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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 28, 2012

The Daily Drift

Take your time ...
Some of or readers today have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Belgrade, Serbia
George Town, Malaysia
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Pasig, Philippines
Johannesburg, South Africa
Ajman, United Arab Emirates
Moscow, Russia
Belize City, Belize
Warsaw, Poland
Ilesa, Nigeria
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Sentul, Malaysia
Manila, Philippines
Bangkok, Thailand
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1635 The French colony of Guadeloupe is established in the Caribbean.
1675 Frederick William of Brandenburg crushes the Swedes.
1709 Russians defeat the Swedes and Cossacks at the Battle of Poltava.
1776 Colonists repulse a British sea attack on Charleston, South Carolina.
1778 Mary "Molly Pitcher" Hays McCauley, wife of an American artilleryman, carries water to the soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth.
1839 Cinque and other Africans are kidnapped and sold into slavery in Cuba.
1862 Fighting continues between Union and Confederate forces during the Seven Days' campaign.
1863 General Meade replaces General Hooker three days before the Battle of Gettysburg.
1874 The Freedmen's Bank, created to assist former slaves in the United States, closes. Customers of the bank lose $3 million.
1884 Congress declares Labor Day a legal holiday.
1902 Congress passes the Spooner bill, authorizing a canal to be built across the isthmus of Panama.
1911 Samuel J. Battle becomes the first African-American policeman in New York City.
1914 Austria's Archduke Francis Ferdinand is assassinated at Sarajevo, Serbia.
1919 Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles under protest.
1921 A coal strike in Britain is settled after three months.
1930 More than 1,000 communists are routed during an assault on the British consulate in London.
1938 Congress creates the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure construction loans.
1942 German troops launch an offensive to seize Soviet oil fields in the Caucasus and the city of Stalingrad.
1945 General Douglas MacArthur announces the end of Japanese resistance in the Philippines.
1949 The last U.S. combat troops are called home from Korea, leaving only 500 advisers.
1950 General Douglas MacArthur arrives in South Korea as Seoul falls to the North.
1954 French troops begin to pull out of Vietnam's Tonkin province.
1964 Malcolm X founds the Organization for Afro-American Unity to seek independence for blacks in the Western Hemisphere.
1967 14 people are shot during race riots in Buffalo, New York.
1970 Muhammed Ali [Cassius Clay] stands before the Supreme Court regarding his refusal of induction into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
1971 The Supreme Court overturns the draft evasion conviction of Muhammad Ali.
1972 Nixon announces that no new draftees will be sent to Vietnam.
1976 The first women enter the U.S. Air Force Academy.


The hottest weather in nearly five years is headed for the local area, forecasters say.

Hip, Hip, Hurray! We can hardly wait!

The west is aflame

  Colorado blaze jumps containment lines ...

... and doubles in size.
A stubborn and towering wildfire jumped firefighters' perimeter lines in the hills overlooking Colorado Springs, forcing frantic mandatory evacuation notices for more than 32,000 residents, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, and destroying an unknown number of homes.
..."people are freaking out," Kathleen Tillman told the Denver post. "you are driving through smoke. it is completely pitch black, and there is tons of ash dropping on the road."
...Colorado Springs fire chief Richard Brown told the post, "this is a firestorm of epic proportions."- More

Leap Second to be Added to Clock

Saturday night will be just a little longer than usual, as a “leap second” will be added to the clock. That adjustment comes around every once in a while to keep our clocks on track with the sun.
A leap second has been scheduled for June 30, 2012. A leap second is an adjustment to the atomic clock-based Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to bring it more closely in line with Universal Time (UT), which is based on the rotation of the earth. The two time standards do not agree because the earth’s rotation is ever so gradually and unpredictably slowing down.
I don’t know about you, but “unpredictably slowing down” doesn’t sound all that reassuring. But no far, I don’t see any scientists and chronologists panicking.

Judge orders halt to Samsung sales of Galaxy tab

A judge late Tuesday ordered Samsung Electronics Co. to halt sales of its Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer while the court considers Apple's claim the South Korean tech giant illegally copied the design of the popular iPad.

Prisoners Earn Early Release by Writing Good Essays

If you see a young person heading down the wrong path–one that leads to a life behind bars–then help him out. Teach him how to read and write well. It may get him out of prison faster:
Inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil’s most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence each year, the government announced.
Prisoners will have up to four weeks to read each book and write an essay which must “make correct use of paragraphs, be free of corrections, use margins and legible joined-up writing,” said the notice published on Monday in the official gazette.

Did you know ...

