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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 30, 2012

The Daily Drift


Father’s Day Off 1953
It's gonna be one of those days ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Angeles City, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Sisli, Turkey
Bielsko-Biala, Poland
Jakarta, Indonesia
Istanbul, Turkey
Sofia, Bulgaria
George Town, Malaysia
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Gdynia, Poland
Kuantan, Malaysia
Tirana, Albania
Bagumbayan, Philippines
Poznan, Poland
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tbilisi, Georgia
Lagos, Nigeria
Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Burgas, Bulgaria
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

And across the USA in cities such as:
Trego, Largo, Elmer and Katy

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1619   The House of Burgesses convenes for the first time at Jamestown, Va.
1787   The French parliament refuses to approve a more equitable land tax.
1799   The French garrison at Mantua, Italy, surrenders to the Austrians.
1864   In an effort to penetrate the Confederate lines around Petersburg, Va. Union troops explode a mine underneath the Confederate trenches but fail to break through. The ensuing action is known as the Battle of the Crater.
1919   Federal troops are called out to put down Chicago race riots.
1938   George Eastman demonstrates his color motion picture process.
1940   A bombing lull ends the first phase of the Battle of Britain.
1960   Over 60,000 Buddhists march in protest against the Diem government in South Vietnam.
1965   President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law.
1967   General William Westmoreland claims that he is winning the war in Vietnam, but needs more men.
1975   Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa disappears, last seen coming out of a restaurant in Bloomingfield Hills, Michigan.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That the top Utah repugican fund raiser is accused of rape

That the US lags behind 15 other countries in median income

One repugican finally tells it like it is

The party really doesn't want blacks to vote. and they have been working on making that a reality. we weren't just imagining things with this voter suppression stuff...
In the deposition, released to the press yesterday, [Jim] Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also said party officials discussed how “minority outreach programs were not fit for the repugican party,” according to the AP - Salon

One in three wingnuts now think Obama is Muslim

The stupid, it breeds.
Most of the growth in Obama-Muslim theorizing has occurred among repugicans. One in six of them used to think Obama was Muslim; one in three of them now do. There's no follow-up, but you can count off the things that wingnut repugicans haven't liked about Obama. The Cairo speech. "Apologizing for America." Wanting to close Gitmo. Afghanistan timetable. Siding with rebels in the "Arab Spring," and watching the Muslim Brotherhood take the lead from the rebels in classic Bolshevik/Menshevik tradition. Then, most recently, you've got theories about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the government. The people who don't like Obama start with policy, then make assumptions about religion.
This is what happens when you have a political party that subsists off of its own false version of reality. The lies spread, and the populace becomes even less informed than it was before.

The Dark Lord on choosing Palin as VP: "That one was a mistake"

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is warning presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to choose his vice presidential nominee wisely.

Nothing from Cheney is said in a vacuum. There's some reason he's saying this publicly, now. He seems to be trying to shut Palin up, force her out of the picture.

It's not entirely clear why, unless the repugicans are afraid that she's somehow going to screw up the election, or the selection of the VP.

But there's some calculated reason that Cheney is saying this now.

From Jonathan Karl at ABC News:
“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”

“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”

Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test....

"I think that was a mistake.”

Romney in Israel

First, American Jews still support Obama:
While Republicans may look favorably on Romney's visit to Israel, another group with keen interest in U.S.-Israeli relations -- Jewish Americans -- solidly backs Obama in the election.

Gallup Daily tracking from June 1-July 26 finds Jewish registered voters favoring Obama over Romney by 68% to 25%. That is essentially the same as Gallup's prior update on Jewish voting preferences.

Although one goal of Romney's Israel visit could be to attract greater support among Jewish voters in the U.S., Jewish Americans have been a traditionally strong Democratic group, so they are unlikely to become much more supportive of Romney regardless of the outcome of the trip.
And the Washington Post reports that Romney has kicked the media out of his big fundraiser in Israel, violating an agreement he made months ago. Either Romney is still smarting from the disaster that was his trip to London, and he wants to minimize potential damage, or he's planning on blasting Obama, violating another rule that says politicians of the other party don't criticize the President when they're abroad.

