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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, August 13, 2012

The Daily Drift

C'mon in, the water's fine ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Olongapo, Philippines
Miri, Malaysia
Seoul, Korea
Cape Town, South Africa
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Manchester, England
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Athens, Greece
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kuantan, Malaysia
Hamburg, Germany
Jakarta, Indonesia
Waterloo, Canada
Ankara, Turkey
Manila, Philippines
Lenina, Russia
Istanbul, Turkey
Chisinau, Moldova
Klang, Malaysia
Bryansk, Russia
As well as in cities across the USA like:
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1630 Emperor Ferdinand II dismisses Albert Eusebius van Wallenstein, his most capable general.
1680 War starts when the Spanish are expelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, by Indians under Chief Pope.
1704 The Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Austria defeat the French Army at the Battle of Blenheim.
1787 The Ottoman Empire declares war on Russia.
1862 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeats a Union army under Thomas Crittenden at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
1881 The first African-American nursing school opens at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
1889 The first coin-operated telephone is patented by William Gray.
1892 The first issue of the Afro American newspaper is published in Baltimore, Maryland.
1898 Manila, the capital of the Philippines, falls to the U.S. Army.
1910 British nurse Florence Nightingale, famous for her care of British soldiers during the Crimean War, dies.
1932 Adolf Hitler refuses to serve as Franz Von Papen's vice chancellor.
1948 During the Berlin Airlift, the weather over Berlin becomes so stormy that American planes have their most difficult day landing supplies. They deem it 'Black Friday.'
1963 A 17 year-old Buddhist monk burns himself to death in Saigon, South Vietnam.
1989 The wreckage of a plane that carried U.S. congressman Mickey Leland and others on a humanitarian mission is found on a mountain side in Ethiopia; there are no survivors.

Non Sequitur


Random Celebrity Photo


Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba

And I Quote

Did you know ...

That if your ship sinks, you may want to know: "Women and children first" is a myth

That aging baby boomers face home health care challenge

In mass killings: People more traumatized than society

A Renaissance Faire was held up by guys with swords and armor plating

Romney demanded "several" years tax returns from Ryan, only gave us 1.5 years

The arrogance.
Mitt Romney required Paul Ryan to provide "several years" of his tax returns in order to be vetted for the vice presidential slot.

But in order to vet Mitt Romney for the presidential slot, he's only provided the public 1.5 years worth of tax returns.

Putting aside the question of whether Romney didn't even pay taxes for ten years, as is rumored, how could he think to get away with asking Ryan for more tax returns than he himself is providing?

Arrogance.  That's how.  The Romneys are better than us.  And only the little people release their taxes.

Romney attacking Obama for same Medicare provision Paul Ryan endorsed

As always when dealing with Mitt Romney, things are a little uncomfortable:
With Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee, Mitt Romney’s central argument pushing back against critics of the House budget chief’s Medicare plan is that President Obama cut deep into Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. But Ryan’s plan includes the same cuts, which don’t target beneficiaries.

“Unlike the current president, who has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion, we will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security,” Romney said Saturday while introducing Ryan.

The trouble with this argument — made frequently by repugicans, including Ryan himself — is that Republicans have voted overwhelmingly for Ryan’s own budget which sustains the Medicare cuts in “Obamacare.” Wingnuts argue that Ryan’s plan, unlike the Affordable Care Act, doesn’t use the Medicare savings to fund additional spending.
Add to that the inconvenient fact that Obama didn't cut Medicare, he reduced Medicare waste while preserving the same benefits. And in any case, Paul Ryan did the same thing in his budget. Yet Romney, oddly, still picked him as his VIP.