... about the myth of Mitt Romney saving Utah's Olympic games

... about 10 ideas for taking America back from the 1%

...that a man files suit against Bristol Palin & her TV network

... that long after occupy site was abandoned, one lone plant rises 'high'

OECD: US must address income inequality problem

Somehow the problem of income inequality keeps getting worse, yet few in Washington bother to discuss it. The repugicans still cling to the belief that Reaganomics or whatever you want to call trickle-down is working and still relevant. The Democrats are too owned by many of the same corporate interests to care much about the plight of the middle class, since they can't fund a campaign.
The repugicans have an obvious racist and bigot problem that they need to resolve for the future. At the same time, if the Democrats want to remain viable in the future, they're going to have to start addressing the very serious problem of income inequality. It's killing the middle class and so far, the Democrats have barely been committed to even talking about the problem.

At one point in American history, such a story would have been an embarrassment and caused immediate action by Washington. In this climate, it barely causes a ripple.
The OECD, which produces reports every two years, says that the US recovery is gaining momentum but remains fragile, with the country facing problems such as record long-term unemployment, income inequality and lack of investment in education and innovation.

The report is more bullish on the economy than Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who recently downgraded his forecasts for the US economy.

But it points out that poverty is worse in the US than in Europe. "Income inequality and relative poverty are among the highest in the OECD," the report says.

Only Chile, Mexico and Turkey among the 34 member OECD countries rank higher in terms of income inequality.

Egyptian president Morsi appoints woman & Coptic

When you hear some of the rhetoric from the past, it's fair to say there was some reason for concern with the potential new government. It shouldn't be difficult to do better than the last corrupt regime but as we've seen many times, it's easy to do worse.
But for now, so far, so good though time will tell.
The Muslim Brotherhood is at pains to calm fears of what an Islamist president might mean for Egypt and the region at large. Appointing both a woman and a Coptic Christian is an attempt at a show of unity, and a rule by consensus.

Meanwhile, defeated presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik – Mubarak's last prime minister and Morsi's rival in the runoff election – flew to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday morning with his two daughters. His camp denied that he had fled as investigations begin into allegations of corruption against him while minister of civil aviation. He was in Abu Dhabi for "tourism" purposes, they said.

Essawy also said that Morsi had no objection to swearing the presidential oath in front of the supreme constitutional court (SCC), widely seen as a controversial move after the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood-majority parliament by that very court a day before the run-off elections earlier this month. But, "that does not mean he [Morsi] acknowledges the dissolution of parliament", said Essawy, a member of Morsi's former party, Freedom and Justice (FJP).

The truth be told

Voting is a right, except in Iowa, where it's a privilege.

From Rachel Maddow:
Once someone is convicted of a felony, they lose their voting rights, even after their sentence is complete. In some states, it's a little easier to reclaim one's voting ...

And that's a fact ...

Celebrate The 40th Anniversary Of Deliverance With A Trip To The Cahulawassee

If you enjoyed the seminal backwoods sicko movie Deliverance, and you feel that its 40th anniversary is worth celebrating, then book a trip to the Chattooga River Festival and get to hootin’ and hollerin’!
The booming outdoor sports industry sparked by this seminal movie is the inspiration for the first ever Chattooga Festival, and I’m sure those who attend will be squealin’ like a pig in delight, as long as they steer clear of the nearby farms…

Random Photo


Lisa Seiffert

Why it's now OK to boldly split infinitives

Non Sequitur

We are no longer speaking Old English or Latin, with their single-word infinitives... Ænglisc-speakers could not have said "to boldly go", since the infinitive was a single word, "gān". They'd have had to say "gān bealde", or something like that. Similarly, Latin speakers wouldn't have had the option: they'd have had to say "ire audacter". (Forgive the probably awful Latin and Old English there.) But we're not speaking Latin or Ænglisc, so it's just silly to limit ourselves to the grammatical options available to them...

There are times when splitting is not just permissible but obligatory... If the quantity you are measuring more than doubles, where do you put your infinitive? ... [instead of] "to more than double", what would you suggest? "We expect it more than to double" or "We expect it to double more than"? The first is weird; the second is even weirder.
From an op-ed piece at The Telegraph.

The Endangered Languages Project

Humanity today is facing a massive extinction: languages are disappearing at an unprecedented pace. Experts estimate that only 50% of the languages that are alive today will be spoken by the year 2100. And when that happens, a unique vision of the world is lost. With every language that dies we lose an enormous cultural heritage.

The Endangered Languages Project is an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.