The truth hurts

After the battle, despair grips Damascus

In the once bustling shopping district of Hamra Street in the heart of Damascus, three men - all made homeless by fighting which raged in the city for two weeks - sit outside their empty shops on a deserted pavement.

Random Photos


 ma chatelaine

'When You're Strange' In America

Do you know the warm progress under the stars?
Do you know we exist?
Have you forgotten the keys to the kingdom?
Have you been born yet and are you alive?

~ Jim Morrison


Colorful People

Yvonne Craig in a scene from the original Star Trek series - we think.

Is “Dear” Dead?

Dear Readers,
Do you still write "Dear so-and-so" in your correspondence? No?
That's what author and CNN contributor Bob Greene noticed as well:
Is "Dear" an endangered species?
It would appear to be. You may have noticed that fewer and fewer people begin their letters and notes with "Dear." Some holdouts -- I'm among them -- do, but this may be mostly out of lifetime habit. Even people who grew up using the traditional salutation -- middle-of-the-road, go-by-the-book people -- now regularly begin their notes with "Hi."
This is mostly a function of the digital-communications age. "Dear," which always looked fine atop a business letter, or a handwritten note, is increasingly seen as archaic and old-fashioned on a computer screen or on a smartphone or mobile device.
The pending disappearance of "Dear" is a sea change in the way we write to each other -- yet when you think about it, there are few logical reasons arguing for a longer life for that particular word. We've always used it, just because we've always used it.
Would you miss "Dear" if it's gone forever from our daily usage? More



Record labels won't share Pirate Bay winnings with artists; they're keeping it for record companies

The record labels that successfully sued The Pirate Bay for millions on the grounds that the network had infringed upon artists' copyrights have announced that it will not share any of the money it receives from the suit with those artists. Instead, the money will be used to bankroll more "enforcement" -- that is, salaries and fees for people who work for the industry association.

From TorrentFreak:
According to former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, one of the people convicted in the case, this shows who the real “thieves” are.
“Regarding the issue that they’ve already divvied up the loot, it’s always fun to see that they call it ‘recovered money’ (i.e. money they’ve lost) but that they’re not going to give the artists in question any of it,” Sunde told TorrentFreak.
“They say that people who download give money to thieves – but if someone actually ends up paying (in this case: three individuals) then it’s been paid for. So who’s the thief when they don’t give the money to the artists?”
According to Sunde the news doesn’t come as a surprise.
“As far as I know, no money ever won in a lawsuit by IFPI or the RIAA has even gone to any actual artist,” Sunde says. “It’s more likely the money will be spent on cocaine than the artists that they’re ‘defending’.”
Music Labels Won’t Share Pirate Bay Loot With Artists

Jail for man who collected rainwater on his own property

A rural Oregon man was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.
Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property – and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.

“The government is bullying,” Harrington said in an interview. “They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies.

“So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said. The court has given Harrington two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.

Full story and audio interview with Mr Harrington here.

Alabama bans texting while driving Aug. 1

Starting Wednesday, texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving will become illegal in Alabama, with violators facing fines and possibly higher insurance rates.

Blonde at the beach



Homemade Satellite

Photo: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters
Most people don't associate the word "satelitte" with "homemade," but that's exactly what South Korean artist Song Hojun did. He made a $500 homemade satellite by rummaging through back alley electronics stores.
Now, all he needs is a rocket to launch it into orbit:
There's a long history of do-it-yourself satellites being launched by universities and scientific groups around the world, as well as amateur radio clubs, but Song said his is the first truly personal satellite designed and financed by an individual. [...]
The bespectacled Song spent nearly six years combing through academic papers, shopping online at sites that specialize in components that can be used for space projects, and rummaging through electronic stores hidden in the back alleys of Seoul.
Eunhye Shin of Reuters has the story: here

I, For One, Welcome Our New Fishy Overlords

The Japanese cargo spaceship HTV-3 has delivered a high-tech marine habitat to the space station intended for microgravity fish experiments. Read more I, For One, Welcome Our New Fishy Overlords

