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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Daily Drift

Now, ain't that a bitch!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Wellington, New Zealand
Mexico City, Mexico
Berlin, Germany
Calgary, Canada
Preston, Australia
Rio De Janiero, Brazil
Paris, France
Moscow, Russia
Hamburg, Germany
Toronto, Canada
Hamilton, Canada
Crawley, England
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Dublin, Ireland
Frankfurt, Germany
Melbourne, Australia
Istanbul, Turkey
Windsor, Canada
Basauri, Spain
Canberra, Australia
Rome, Italy
Manila, Philippines
Auckland, New Zealand
Ashdod, Israel
Coffs Harbor, Australia
Delhi, India
Munich, Germany
Tel Aviv, Israel
Sydney, Australia
Ballarat, Australia
Groningen, Netherlands
Georgetown, Guyana
Vancouver, Canada
San Salvador, El Salvador
Cork, Ireland
Candiac, Canada
Madrid, Spain
Vienna, Austria
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
London, England
Tallinn, Estonia
Sibu, Malaysia
Cairo, Egypt
Kuwait, Kuwait
As, Norway
Niagara Falls, Canada
Edinburgh, Scotland
Cape Town, South Africa
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Jakarta, Indonesia
George Town, Malaysia
Ampang, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia
Lomonosov, Russia
Birmingham, England
Cardiff, Wales
Manchester, England
Tbilisi, Georgia
Banglamung, Thailand
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Doha, Qatar
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Seoul, Korea
Sampaloc, Philippines
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Cebu City, Philippines
Glasgow, Scotland
Algiers, Algeria
Liverpool, England
Fort-De-France, Martinique
Jerudong, Brunei
Valencia, Venezuela

Today in History

1683   William Penn signs a friendship treaty with the Lenni Lenape Indians in Pennsylvania.
1700   Russia gives up its Black Sea fleet as part of a truce with the Ottoman Empire.
1758   British and Hanoverian armies defeat the French at Krefeld in Germany.
1760   Austrian forces defeat the Prussians at Landshut, Germany.
1848   A bloody insurrection of workers erupts in Paris.
1860   The U.S. Secret Service is created to arrest counterfeiters and protect the president.
1863   Confederate forces overwhelm a Union garrison at the Battle of Brasher City in Louisiana.
1865   Confederate General Stand Watie surrenders his army at Fort Towson, in the Oklahoma Territory.
1884   A Chinese Army defeats the French at Bacle, Indochina.
1885   Former general and president Ulysses S. Grant dies at the age of 63.
1902   Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy renew the Triple Alliance for a 12-year duration.
1934   Italy gains the right to colonize Albania after defeating the country.
1944   In one of the largest air strikes of the war, the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force sends 761 bombers against the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.
1951   Soviet U.N. delegate Jacob Malik proposes cease-fire discussions in the Korean War.
1952   The U.S. Air Force bombs power plants on Yalu River, Korea.
1964   Henry Cabot Lodge resigns as the U.S. envoy to Vietnam and is succeeded by Maxwell Taylor.
1966   Civil Rights marchers in Mississippi are dispersed by tear gas.

"John Bull"

A lantern slide of the 1831 Locomotive “John Bull” at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 by crackdog on Flickr.
A lantern slide of the 1831 Locomotive “John Bull” at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876

Voters support President Obama's immigration change

A majority of voters agreed with the immigration policy unveiled by President Barack Obama last week, according to a new poll.

And I Quote

"If Romney gets elected I don't know if I can breathe same air as him & his right-wing, racist, homophobic, women-hating Tea Bagger masters,"
~ Cher

The Anatomy of a repugican lie

The repugicans and the religious right deserve each other.
They're both expert at taking a lie and making it true.

The latest lie from the repugicans is that the wingnut "reporter" who heckled President Obama during his immigration speech the other day was simply doing what reporters did all the time to lovable old Ronnie Raygun.

And look, they even have a scanned copy of an old AP story to prove it.

Yeah, it's "proof" if you don't actually read the AP story. If you do read it you'll discover yet another beautifully woven repugican lie.

