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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Daily Drift

You know you want to live here.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Karachi, Pakistan
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
London, England
Cairo, Egypt
Wroclaw, Poland
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Krusevac, Serbia
Makati, Philippines
Kuantan, Malaysia
Djibouti, Djibouti
Port Louis, Mauritus
Chittagong, Bangladesh
Cali, Colombia
Muar, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa

  Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1214   At the Battle of Bouvines in France, Philip Augustus of France defeats John of England.
1245   Frederick II is deposed by a council at Lyons, which found him guilty of sacrilege.
1586   Sir Walter Raleigh returns to England from Virginia.
1663   British Parliament passes a second Navigation Act, requiring all goods bound for the colonies be sent in British ships from British ports.
1689   Government forces defeat the Scottish Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie.
1777   The Marquis of Lafayette arrives in New England to help fight the British.
1778   British and French fleets fight to a standoff in the first Battle of Ushant.
1793   Robespierre becomes a member of the Committee of Public Safety.
1861   President Abraham Lincoln replaces General Irwin McDowell with General George B. McClellen as head of the Army of the Potomac.
1905   The International Workers of the World found their labor organization in Chicago.
1909   Orville Wright sets a world record for staying aloft in an airplane–one hour, 12 minutes and 40 seconds.
1914   British troops invade the streets of Dublin, Ireland, and begin to disarm Irish rebels.
1921   Canadians Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolate insulin at the University of Toronto.
1944   U.S. troops complete the liberation of Guam.
1953   Representatives of the United Nations, Korea and China sign an armistice at Panmunjon, Korea.
1964   President Lyndon Johnson sends an additional 5,000 advisers to South Vietnam.
1993   Israeli guns and aircraft pound southern Lebanon in reprisal for rocket attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas.

Admiral who oversaw killing of bin Laden praises Obama's role

You see, the repugicans, who praise anything and everything the military does, suddenly found fault with the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. It was no big deal, they said. (Probably because their guy, the shrub, couldn't kill bin Laden and he had eight years to do it.)

Anyway, Admiral Bill McRaven, the man who oversaw the bin Laden operation, had nothing but praise for President Obama's role that the repugicans incessantly mock.  From Politico:
"At the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden of this operation, that made the hard decision," McRaven said during an on-stage interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that served as the kickoff session of the Aspen Security Forum.
"The president of the United States is fantastic," the admiral said. "I very much enjoy working for President Obama. This isn't about politics. This is about a Commander in Chief who I have the opportunity to engage with on a routine basis."
"I'm not a political guy, but I’ll tell you as an interested observer of this, they were magnfiicent how they handled the start-to-finish," McRaven said. "The president asked all the right questions…The president gave me ample time to prepare once the conversations were through."

Non Sequitur

Double Shot
Thursday, July 26

Romney video claims "enthusiastic reception" at NAACP where in reality he was booed

It's called Lying for the Lord.  Folks should read up on it, now that the Romney campaign has clearly adopted lying about the facts as their number one campaign strategy, including the very first ad that Romney launched in which he took a quote of John McCain's and attributed it to President Obama.
It's disturbing the degree to which the Romney campaign tries to rewrite history.  Then again, when your candidate has flip-flopped on pretty much every issue in order to convince the far right of the repugican party that he's one of them - when he's really more a liberal Democrat - all you have left is lies.

The truth be told

Union Leader newspaper blasts Romney for not releasing taxes

The Manchester Union Leader is the uber-wingnut newspaper in New Hampshire that repugicans desperately seek the endorsement of. This, from them, is big.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this entire controversy is the one NOT being discussed much: How did Romney get himself into this position in the first place? He has been running for office for a long time. His presidential aspirations predate the tax returns in question.

What could he possibly have been thinking when he failed to ensure that everything contained in those documents was above reproach? Or was he simply not thinking at all? Surely he could not have arrogantly believed that he could withstand any storm that developed by bluffing his way through it? If so, it hasn’t worked.

If Romney intends to win, he is going to have to make the tax forms public. This storm won’t go away. It will distract from his policy debate with Obama — and it will distract from Obama’s failures, providing the incumbent with the smokescreen he is attempting to create.

Romney needs to end this. He needs to end this by revealing the tax documents, explaining them, explaining the legality behind his actions, and then he needs to move on.

The truth hurts

Romney appears to have concerns about UK austerity policy

Romney was already in enough trouble this trip, now this.
From ABC:
During a meeting with Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, a British reporter asked both Miliband and Romney for their views on current British economic policy.

"While I'm on foreign soil, I'm very careful not to be critical of my own government's policies," Romney said. "I would be even more remiss if I were to be critical to any other government's policies. I will instead look forward to an exchange of ideas."
Um, the only time you refuse to answer a question because you don't want to be critical is because you were planning on being critical.  He could have simply said "I agree with the Prime Minister."  But he didn't, because he didn't want to be critical of the austerity program, which is the same thing that wingnuts - Romney's own party - are pushing in the US.