All Work and No Play Make The Baining The Most Boring People on Earth

Meet the Baining, an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea who has the unusual claim of being the most boring people on Earth:
According to [anthropologist Jane Fajans], the Baining eschew everything that they see as “natural” and value activities and products that come from “work,” which they view as the opposite of play. Work, to them, is effort expended to overcome or resist the natural. To behave naturally is to them tantamount to behaving as an animal. The Baining say, “We are human because we work.” The tasks that make them human, in their view, are those of turning natural products (plants, animals, and babies) into human products (crops, livestock, and civilized human beings) through effortful work (cultivation, domestication, and disciplined childrearing).
The Baining believe, quite correctly, that play is the natural activity of children, and precisely for that reason they do what they can to discourage or prevent it. They refer to children’s play as “splashing in the mud,” an activity of pigs, not appropriate for humans. They do not allow infants to crawl and explore on their own. When one tries to do so an adult picks it up and restrains it. Beyond infancy, children are encouraged or coerced to spend their days working and are often punished—sometimes by such harsh means as shoving the child’s hand into the fire—for playing. On those occasions when Fajans did get an adult to talk about his or her childhood, the narrative was typically about the challenge of embracing work and overcoming the shameful desire to play. Part of the reason the Baining are reluctant to talk about themselves, apparently, derives from their strong sense of shame about their natural drives and desires.

Random Celebrity Photos

Bogey in his underwear and top hat

Gilroy Garlic Festival is fun for serious foodies

They figured about 5,000 people from the surrounding communities would show up. They quickly realized they'd underestimated how many gourmet-minded people wanted to taste garlic-infused dishes.

Using The Cray Supercomputer to Make Ice Cream More Delicious

If the next time you eat an ice cream you notice that it's yummier, you have a computer to thank. A supercomputer, actually.
The processing power available inside modern supercomputers isn’t just able to help us better understand the universe we live in, develop better medicines, and model complex systems. Apparently it is also helping to make better ice cream.
Research has been carried out at the University of Edinburgh to simulate the soft matter that makes up ice cream. More specifically, scientists are trying to understand the complex interactions occurring between the many different ingredients that make up your favorite flavor of the delicious cold stuff.

Teenager suffering from bizarre food disorder only eats chips and cheese

A teenager suffering from food phobia has had nothing but cheese and chips for eight years - because other food petrifies her.

Daily Comic Relief

Cold cuts

Sixty Insane Cloud Formations From Around The World

Cloud varieties go way beyond the cumulus, stratus, and cirrus we learn about in elementary school. Check out these wild natural phenomena.

Old Family Photos

The Beauty & the Studebaker Starliner by The Nite Tripper on Flickr.

The Hottest Thing at the Olympics?

The hottest thing in London is the Olympic Flame. And what about the 8,000 torches that each sport 8,000 holes that 8,000 people carried 8,000 miles? What happens to those now that the cauldron has been lit? Olympic torches have always been highly collectible, but the 2012 torches are extremely coveted.
In fact, a 2012 London torch reportedly sold for $240,000 in May. The values of these torches, Perlow says, will inevitably go down. “People get very taken up in the moment when the time of the Games arrives. Right now, they’ll spend what I call crazy money for Olympic souvenirs just because they need to have that instant gratification, that ‘I’m here, experiencing it now’ memento.”
Those collectors may want to check their math. After all, one of the torches made for the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games sold for nearly $400,000 last year at auction in Paris, currently the second most expensive Olympic item ever sold, but there were only 22 made versus 8,000 in London. The more common torches, like the 17,000 torches made for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games torch, go for a couple thousand dollars online.
“Most torches are in that price range,” Perlow says. “When you’re talking a 1956 Melbourne, that’s a $15,000-20,000 torch, because there were only 400 of them. The 1960 Squaw Valley is probably around $100,000. A 1988 Calgary is probably $20,000, because I think only 150-some-odd Calgary torches were made.”
You can see some of those older, rarer torch designs from previous Olympics and read the history of how they are traded around as collectibles at Collectors Weekly.

Retro Photos

Inger Nansen on 1917 Indian Motorcycle by scarlatti2004 on Flickr. 
Inger Nansen on 1917 Indian Motorcycle

Bygone Olympic Event: Men’s All-Around Dumbbell

As you watch the glitzy coverage of the London 2012 Olympics, perhaps you pine for simpler times.
Like, for instance, the bygone era of the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, Missouri, when the Olympic Games had a men's all-around dumbbell event (That's Frederick Winters who won silver with panache).

