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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.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Daily Drift

Great things often start as harebrained ideas.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Angeles City, Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jerudong, Brunei
Instanbul, Turkey
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Islamabad, Pakistan
Diliman, Philippines
Johannesburg, South Africa
Auckland, New Zealand
Makati, Philippines

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Today in History

1765   English Prime Minister Lord Greenville resigns and is replaced by Lord Rockingham.
1774   Russia and the Ottoman Empire sign the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji, ending their six-year war.
1779   American troops under General Anthony Wayne capture Stony Point, N.Y.
1875   The new French constitution is finalized.
1882   Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of Abraham Lincoln, dies of a stroke.
1918   Czar Nicholas and his family are murdered by Bolsheviks at Ekaterinburg, Russia.
1940   Adolf Hitler orders preparations for the invasion of England.
1944   Soviet troops occupy Vilna, Lithuania, in their drive towards Germany.
1945   The United States detonates the first atomic bomb in a test at Alamogordo, N. M.
1969   Apollo 11 blasts off from Cape Kennedy, Florida, heading for a landing on the moon.
1999   A private plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. is lost over the waters off Martha's Vinyard, Mass.

Random Celebrity Photo

Veruschka von Lehndorff

Democrats ask AG Holder for tougher Libor investigation

Notice who is asking for an investigation and who is sitting by quietly? The Democrats have plenty of deep links to Wall Street and Wall Street campaign money but the repugicans have become the voice of Wall Street since the 2008 economic meltdown. The repugicans see their boot licking as a way to raise money and destroy the economy, all for political gain.
Out in the real world, people remain furious that Wall Street has learned nothing and they continue to do whatever they want to do. Wall Street pays good money to own the government and at the moment, they're getting their money's worth. Will Holder bother to lift a finger this time since he's done nothing so far?
The senators, including Carl Levin, Jack Reed and Dianne Feinstein, said investigators should also look into allegations that U.S. and foreign bank regulators may have been aware for years of wrongdoing in the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR.

Lawmakers in the United States have slowly become more outspoken about the allegations, which already have caused an uproar in London. The letter represents the toughest political pressure yet on U.S. investigators to find and punish banks and regulators that may have been involved in the scandal.

"Just like the banks and executives they oversee, regulators who were involved should be held to account for any failures to stop wrongdoing that they knew, or should have known about," the senators said in a letter dated Thursday to Holder, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
It's still disturbing that four years down the road from the crash, Washington has not had a single conviction on Wall Street. Anyone in the political class that doesn't think that's important to the real world is kidding themselves. At the same time, anyone in the real world who thinks the political class cares is probably kidding themselves.

The serious issue that Wall Street now has is that they're likely looking at billions of dollars in fines due to Libor manipulation in an already troubled banking industry. The room for manoeuvrings  by the political class is limited due to voter outrage, so Wall Street could find itself in a very tough situation this time. If they need help again (and there's a good chance of that) they probably won't see the same support for their luxurious lifestyle and bonuses as they did in 2008.

Did you know ...

That the east coast blackouts were the result of repugican corporatism

About the out-of-control cop sued for abuse

About more repugican calls for Romney to release his tax returns

And R.I.P. producer of every great film you ever saw, Richard Zanuck

Doctor poised for Green Party nod for president

A Massachusetts doctor who ran against repugican Mitt Romney for governor a decade ago is poised to challenge him again as the Green Party's nominee for president.



George Will: Romney hiding something bad in his tax returns

George Will says on ABC's This Week that Mitt Romney is hiding something bad in his tax returns:
WILL: Look, what Mitt Romney has said is he has released, and I quote, "all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances." Now, the something is a pregnant word. And people are going to say there's -- the cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.
Then repugican blowhard Mary Matalin joins in and says absolutely nothing other than repugican talking points. All the other people on the show have their biases, but you can tell they're also giving analysis. There's zero analysis from Matalin. It's all talking points she got from the Romney campaign. It's not clear why anyone has her on at all if she's unwilling to even give a little original thought.
MATALIN: He -- let's -- can we put some real facts on the table? Because we keep saying we -- this, that, and we don't know. We know the facts. He took a leave of absence to go run the Olympics in 1999. He never returned to Bain. He filed everything with the SEC that was absolutely by the law, letter and spirit of the law that the SEC required....
George Will responds to Matalin, as does former shrub-darth 04 chief strategist Matthew Dowd:
WILL: But, Mary, Mary, is it not what you call a "real fact" that Mitt Romney gave to the McCain campaign, when it was considering him as a running mate, 23 years of tax returns?