The truth be told

Mitt Romney's tax bill under Paul Ryan's budget? 0.82%

(Your taxes will probably go up, though)

Paul Ryan wants to kill all tax on capital gains, interest, and dividends -- income you get from owning things, rather than doing a job. Under this plan, Mitt Romney's $21,000,000 in 2010 income would be largely tax-exempt. Only his speaking and author fees -- $593,996 -- would be taxed, and only at 25%, for a net tax of $177,650 on $21,661,344 -- that is, 0.82%.
But don't worry, the government won't go broke if the super-rich are virtually tax exempt. Under Ryan's budget, tax on the bottom 30% of earners will increase. Matthew O'Brien explains in The Atlantic:
It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense -- a point my colleague Derek Thompson has made in incredible chart form.

The truth hurts

White House TSA petition goes dark as it nears the finish line, disappears when the lights come back on

A White House petition about the TSA's screening procedures was 90 percent of the way to completion when Wired ran a story giving it a final push. The White House's petition site went down for unannounced maintenance, and when it came back up, the petition had "expired" -- though the Electronic Privacy Information Center says it still had time left on the clock:
At approximately 11:30 am EDT, the White House removed a petition about the TSA airport screening procedures from the White House "We the People" website. About 22,500 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the Administration were obtained when the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition. The site also went down for "maintenance" following an article in Wired that sought support for the campaign.
White House Pulls Down TSA Petition (via /.)
Update: The petition's creator reportedly disputes EPIC's version of the timeline, saying that the petition had run out its time during the outage.

It's all about the brain

Brain changes after a stuffed nose protect the sense of smell

Has a summer cold or mold allergy stuffed up your nose and dampened your sense of smell? We take it ...
Continue Reading

How stress and depression can shrink the brain

Major depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume, a condition that contributes to both emotional and ...
Continue Reading

Daily Comic Relief

Woman accused of killing fiance on wedding day

Na Cola Darcel Franklin is charged with criminal homicide in the death of 36-year-old Billy Rafeal Brewster in their Whitehall Township apartment.

Pellet rifle shots fired at mosque near Chicago

Shots fired from a pellet rifle damaged a mosque in a northern Chicago suburb, authorities said Saturday.

Egypt's president seizes powers back from military

Egypt's Islamist president ordered the retirement of the defense minister and chief of staff on Sunday and made the boldest move so far to seize back powers that the military stripped from his office right before he took over.

Crazy Cargo Overboard!

The Oddest Cargo Ship Spills
Hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets peppering beaches near Hong Kong last week are hardly the oddest things to spill out of steel shipping containers lost at sea. Read more

Crazy Cargo Overboard! Oddest Cargo Ship Spills

Eighty Years of Lego

Ole Kirk Kristiansen established a business on August 10, 1932 that eventually became the LEGO company. But it didn't start out with building bricks and minifigs. He sold ladders, some furniture, and wooden toys. Eventually, of course, the toys really took off.
The shop was called LEg GOdt, or “play well” in Danish. Later, it would come to light that the phrase also means “I put together” in Latin.
The business started small, manufacturing small wooden toys. World War II kept Godfred home in the shop rather than traveling to Germany for school as he had originally planned. By 1949, the Kristiansens had hired 50 people and released the first LEGO forerunner, the “Automatic Binding Bricks,” sold exclusively in Denmark with four or eight studs, in four different colors.
Read more about the history of the LEGO company at Smithsonian. Here



Childe Hassam, Manhattan’s Misty Sunset, c. 1911
Childe Hassam, Manhattan’s Misty Sunset, c. 1911

Belarus KGB summons Swedish teddy bear stunt team

From the "As the running joke continues ..." Department:

Belarus' top security agency - the KGB - has summoned a Swedish ad team for questioning after the group air-dropped hundreds of parachute-wearing teddy bears that carried pro-human rights messages onto the soil of the authoritarian ex-Soviet state.
In this undated photo provided by Studio Total teddy bears hang on parachutes during a training in Stockholm, Sweden.

Indian minister says bureaucrats 'can steal a little but not behave like bandits'

A provincial minister in India's most populous state has sparked a scandal after suggesting to bureaucrats that they could "steal a little" if they performed well in their duties. Shivpal Singh Yadav, in charge of housing and construction in northern Uttar Pradesh state, on Friday hastily withdrew the offer he made a day earlier during a meeting with government employees, which was also attended by journalists.