Private life of the Russian royal family

Nikolay II was an examplary family man. He spent all his spare time with his family. True love and spiritual consonance distinguished this family from many others. More

The Kennecott Mines: Abandoned Alaskan Boomtown

In 1900 two prospectors were traveling through Alaska. Their horses were hungry and so when they spied a distant green hillside they thought their luck was in. They were not wrong. They had stumbled upon a massive deposit of copper ore, exposed at the surface.

Industry on a massive scale quickly followed. Yet by 1939 the copper was exhausted, the place abandoned. This is what remains of the Kennecott Mine Camp.
The Kennecott Mine Camp was a booming Alaskan copper mining town in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. The richest vein of copper ever is estimated to have produced $100 million in profits! But by 1939 the copper was gone and the several mines were abandoned. However, the Kennecott is in a national park and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. That’s why the buildings there survived much better than the surrounding mines, and you can visit them. More

Such is life

Hal sherman

A whale of a hearing system

Study suggests the mammals adjust to diminish the din of engines, sonar and more 
 By William J. Broad
Perhaps we can save the whales – or at least their hearing.

Scientists have long known that man-made, underwater noises – from engines, sonars, weapons testing, and such industrial tools as air guns used in oil and gas exploration – are deafening whales and other sea mammals. The Navy estimates that loud booms from just its underwater listening devices, mainly sonar, result in temporary or permanent hearing loss for more than a quarter-million sea creatures every year, a number that is rising.
Now, scientists have discovered that whales can decrease the sensitivity of their hearing to protect their ears from loud noise. Humans tend to do this with index fingers; scientists haven’t pinpointed how whales do it, but they have seen the first evidence of the behavior.
“It’s equivalent to plugging your ears when a jet flies over,” said Paul E. Nachtigall, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii who led the discovery team. “It’s like a volume control.”
The finding, while preliminary, is already raising hopes for the development of warning signals that would alert whales, dolphins and other sea mammals to auditory danger.
Peter Madsen, a professor of marine biology at Aarhus University in Denmark, said he applauded the Hawaiian team for its “elegant study” and the promise of innovative ways of “getting at some of the noise problems.” But he cautioned against letting the discovery slow global efforts to reduce the oceanic roar, which would aid the beleaguered sea mammals more directly.
The noise threat arises because of the basic properties of seawater. Typically, light can travel for hundreds of feet through ocean water before diminishing to nothingness. But sound can travel for hundreds of miles.
The world’s oceans have been getting noisier as companies and governments expand their undersea activities. Researchers have linked the growing racket to deafness, tissue damage, mass strandings and disorientation in creatures that rely on hearing to navigate, find food and care for their young.
The danger has long been a political football. In 2008, the Supreme Court heard a lawsuit by the National Resources Defense Council against the Navy over ocean noise; the court ruled that naval vessels had the right to test sonar systems for hunting submarines. But environmentalists saw a tacit victory in getting the nation’s highest court even to consider the health of sea mammals in a debate over national security.
The latest development took place at a research facility off Oahu – at an island where the opening shots of “Gilligan’s Island” were filmed.
How sea mammals hear
Scientists there are studying how dolphins and toothed whales hear. In nature, the mammals emit sounds and listen for returning echoes in a sensory behavior known as echolocation. In captivity, scientists taught the creatures to wear suction-cup electrodes, which revealed the patterns of brainwaves involved in hearing.
The discovery came in steps. First, Nachtigall and his team found that the animals could adjust their hearing in response to their own loud sounds of echolocation, mainly sharp clicks. The scientists then wondered if they could also protect their ears from incoming blasts.
The team focused on a false killer whale named Kina and sought to teach her a conditioned behavior similar to how Pavlov taught dogs to salivate upon hearing a bell.
First, the scientists played a gentle tone repeatedly. Then they followed the gentle pulse with a loud sound. After a few trials, the warning signal alone caused Kina to decrease the sensitivity of her hearing.
“It shows promise as a way to mitigate the effects of loud sounds,” said Nachtigall, founding director of the Marine Mammal Research Program at the University of Hawaii. “People are generally very excited about it.”
In May, Nachtigall and his colleagues presented the findings to acoustic scientists and groups meeting in Hong Kong, including the Acoustical Society of America. The team cited the protective deafening as a potential way to help sea mammals cope with noisy blasts from naval sonars, civilian air guns and other equipment.
In the future, the team plans to expand the research to other species in captivity and ultimately to animals in the wild.
“We have a problem in the world,” Nachtigall said of the oceanic roar. “And we think the animals can learn this response very rapidly.”
Scientists unconnected to the mammal research called it important.
A rare ability
“It’s a big deal,” said Vincent M. Janik, a prominent marine biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In an email, he said it revealed a rare ability among the planet’s creatures.
Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute, a conservation group in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., called the discovery a potential window into what sea mammals may already do on some occasions to protect their hearing.
“I’ve sometimes wondered why these high intensity sounds don’t cause problems all the time,” he said in an interview. “Maybe it’s that, once the animals hear something very loud, they can adjust their hearing – dial it down and protect themselves.”
Scientists say the extraordinary hearing of sea mammals evolved to compensate for poor visibility beneath the waves and to take advantage of the unique qualities of seawater. Sound travels five times faster than in air and undergoes far less diminishment.
The heads of whales and dolphins are mazes of resonant chambers and acoustic lenses that give the animals not only extraordinary hearing but complex voices. The distinctive songs of humpback whales appear to be sung exclusively by males seeking mates.
In recent decades, scientists have linked the human cacophony to reductions in mammalian vocalization, which suggests declines in foraging and breeding. And the problem is poised to get worse: In May, the Navy disclosed draft environmental impact statements (Atlantic and Pacific operations) that said planned expansions could raise the annual hearing losses among sea mammals to more than 1 million.
Zak Smith, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, recently called the new estimates “staggering.”
A question of science, Nachtigall said, is whether the levels of protective deafening found in Kina can be increased. The team plans to study the auditory response in such species as bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales before trying it on wild populations.
The big political hurdle is financing, he said. Federal support for the sea mammal research has declined in recent years, and industry is only starting to show interest in the finding.
“I’m pulling in money where I can,” he remarked. Nachtigall said the research was costly because sea mammals need high levels of care.
But he called it revealing and rewarding. “When it comes to whales and sound,” Nachtigall said, “we’re just starting to understand.”