You see, as the AP report says repeatedly, the reporters yelled questions at Raygun after his statement was over, and/or after the event was over and Raygun was leaving (and in typical Reagan fashion, refusing to take any questions - remember Raygun always putting his hand to his ear pretending he could hear the questions?).

Nowhere in the AP story does it say that reporters interrupted an address by Raygun (and heckled him mid-address, no less) - something that has now happened twice to President Obama, once by a wingnut repugican reporter and another by a wingnut repugican member of Congress.

But it's sufficient for a wingnut "newspaper" (not surprisingly, one founded by a cult) to "report" it as "fact" that the "liberal" media interrupted Raygunn with yells all the time, and next you'll hear everyone on Faux News, and Dimbulb, citing this as "fact" too.

They don't have the facts on their side, so they create their own propaganda media to make the lies for them.

The truth be told

Romney's way: Let middle class pay the rich's tab

We all know this election is going to be about the economy. President Barack Obama knows it, Mitt Romney knows it and so do the media -- even though at times pundits pretend it's about much smaller and sillier topics.

The difference, as the president told the country last week, is that he is the only candidate in the race who truly understands that it's about a very specific part of our economy: the middle class.

The truth hurts

Kids taking fewer antibiotics, more ADHD meds

American children are taking fewer antibiotics now than 10 years ago, but prescriptions to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, have increased, according to a new report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Hospitalizations up for kids with hypertension
The number of hospitalizations for children with high blood pressure more than doubled from 1997 to 2006, according to a new study.

How do we know someone is no longer alive?

We posted an item about stem cells living long after the body they inhabit is declared dead. This kind of discovery makes you wonder what “dead” really means. IO9 posted an interview with Dick Teresi, author of the book The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers — How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death, who says medical doctors and scientists don’t see death in the same way, and there are differences even among those groups.
Some patients are declared brain dead and then begin spontaneously breathing hours later. Medical scientists say it doesn’t matter because most brain-dead patients do not come back to life, but a rigorous scientist would say that these cases speak loudly about the flaws in our criteria for death. And yes — death to a cardiologist means that your heart has stopped, and he can’t get it to restart. But to a neurologist, it might mean something else. In 1968, a committee at Harvard Medical School put forth an article stating that there is a second kind of death: brain death. Even though your heart is still pumping, and you’re still able to breathe on a ventilator, if your brain stem is down, you’re dead. This theory was made law in all 50 states in 1981, so now in the U.S. we have two kinds of death: real death (cardiopulmonary death) and what some doctors call “pretty dead,” or brain death. A cell biologist, on the other hand, may have a standard more rigorous than cardiologists or neurologists. They might want to see all one’s cells dead, which we call putrefaction.
He goes on to talk about how our complex criteria for death has evolved over history, and where it may be tomorrow.

Random Celebrity Photo

Sandra Dee

Generation X hit hardest in recession

There's plenty of misery to go around, but Gen X has had the worst of it according to a US Census report.
In terms of actual dollars lost, 45- to 54-year-olds took the biggest hit. For households in that age range, median net worth declined by $54,881, to $90,434. That’s a 38 percent drop from 2005, calculated in 2010 dollars.

Overall, the study found that median household net worth in the United States declined by 35 percent between 2005 and 2010, to $66,740. The housing bust and stock market declines were mainly to blame for the drop.

The Census report is based on the annual Survey of Income and Program Participation, which takes a detailed look at the financial situation of Americans from all walks of life. The survey uses the renter or owner of record in each household to determine what age group the household falls into.

Did you know ...

... that in renting vs. buying: 6 reasons why renters win.
That a Michigan state rep calls nurses union staffer a cunt.

About the hospital shakedown.

Welcome back, Jim Crow.

... the belief in god plummets among youth.

The Company That Quietly Knows Everything About You

Photo: Justin Bolle/The NY Times
You probably have never heard of Axciom, but it has heard of you. Actually, not only has it heard of you, it knows all about you:
It knows who you are. It knows where you live. It knows what you do. 
It peers deeper into American life than the F.B.I. or the I.R.S., or those prying digital eyes at Facebook and Google. If you are an American adult, the odds are that it knows things like your age, race, sex, weight, height, marital status, education level, politics, buying habits, household health worries, vacation dreams — and on and on.
Right now in Conway, Ark., north of Little Rock, more than 23,000 computer servers are collecting, collating and analyzing consumer data for a company that, unlike Silicon Valley’s marquee names, rarely makes headlines. It’s called the Acxiom Corporation, and it’s the quiet giant of a multibillion-dollar industry known as database marketing.
Nathasha Singer tells us all about Axciom in this enlightening New York Times article here.