Yadav is an uncle to the state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party stormed into power on an anti-corruption platform in elections held in Uttar Pradesh in March. "If you work hard, you can steal a little, but don't behave like bandits," Yadav said at the meeting in Etah town, about 124 miles from capital Lucknow. The comments drew flak from political opponents, prompting Yadav to retract his offer and accuse journalists of sneaking into the gathering.

"I have taken back those words," he told reporters in Lucknow on Friday. "Why are you raking it up? I don't know why the media is targeting me," he said. The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the minister's invitation to officials to steal. "A minister's statement is like a policy of the government and if he says so then the government is offering a license to steal the public money," local BJP leader Lalji Tandon said. "It is not appropriate for a minister to talk like this," he said.

Shahid Siddiqui, who was expelled last month from a senior post in the ruling Samajwadi Party, also turned his guns on the minister. "It is very unfortunate that a minister who is the uncle of the chief minister and who does not consider himself anything less than a chief minister talks in such a way," Siddiqui said. "Now you are giving officers a free hand to steal," he added.

Teenage thief's parents confiscate his clothes to stop him going out causing trouble

The parents of a teenager who burgled a school have taken his clothes away to stop him from leaving the house and getting into more trouble. The 13-year-old and two friends, who cannot be named for legal reasons, broke into the Grange Junior School, in Franklin Road, Gosport. Fareham’s youth court heard how the trio tripped an alarm which alerted the school’s caretaker.
Prosecutor David Olley told the court what the caretaker found when he got to the school: ‘The staff room had been targeted and it looked as if it had been ransacked. The teachers’ locker doors were all opened up, in the kitchen area all the drawers and the fridge had been opened.’ Contents had been rifled through and several items were stolen including DVDs, pens and pencils, a swimming pool rescue rope and a £10 note.

The 13-year-old, from Gosport, was identified from a fingerprint left on a door during the break in on July 1. Stephen Bentley, defending, said the youngster’s parents had already grounded the boy and stopped him from taking a summer holiday to his grandparents. He added: ‘Since the incident his parents have taken quite strong action against him and continue to do so. They’ve stopped his pocket money and taken his clothes away from him, apart from his underwear, so he physically can’t go out and see the other boys.’

Both parents were also in court. His mother admitted ‘he has had some pretty major blips’ and added: ‘We have let him have his pajamas too.’ District Judge Anne Arnold gave him a three month referral order and ordered him to pay £85 costs and £10 compensation. She said: ‘You’ve spoilt everyone’s summer as well as your own.’ The boy’s mother will pay the fine, but he will work it off through doing household chores. The other two have already been given official reprimands.

Drunk driver soiled self in attempt to avoid arrest

Police in Thibodaux, Louisiana, say a man soiled himself in order to avoid arrest.

They say they pulled over Wayne Benoit, 53, at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday after officers noticed Benoit’s truck swerving in the road, nearly striking a cyclist. According to police, Benoit smelled of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test.

Once Benoit realized that he was going to be placed under arrest, officers said he began straining and purposely soiled himself. Officers said Benoit thought he would be released after the episode.

The act didn’t deter officers from arresting him, however. Benoit was taken to the Lafourche Parish Detention Center, where it was determined he had a blood alcohol level of 0.20.

Man charged with driving lawn mower while under the influence had drunk 14 beers in 2½ miles

James David Gray allegedly said he has "a bad drinking problem." The 68-year-old Florida man, who was arrested on Tuesday and charged with driving a lawn mower while intoxicated, said he has been drinking since he was 16, can't control his habit and needs help. During the last two years, Gray, who receives a disability check, said he had not taken a sip of alcohol. Before that, he said, he used to drink a 12-pack a day.

