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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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Daily Drift


The Three Stooges
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Today in History

1588   The Spanish Armada is sighted off the coast of England.
1602   The Duke of Biron is executed in Paris for conspiring with Spain and Savoy against King Henry IV of France.
1603   Bartholomew Gilbert is killed in Virginia by Indians, during a search for the missing Roanoke colonists.
1693   The Army of the Grand Alliance is destroyed by the French at the Battle of Neerwinden.
1830   Liberals led by the Marquis of Lafayette seize Paris in opposition to the king's restrictions on citizens' rights.
1848   A rebellion against British rule is put down in Tipperary, Ireland.
1858   Japan signs a treaty of commerce and friendship with the United States.
1862   Confederates are routed by Union guerrillas at Moore's Mill, Missouri.
1875   Peasants in Bosnia and Herzegovina rebel against the Ottoman army.
1915   U.S. Marines land at Port-au-Prince to protect American interests in Haiti.
1921   Adolf Hitler becomes the president of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis).
1945   After delivering parts of the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian, the U.S.S. Indianapolis is sunk by a Japanese submarine. The survivors are adrift for two days before help arrives.
1981   Prince Charles marries Lady Diana.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor in Pictures

The infamous attack on Pearl Harbor will forever be remembered for its casualties, as well as for its role in bringing the US fully into WWII. More 

New poll shows Jewish Americans favor Obama

On the eve of Mitt Romney's overseas visit to Israel, a new poll released Friday indicates Jewish Americans favor the president over Mitt Romney by a solid margin.

Hey teabaggers!

To be more like Reagan, Obama would have to make some really boneheaded decisions that get 250 Marines killed in one day.

Plus, he'd have to go to Germany and honor Hitler's SS corps of murderers.

And of Obama really wanted to be like Reagan, he'd have President Biden pardon his administration for their global crimes.

What is left for Romney?

When Romney ran for President in 2008, he based his claim on what were generally considered to be three success stories: founder of Bain Capital; rescuing the Salt Lake City Olympics; and his achievements as Governor of Massachusetts.
This time around, Romney has won the nomination by repudiating 'Romneycare', the main achievement of his only time in elected office. This was always going to create a problem for Romney in the general election, as voters expect Presidential political campaigns to run on political achievements, not experience in business or public administration.

Having walked away from his first success story, Romney has just thrown away his Olympic story, turning it into a source of embarrassment. His graceless behavior in London was an unforced error, he only has himself to blame.

That leaves Romney with only Bain Capital left on his resume, a legacy that Obama has already successfully framed as a career as a corporate raider rather than a captain of industry.

From a campaign perspective, Romney's resume is shot. His policy platform consists of promising to cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the budget without any explanation of how he would accomplish this feat. What has Romney got left?

Non Sequitur


Man Shoplifts Book on Ethics

Terry J. Davis was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, Wednesday on a charge of theft by unlawful taking. University of Louisville police report he is accused of stealing a textbook called Resolving Ethical Issues and trying to sell it at a bookstore.
Davis allegedly took the book from 555 S. Floyd St., according to the arrest report. The address is listed as UofL’s Health Sciences Center.
Later, Terry tried allegedly to sell the textbook back at Gray’s College Bookstore, the arrest report said.
Apparently, he didn’t take time to read the book. More

"Fear of everything" driving financial markets

When large institutional investors are fearful, they move money into U.S. Treasuries, driving down the yield on those instruments.  This past week, the yield on the 10-year treasuries reached an all-time low:
Investors afraid the European Union might unravel, after Spanish bond yields spiked and talk of a Greek exit returned to the table, fled for the apparent safety of U.S. government debt... Valeri also acknowledged the weakening of the U.S. economy.  In what has been a mixed earnings season, several U.S. companies have indicated they are suffering from the global economic slowdown.
The international business editor at The Telegraph echoes these sentiments:
Europe is “sleepwalking towards disaster”, according to the 17 experts, who warned that over the past few weeks “the situation in the debtor countries has deteriorated dramatically... This dramatic situation is the result of a eurozone system which, as currently constructed, is thoroughly broken. The cause is a systemic failure."