MATALIN: So what -- what if we -- let's say he -- he gives 23 years, we could put two decades of tax returns out. Is that going to produce two jobs? Is it going to produce anything toward a mandate, anything toward the debate about what this is about? Is the charge -- is the charge that he's hiding...


DOWD: Mary, you know -- you know -- you know, if -- if that was -- that if you -- I said that's truth serum in that cup, and you were advising a candidate like Mitt Romney in this instance, you would say, "We've got to get this out there." You would say, "We've got to get this out there to deal with this."
Dowd then goes on to repeat a point I made the other day - it's ironic for Romney to call Obama a liar when Romney started off his campaign by using an out-of-context quote to make it look like Obama had said a phrase that's actually attributed to John McCain:
DOWD: To me, the problem is the president is doing exactly what he needs to do because he wants to cover up on a failed record. He's doing exactly what he thinks, the ends justify the means, I'm going to attack this guy, tear him down, and that's what I need to do, because the direction of the country is bad.

But Mitt Romney -- this is like karma to me. Mitt Romney did the same exact thing that Barack Obama is doing to him. He did it to Newt Gingrich. And he -- he's saying the exact same thing that Mitt Romney is saying. It's like, you're taking my record out of context. I can't believe you're saying -- he did the same thing to Rick Santorum.

So now, all of a sudden, he's running against a -- in a general election against a very professional group of people, against a very astute politician, against a Chicago machine who's doing the same thing he did, and now he's sitting there saying, "I can't believe you're doing this. I can't believe you're doing this."

The rich get richer and are the biggest bitchers

Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billion dollar tycoon, has pledged $100 million to support Mitt Romany's bid for the presidency of the U.S.  Meanwhile, during the little-over-3-year presidency of Barack Obama, Mr. Adelson has INCREASED his wealth by $21.5 billion. With a B.

- New York magazine, 7/2/2012

Just who are the 'Job Creators', again?

Despite the nonsensical wingnut rhetoric, the Democrats usually have a better economy than the repugicans. Why? Because Democrats support the middle class and that means more demand for goods and services.

Romney isn't a 'liar', he is just 'very economical' with the truth

Brad DeLong nails the idiotic attempt to claim Mitt isn't lying when he claims to have retired from Bain in 1999:
It would be very unusual for somebody to have the titles of not just "CEO" but "President", "Chairman of the Board" and be "sole stockholder" and to have no responsibilities whatsoever. In fact, I defy Glenn Kessler to come up with any example of anybody anywhere--save for Mitt Romney--who has been characterized to the SEC as "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" and also claimed to have no responsibilities whatsoever and to have merely been a passive investor.
But the Romney campaign is continuing in post-truth mode. Demanding retractions from those that dare to suggest that either Mitt must have been lying when he claimed to still be working at Bain in 2002, or he must by lying now when he claims to have retired in 1999 (he made both claims in federal documents that require the truth, under penalty of law).

While the political strategists seem to think this is genius, I think the average voter can tell when a politician is desperate to change the subject after being caught in a lie. Take his CBS interview Friday:
JAN CRAWFORD: Governor Romney, the Obama campaign is saying that you either committed a felony by lying to the SEC or you are lying to the American people about when you left Bain capital. What do you say to that?

GOV. MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think this kind of statement from the Obama team is really shocking, it's, it's ridiculous, and it's beneath the dignity of the presidency. Look we just had a report come out that millions of Americans remain unemployed. [Ignores question completely]
Crawford tries repeatedly to get a straight answer out of Romney without success:
GOV. ROMNEY: I was the owner of a, of the general partnership but there were investors which included pension funds and various entities of all kinds that owned the, if you will, the investments of the firm. But I was the owner of an entity which was a management entity. That entity was one which I had ownership of until the time of the retirement program was put in place. But I had no responsibility whatsoever after February of '99 for the management or ownership - management, rather, of Bain Capital.
Now this might appear to be a vigorous denial on camera, but what has Romney actually said? All he denies is having 'responsibility for the management' of Bain. He's splitting hairs. Romney was the sole shareholder, so the only person he would be 'responsible' to was himself.