In poker, we call that a "tell."

Quite the seasoned diplomat, that Romney.  I wonder if he can see London from his kitchen?

Okay I was just joking about the Palin thing, but apparently the Brits have already reached a verdict on Romney.  From the Daily Mail's political editor, James Chapman:
@jameschappers: Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. 'Worse than Sarah Palin.' 'Total car crash'. Two of the kinder verdicts #romneyshambles
Chapman has more:
Can this get any worse for Romney? Boris is now mocking him in front of 60,000 people in Hyde Park#romneyshambles
The Guardian now has a story out about all the Romney gaffes.

And LeftFootForward blog notes that Romney dissed the Brits in his 2010 book as well:
“England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy."

Romney questions Brits' patriotism

Not very Anglo-Saxon of you, Mitt.
Mr Romney questioned the enthusiasm of the British public. "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment?" he asked. "
And yesterday we found out that Romney questioned the achievement of our Olympic athletes (probably because they weren't able to buy their way into the Olympics, like Romney did).

Brit govt says no way Romney will carry Olympic Torch after insults
From the BBC show Newsnight's Twitter feed:
@BBCNewsnight: Will Mitt Romney carry the Olympic torch? "Certainly not after today", according to Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson on #newsnight
ThinkProgress got the video - the Minister literally laughs at the notion of Romney getting to carry the Olympic torch.
As are we, Your Majesty, as are we. 

Walk on the left: Olympic etiquette tips

Welcome to Britain!

The line forms to the right.

Here are some tips for Olympic visitors hoping to get the most out of their experience.

Early Olympics

The first time London hosted the Olympics, it was as a backup - the Games, originally scheduled to take place in Rome, were relocated to London after Mount Vesuvius erupted. The year was 1908, a bygone era of international competition when tug-of-war and the ten-mile walk were official sports, women competed in floor-length skirts, and it took men a glacial 10.8 seconds to complete the hundred-meter dash.

Only at these early stages of the Olympic Games could a runner win the marathon after falling repeatedly and running in the wrong direction (he was later disqualified due to the physical assistance he received from a megaphone-toting man in a boater hat, see picture above). In celebration of the 2012 London Games, here's a look back at the early days.

Random Celebrity Photo


Natalie Wood
Early promotional photo of the beautiful and talented actress. Her fear of water and death by drowning near Santa Catalina Island, California in 1981 still fuels the Hollywood rumor mill on slow news days.
Source: cordura
Natalie Wood

Neighbors ponder bizarre Ripken kidnapping

The curious circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and then release of Cal Ripken Jr.'s 74-year-old mother are all the talk of her community outside Baltimore, where such crime doesn't happen and where her neighbors know the matriarch of the famous baseball family as "just Vi." Vi Ripken was found bound but unharmed in her car Wednesday morning, ... (more)

Famous "star cradle" might have been destroyed long before we ever discovered it

This is one of the most-famous astronomy photos in the world. Called "The Pillars of Creation" it was taken by the Hubble telescope in 1995 and shows massive columns of hydrogen gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula—7,000 light years from Earth. Part of why these are a big deal is that columns of dust and gas like this are places where stars form.
But here's a cool and/or disappointing detail I hadn't known about until today. Back in 2007, researchers took more images of this region of space using the Spitzer Space Telescope. These shots suggest that the Pillars of Creation might actually be long gone—destroyed thousands of years ago by a nearby supernova.
A striking image from Spitzer shows the intact dust towers next to a giant cloud of hot dust thought to have been scorched by the blast of a star that exploded, or went supernova. Astronomers speculate that the supernova's shock wave could have already reached the dusty towers, causing them to topple about 6,000 years ago.
However, because light from this region takes 7,000 years to reach Earth, we won't be able to capture photos of the destruction for another millenium or so.

Pinch of opportunity makes deep inequality more palatable

Just a tiny hint of opportunity has a disproportionately powerful effect – making unfairness more acceptable to disadvantaged people, new ...
Continue Reading

Random Photo

All Pop Music Too Loud, Sound the Same

If you're over 35 years old, then you've probably thought to yourself how all pop music sound the same and that they're all very loud.
Well, science has proven you right, old timers:
Researchers in Spain used a huge archive known as the Million Song Dataset, which breaks down audio and lyrical content into data that can be crunched, to study pop songs from 1955 to 2010.
A team led by artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra at the Spanish National Research Council ran music from the last 50 years through some complex algorithms and found that pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.
"We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse," Serra told Reuters. "In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations - roughly speaking chords plus melodies - has consistently diminished in the last 50 years."
Now excuse me while I put up my "Get off my lawn" sign: More

Human News

The HadzaHunter gatherer clue to obesity The idea that exercise is more important than diet in the fight against obesity has been contradicted by new research.

