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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.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Daily Drift

Wanna go!

Some of our readers today have been:
Florence, Italy
Khujand, Tajikistan
Hanoi, Vietnam
Mumbai, India
Algiers, Algeria
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Calcutta, India
Warsaw, Poland
Tbilisi, Georgia
Amman, Jordan
Pasig, Philippines
Tripoli, Lebanon
Sampaloc, Philippines
Naples, Italy
Rijeka, Croatia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Mandaluyong, Philippines
Perth, Australia
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Toronto, Canada
Purwokerto, Indonesia
Moscow, Russia
Cape Town, South Africa
Budapest, Hungary
London, England
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Glasgow, Scotland
Frankfurt, Germany
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Copenhagen, Denmark
Dublin, Ireland
Sydney, Australia
Rome, Italy
Paris, France
Bangkok, Thailand
Lomonosov, Russia
Brussels, Belgium
Liverpool, England
Lille, France
Edinburgh, Scotland
Vienna, Austria
Cebu City, Philippines
Timis, Romania
Melaka, Malaysia
Montreal, Canada
Johannesburg, South Africa
Wellington, New Zealand
George Town, Malaysia
Cairo, Egypt
Doha, Qatar
Sanaa, Yemen
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Jerudong, Brunei
Tel Aviv, Israel
Jerantut, Malaysia
Valletta, Malta
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Singapore, Singapore
Lhasa, Tibet
Mandalay, Burma
Kathmandu, Nepal
Kiev, Ukraine

Today in History

217 BC   Carthaginian forces led by Hannibal destroy a Roman army under consul Gaius Flaminicy in a battle at Lake Trasimenus in central Italy.
1314   The Scots, under Robert the Bruce, defeat Edward II's army at Bannockburn.
1377   Richard II, who is still a child, succeeds his grandfather, Edward III.
1667   The Peace of Breda ends the Second Anglo-Dutch War as the Dutch cede New Amsterdam to the English.
1675   Christopher Wren begins work on rebuilding St. Paul's Cathedral in London after the Great Fire.
1791   The French royal family is arrested in Varennes.
1834   C. H. McCormick patents the first practical reaper.
1862   Union and Confederate forces skirmish at the Chickahominy Creek.
1863   In the second day of fighting, Confederate troops fails to dislodge a Union force at the Battle of LaFourche Crossing.
1887   Britain celebrates the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.
1900   General Arthur MacArthur offers amnesty to Filipinos rebelling against American rule.
1908   Mulai Hafid again proclaims himself the true sultan of Morocco.
1911   Porforio Diaz, the ex-president of Mexico, exiles himself to Paris.
1915   Germany uses poison gas for the first time in warfare in the Argonne Forest.
1919   Germans scuttle their own fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland.
1939   Baseball legend Lou Gehrig is forced to quit baseball because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–a disease which wastes muscles.
1942   German General Erwin Rommel captures the port city of Tobruk in North Africa.
1945   Japanese forces on Okinawa surrender to American troops.
1948   Dr. Peter Goldmark demonstrates his "long-playing" record.
1958   A federal judge allows Little Rock, Arkansas to delay school integration.
1963   France announces it will withdraw from the NATO fleet in the North Atlantic.
1964   Three civil rights workers disappear in Meridian, Mississippi.
1982   John Hinkley Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.
1995   The U.S. Senate votes against the nomination of Dr. Henry W. Foster for Surgeon General.

New Law To Keep Booze Flowing For Democratic Convention

Adding a twist to blue laws in an increasingly red state, North Carolina's repugican-misled legislature is toasting a measure intended to keep the booze flowing at the Democratic National Convention.

The truth be told

Burger King to open 1,000 stores in China

The world's second largest hamburger chain says it will open 1,000 restaurants in the country over the next five to seven years.

U.S. snubs working dads

Only 22% of eligible employees take family leave because they can't afford the income loss.

Are Bicyclists Menace to Society?

Short answer - YES ... they do not follow the laws concerning operation of a vehicle on the roads (They are the same for any vehicle be it electric, gas or pedal powered). The most violated rule is yielding of the right-of-way to faster moving traffic and as the piece below relates yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians - who have the ultimate right-of-way over any mode of vehicular traffic.
 There are many more pedestrian fatalities involving cars, but the recent death caused by an allegedly negligent bicyclist who ran a red light and plowed into pedestrians crossing the street in San Francisco and actually killing one man raised heat rhetoric over the behaviors of some cyclists and the question of who owns public space:
The bicyclist was zipping south on Castro Street at the end of his twice-weekly ride to the Marin Headlands, blowing through red lights and stop signs.
But the Market Street crosswalk was filled with pedestrians, and Chris Bucchere, 36, allegedly was riding too fast to stop. So he aimed for the least populated spot and plowed on through.
"In a nutshell, blammo," a blogger purporting to be Bucchere wrote that March day. The man he hit, Sutchi Hui, 71, died four days later. Bucchere was charged Thursday with felony vehicular manslaughter and is scheduled to be arraigned next week.
Post-crash commentary, angry and profane, didn't just call for Bucchere's head, although there was plenty of condemnation for him and the rest of the Lycra-and-toe-clips set. Instead, the conversation became a fight about who owns public space — a scarce resource in the second-most dense city in America, where bike use is soaring and many motorists decry a war on cars.
Maria L. La Ganga of the Los Angeles Times has the story here.