What Romney is deliberately obscuring is the fact that since he was never replaced as CEO of the partnership, he remained an executive officer of the partnership and every other executive officer of the partnership remained responsible to him.

What matters to most voters is not whether a politician's statements are the literal truth but whether they can trust him. Voters don't find a prevaricator any more trustworthy than a liar.

Romney has already defined himself as a man who changes his policy positions as often as his neckties.  Now he's defining himself with the voters as someone who is economical with the truth.  And that won't win him many votes.

The truth be told

A New Invention Of The Retail Industry

Tesco's Virtual Stores In South Korea
Tesco in South Korea has opened the world's first virtual store in the Seoul subway to help time-pressed commuters shop on the go using their smart phones. The walls of the Seonreung subway station come to life with virtual displays of over 500 of the most popular products by pasting posters of stocked shelves onto platform walls with QR codes.

They turn the place into a 'virtual supermarket' through which customers can scan the barcode and shop by using the Homeplus app on their smartphones and the contents of the shoppers' 'virtual baskets' were later delivered to their homes.

Retro Photo

How Your Chicken Dinner Is Creating a Drug-Resistant Superbug

If you’ve ever suffered from a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), you know how painful and unpleasant it can be. But if antibiotics weren’t able to cure it, the infection could spread to one’s kidneys and the rest of the body, and could even be fatal. Which is why doctors are very concerned to find that the microorganism that causes such infections, E. coli, is growing more resistant to antibiotics. Why is that happening?
But the origin of these newly resistant E. coli has been a mystery — except to a small group of researchers in several countries. They contend there is persuasive evidence that the bacteria are coming from poultry. More precisely, coming from poultry raised with the routine use of antibiotics, which takes in most of the 8.6 billion chickens raised for meat in the U.S. each year.
Their research in the United States, Canada, and Europe (published most recently this month, in June, and in March) has found close genetic matches between resistant E. coli collected from human patients and resistant strains found on chicken or turkey sold in supermarkets or collected from birds being slaughtered. The researchers contend that poultry — especially chicken, the low-cost, low-fat protein that Americans eat more than any other meat — is the bridge that allows resistant bacteria to move to humans, taking up residence in the body and sparking infections when conditions are right. Touching raw meat that contains the resistant bacteria, or coming into environmental contact with it — say, by eating lettuce that was cross-contaminated — are easy ways to become infected.
“The E. coli that is circulating at the same time, and in the same area — from food animal sources, retail meat, and the E. coli that’s causing women’s infections — is very closely related genetically,” said Amee Manges, Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal who has been researching resistant UTIs for a decade. “And the E. coli that you recover from poultry meat tends to have the highest levels of resistance. Of all retail meats, it’s the most problematic that way.”
Policy concern over antibiotic-resistant bacteria — where they come from and how they affect human health — is at a peak right now.
About 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States each year are given to livestock as “growth promoters” that allow animals to put on weight more quickly, or as prophylactic regimens that protect against the confined conditions in which they are raised.
Read a lot more about this research and the link between poultry and UTIs at The Atlantic.

Pennsylvania Cuts Medicaid Coverage For Dental Care

Marcia Esters needs crowns fused to six of her bottom teeth and new dentures. But because of changes made to Medicaid in Pennsylvania, she now has to pay for it all herself.
It's the same in North Carolina

Blue Cross is being cheap ... again

Blue Cross Blue Shield says the providers charge for multiple x-ray setups when only one is required for multiple images. Hospitals and doctors say contracts can't be changed in mid-stream.

Of, course the hospitals aren't trying to hold costs either!

Six Reasons Health Care Costs Keep Going Up

But experts say the Affordable Care Act itself won't stop the cost of health care from continuing to rise and consumers from paying bigger bills.

The truth hurts

The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are

Gray and White Matter of the Brain 
 The volume of a small brain region influences one’s predisposition for altruistic behavior. Researchers from the University of Zurich show ...
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Volunteering gives you the sense of more free time

https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTVPq_0103FW7ChHI69J7trZ93-YVuOJCDWaIF9EuLjNpvr80JUaAMany people these days feel a sense of “time famine”—never having enough minutes and hours to do everything. We all ...

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Twenty-two ridiculously clever storage solutions.

