrimp, sure knows how to pack a punch. The bright orange fist-like club of the mantis-shrimp, which it uses to crack open clam shells, accelerates faster than a 22-caliber bullet underwater. But how does the Mantis shrimp club survive repeated high-velocity strikes without cracking?
[University of California, Riverside professor David Kisailus] found that the club is a highly complex structure, comprised of three specialized regions that work together to create a structure tougher than many engineered ceramics.
The first region, located at the impacting surface of the club, contains a high concentration of mineral, similar to that found in human bone, which supports the impact when the mantis shrimp strikes prey. Further inside, highly organized and rotated layers of chitin (a complex sugar) fibers dispersed in mineral act as a shock absorber, absorbing energy as stress waves pass through the club. Finally, the club is encapsulated on its sides by oriented chitin fibers, which wrap around the club, keeping it intact during these high velocity impacts.
“This club is stiff, yet it’s light-weight and tough, making it incredibly impact tolerant and interestingly, shock resistant,” Kisailus said. “That’s the holy grail for materials engineers.”

Drunk deer forces driver off the road

A driver in northern France was forced off a country road after a drunken deer stumbled in front of his car.
The driver was heading down a country road on Thursday evening near the French-Belgian border when he almost hit the deer. The driver swerved to avoid hitting the animal, lost the control of his vehicle and crashed into a ditch.

The driver was unharmed. But the police officers and firemen who rushed to the site were bemused. The deer was still there, bumbling across the road. They surrounded him in the central reservation on the road and noticed the deer clearly seemed under the weather - stumbling and disoriented. It later emerged the deer was drunk after consuming one too many spring buds - a common cause of deer inebriation in spring.

"Deer eat large quantities of buds that make them intoxicated," an official from the National Office of wildlife and hunting told daily La Voix du Nord, "So they display symptoms of being drunk." At this time of the year, bud-eating deer in the northern town of La Capelle tend to lose their inhibitions. They are frequently found frolicking in private properties, parks and housing estates.

Fishy business

 As violence ebbs, trendy pedicures arrive in Baghdad to tap into luxury market
The latest luxury spa in Iraq's capital offers another small sign of life creeping closer to normalcy - if your definition of "normal" includes having tiny fish nibble on your feet.

Bat Has Freakishly Long Tongue

A team of explorers for the National Geographic Channel has captured never-before-seen footage of the tube-lipped nectar bat, a peculiar species discovered in 2005 in the cloud forests of Ecuador. The bat is camera-worthy thanks to one attribute in particular: its incredibly long, wormlike tongue.
The 2.5-inch bat sports a 3.5-inch tongue — the longest (relative to body length) of any mammal in the world. If humans were similarly proportioned, we'd have 9 feet of flesh spilling out of our mouths.
To capture this striking footage of the bat plunging its tongue into nectar-laden flowers, the NatGeo team cut a tiny hole into the base of a flower and installed a special slow-motion camera inside, which slowed the action by 40 times.

On top of upping the tongue length record in class Mammalia, the discovery of the bat in 2005 also solved a longstanding mystery: The question of what pollinated the plant Centropogon nigricans, which stashes its pollen deep within its flutelike bloom. Turns out, the flower depends solely on the bat and its outsized tongue.

Animal Pictures