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.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Daily Drift

Yep, it's gonna be one of them there days.

Some of or readers today have been in:
Krakow, Poland
Kuantan, Malaysia
Moscow, Russia
Hamburg, Germany
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tallinn, Estonia
Kabul, Afghanistan
Johannesburg, South Africa
Fermont, Canada
George Town, Malaysia
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Cape Town, South Africa
Karachi, Pakistan
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Istanbul, Turkey
Warsaw, Poland
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Shah Alam, Malaysia

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

96 Vespasian, a Roman army leader, is hailed as a Roman emperor by the Egyptian legions.
1543 England and Scotland sign the Peace of Greenwich.
1596 An English fleet under the Earl of Essex, Lord Howard of Effingham and Francis Vere capture and sack Cadiz, Spain.
1690 Led by Marshall Luxembourg, the French defeat the forces of the Grand Alliance at Fleurus in the Netherlands.
1777 British troops depart from their base at the Bouquet river to head toward Ticonderoga, New York.
1798 Napoleon Bonaparte takes Alexandria, Egypt.
1838 Charles Darwin presents a paper on his theory of evolution to the Linnean Society in London.
1862 Union artillery stops a Confederate attack at Malvern Hill, Virginia.
1863 In the first day's fighting at Gettysburg, Federal forces retreat through the town and dig in at Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill.
1867 Canada, by the terms of the British North America Act, becomes an independent dominion.
1876 Montenegro declares war on the Turks.
1898 American troops take San Juan Hill and El Caney, Cuba, from the Spaniards.
1942 German troops capture Sevestapol, Crimea, in the Soviet Union.
1945 The New York State Commission Against Discrimination is established–the first such agency in the United States.
1950 American ground troops arrive in South Korea to halt the advancing North Korean army.
1961 British troops land in Kuwait to aid against Iraqi threats.
1963 The U.S. postmaster introduces the zip code.
1966 The U.S. Marines launch Operation Holt in an attempt to finish off a Vietcong battalion in Thua Thien Province in Vietnam.

The sad, unintentionally funny history of America's vice presidents

Smithsonian has a fun article on America's top second-banana—the vice presidency—a job that John Adams, the first vice-president, described as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived."
Lest you think Dan Quayle was the first VP mocked in the press, or that The Onion's superb (if fictional) coverage of Joe Biden was some uniquely inventive portrayal of what vice presidents do with their time, Tony Horwitz is here to set you straight. The truth is that the vice presidency has a very long history of mediocrity, wackiness, and lack of purpose.
The Constitution also failed to specify the powers and status of vice presidents who assumed the top office. In fact, the second job was such an afterthought that no provision was made for replacing VPs who died or departed before finishing their terms. As a result, the office has been vacant for almost 38 years in the nation’s history.
Until recently, no one much cared. When William R.D. King died in 1853, just 25 days after his swearing-in (last words: “Take the pillow from under my head”), President Pierce gave a speech addressing other matters before concluding “with a brief allusion” to the vice president’s death. Other number-twos were alive but absentee, preferring their own homes or pursuits to an inconsequential role in Washington, where most VPs lived in boardinghouses (they had no official residence until the 1970s). Thomas Jefferson regarded his vice presidency as a “tranquil and unoffending station,” and spent much of it at Monticello. George Dallas (who called his wife “Mrs. Vice”) maintained a lucrative law practice, writing of his official post: “Where is he to go? What has he to do?—no where, nothing.” Daniel Tompkins, a drunken embezzler described as a “degraded sot,” paid so little heed to his duties that Congress docked his salary.

Meet the Grandfather of Everyone in Britain

Meet Ian Kinnaird, 72, who turned out to be the grandfather of everyone in Britain. Genetically speaking, that is:
Ian Kinnaird, 72, has a genetic marker inherited from his mother that traces his ancestry to an African lineage that has not been found before in Western Europe.
Researchers from Britain’s DNA, who carried out the tests, said the result meant that in genetic terms he was a “thoroughbred”, and could be described as the “grandson of Eve, or the grandfather of everyone in Britain”.
Auslan Cramb of The Telegraph has more here.

Mayan Calendar Discovery Confirms 2012 'End Date'

An ancient Maya text has emerged from the jungles of Guatemala confirming the so-called "end date" of the Maya calendar, Dec. 21, 2012.

Oldest known pottery found in China

What a fantastic find.
Pottery fragments found in a south China cave have been confirmed to be 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world, archaeologists say.

The findings, which will appear in the journal Science on Friday, add to recent efforts that have dated pottery piles in east Asia to more than 15,000 years ago, refuting conventional theories that the invention of pottery correlates to the period about 10,000 years ago when humans moved from being hunter-gathers to farmers.