(Stowing things in your stair landing? Brilliance.) More

Daily Video

Jian Sword Dancing

Woman Robs Convenience Store with Curling Iron

It’s a gripping true crime story that will curl your hair. A woman in Kingsport, Tennessee walked into a convenience store and robbed it. She was armed with a (presumably cool) curling iron concealed in her hoodie:
The clerk, who would later identify the suspect by first name, said Yates pointed an item which was concealed inside her hoodie’s pocket, acting as if it were a weapon. She allegedly demanded money, which was handed over, then left the store.
Approximately eight minutes later Yates was located jogging through a nearby parking lot. She was stopped by KPD Officer Andrea Mullins and positively identified as the suspect.
A pat down located a wad of cash in Yates’ sweatpants. Meanwhile a curling iron, believed to be the “weapon” Yates had in her hoodie pocket, was found in bushes outside the Sunoco.

Off the Blotter

 Teen gets 99 years in attack, robbery at party
A North Texas jury has sentenced a 19-year-old man to 99 years in prison for infiltrating a high school Halloween costume party and robbing the partygoers at gunpoint.
Pakistani police arrest man accused of burying alive his newborn daughter
Pakistani police arrested a man accused of burying his newborn daughter alive because she was physically deformed, officials said Saturday.

Gunmen attack church camp-out in Mexico, rape 7
Syria's state news agency says a suicide truck bomb in the central province of Hama has killed three civilians and one security officer.

Man stole dog, held spider to ransom and hid child in cupboard

A Leavenworth man was sentenced to prison Friday for two court cases including one that involved a threat over a pet spider, according to a prosecution official. Bryan Paul Smith, 26, was sentenced to total of 4.5 years in prison. In March, he pleaded no contest to making a criminal threat. The charge stemmed from an incident in which Smith had been watching a pet spider for the victim in the case.
When the victim asked for the spider back, Smith reportedly began making demands for money and expressed his desire to keep the spider, according to County Attorney Todd Thompson. The demands turned into threats when Smith reportedly said he would kill the victim unless he was given $100 and allowed to keep the spider. The victim called the police. While the police were on the scene with the victim, Smith called and asked if the victim was ready to “do this thing,” according to Thompson.

Smith was ordered to serve 14 months in prison in this case. Smith also pleaded no contest to charges involving a string of car burglaries committed around the Jan. 14. The police arrested Smith and Justin Wilder after conducting an investigation of the burglaries. Wilder, who was convicted and sentenced to serve 10 months, admitted to police that he would break into the cars while Smith acted as a lookout, according to Thompson.

Smith and Wilder also reportedly stole items from Wal-Mart. And Smith stole a Siberian husky dog. The police found the dog in Smith’s residence. When police were investigating the crimes at Smith’s residence, they also found a 14-year-old juvenile hiding in a closet, according to Thompson. Smith plead no contest to 10 charges that included one count of contributing to a child’s misconduct, three counts of burglary, five counts of theft and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Smith was sentenced to serve 40 months in prison in this case.

Indian catholics try to throw man in jail for doubting "sign from god"


If only the catholics were so quick about throwing pedophiles in jail.

Via Slate:
Sanal Edamaruku faces a catholic backlash after insisting that the "holy" water dripping from a statue of christ in Mumbai, India, came from a leaky drain.
You now face possible arrest. Why?

Leaders of two catholic laity organizations have launched charges against me under Section 295A of the Indian penal code. This charges a person with "deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.” It is absurd to claim that I did anything of the sort.

Freyja's cat-drawn chariot

From Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda:
[Freyja is the most famous of the goddesses. She has in heaven a dwelling which is called Fólkvangr, and when she rides to the battle, one half of the slain belong to her, and the other half to Óðinn... When she goes abroad, she drives in a wagon drawn by two cats.
Further details on Viking cats from the Viking Answer Lady:
It might seem absurd to imagine a cart drawn by cats, until one realizes that Viking cats were not your standard Felis domesticus -- they were the Skogkatt (Norwegian, meaning literally "Forest Cat"), a wild breed native to the North... The Skogkatt is a large breed, known for their strong bones and muscular forms.

Milan's Glass Covered Street

Connecting two of Milan's most famous landmarks (The Duomo and La Scala) is the famous glass-vaulted arches of the Galleria. Formally known as the 'Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II', the street is covered by an arching glass and cast iron roof. A landmark in its own right, the Galleria is a sight to behold.

The new fashion for Moscow's girls?