In a veiled rebuke to hard-line politicians in Germany, the economists said the root cause of the crisis has been the boom-bust effect of rampant capital flows over the past decade – not delinquent behaviour by feckless nations... they said the current course had become hopeless. Deepening recession is “tearing at the social fabric of the deficit states”. The lack of any light at the end of the tunnel is leading to a populist backlash in both the debtor and creditor states.
And earlier this month, Nouriel Roubini spoke of a "perfect storm" coming in 2013:
Mr Roubini, the New York University professor dubbed "Dr Doom", said a number of unpleasant factors would combine to derail the global economy in 2013, including an escalation of the eurozone crisis.
Other factors included further tax increases and spending cuts in the US that may drive the world's largest economy into recession; a hard landing for China's economy; a further slowdown in emerging markets; and war with Iran
"Next year is the time when the can becomes too big to kick it down [the road]...then we have a global perfect storm," he told Reuters. 
Economic and market predictions are a dime a dozen, but I do credit Roubini's comments for getting me out of the equity markets before the crash of 1987, so I am paying some heed to his words.

Warren Buffett famously has said that he became rich by being fearful when others were greedy and greedy when others are fearful.  That sounds logical, but it's a challenging philosophy for the average person to follow in real life.

The Marathoner Without a Country

You may have noticed during the Parade of Nations that four Olympic athletes are participating under the Olympic banner instead of their country’s flag. Three are from the Netherlands Antilles, a nation which was dissolved in 2010. The other athlete is 28-year-old marathon runner Guor Marial. Marial was born in what is now South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, but was then Sudan. He became a refugee of the Sudanese conflict in 1993 when he was only nine years old, as he fled across border after border fleeing the violence. Marial was granted asylum in the U.S. in 2001, and is a permanent resident here. An All-American cross-country runner and an accomplished marathoner, Marial rejected an offer from the Sudan Olympic Committee to run under its flag at the London Olympics.
“Never,” he said of his refusal to run for Sudan. “For me to even consider that is a betrayal. My family lost 28 members in the war with Sudan. Millions of my people were killed by Sudan forces. I can only forgive, but I cannot honor and glorify a country that killed my people.”
Since he cannot run for his country, and does not have a South Sudanese passport, the International Olympic Committee granted him permission to run as an independent.
The decision means he will carry the Olympic flag, wear a uniform that has no emblem of any nation and if he wins, the Olympic hymn will play, he said. Not South Sudan’s. Not the United States’.
“The fact that I will be in the Olympics means a lot not just to me, but to my country, which has gone through so much,” he said in a phone call from Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is training. “Even if I am not going to carry or wear the flag, I will be the flag of my nation. South Sudan will be in my heart.”

Golan Druse start to turn against Syria's Assad

Do they maintain their traditional loyalty to the government of Bashar Assad, whose family has vowed to take back the territory? Or should they support the burgeoning Arab revolt against Assad's harsh rule? In Druse villages close enough to hear the fighting, families and friends are divided between backers of the revolt and supporters of the ...

Fears grow over fate of Syria's largest city, Aleppo, as regime prepares to crush rebels

International concern was mounting Friday over a potential massacre as Syrian troops bombarded the besieged city of Aleppo with artillery, strafed it with aircraft and reportedly pulled in major reinforcements ready to crush the outgunned rebels.

Indian prime minister visits survivors of riots

Manmohan Singh flew to Kokrajhar district, one of the worst affected by the clashes between ethnic Bodos and Muslim settlers in Assam state, and met with people in two relief camps in the area's main city.

Belarus Invaded by Hundreds of Teddy Bears with Tiny Black Parachutes

Image: Studio Total
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko finally admitted that the country was invaded earlier this month ... by hundreds of teddy bears with tiny black parachutes!
The teddy bears carried signs reading, "Belarus freedom" and "We support the Belarus struggle for free speech." [...] The stunt was mounted pro bono by a Swedish ad agency on behalf of the pro-democracy group Charter 97.