DEA steps up its efforts to make life miserable for people in chronic pain

Radley Balko comments on a Reuters article about the DEA's vigorous campaign to make life miserable for doctors, pharmacists, and pain patients.
The DEA is now quite literally treating doctors and pharmacists like potential drug dealers.
The agency has expanded its use of tactical diversion squads, which combine special agents, diversion investigators and local law enforcement officers to track down and prosecute prescription drug dealers.
Forcing the two sides to come together was not easy at first, Leonhart said, since special agents initially were reluctant to work on “pill cases.”
But the effort has shown some results. Asset seizures on the diversion side rose to $118 million in 2011 from about $82 million in 2009, Leonhart said.
That’s a telling metric, isn’t it? The same drug warriors who tell us prescription overdoses are skyrocketing claim, at the same time, that their decade-long anti-diversion efforts are working because . . . the government has been more successful at taking money and property away from people. Let’s not forget that in a civil asset forfeiture case, the government needn’t even charge you to take your stuff, much less convict you.

Ninth Circuit to DEA: putting a gun to an 11-year-old's head is not OK

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals told the DEA that holding a gun to an 11-year-old girl's head constitutes “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” and they should stop doing it. No doubt the DEA will appeal the ruling.
At 7 a.m. on January 20, 2007, DEA agents battered down the door to Thomas and Rosalie Avina’s mobile home in Seeley, California, in search of suspected drug trafficker Louis Alvarez. Thomas Avina met the agents in his living room and told them they were making a mistake. Shouting “Don’t you fucking move,” the agents forced Thomas Avina to the floor at gunpoint, and handcuffed him and his wife, who had been lying on a couch in the living room. As the officers made their way to the back of the house, where the Avina’s 11-year-old and 14-year-old daughters were sleeping, Rosalie Avina screamed, “Don’t hurt my babies. Don’t hurt my babies.”
The agents entered the 14-year-old girl’s room first, shouting “Get down on the fucking ground.” The girl, who was lying on her bed, rolled onto the floor, where the agents handcuffed her. Next they went to the 11-year-old’s room. The girl was sleeping. Agents woke her up by shouting “Get down on the fucking ground.” The girl’s eyes shot open, but she was, according to her own testimony, “frozen in fear.” So the agents dragged her onto the floor. While one agent handcuffed her, another held a gun to her head.
Moments later the two daughters were carried into the living room and placed next to their parents on the floor while DEA agents ransacked their home. After 30 minutes, the agents removed the children’s handcuffs. After two hours, the agents realized they had the wrong house—the product of a sloppy license plate transcription --and left.

Native American tribes owed millions from government

Native American issues rarely reach the supreme court, and it is even rarer for the court to side with the tribes.
Native American tribes are celebrating a major victory in their battle for equal treatment after the US supreme court ruled that the government could no longer short-change them over contracts for public services.
What's funny is that this is being reported by news outlets outside the US and we have yet to find a US news source reporting it.

US & UK discuss safe passage for Assad

Assad needs to be held accountable for the violence and crimes against humanity, though nobody needs a protracted war where even more people die needlessly. The current rumors suggest Putin recognizes that Assad may have a limited future, so it open to finding a resolution.

More from The Guardian:
Britain and America are willing to offer the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, safe passage – and even clemency – as part of a diplomatic push to convene a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva on political transition in Syria.

The initiative comes after David Cameron and Barack Obama received encouragement from Russia's President Vladimir Putin in separate bilateral talks at the G20 in Mexico.

A senior British official said: "Those of us who had bilaterals thought there was just enough out of those meetings to make it worth pursuing the objective of negotiating a transitional process in Syria."
In light of the Syrian air force defection Thursday, time may be running out for Assad and his options.