The Classics

Chevrolet Corvette 1955 by johnei on Flickr.
Chevrolet Corvette 1955

Four Times a Year, This Sundial Spells the Word “Solstice” or “Equinoxe”

This amazing sundial at the Ecole Supérieure des Mines de Paris in Valbonne, France is designed so that on the day of the summer and winter solstices, sunlight shining through it displays the word “solstice.” On the days of the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sunlight forms the word “equinoxe.”

Making the Streets Better

Timofei Radi, a street artist from Yekaterinburg, tries to make city streets look better in unusual and creative ways. Read more.

Hell Helps Keep Society Safe

Societies where people favor heaven have more of a crime problem.
Read more

PT Barnum's get rich slow advice

Austin "Steal Like an Artist" Leon pulls the Table of Contents from PT Barnum's 1880 book Art of Money Getting, noting "Like most prescriptive books (including my own) you could probably write a whole book simply stating the opposite, but there’s so much in this book I love..."
* Don’t mistake your vocation
* Select the right location
* Avoid debt
* Persevere
* Whatever you do, do it with all your might
* Depend upon your own personal exertions
* Use the best tools
* Don’t get above your business
* Learn something useful
* Let hope predominate, but be not too visionary
* Do not scatter your powers
* Be systematic
* Read the newspapers
* Beware of “outside operations”
* Don’t indorse without security
* Advertise your business
* Be polite and kind to your customers
* Be charitable
* Don’t blab
* Preserve your integrity

Yeah, just like that ...

Poll: 65 percent think Obama better suited to handle extra-terrestrial invasion

Seriously. National Geographic did a poll.

In regards to national security, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans think Barack Obama would be better suited than fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney to handle an alien invasion. In fact, more than two in three (68%) women say that Obama would be more adept at dealing with an alien invasion than Romney, vs. 61 percent of men.
Interestingly, most expect the invasion to be friendly, which apparently is why they prefer Obama. Perhaps they think Mitt would try to self-deport the aliens.

Other poll findings:

- 1/3 believe in UFOs.

- And when given a choice, people overwhelming prefer that the Hulk come save us from the alien invasion, rather than Batman or Spiderman:
[I]f aliens attacked our planet, more than one in five (21%) would most likely call on the Hulk to deal with the havoc. Far fewer would most trust Batman (12%) or Spiderman (8%) to step in.

Mysterious Structures Found in Syrian Desert

Strange rock arrangements found in the war-torn region are clearly deliberately aligned -- but why? Mysterious Structures Found in Syrian Desert
Read more

On The Road Again

Skateboarding alongside a moving vehicle. What could go wrong?
Blondes on the road again
Bet she had plenty of road rash to remember this by.

Boom-boom Sirens

Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
Most people pull over (safely, to the right and then stop) to let emergency vehicles pass, but not in Denver!
Because too many Denver motorists refuse to yield, ambulances there have a special technique to get drivers to pay attention: they turn up the volume.
The 100/200-watt siren amplifiers point at the ground, generating a frequency low enough to vibrate everything outside the ambulance — an experience akin to pulling up next to a club kid blasting hip-hop from a trunk filled with speakers.
It turns heads.
"They vibrate the entire ground," Bookman said. "People can feel it throughout their car. It's pretty neat."
After testing the boom-boom sirens for 18 months, Denver Health is satisfied with the results and is making them standard issue for all new vehicles, Bookman said.

The Secret of Ozersk

In the early 1950s, Russian scientists were worried about a nuclear attack by the United States and wanted to know how radiation damaged tissue and caused cancer, so they decided to do an experiment. A massive one:
The town of Ozersk, deep in Russia's remote southern Urals, hides the relics of a massive secret experiment. From the early 1950s to the end of the cold war, nearly 250,000 animals were systematically irradiated. Some were blasted with a-, ß- or ?-radiation. Others were fed radioactive particles. Some of the doses were high enough to kill the animals outright; others were so low that they seemed harmless. After the animals — mice, rats, dogs, pigs and a few monkeys — died, scientists dissected out their tissues to see what damage the radioactivity had wrought. They fixed thin slices of lung, heart, liver, brain and other organs in paraffin blocks, to be sliced and examined under the microscope. Some organs, they pickled in jars of formalin.
The town of Ozersk is now closed to the world, but in 2007, a team of European scientists decided to find and save the scientific evidence:
The old collections provide a resource that could not be recreated today. Most of the experiments were done under precise conditions, at a wide range of radiation doses and usually for the lifetime of the animals. “We will never be able to repeat the scale of those animal experiments, for both funding and ethical reasons,” says Gayle Woloschak, a radiation biologist at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. “But maybe we can reuse the legacy tissue.”