Random Celebrity Photo


Marilyn Monroe

Police arrest man claiming to be Justin Bieber

A man claiming to be Justin Bieber was arrested on a public drunkenness complaint. Oklahoma City police responded to a disturbance call about a man breaking a neighbour's windows at about 3:40 a.m. on July 20.

Officers found a man bleeding from several cuts. He acted belligerently and called an officer a “white devil.”

When police asked the man who he was, he repeatedly told them his name was Justin Bieber.

The suspect was confirmed to be Kenneth Irvin Gunn, 48, and “not, in fact, Justin Bieber.” Police arrested Gunn on a complaint of giving false information.

Man with two dozen firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, arrested for threatening copycat murder spree

I love how NOW he's undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, after buying two dozen firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. This is disgusting. If we permit our fellow citizens, including the worst among us, to arm themselves to the hilt, then shouldn't be surprised what happens next.  It's time to stop pretending that we - and especially the NRA and its pet known as the repugican party didn't bring this upon ourselves.
NBC Washington reports that Prescott made more than one call to a co-worker to issue his threats, one of which was recounted to the local affiliate of being to the effect of: "You don't know who the real joker is; I am the real joker." The reference to the "joker" comes one week after suspected Colorado gunman James Holmes reportedly delivered a similar message to police after being arrested.

Police found the 28-year-old Prescott in his Crofton home Thursday wearing a shirt that read "Guns don’t kill people, I do." He had thousands of rounds of ammunition and 25-odd firearms, including semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns, according to ABC News. Police said they believe Prescott was prepared to carry out his threatened attack and say they likely prevented a massacre.

Prescott is currently undergoing a psychological evaluation in Annapolis.

Awesome Pictures


Devil’s Tower | Doug McMillen

Hey, here's a thought ...

How about we bring back the 40 hour work week!

Chick-Fil-A Aside, What Can You Be Fired For?

Chick-Fil-A says it won't fire you if you're gay, despite its owner's very public anti-gay stance. We wondered what others might fire you for? Read more

The Reversible Bonus

A Mean But Effective Way to Boost Teacher’s Performance?
 Can we boost a teacher's academic performance by giving him or her more money? Efforts to reward teacher's performance with year-end bonuses have largely failed, but a new study by economists revealed that you can indeed motivate teachers to perform better: you just have to give them money up front, and threaten to take it away if they fail.
Thanks to education reformers such as former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, many of us are now familiar with the idea of merit pay -- the notion that teachers' earnings should be tied to their students' success. Unions have pushed back hard against the idea. In terms of public policy, it often translates into handing out year-end bonuses to instructors who get the best results, with the hope that the promise of a larger paycheck will motivate them to work harder when they're up in front of the chalkboard.
But Levitt, Fryer and Co. argue that there's a serious problem with merit pay. So far, they say, there's been scant evidence that it actually works. Studies of teacher incentive programs in Tennessee and New York City failed to find any signs that they improved student learning. In the New York experiment, which Harvard's Fryer conducted, the impact may have even been detrimental.
Enter loss aversion. The authors theorized that instead of offering a lump-sum bonus to teachers come summertime, it might be more effective to give instructors money upfront, then warn them that they would have to pay it back if their students didn't hit the proper benchmarks. Rather than tap into teachers' ambition, they'd tap into their anxiety.
Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic explains: here

Daily Comic Relief

Mystery Billionaire Builds World’s Largest Yacht

German yacht company Lürssen is building the largest yacht in the world for a Middle Eastern billionaire they will not name. It will be around 590 feet long!
Yet photos taken by SuperyachtTimes.com show the boat to be at least six stories tall, with sweeping windows on the rear deck and several upper decks dedicated to staterooms. The vessel is expected to cost more than $500 million. It is still under construction at a shipyard in Bremen, Germany and is scheduled to be delivered in 2013.
Industry executives and marine engineers say Azzam’s most unusual feature — other than its size — is its propulsion system. Rather than being powered by propellers like most yachts, it will have four giant water jets that will be able to push the ship to speeds of more than 27 to 28 knots.
The ship is named Azzam, which means “determination.” More

Huge treasure hoard found in Jersey

Thirty years ago, a farmer found a few Iron Age silver coins while working on his land in the island of Jersey, off the coast of Normandy. Now, after combing the soil with metal detectors for three decades, two treasure hunters have found a hoard of silver and gold coins, the biggest of its kind, valued at $15 million.