Also in the News

Further step towards preventing diabetes

Pancreatic beta cells produce insulin, responsible for controlling blood sugar levels and thus essential for our survival. Among the numerous ...
Continue Reading

How our brains see men as people and women as body parts

When casting our eyes upon an object, our brains either perceive it in its entirety or as a collection of ...
Continue Reading

Man is new dad, grandad and great-grandad after three babies arrive in three months

Patrick Sloan has a brand new son. And a new grandson. And a new great-grandson. And the three babies arrived in the space of just three months. First, Patrick, 60, became a dad for the fourth time – 28 years after the birth of his third child. His second wife Joanne, 39, had little Ethan on March 14. Then, in June, Patrick’s grand-daughter Fern, 18, presented him with his first great-grandchild, Mason. And 12 days after Fern gave birth, it was her mum Odette’s turn to head for the delivery room. She too produced a healthy baby boy, Leonard.

So Ethan is Mason’s great-uncle, Fern has a new uncle as well as a new son, and Odette is celebrating the arrival of a son, a grandson and a half-brother who is 35 years younger than she is. Ethan also has two big half-brothers, Aaron, 33, and Dean, 32. And he’s uncle to Odette’s sons, Joel, 10, and baby Leonard, Aaron’s 11-month-old daughter Alissa, and Dean’s kids Joshua, nine, and Alivia, eight. It’s all a bit confusing, but nursing manager Patrick wouldn’t change a thing about it. He went into hospital to have his vasectomy reversed so he could become a father again with Joanne.

He said: “All three boys are fantastic. I’m sure there are people who think my situation is very odd. I agree it’s not that conventional but I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Ethan has given me a new lease of life and is my pride and joy. And to have a new grandson and my first great-grandchild at the same time is the icing on the cake.” The baby bonanza has also been good for Joanne, Odette and Fern. They’ve been swapping tips and helping each other out with their youngsters.

Odette said: “It was strange knowing I was pregnant at the same time as my daughter and my mother-in-law. But at least I knew I could help Fern and be there for her whenever she needed me.” Patrick, of Doncaster, Yorkshire, will be retiring around the time Ethan starts school. He admits he worries that people will criticize him for becoming a dad against his age. But he said: “Generally, everyone has been really pleased and excited. It was a bit of a shock to the system at first, but Ethan is a little treasure and makes me smile every single day.”

Model Goths

A Composite Sketch Of Count Dracula

The composite sketch above is by Brian Joseph Davis, who utilized police sketch software to give us an idea of what Count Dracula, the fictional character from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, should have looked like.
Personally, I’m partial to the Bela Lugosi version myself, and this guy looks a little too redneck to be a creature of the night.
I must admit that this is one of the most unusual, and original, takes on Dracula I’ve ever seen.
Maybe they should reboot the Dracula movie and set it in the deep south?

Nun found guilty of sending letters accusing ministers of devil worship and freemasonry

A woman has been convicted of sending six envelopes containing white powder to parliamentary figures including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. The letters were intercepted at a mail screening center and the powder was found to be non-hazardous, Harrow Crown Court was told. Sister Ruth Augustus, 71, who claims to be a nun, denied six hoaxes involving noxious substances. But the jury found her guilty by a majority verdict on all counts.

Mr Justice Saunders deferred the case until September for a hearing at the Old Bailey while a medical report is prepared on the defendant's mental health. She was released on bail on condition that she "does not contact, directly or indirectly, any MP or senior government official" unless through her solicitor, the court heard. Augustus, of Leyton, east London, accepted that she sent envelopes with letters in them but claimed police put the white powder in them, the court was told. Mark Kimsey, prosecuting, said three envelopes were intercepted at a mail screening center in east London on 17 June last year.

One was addressed to Mr Clegg and on the envelope was written "devil worshiping", "freemason", "sex with 30 plus women" and "your poor Catholic wife and children". The second and third letters were to House of Lords members Baroness Scotland and Baroness Kennedy. The envelopes contained a gritty substance but specialist police who were called in found them to be non-hazardous. On 1 October, at the same place, three more envelopes were found, addressed to Mr Clegg, Lady Kennedy and MP Edward Leigh.

The court heard that after her arrest, Augustus told police: "I'm Sister Ruth, a 71-year-old disabled nun." She also said: "I look like a terrorist, don't I, working for a charity all over the world, with orphans?" Asked if she was sending the letters for attention, she said: "Of course I am. I'm deliberately writing on the envelope as well so all the postmen will know all about it." Following her conviction, Augustus turned to the public gallery as she left the courtroom and said she would be appealing against the verdict.