President Obama presses for higher air quality standards

If this makes repugicans mad, sorry, but they're being ignorant. If repugicans care at all about rising health care costs (though it's not clear if they do) they should care a lot about soot. With record corporate profits in recent years, it's not clear why it would be acceptable for corporations to skip charges and pollute so they can pollute and then pass on those costs to consumers by way of more health problems.
Let corporations pay to keep the environment clean and help cut consumer health care costs. People in Ohio and Pennsylvania are struggling enough with this crisis and don't have the additional money to help fund corporate polluters. Asking them or anyone else to pay for it is just crazy and should not be controversial at all.

Clean air makes good sense for everyone.
The move, to be announced Friday, is likely to win support from environmental groups and public health advocates but exposes the president to potential criticism from congressional Republicans and industry officials that the rules are overly strict and could hurt economic growth and cause job losses in political swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Perhaps wary of the rule's political risk, the administration had sought to delay the new soot standards until after the November elections. But a federal judge ordered officials to act after 11 states filed a lawsuit seeking a decision this year by the Environmental Protection Agency.

An administration official said the new rule was based on a rigorous scientific review. Virtually all counties in the United States would meet the proposed standard with no additional actions needed beyond compliance with current and impending rules set by the EPA, the official said. Administration officials described the rule to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it has yet to be announced.
If repugicans want to make this controversial, please, let's have an open and honest discussion about corporate profits versus health care cost impact on families.

Science breakthrough: malaria-resistant mosquitoes bred in lab

For many parts of the world, this could be enormous. According to the World Health Organization, over 650,000 died in 2010 from malaria.

Scientific American:
Scientists may have developed a new tool for combating malaria, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After more than 20 years of genetic experimentation, researchers have discovered how to breed malaria-resistant mosquitoes that are unable to infect humans with their bites.

"We see a complete deletion of the infectious version of the malaria parasite," said Anthony James, a microbiology and molecular genetics professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the lead author of the report. This can help to "significantly reduce human sickness and death," he added.

Possible outcomes in pivotal health care law case

Some are already anticipating the Supreme Court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law as the "decision of the century." But the justices are unlikely to have the last word on America's tangled efforts to address health care woes.

Health News

For 20-somethings, health care hangs in the balance
Millions of young adults have turned to their parents' health insurance plans since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Know The Enemy: Scientists Use Genetics To Get Ahead Of Malaria
Like the proverbial mosquito that buzzes in your year but won't die, a lasting solution to malaria has been maddeningly elusive to health experts.

The Kiss of Death

Photo: SantiMB/Flickr
Eugene of My Modern Met pointed us to this wonderful piece of Memento Mori artwork, titled the Kiss of Death in Barcelona's Poblenou Cemetery:
According to the story, in 1930, the Llaudet family was mourning the death of their son and created this sculpture for his tomb. The epitaph bears famous verses by one of Catalan's greatest poets, Jacint Verdaguer:
“And his young heart can not help;
in his veins the blood stops and freezes
and encouragement lost faith embraces
fall feeling the kiss of death”

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Died

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef, hardliner who cracked down on al-Qaida in kingdom, has died

Kurd with lemon accused of supporting terror

A Turkish prosecutor has demanded that a Kurdish man who is deaf, illiterate and unable to speak be jailed for 25 years for supporting terrorism. Possession of a half-lemon was cited as evidence against Mehmet Tahir Ilhan. Lemon can ease the effects of tear gas.
Mr Ilhan is charged with making propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and with taking part in an illegal organization. Mr Ilhan, a bazaar porter from the city of Mersin, denies the charges.

Using sign language at a hearing in the south-eastern city of Adana, he said he had got caught up in a violent pro-Kurdish demonstration. Under Turkey's anti-terrorism law it is an offense to show any sign of support for the PKK.

Turkey's judiciary often administers harsh penalties on bafflingly slight evidence. However, even by Turkish standards, this case is extraordinary. If Mr Ilhan is found guilty, the court is expected to pass a sentence close to the 25 years that the prosecutor has asked for.

If this man was not a supporter of the Kurdistan Workers' Party before - he will be now ... good job, you idiots.

Man trying to document America's 'kindness' admits shooting himself

A man hitchhiking his way across America to write a book about the kindness of strangers has reportedly admitted shooting himself in the arm - and then concocting an elaborate story portraying himself as a victim of random violence.
Ray Dolin of Julian, W.Va., had told authorities in Montana that a motorist stopped alongside him on a rural road last week and opened fire. A driver matching the description was even taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

But late on Thursday night, Dolin admitted to law enforcement officials that he'd injured himself.

Now, comes a mystery that might be worth of its own tome: Was it an accident that he tried to cover up? Or was it a calculated attempt to drum up publicity for the book? (And what happened to the weapon?) The incident remains under investigation by the Valley County Sheriff's Department, and charges are possible.