The treasure was inside a large block of clay. It contains 30,000 to 50,000 silver and gold Celtic coins dating from the 1st Century BC. The coins—which could have been buried to prevent Roman troops from getting them during Julius Caesar's invasion of the British Islands—come from Armorica. They have been buried for more than 2,000 years. According to numismatic experts, each coin is worth 100 to 200 British Pounds ($156 to $311).

More information from The History Blog:
Most of the hoards found in Jersey have been coins from the Coriosolite tribe, a Celtic tribe from what is now Brittany on the northwestern coast of France. First century B.C. hoards are the most common because the populations were under pressure from Julius Caesar’s legions. Caesar describes his encounters with the coastal tribes of the area he called Armorica in The Gallic Wars...

...the Veneti, the most prominent of the Armorican tribes, along with their Armorican neighbors captured some of Caesar’s officers to exchange them for hostages the Romans had taken... When they fled to the sea, Caesar had his troops build ships, but they couldn’t compete with the locals’ heavy navy and sailing expertise in the treacherous waters of the Channel and Atlantic.

He did it in the end, though. He destroyed the Veneti fleet using giant billhooks to sever the lines used to hoist the mainsails. With the sails on the deck, the Celtic ships were entirely out of commission. They couldn’t even row because the huge sails cloaked the deck. Caesar then went from coastal town to coastal town and killed everyone...

Famous Great Travelers

Tourism has been around since antiquity but travel is timeless. The earliest guidebook, The Description of Greece, was written by Greek geographer Pausanias around A.D. 160.

A handful of history's boldest travelers staged epic journeys that crossed new lands, broke cultural barriers, and revealed the radical diversity of the world around us. In doing so, these trailblazers confirmed that wanderlust is part of the human condition.

Great Escapes

Katie Holmes - escaped from the scientologists

Stolen giant sausage found hidden in forest

Police have recovered a two meter long sausage that was stolen from a display outside a butchers to advertise his store at Hunenberg in Switzerland.
The monster sausage was found near Cham, Switzerland. A walker spotted the giant sausage which had been hidden in a forest.

It has been returned to the butcher where it has been returned to the display. Although real looking police had warned that the dried sausage that cost over £2,000 to make was packed with preservatives, and was not fit for human consumption.

That doesn't seem to have deterred local animals however with several bites being taken out of the monster wurst either by a small dog or a fox before it was located.

Trader Joe's salsa, balela recalled in N.C.

An Atlanta company is recalling salsa and balela sold under the Trader Joe's brand at stores in six Southern states because of possible listeria contamination.

Simmering Soup Inc. says the voluntary recall applies to mild salsa with a use-by date of Aug. 9 and balela - a type of Middle Eastern salad - with a use-by date of July 31.

The company says the products shipped last week to Trader Joe's stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and southern Virginia.

Simmering Soup says none of its products tested positive for listeria and no illnesses have been reported. But they were made with diced onions processed at a plant where listeria monocytogenes, which can serious infections, was found.

Trader Joe's has removed the recalled foods from store shelves.

Genetic Modifications

Freshly dug potatoesWar of words over Irish GM trial

The go-ahead for the first trial of GM potatoes in Ireland angers campaigners who say it threatens Ireland's green image.

OK, if you say so

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Milky Way rising over Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia

Astronomical News

Vampire Stars Suck Life Out Of Stellar Partners

Many massive stars in our galaxy have smaller companion stars that are slowly being drained of gas. Read more

Vampire Stars Suck Life Out Of Stellar Partners

Discover Your Own Tiny Galaxy

Dwarf galaxies are tiny mysterious objects -- but you can potentially observe a few from your backyard. Read more

Hunting Down Your Own Dwarf Galaxies

Kepler Spots 'Perfectly Aligned' Alien Worlds

Spot-on arrangement of planets circling the sun-like star Kepler-30 builds the case for how exoplanetary systems form. Read more

planets align

Hit and Run

'Hit-and-run' idea in Moon originThe Moon from space

A computer simulation shows the Moon's birth may not have been through the impact of a slow, Mars-sized object, but rather something much bigger and faster.