Some tick bites can lead to red meat allergy

This unexpected and intuitively unexpected correlation has been reported in the May 2011 issue of J. Allerg. Clin. Immunol.  Here are some excerpts from the abstract:
In 2009, we reported a novel form of delayed anaphylaxis to red meat, which is related to serum IgE antibodies to the oligosaccharide galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal). Most of these patients had tolerated meat for many years previously. The implication is that some exposure in adult life had stimulated the production of these IgE antibodies.... Prospective studies on IgE antibodies in three subjects following tick bites showed an increase in IgE to alpha-gal of twenty-fold or greater...

The results presented here provide evidence that tick bites are a cause, or possibly the only cause, of IgE specific for alpha-gal in this area of the United States. Both the number of subjects becoming sensitized and the titer of IgE antibodies to alpha-gal are striking. Here we report the first example of a response to an ectoparasite giving rise to an important form of food allergy. 
And from the discussion:
This evidence includes following the response prospectively in three cases, a strong correlation with histories of tick bites, epidemiological evidence that these antibodies are not found in regions where tick bites are rare, and the correlation with IgE antibodies...

Our original observation was that the distribution of anaphylactic reactions to cetuximab was similar to the maximum prevalence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The major vectors of RMSF in this region are the ticks D. variabilis and A. americanum, and the geographic range of A. americanum has been expanding over the last 30 years, probably in parallel with the massive increase in the deer population...

Although many different patterns of tick bites have been reported, three forms stand out:
1. A few bites from adult ticks that persist for weeks or months, remaining pruritic. The most severe case of this kind reported having two tick bites removed surgically 6 months after the original contact.

2. Repeated bites often around the ankles in subjects who work outside or hunt regularly. In a few cases, the local reactions to the ticks have been so severe as to preclude further work outside.

 3. Multiple bites from larval ticks, generally 10 or more, but often hundreds, which are again severely pruritic, but generally do not last more than a few weeks...
For those interested, here is the distribution map of documented cases:

Real World News

Western Wildfires

Across the country, 657,614 acres are currently burning under the graze of 37 active large fires. Read more
Waldo Canyon Fire

Forget Doomsday, Watch Out for Snakes

This year is a banner year for snakebites. Read more
Forget Doomsday, Watch Out for Snakes

Missing Link For Wonky-Eyed Fish Discovered

A new fossil discovery of a missing link in a drawer at a museum uncovers the mystery of flatfish eyes. Read more
peacock flounder

Rich Men Say Got Nuke Waste?

Wealthy males are the group most willing to give pooped-out plutonium a place to retire for the next 10,000 years. Read more
Rich Men Say Got Nuke Waste?

Rising Sea Level Puts East Coast At Risk

The sea level on a stretch of the US Atlantic coast that features the cities of New York, Norfolk and Boston is rising up to four times faster than the global average. Read more
NJ coast

Wonky-Eyed Fish Link

A new fossil discovery finds an intermediate-type of eye migration possibly linking the funny one-sided eyes of flatfish with distant symmetrical-faced ancestors. Read more

Earth's Highest Blue Ice

Polar mesospheric "noctilucent" clouds captured in a stunning photo by the Expedition 31 crew aboard the Space Station. Read more
night-shining clouds

Science News

Early human ancestor chewed barkA sediba

One of our early relatives chewed on fruit, bark and leaves from the forests, fossil evidence suggests.

Catalan dinosaur reconstructionDinosaurs' cold blood in doubt

Growth-related markings on the bones of modern warm-blooded animals similar to those on dinosaur bones challenge the idea dinosaurs were cold-blooded.

Tagged turtlesManicured turtles in science swim

Scientists tracking hatchling loggerhead turtles into the North Atlantic resort to nail salon techniques to help fit tiny satellite tags to them.

Astronomical News

Sniffing Out the Stench of Life on Mars

Looking for Martian microbes is hard, but could we sniff them out? Read more
Sniffing Out the Stench of Life on Mars

Unorthodox Telescope for Alien Planet Hunt?

Can a lightweight Fresnel imager be sent into space to directly image Earth-sized exoplanets? Read more
Unorthodox Telescope for Alien Planet Hunt?