Butt Foam Ant

Don't mess with the Pachycondyla ant! It has a very unusual way to protect itself when bothered: it sprays venomous foam ... from its butt! Alex Wild of Myrmecos explains: here

Mother Nature's Olympians Crowned

The Olympics is a time to celebrate the world's fastest and strongest humans, but you can rely on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to put the best of human performance in perspective. They've just come out with their list of Olympians for the natural world - champions that range from the fleet cheetah to the humble fungus.

While celebrating the achievements of talented athletes across the world this summer, we should also take the time to appreciate these incredible species. Here are some of the conservation group's medalists for 2012.

Mother and calf rescued from abandoned elephant trap

Two elephants, a calf and its mother that fell into an abandoned elephant trap at Vallakadavu in Kuttampuzha Forest range in India were rescued on Thursday. The trap was used by the Forest Department in the 1960s to catch wild elephants for domestication.

The animals fell into a 15ft deep well, which was covered with bamboo leaves, in the early hours. By evening, the animals were rescued after a pathway was created from the trap by levelling its banks. The mother and the calf later walked into the forest area.

As the area was inaccessible the rescue team had to face difficulties. The area could be reached only by crossing the river in bamboo rafts. This prevented the possibility of using mechanical devices or trained elephants for the rescue operation. Forest officials led by Divisional Forest Officer P. Nagaraj led the rescue operation.

V. K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the Heritage Animal Task Force, an NGO specialising in the protection of elephants, demanded that abandoned traps should be levelled as it posed serious threat to wildlife. Protective structures should also be constructed for wells in forest settlements. He also demanded action against those who failed to cover open traps in the Kothamangalam forest area.

Animal Pictures