Fabricated bank adds to China's list of fakery

In a China awash with fake iPhones, pirated DVDs and knockoff Louis Vuitton bags, rice trader Lin Chunping took fakery to a whole new level: He invented a U.S. bank and claimed he bought it.

Liberia's Taylor to appeal war crimes conviction

The Special Court for Sierra Leone said Tuesday former Liberian President Charles Taylor will appeal his war crimes conviction.

Daily Comic Relief


Woman says she drove car into golf bunker because 'GPS told her to turn left'

A Massachusetts woman told police she drove her car into a golf club’s sand trap at about 45 mph because her GPS “told her to turn left.” Several golfers were on the Whitinsville Golf Club in Northbridge, Mass., at the time, at about 5:45 p.m. Monday, but no one was injured. Police said they believe the 46-year-old woman was drunk.

Northbridge police officer Randy Lloyd wrote in his report to the court that the woman, identified as Patricia Maione of Northbridge, “stated that her GPS had told her to turn left. She stated that this left brought her into a ‘cornfield’ and once she was in the ‘cornfield,’ she kept driving trying to get of her ‘cornfield.’

Northbridge police found Maione's Buick in the sand trap with its rear wheels off the ground and its front end damaged. It had dropped eight to 10 feet from the top of the bunker, according to the police report. Maione was still in the car, police said.

When told that her car was in a golf sand trap, Lloyd wrote, “Ms. Maione stated that she did not even like golf.” Maione was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license, drunken driving, negligent driving and driving with an open container of alcohol in the car.

Woman Drives Stolen Truck into Police Station

According to police, a woman in San Angelo, Texas put them to a lot of trouble by stealing a truck and then leading them on a chase. But to her credit, she eventually delivered herself and the stolen vehicle right through the front doors of police headquarters:
The chase ended when [redacted--ed.] crashed into the administration offices of the downtown San Angelo police headquarters.
Police say for a time — [redacted--ed.] was driving without one of the truck’s tires.

Keep on truckin'

MACK B71 ST by BigBlockAgency on Flickr.

Odds and Ends

Woman super glued to toilet seat
Monticello city officials say the woman went to use the bathroom and she got stuck to a toilet seat covered in Super Glue.
20 Car Replicas Made in China
It's obvious that you should be cautious while searching for online bargains for items like sunglasses, luggage, watches, or appliances.
Gelato for dogs as Italy heats up
Leave it to Italians to come up with just the thing to survive the dog days of summer: canine gelato.

Lima's unlikely superhero

It's not easy being Superman.
It only earns about $160 a month for Avelino Chavez, who dresses up daily as the caped hero.
But oh, the adventures!
The 52-year-old Chavez can't fly but does seem to be everywhere in Lima: at political rallies and speeches, at a wedding shoot for Peru's famed opera tenor Juan Diego Florez, hawking tours and flights on ...

Seven Futurama Gadgets That May Become A Reality

The gadgets and inventions featured on the animated TV show Futurama may seem pretty far out, but you might be surprised to find that some of these scifi gadgets may soon become a reality.
We’ve already seen holograms appear which allowed Tupac to perform from beyond the grave at Coachella, and Smell-o-vision became a noxious reality back in the 60s, although we’re a long way from being able to smell other planets.
So what sort of fancy gadgets should we expect to see next? I really hope it’s the Holophonor, or else I just blew a bunch of money learning how to play the Grumpy Snail!