The research by a team of Chinese and American scientists also pushes the emergence of pottery back to the last ice age, which might provide new explanations for the creation of pottery, said Gideon Shelach, chair of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel.

The truth be told

The Twilight Zone

A man with a functioning brain infiltrates a repugican town hall full of propaganda and finds terrorists.

And I Quote

Question: Can you believe this asshole?! 
Answer: NO!

Hoax prompts free tacos in Alaska town

Residents of Bethel, Alaska, know from cable TV ads what the major fast-food chains offer: chicken at KFC, burgers at McDonald's and tacos at Taco Bell.

Fantasies do come true ... Motorists drive tanks at action park

For anyone who ever has been stuck in traffic, it's a tempting fantasy: If only you were driving a tank and could roll over everything in your path.

Reward offered for Montana truck stop dinosaur

They're offering a $250 gas card for information leading to the safe return of Dino, a 12-foot-long fiberglass Sinclair dinosaur that disappeared June 21 from the Crossroads Travel Center west of Missoula.

Flight attendant loses cool on plane

A flight attendant on a weather-delayed plane at LaGuardia Airport yelled at passengers and challenged them to leave the plane if they dared.

Justice Department won't prosecute Holder

The Justice Department declared Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder's withholding information about a bungled gun-tracking operation from Congress does not constitute a crime.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/#storylink=cpy

Four knot-heads Arrested After Calling NC Deputy for Drugs

The Salisbury Post reported that Deputy Jagger Naves was awakened by four calls to his cell phone around 4 a.m.

Sri Lankan police raid news website, arrest 9

Sri Lankan police arrested nine journalists and seized computers and documents from the office of an independent news website Friday, said a media rights group in one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists.

"Europe officials say al-Qaida-trained Norwegian is ready for an attack on West"

From the Associated Press, as cited by the StarTribune:

A Norwegian man has received terrorist training from al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen and is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies told The Associated Press on Monday.

Western intelligence officials have long feared such a scenario — a convert to Islam who is trained in terrorist methods and can blend in easily in Europe and the United States, traveling without visa restrictions.

Officials from three European security agencies confirmed Monday the man is "operational," meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target...
Next step: curtailment of the civil liberties of persons with white skin; this will complement the profiling currently underway on persons of color, and pretty much complete the dermatological spectrum.

And the reason they release this broadly vague information to the public at large?  So that all of us will not only now become suspicious of all white people, but we will also understand why we are being asked to submit quietly to authority.

It never ends...

The Military is Developing the Lightning Weapon

We told you that scientists were able to control lightning bolt with laser. Now, we learn that (surprise!) the military has developed a lightning-based weapon:
The technology -- known as laser-induced plasma channel -- is designed to seek out targets that conduct electricity better than the air or ground that surrounds them.

The Gatling Gun Made Especially For Chinese Cops

Police officers in China have been dealing with quite a lot of rioting lately, but by the look of this soon-to-be standard issue Gatling gun they’re preparing for war!
This 7.62mm Gatling machine gun fires up to 6,000 rounds per minute, and looks extremely menacing as it barks away, mowing down anyone in its path.
What do you think–doesn’t this seem like an extreme way for the police to handle civil unrest?

Hong Kong reporter asks about Tiananmen, upsets Hu visit

A Hong Kong reporter has briefly thrown Chinese President Hu Jintao's tightly scripted visit to the semiautonomous city off course by asking about the 1989 military crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square.

The Fashionable Russian Army Ensembles Of The 1890s

The men who made up the ranks of the Russian Army in the late 1800s were a rather fashionable bunch, and some of the shots in this gallery look like they came straight out of a fashion magazine.
Maybe it’s the way the men are posing, or the abundance of fur and shiny bits, whatever it is that makes these guys look like they’re ready to storm the runway instead of the front lines makes me want to cue the house music and drop the lights!
Hobnob with the rest of the armed and extremely fabulous at the link below.

Russia's nuclear sledgehammers

Russia's nuclear missile bunkers reportedly come standard-issue with a sledgehammer whose designated purpose is smashing open the safe containing the launch-codes, should the combination not work:
The sledgehammer's existence first came to light in 1980, when a group of inspecting officers from the General Staff visiting Strategic Missile Forces headquarters asked General Georgy Novikov what he would do if he received a missile launch order but the safe containing the launch codes failed to open.
Novikov said he would “knock off the safe’s lock with the sledgehammer” he kept nearby, the spokesman said.