A new way of stockings wearing seems to have become fashionable among Moscow girls... More

Ethnic photos from 19th century Causcasia and Transcaucasia

Dmitry I. Ermakov (1845—1916) was a Russian photographer, orientalist, ethnographer. He was traveling much and took a lot of interesting ethnic photos of Caucasia and Transcaucasia. More

Coffee ad from the 1650s

This handbill -- which can be seen in the British Museum -- dates back to the 1650s, and was produced by the first coffee shop in London, in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill.
It is a simple innocent thing, composed into a drink, by being dryed in an Oven, and ground to Powder, and boiled up with Spring water, and about half a pint of it to be drunk, fasting an hour before and not Eating an hour after, and to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured; the which will never fetch the skin off the mouth, or raise any Blisters, by reason of that Heat.
The Turks drink at meals and other times, is usually Water, and their Dyet consists much of Fruit, the Crudities whereof are very much corrected by this Drink.
The quality of this Drink is cold and Dry; and though it be a Dryer, yet it neither heats, nor inflames more than hot Posset.
It forcloseth the Orifice of the Stomack, and fortifies the heat with- [missing text] its very good to help digestion, and therefore of great use to be [missing text] bout 3 or 4 a Clock afternoon, as well as in the morning.
The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink.

Nine Natural Phenomena You Couldn't See 100 Years Ago

It doesn't matter whether or not you've actually witnessed the aurora borealis firsthand - you've got an idea of what it looks like. Could your great-grandfather have imagined the same?

Technological innovation has given us the photograph, the moving picture, broadcast television, the internet, data storage - this string of technology has enabled us to alter our preconceptions of what is possible in nature, and thus reality, even without us having witnessed it firsthand.

Astronomical News

Pluto: Not a Planet; Still Very Interesting

The discovery of a fifth Plutonian moon doesn't change the dwarf planet's planetary status, but it does provide a tantalizing look into the little world's violent history. Read more
Pluto: Not a Planet; Still Very Interesting
When Curiosity Almost Took Men to Mars

We're less than a month from Mars rover Curiosity's landing -- but fifty years ago, missions to Mars looked like they would take a very different shape. Read more
When Curiosity Almost Took Men to Mars
Sun Fires X-ray Shot at Earth, CME on the Way

Continuing its upward trend in activity, the sun unleashed an X1.4 flare right in our direction. Read more
Sun Fires X-ray Shot at Earth, CME on the Way
Hubble Discovers Galactic Ghosts

"Ghost galaxies" may hold the key to the Milky Way's missing satellite galaxies. Read more
Hubble Discovers Galactic Ghosts

Mysterious Sprite Photographed by ISS Astronaut

An elusive atmospheric phenomenon associated with thunderstorms has been captured on camera from orbit. Read more
Mysterious Sprite Photographed by ISS Astronaut: Big Pic

Non Sequitur


French Cows Drink Wine

Studies show that happy animals provide better-tasting meat. Taking a cue from that idea, Languedoc-Roussillon winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy and cattle farmer Claude Chaballier decided to experiment by giving beef cattle some wine with their feed.
“The cows appreciated the menu and ate with enjoyment,” Tastavy said.
And now, the French cows are getting a daily oenological infusion – of up to two bottles each. Tastavy explains they’ve scaled the cattle’s wine intake based on authorities’ recommended drinking habits: “For a person, we know it’s two or three glasses of wine a day. For a cow, that means 1 to 1.5 liters per day,” Tastavy told the AFP.
But the wine wasn’t boosting just the cows’ spirits. The growers found it also improved their taste. Michelin-starred chef Laurent Pourcel had a taste of the “viande de luxe” – luxury beef – and hedges that there’s a bustling market for it among a foodie crowd. It has a “very special texture, beautiful, marbled and tender, which caramelizes while cooking.”
The beef from these cows is quite a bit more expensive than other beef, because the cost of feeding each cow tripled with the addition of wine. More

Funny Giraffe Pictures

Giraffes are funny animals. A picture collection of giraffes.

How Some Thrips are Destructive While Others Help Control Insect Pests

There are too many species of thrips to consider them all as insect pests. Indeed, some of these tiny bugs benefit us by eating other harmful insects. More

In Case of Alligator Attack ...

Recent gator attacks in Florida raise the question of what to do if one goes for you. 
In Case of Alligator Attack...

Animal Pictures