But on his way home in Citra after cutting grass on Tuesday, Gray said he stopped at a convenience store and purchased an 18-pack of Natural Ice because he was hot and depressed. Gray said he was depressed because the $459 a month from his disability check and the $300 a month he earns from cutting grass is not enough. It was a bad decision. Marion County sheriff's Deputy Rick Palmateer was doing a security check in the Lakes and Meadows subdivision in Citra when he noticed Gray riding the red lawn mower south in the northbound lane.

Stopping the mower, Palmateer found that Gray's eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. The deputy said Gray's breath had a strong smell of alcohol and there was a cold beer open in a cup holder on the lawn mower. Gray said that when the deputy stopped him he had only four beers left. He had ridden about 2½ miles from the store, Gray said. He had another half mile to go to his residence, where he lives with his sister. Palmateer reported that Gray failed a field sobriety test.

LiveLeak link. If you have nothing better to do there's a 20 minute long video here.

He was taken to the Marion County Jail, where breath tests showed he had a blood alcohol level of .138 and .147. Those results are well above the .08 level at which one is presumed to be too intoxicated to drive. Gray was charged with DUI. The deputy checked his record and found that Gray had been convicted four times for DUI. With this arrest, Gray violated his felony drug probation, which had begun on July 9, 2011, and was slated to end July 8, 2013. As for the lawn mower, Gray said he handed it over to his sister. He said was it rented and he had just made the first payment of $127 a month.

Awesome Pictures

Ten Great Ways to Make Our Cities Greener

From electric cars to living architecture, there are loads of green ways in which we make our urban spaces better places to be. Here are ten of the best. More

Schools scrambling to serve up healthier lunch choices

When students head back to school this fall, most will be offered a smorgasbord of healthier foods in lunch lines.

Retro Photo

American Geeks Photographed In The Wild

Photographer Jake Warga has traveled the globe as a professional photojournalist, but none of his subjects have been as wild and wooly as the classic American geek.
The geeks in this series have been captured in their native habitat, aka various niche conventions across the U.S., to ensure that they are captured where they feel most comfortable.
Removing the background and leaving each geek floating in white space makes these images a bit surreal, but it serves to eliminate any distraction from the true stars of the show- American grown geeks.

Stick on head craze sweeps China

A bizarre new craze has taken off in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, western China, as a new form of meditation.

Followers have to perch a stick on their head and not let it fall, often for hours at a time, to achieve perfect balance of mind and body. And the craze is particularly popular at the moment because proponents say it also helps them keep a cool head in the hot weather.

"It sounds odd but it really does relax you. If you have one real task to concentrate on, all your worries and stresses seem to melt away, and you don't notice the heat at all," explained one fan.

"We follow the same principles as zen meditation to keep the body and the mind in harmony," explained a tutor.

Abandoned House

Ghost mansion

The Vikings didn't rape and pillage Scotland ...

... they were nice
It was thought the Scandinavian warriors arrived suddenly in longships and raped and pillaged their way across the northern islands.
And yes we know the helmet in the photo isn't a true Viking helmet but a Victorian fantasy that has persisted since the 19th century.

European Castles You Can Stay In

Did you know you can become king or queen of your very own European castle... at least for a couple of nights. Many European castles are open to the public because they have been converted into a hotel. Here are 25 European castles you can stay in.

Random Photo

Emaciated puppy rescued from sewer

A 6-month-old puppy was rescued from a sewer in Detroit, dehydrated, emaciated and suffering from demodicosis, a skin disease caused by a small mite, according to the Michigan Humane Society.

The puppy, which was named Leo, was found on Tuesday afternoon by a passerby walking her pet who heard the dog’s yelps from a nearby alley. The prognosis of the dog, believed to be a Shepherd mix, is guarded. “We don’t know how long he was down there or exactly how he got there,” said Chris Ouwerkerk, the MHS rescue driver who came to the puppy’s aid.