Medieval Manuscript Gives Clue about Mysterious Radiation Spike

Tree ring data indicates that sometime around 774 or 775 A.D., an intense burst of radiation hit the Earth. What was its source? Scientists were uncertain, but it was probably a supernova. Unfortunately, there were no records of such event.
But Jonathon Allen, a biochemistry student at University of California, Santa Cruz, realized that researchers needed to consider how people in the Eighth Century A.D. would have understood the appearance of a supernova in the sky:
His search found the eighth-century entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at the Avalon Project, an online library of historical and legal documents hosted by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Scrolling down to the year ad 774, Allen found a reference to a “red crucifix” that appeared in the heavens “after sunset”. [...]
“It made me think it’s some sort of stellar event,” Allen says. Furthermore, he notes, the redness might indicate that the source was hidden behind a dust cloud dense enough to scatter all but a small amount of red light. Such a cloud might also prevent any remnants of the proposed supernova being seen by modern astronomers.

Researchers Create Spray-on Battery

If you're out of batteries, don't fret: one day you can grab some spray-paint and graffiti your own power supply.

Astronomical News

An Astronomical Tour in the Realm of Galaxies

Astronomer Mark Thompson guides us through the summer skies, pointing out some galactic treasures. Read more
An Astronomical Tour in the Realm of Galaxies

The Science Behind Saturday's Leap Second

The slight slowing of Earth's rotation is causing an extra second experience this weekend. Read more

Private Telescope to Hunt for Killer Asteroids

Two former NASA astronauts have given themselves a new mission: To seek out potentially dangerous asteroids so humanity can have enough time to do something about it. Read more
Private Telescope to Hunt for Killer Asteroids

Randon Photo


Gorgeous lingerie, great shot. Perfect for a boudoir shoot.

Another option for affordable healthcare ...

Marry a Norwegian 

In a first-person account of his battle with chronic illness, Minneapolis musician Kevin Steinman explains why he's decided to move to Norway rather than keep fighting the American healthcare system.

The physics of crowds can kill

Almost two years ago, 21 people died when they were crushed to death in the crowd at the Love Parade music festival in Germany. Now, scientists have been able to pinpoint exactly what lead to those deaths. Here's a hint: It wasn't a stampede, there's no evidence of intentional pushing, and it doesn't look like mass hysteria had anything to do with the deaths. So how did those 21 people die? Physics.

Study in China links BPA exposure to brain tumors

Considering all of the exposure most of us have had to BPA products (water bottles, food packaging) this is not a pleasant study.

More from Environmental Health News:
There was a positive association between BPA concentrations in urine and diagnosis of meningioma.

The patients with higher concentrations of BPA in their urine – the three groups with greater than 0.53 ng/ml – were more likely to have the brain cancer compared to those with the lower concentrations – less than 0.53 ng/mL. Specifically, those with higher concentrations were 1.4 to 1.6 times more likely to be diagnosed than patients in the group with the lowest urine concentrations.

The results also support what other studies have shown. The personal factors of gender, BMI and use of HRT influence the risk of the disease. However, when considering the link with BPA, the personal factors did not alter the results.

This means the association was consistent regardless of BMI status. There was a positive association between BPA levels in urine and meningioma among normal weight, overweight and obese participants.

Causes Of Death: 1900 vs. 2010

Here’s a nifty little chart from the New England Journal of Medicine that shows how far we’ve come, and how far we still need to go, in the field of medicine over the last hundred and ten years.
It’s surprising to note how much more cancer we deal with nowadays, and how heart disease rates have risen despite all the advances we’ve made in the realm of cardiology.
Enjoy a weekend free of gastrointestinal infections everyone!

Hand sanitizer recalled due to bacterial contamination

A hand sanitizer meant to protect people from germs is being recalled because of bacterial contamination, Health Canada said on Thursday. Kimberly-Clark is recalling its Kleenex-brand Luxury Foam Hand Sanitizer after company testing detected bacteria that may pose serious health risks to people with weakened immune systems, especially those with the lung disorder cystic fibrosis.
The bacteria identified in the tested samples are from the Burkholderia cepacia group. These bacteria pose little risk to healthy people, but for those with immune systems weakened by other illnesses, the microbes can cause serious problems, including pneumonia and blood infection.

The affected hand sanitizer comes in one-liter and 1.2-liter containers, and is used in large-volume dispensers, such as those found in public areas and workspaces. The recall affects about 430 containers, which were distributed to retail stores and wholesalers across Canada.

Health Canada said companies or individuals who have purchased the affected product should remove it from use. Consumers with compromised immune systems should not use the affected Kleenex sanitizer or any sanitizing product that can't be identified from its dispenser. Health Canada said consumers should speak to their health-care practitioner about any questions or concerns regarding the product.

Thirteen Foods That Fight Sunburn

Soothe—or prevent—scorching sunburn with common kitchen ingredients.