Iconic Photos


Edison phonograph and Nipper
His Master’s Voice

Running Bison


The Keeps are playing a show at Brooklyn Rod and Gun at 9pm on Friday, Sep 23rd. The address is 59 Kent Ave.
This is from an early form of 'Moving Pictures' where in a series of still photographs were line up around a barrel and one peered through a small slot as the barrel turned giving the illusion of motion.


A rhinoceros beetleBig horned beetles are healthiest

The size of a male rhinoceros beetle's horn is a genuine indicator of its health, according to researchers. BBC Nature

Five-year-old girl raised by cows found in Urals

Social workers in Russia's Urals have taken into their care a five-year-old girl who spent most of her life in a cowshed and had cigarette butts for toys.

The girl’s mother and stepfather, both farmers in Perm region, did not take her to kindergarten and forced her to stay with the farm animals to keep her off their hands.

The girl was also frequently locked in a cupboard when she got in the way of her alcoholic parents. The father also frequently beat her up.

The girl cannot speak or eat with knife or fork. Instead, she grunts and drinks milk straight from the pot. A case was opened into the incident. The girl was sent to a rehabilitation center, but may never fully recover after years of neglect.

German teenagers who made hoax calls about tiger on the loose face detention

Four Bavarian boys who cried “Tiger” and sparked a huge police hunt for an escaped big cat have been told off by a judge. Three of the four will spend time in youth detention. The teenagers from Augsburg called the police one after another, reporting an escaped tiger in the Siebentischwald forest area. One even told officers he was calling while sitting in a tree while the tiger prowled around underneath.

Another said he was with his children, watching the tiger. Police launched a massive hunt for the animal, sending teams of volunteers into the woods, and using a helicopter with heat-detecting camera to try to track the tiger. Authorities even took to the radio to warn people living nearby to stay indoors while the hunt continued.

The prank was discovered when one of the police officers called back one of the teenagers – and he admitted there was no tiger. The boys, aged between 16 and 19, appeared before an Augsburg youth court on Thursday and apologized, admitting they invented the story and made the calls. They had got up to a lot of mischief, said Roland Fink, spokesman for the court. “You do such things when you are young – and you have to then take [the punishment] on the chin,” he said.

The 19-year-old was given two weeks in a youth detention center, the 17-year-old will join him for a week, and the 16-year-old will spend a weekend there. A second 16-year-old was given a warning and instructed to spend 40 hours taking part in a media project to “improve his sense of responsibility and social competence.” The cost of the hunt, estimated to be between €5,000 and €7,000, was not part of this court hearing, but could be part of another one.

Pet-store thief stuffed puppy into his pants

Long Island police are asking the public to help identify a thief who stole a purebred puppy by stuffing it into his jeans. Two men entered the Zoorama Pet Store in Elmont on June 23, and one pretended to be interested in dogs, Nassau Police said.

While the clerk was distracted, one of the men tried to open the cash register. When that didn’t work, he grabbed a $1,000 10-week-old Pomeranian puppy and shoved it into his pants. Owner Harsha Perera, 54, said the store video “shows very clearly he’s taking the dog and putting it in his pants.

“The puppy is trying to get out, and he’s pushing it back in,” said Perera, whose son was the clerk. “Then he covered it with his shirt.” Perera said his son was distracted when one of the men asked to look at a dog. They went behind the counter three times and tried to open the register, but they couldn’t get it open,” he said. “They couldn’t get money, so they settled for a puppy.”

He said the puppy is fragile and needs special care. He is offering a $500 reward for the return of the 1 1/2-pound, light-cream-coloured female dog. One suspect was Hispanic, 20 to 30 years old and about 5-foot-6, and wore a Nike “Swoosh” T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, police said. The other wore a white T-shirt and grey sweat pants.

Animal Pictures

yosemite coyote by laura db on Flickr.