Probing an 'Invisible' Exoplanet's Atmosphere

Technique demonstrates how ground-based telescopes can be used to look for signs of life on distant planets. Read more
Probing an 'Invisible' Exoplanet's Atmosphere

Possible Alien Message to Get Reply from Humanity

A mysterious radio transmission detected in 1977 is finally getting a response -- and you can help decide what it will say. Read more
wow signal

Seven Minutes of Terror for Mars Rover Curiosity

In August, Mars Rover Curiosity will have one hell of a ride known as the "7 minutes of terror." Read more
Seven Minutes of Terror for Mars Rover Curiosity

The Universe: No God Required

Those trouble-making physicists are at it again. Read more
The Universe: No God Required

Highest Man-Made Temperature: 4 TRILLION Degrees

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) has just been recognized by Guinness World Records for achieving the "Highest Manmade Temperature." Read more
Highest Man-Made Temperature: 4 TRILLION Degrees

Daily Comic Relief


Sixteen Animals Afflicted By Shyness

Don't look at any of these guys! Your untoward glances are making them blush.

Dolphins, Humans Share 'Brainy' Genes

dolphinsSimilarities between dolphin and human brains prove that we are more alike than we thought and that size isn’t everything.

Ten Weird and Cool Bats

While a lot of people think all bats are creepy, I personally find them cute overall. That being said, these 10 bats still rank pretty low on the cute scale. Take, for example, the hammer-headed bat above:
Maybe “Moose-headed Bat” would be a better name but we’ve been warned never to insult moose… mooses… meece, whatever. Hey, ever wonder what the unwanted lovechild of Rocky and Bullwinkle would be like? Wonder no longer.
They have a point there.

Ten Cool Melanistic Animals

You probably already know what an albino is, but the opposite, known as melanism, is much less known. The look is still just as striking though, particularly in the case of the penguin seen above. See pictures of melanistic deers, lizards and more over at the link.

Meet The Newest World’s Ugliest Dog

Behold the magnificent ugliness that is Mugly, the winner of the 24th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest. Like many of the past winners, little Mugly is a Chinese hairless dog. This isn’t his first win, he previously won the title of Britain’s Ugliest Dog in 2005.

Family dog saves toddler from drowning

A family dog is getting some big credit for saving a 14-month-old boy from drowning in Marcellus, Michigan. Patricia Drauch told the Cass County Sheriff's Department she walked into their backyard garage on Sunday afternoon to get a shovel to dig out some "prickly" plants in the backyard of her home. One moment, she said, her youngest son Stanley was walking along beside her; the next, he wasn't. Drauch immediately began to search for Stanley all over the backyard and soon found him in the family pool. "It was scary. His lips were blue. His eyes were rolled back," Drauch said. "It was the scariest feeling and the image stays in your head for a long time." At first, she said, it looked like Stanley was floating. But when she looked closer, she saw her son wasn't under the water.

The family dog Bear was in the pool, holding Stanley out of the water on his back. "[Bear] wouldn't move in the pool," she said. "He didn't bark. He didn't move. It was like he was afraid to move at all until I got Stanley up out of the pool and that's when [Bear] came up out of the pool with me. Bear was trying to keep Stanley up so he wouldn't die," said Stanley's brother Kyle Drauch, who is 7 and was there when his mother found Stanley in the water. Stanley was unresponsive when Drauch pulled him from the water. "He wasn't responding so my mind is going to the worst - that I was too late," said Drauch. She tried to call 911 for help, but said she heard a "beep" and the call wouldn't go through.

So she gathered up her sons and started to drive to the Marcellus Fire Department, which is about two miles from her house. While on the road she was able to get through to 911 on her cellphone. While Drauch was on the phone with 911 dispatchers, Stanley regained consciousness. "On the way, he barfed up a lot of water and then he started to respond, but she kept going and she was just a little over the speed limit," said Kyle. Drauch soon arrived at the fire department, where emergency personnel examined Stanley, who was conscious, alert and in good condition. He was taken to a Three Rivers hospital by his parents to be checked out, but was soon released. On Monday Stanley was well enough to play with Bear in the family's yard. Drauch said X-rays showed there wasn't any water in Stanley's lungs. She said that's because of Bear.

"I'd always told [Bear] since he was 4 weeks old that these are your babies, watch out," said Drauch. "He has big paws and they were little and I didn't want him to step on them, so it paid off teaching him to watch out for them." Cass County Undersheriff Rick Behnke said though there were no witnesses, but authorities did find vomit in the family car, which is consistent with what happens when water is ingested and then expelled. "From the information we have, it seems to pan out," Behnke said. "It's an amazing story. The dog is a lifesaver. That's all I can say." Behnke said this is the first time he's personally heard a story like this one happening in Cass County, but acknowledged that since hearing about it, other people have told him similar stories with different dogs. "If Bear wasn't out, I don't think Stanley would have made it," said Drauch. "He proved that he's got enough love for the kids he's more than just our hunting dog."

Animal Pictures

IWC Resident by dlholt on Flickr.