Maryland man accused of selling bogus energy credits

A Maryland man faces trial in a $9.1 million fraud case that is shedding light on problems in a renewable energy credits program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency .

Germany's 'Forest boy' mystery solved; he's 20 and Dutch

Berlin police said Friday that an English-speaking teenage boy allegedly called Ray who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living in the forest for the last five years has been spinning a yarn.

Teresa Stone sentenced to eight years for conspiring to kill husband

Teresa Stone had dreamed of a life of “glory and luxury” with her new husband and perhaps as much as $800,000 in life insurance payouts, prosecutors said.Instead, Stone left an Independence courtroom Friday with her hands cuffed behind her, sentenced to eight years in prison for conspiring with her minister and lover to kill her ...

Bath salts linked to another bizarre biting attack

Police in Missouri are investigating the possibility that a woman was on synthetic drugs marketed as "bath salts" when she attacked and bit her neighbor.


Naked hood-surfer arrested
The driver described to police that Miller acted out of his mind, and held onto the hood of the car for four miles.

Hot Pursuit

Police motorcycle - 1923 by BigBlockAgency on Flickr.
Hot Pursuit in 1923

Do you know ...

That environmental scientists say world as we know it about to end

Volcanic Lightning

Photo: Carlos Gutierrez/Reuters
It looks like a scene straight out of the movies, but that volcanic lightning is quite real. Photographer Carlos Gutierrez took this amazing photo of lightning bolts over the plume of Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in 2011:
The water and frozen-ash particles, said [volcano seismologist Steve McNut]t—who's found volcanic plumes to be surprisingly water rich—rub against each other. As with shuffling shoes on carpet, the contact produces static charges. "That's what happens in ordinary thunderstorms" too, McNutt said.

Extreme Life: Surviving on Fumes

Extreme Life: Surviving on FumesWisps of volcanic gas, rather than photosynthesis, may energize mysterious microbes eking out an existence on the tallest volcanoes in South America’s Atacama Desert.  

'Echoes' of the Big Bang Misinterpreted?

'Echoes' of the Big Bang Misinterpreted? 
An unorthodox theory holds that some of the fine structure seen in the universe’s cosmic microwave background is really the imprint of our local interstellar neighborhood and not echoes of the Big Bang.  
Read more

Will We Ever… Live on the Moon?

What are the chances that humans will return to the moon with a more permanent mission? Dr. Phil Plait believes it will happen, but the real questions are when, how, and why. The Apollo missions were an expensive race against the Soviets, but with the proper technology and investment, a permanent moon base could actually be profitable. One scenario is mining and manufacturing. Asteroids are full or resources that can be exploited for space travel, such as oxygen and water, plus other valuable materials we can use. The moon comes in handy for this plan.
A critical aspect of this is being able to mine asteroidal material and process it, which Nasa and its contractors are studying. One line of thinking is that mined metals can be used to build structures in space that would be very difficult and pricey to construct on Earth and launch. Examples abound, including big spacecraft to use for crewed exploration of the planets, giant telescopes in orbit, space stations, and more. While the cost of the International Space Station (ISS) is estimated to be $100bn, much of that was simply getting previously-built components into space in the first place. If you already have those pieces in space, the cost is far less.
Smelting material in the near-weightless environment of an asteroid is one thing, but creating complex components of spacecraft is another. Manufacturing is likely to be easier in gravity, and the Moon is a perfect compromise for this.
Getting the materials to the Moon is not hard from an asteroid mining operation. And once built, getting even massive components off the Moon’s surface is far, far easier than it would be from Earth due to lower gravity and lack of air (it took a tremendous Saturn V rocket full of fuel to get to the Moon, but only the tiny Apollo ascent module to get back off). Building vehicles and other space-based structures on the Moon is vastly easier and less expensive than it would be here on Earth. From there, the rest of the solar system is an easy trip.
And that’s just one reason we might go back to the moon. There’s lots more to read at the BBC’s Future blog here.

Mickey Mouse Spotted On Mercury

The Messenger spacecraft which is orbiting the planet Mercury spotted Mickey Mouse.

Tarantula with strange, antler-like fungal appendages

This unhappy fellow is a tarantula that has been colonized by cordyceps, a fungus that "invades and eventually replaces the host tissue." Paging Mr Mieville, your subconscious mind is manifesting again.

Bears Can Count

Let’s keep up the pace, humanity. Other animals are starting to catch up:
Scientists trained three American black bears (Ursus Americanus) to discriminate between groups of dots on a touchscreen computer: Two bears learned to pick the group with fewer dots, while the third learned to choose the group with more dots. In some trials, the group with fewer dots took up more space; in others, the dots moved. All three bears could use the number of dots to guide their choices, but the bear trained to pick groups with more dots performed better on its tests and could also discriminate with moving dots, researchers report online this month in the journal Animal Behaviour. Overall, the bears’ performance matched those of monkeys in previous studies, suggesting that animals can evolve impressive cognitive abilities without living in large social groups.
Next, they’ll probably learn how to make and use fire.

Animal Pictures