By Leah Zerbe

Catechin, a compound in green tea, is a significant fighter against sunburn.2. Tea
Sunburn-fighting effect: Green tea’s catechin compounds help protect against the sun’s harmful radiation; its tannic acid helps soothe sunburn pain.
Utilize it! Studies suggest drinking just two cups a day could help provide a bit of added sun protection. (You should still use other sun-protection methods, like nontoxic sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, and time in the shade.) If you’re suffering from a scorched face, soak two tea bags in cool water and apply them to your aching eyelids. Tea’s tannic acid will ease sunburn pain.
Read about the other twelve here.
Read More: 9 Illness-Fighting Foods

How Tomatoes Lost Their Taste

It's no secret that supermarket tomatoes are grown for their looks and not for their taste, but how where exactly did growers go wrong in developing taste tomatoes?
Science has the answer, and the culprit is how we love that uniform red color:
Sometime before 1930, somewhere in America, a tomato grower noticed a plant that was producing distinctive fruit. These fruit turned red from stem to tip in a uniform way. They didn't have any of those bothersome green shoulders.
It was a new mutation, and plant breeders saw it as the next big thing.
They called it the "uniform ripening" trait. In 1930, the agricultural experiment station in Fargo, N.D., released a new tomato variety containing this mutation. The variety was called All Red. [...]
The researchers discovered that this natural tomato gene, when it works properly, produces those green shoulders on tomatoes. The darker green color comes from the chlorophyll in plant structures called chloroplasts, which is what converts sunlight into sugars for the plant. In fact, those dark green shoulders were making those old tomatoes sweeter and creating more flavor.
The uniform-ripening mutation disabled this gene.
Dan Charles of NPR's All Things Considered has the story: here.


South Africa's Daisy Sensation
Namaqualand is an arid region of Namibia and South Africa, extending along the west coast over 600 miles (970 km) and covering a total area of 170,000 square miles (440,000 km²). Namaqualand is dry for most of the year, yet when the rains are good, something like a miracle happens.

Water, the driving force of all nature, soaks in to the parched earth. An uncountable host of flowers materialize as if from nowhere, creating an extraordinary eruption of color, transforming the countryside and dazzling the eye.

NOAA Denies Existence of Mermaids

NOAA Denies Existence of Mermaids
Why did NOAA feel the need to issue a statement denying the sea creatures exist?  
Read more

Don’t Have Access to Book Mobiles?

Try a Book Mule!
Book mobiles are great, but there are some places they just can’t reach. That’s why the University of Momboy in Venezuela introduced the Bibliomulas, aka the book mules, to their local countryside.

Bone-Eating 'Zombie' Worms Drill With Acid

Osedax is a genus of deep-sea siboglinid polychaetes, commonly called boneworms, zombie worms, or bone-eating worms, the name alluding to how the worms bore into the bones of whale carcasses to reach enclosed lipids, on which they rely for sustenance.

Until now scientists did not understand how the tiny creatures fed on bone, as they lack the body parts needed to drill physically. Fresh analysis by US scientists of the root-like tissues the worms use to attach to bones has identified acid-secreting enzymes.

Baby Elephant in a Rain Slicker

Photo: Michael Nichols
The cute photo of a baby elephant in rain slicker belied a harrowing tale. Read Charles Siebert's 2011 National Geographic story about baby elephants orphaned when their mothers were killed by poachers, and the people who spend their lives trying to help these poor creatures recover.
If elephants can wound like us, they can heal like us as well, perhaps more readily. With humans acting as stand-ins for their mothers, along with the help of the other nursery elephants, the majority of the orphans that survive recover to become fully functional wild elephants again. To date, Sheldrick's nursery has successfully raised more than a hundred orphan elephants. They have returned to the wild in wary, halting, half measures at first, having become "homo-pachyderms," caught between a deep devotion to their human caregivers and the irresistible call of their true selves.

Chimpanzee testing era ends at controversial US lab

Washington Post science writer Brian Vastag reports on the story of the last four chimps that remain at a controversial research facility in Maryland. Bioqual has been experimenting on chimpanzees for 30 years. Soon, that era will end, as part of "a historic shift away from using apes in medical experiments."

On Monday morning, a truck hauled six chimps from Bioqual. Last week, five others were removed. The last four, including Tiffany and Torian, will depart later this summer. They are returning to where they were born — the much larger New Iberia Research Center, part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette — where they will be available for more research before they’re retired — someday — to a sanctuary.
“This is another indication that chimpanzee research is on the decline,” said Kathleen Conlee of the Humane Society of the United States, which has painted Bioqual’s chimp research as unethical.
While about 1,000 research chimps live in the United States — down from 1,500 in 1997 — a landmark report from the influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) last December labeled nearly all chimpanzee research as scientifically unjustified.
Read the rest here. And, watch this May PBS NewsHour piece on the ethics of chimp research, and the facility where the "retiring" Bioqual chimps will go to live out their remaining days.


Animal Pictures

A dog named Chance by Pat Durkin - Orange County, CA on Flickr.