The World Without The Internet

Switzerland is one gigantic booby-trap

Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG has been exploring the bizarre world of Swiss self-destructing infrastructure, documented in La Place de la Concorde Suisse, John McPhee's "rich, journalistic study of the Swiss Army's role in Swiss society." It turns out that the Swiss Army specifies that bridges, hillsides, and tunnels need to be designed so that they can be remotely destroyed in the event of societal collapse, pan-European war, or invasion. Meanwhile, underground parking garages (and some tunnels) are designed to be sealed off as airtight nuclear bunkers.
To interrupt the utility of bridges, tunnels, highways, railroads, Switzerland has established three thousand points of demolition. That is the number officially printed. It has been suggested to me that to approximate a true figure a reader ought to multiply by two. Where a highway bridge crosses a railroad, a segment of the bridge is programmed to drop on the railroad. Primacord fuses are built into the bridge. Hidden artillery is in place on either side, set to prevent the enemy from clearing or repairing the damage...
There are also hollow mountains! Booby-trapped cliff-faces!
Near the German border of Switzerland, every railroad and highway tunnel has been prepared to pinch shut explosively. Nearby mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them. There are weapons and soldiers under barns. There are cannons inside pretty houses. Where Swiss highways happen to run on narrow ground between the edges of lakes and to the bottoms of cliffs, man-made rockslides are ready to slide...
The impending self-demolition of the country is "routinely practiced," McPhee writes. "Often, in such assignments, the civilian engineer who created the bridge will, in his capacity as a military officer, be given the task of planning its destruction."

Interesting Stuff

Ancient Africans Made Cheese, Settled Down

Milk products may be why the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was given up in favor of a more settled, and yogurt-eating, existence.  
milk ancient africans

Extreme Microbes Found Near Mummy Burial Site

A team of microbiologists went on the hunt for what was or wasn't on the summit of Llullaillac.

Mona Lisa's Childhood Home Found 

The woman behind one of the world's most famous paintings was born in a humble house.

Western Wildfires

Across the western United States, wildfire season is well underway, and dozens of fires are currently being fought. In Colorado, the High Park fire has destroyed more than 180 homes, the most in state history. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, New Mexico's largest-ever wildfire, was recently declared 75 percent contained, after the lightning-sparked blaze began has burned for more than a month.

Crews from California to Wyoming are approaching the wildfires with aerial water drops, ground equipment, brush clearing, and controlled burns. Gathered here are recent photos of some of these incidents, early glimpses of an already-busy 2012 wildfire season.

Bizarre Lakes From Around the World

From a boiling, blood-red lake in Japan to a carbon-dioxide-filled lake in Africa, these 12 bodies of water are both absolutely stunning and fascinating. Of course, just because they’re unique doesn’t mean they’re actually places you should go swimming -in fact many of them, including the two I just mentioned could outright kill you.

Watch Archaeologists Walk an Easter Island Statue across the Ground

(Video Link)
How did the technologically limited native people of Rapa Nui move the huge stone statues for which the island is famous? Archaeologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo have an idea: the ancients may have rocked the statues back and forth with teams of people yanking on sturdy ropes. Watch them walk this 5-ton replica statue forward.

A piece of 28,000-year-old rock art found

An archaeologist says he found the oldest piece of rock art in Australia and one of the oldest in the world: an Aboriginal work created 28,000 years ago in an Outback cave.

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

At the pig race!

Top 10 Coolest Mystical Animals In Movies And Television

Animals are always either cool or scary in movies. But fictional creatures are awesome and we all pretty much want them to be real. Here are 10 of the coolest mystical animals in movies and television.

The business end of a sea urchin

How's this for an amusing case of photographic mis-identification? Call it "Dueling Disgustingness". Last week, New Scientist posted this lovely image of a blue-spotted sea urchin, taken by nature photographer David Fleetham.
New Scientist identified the photo as depicting said sea urchin in the process of expelling its own guts out of its mouth. Which, gross, but okay. That's reasonable. A surprising number of underwater animals eat in this manner, using the acids in their guts to dissolve prey before they actually slurp it up as a slurry.
But, at the Echinoblog, Smithsonian invertebrate zoology researcher Christopher Mah makes a compelling case against New Scientist's interpretation. That's not actually the sea urchin's mouth, says Mah. In fact, it's the opposite. That's a (rare) photo of a sea urchin taking a dump.
Mah has a lot of good photos that make his case quite well. You should check them out. Then, join me in contemplating this thought: If Mah is right, doesn't sea urchin poop look a lot like Dippin' Dots?
The New Scientist blog post—featuring lots of cool info about sea urchins
Christopher Mah's analysis of the photo, explaining why he thinks it shows a pooping sea urchin, rather than one that is eating something.
David Fleetham's website—for more photos of nature

Top 10 Amazing Animals Discovered Within The Last Decade

Several amazing creatures that have only been discovered within the last decade.

Animal Pictures