Syrian regime forces intensify firepower from air against rebel challenge in Aleppo

Syrian forces have intensified their firepower against a rebel challenge in Aleppo with activists reporting attack helicopters and fighter jets strafing opposition targets as well as artillery bombardments of several neighborhoods.

Elderly Kenyan man fined one female camel for killing fellow villager in dispute over water

A Nakuru judge has fined an elderly man one camel for killing a fellow villager. Mr Justice Anyara Emukule ordered Leraas Lenchura, 89, to give the family of the man he killed a female camel or he would be arrested. He was also handed a five-year non-custodial sentence during which he would be required to report to the area chief’s office once every two weeks. The court heard that Lenchura had gone to the community borehole where he found a long queue of people waiting to fetch water.
While Lenchura was in the queue, Mr Lotiyan Lepakana, 55, came and requested to be given priority. The people allowed him to go ahead but Lenchura objected as it was his turn to fetch the water. A quarrel ensued between the two men over who should be first. The court was told that the quarrel degenerated into a fight during which the accused stabbed Mr Lepakana. A doctor who conducted a postmortem examination on Mr Lepakana’s body said the man died of excessive bleeding.

Justice Emukule said the accused, through lawyer Timothy Njogu, submitted that he was remorseful. The judge added that the defendant’s lawyer further said the attack was a spur of the moment. The counsel for the accused had also submitted that there was no intention to kill since it was normal for the Samburu to move around armed all the time. “Lepakana was also armed with a rungu which he used on the accused. I urge the court to temper justice with mercy and give a lenient sentence,” said Mr Njogu during the hearing.

Justice Emukule accepted the argument that water was a vital resource in the arid area and it was a matter of life and death. “The inhabitants of these areas have the obligation to share the limited resources in a civil and orderly manner without fights and were it not for the advanced age of the accused, I would have given him a deterrent sentence,” said Justice Emukule. The old man jumped with joy and promised to deliver the female camel to the family of the victim. He also promised to report to the chief as directed.

Chinese politician Bo's wife charged with murder

In this Jan. 17, 2007 file photo, former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, right, accompanied by his wife Gu Kailai, attends a funeral for his father in Beijing.

Retro Photo

Angkor What?

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Cambodia's Most Iconic Temple
Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. The temple was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura, the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation - first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist.

Angkor Wat is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

Forests' biodiversity 'declining'

Red-eye treefrog (Christian Ziegler, zieglerphoto@yahoo.com)Forests' biodiversity 'declining'

Despite having protected status, the biodiversity in a large number of tropical forests is still continuing to decline, a study suggests.

The Azov Sea Turned Bloody Red

Scientists and citizens are baffled as the waters of the Azov Sea turned bloody red close to Berdyansk village. "It might be a sign of the coming events" say the locals, though the officials try to calm people down claiming that this is perfectly normal even that it doesn't happen often can be explained by the natural reasons. However it is still unclear what happened, as it might have different causes and the ones as ugly as toxic pollution are not excluded from the list.

Big Dogs

Big dog2

Animal Mowers

Lawn maintenance can quickly become a major drag. Allowing animals to maintain the lawn makes a lot of sense. Instead of spending money on gas that pollutes the air and pesticides that poison the ground, homeowners can keep the grass trimmed while also feeding their animals.

Of course, keeping any animal requires a commitment of time and money, so this is not a good option for those who are merely too lazy to mow their own lawns. With the right research, animal lawnmowers can add value to your life beyond keeping the grass short.

Tropical plankton invade Arctic waters

For the first time, scientists have identified tropical and subtropical species of marine protozoa living in the Arctic Ocean. Apparently ...
Continue Reading

Origin - Land

'Land not sea' origin for snakesConiophis

One of the most primitive snake fossils ever found hints that the slithery reptiles might have originated on land, not in the sea.

Army of Venomous Spiders Raids Man's Apartment

Brown recluse spiders are, along with black widows, are the most dangerous out of the 200 species found in Nebraska.

Rare white lion cubs born in Mexico zoo

A pair of white lion cubs are being shown off to the public at a zoo in Mexico. the white lion's natural habitat is the Timbavati region of South Africa but they no longer exist in the wild.

Meanwhile, some bears are fishing salmon out of a river in Alaska

 #Bearcam may just be the best thing ever. Explore.org has two hi-def webcams turned on in Alaska's Brooks River in Katmai National Park. More than a hundred Brown Bears gather along a mile long stretch of Brooks River there each year, to pig out on the world's largest Sockeye Salmon run. And now, we get to watch the whole thing online.

Animal Pictures


Hangin’ around in HluHluWe Game reserve, South Africa
by bass_nroll