“You can see every rib. He obviously hadn’t eaten in days or weeks. He’s not in great shape, but he was definitely happy to be out of there, and we’re glad a kind person contacted us in time.” MHS rescue personnel who responded to the scene found an open manhole cover and the dog trapped several feet down at the bottom of the sewer. Leo is being held as a stray animal for four days, in accordance with state law, at the MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care.

Though Leo looks to be a medium-sized dog and is 6 months old, he weighs just 11 pounds. Officials said he is suffering from a weakened immune system as result of his emaciation and dehydration, placing him at high risk for diseases like parvovirus or a serious infection. “The MHS veterinary team will continue to care for and monitor Leo’s condition as he gains weight and hopefully recovers from his ordeal,” a spokesman said. “However, Leo’s condition is very serious and will require significant medical care over the coming weeks.”

Family fighting town order to get rid of 7-year-old girl's pet rabbit

A family in North Haven, Connecticut is asking for help after the town told them they have to get rid of their daughter's pet rabbit. The family says the town sent them a letter after an inspection was done at their house. They were told that an old ordinance says people in town aren't allowed to have rabbits on their property if they're not a certain size.

Seven-year-old Kayden Lidsky considers her pet bunny Sandy her best friend. "She lays with me in bed sometimes," Kayden said. It's one big bunny, a Giant Flemish weighing over 20 pounds. However, it's not the size of the rabbit, rather the size of the family's property that has the town of North Haven saying the rabbit must be removed from the Susan Lane home. "I don't want the bunny to go," said Kayden.

A cease and desist order was issued last month informing the family zoning laws do not allow livestock nor rabbits on lots under two acres. And before that a citation was issued for violating the blight ordinance, not only because of an unfinished over hang, but also because of the bunny cage. The family say Sandy has been a pet for three years. "A bunny is not a violent animal," said Joshua Lidsky, "a bunny is not a violent dog or a violent cat or a rabid animal, it's a caged creature that all it does is give love to our family."

Now the family will keep Sandy as they appeal the decision, but if they lose at that level the town attorney says it could trigger a Superior Court action enforcing removal of the animal. "I would love to keep the bunny," said Joshua. "I would love to keep my family happy and the town just let us live our life and pay our taxes." Dad has tried to explain the zoning law to Kayden, but the third grader just wants officials to let her keep her furry friend. "I would say don't make me give my bunny away because she is my best friend," Kayden said.

A New Species Discovered ... On Flickr

Over a year ago, entomologist Shaun Winterton spotted a previously unknown species of a lacewing insect as he was browsing Flickr. He really didn't know what it was at the time, but he knew he'd never seen anything like it. He contacted the photgrapher, Guek Hock Ping, who shot the picture in Malaysia. No, he didn't have a specimen, just a picture.
A full year later, Winterton received an email from the photographer; Guek had returned to the region of the original sighting and found another lacewing with the same wing pattern.
"He told me, 'I've got one in a container on my kitchen table — what should I do with it?' " Winterton says.
The specimen was sent to Steve Brooks, an entomologist at the Natural History Museum in London. Brooks confirmed that the lacewing was new to science. He also found a matching specimen that had been sitting in the museum's collection, unclassified, for decades.
The new species was dubbed Semachrysa jade — not after its pale green color, but after Winterton's daughter. It was introduced to the world in the latest issue of ZooKeys, a scientific journal focused on biodiversity. In keeping with the digital nature of their discovery, Winterton, Guek and Brooks wrote the paper from three different continents using a Google document.
And that's a fine example of how the internet not only brings us closer together, but makes global research easier and faster. More

Spider Named for Sir David Attenborough

David AttenboroughA newly-discovered species of goblin spider has been named in honor of British TV naturalist David Attenborough, and is now classified as Prethopalpus attenboroughi. The informal name will be Attenborough's goblin spider.
In an acceptance speech in Perth, Western Australia, Sir David said about his new namesake: "I take it that it is careful in its judgement, merciless, certainly beautiful and I will treasure it and I thank you very much indeed for this.
"Naming a species is the biggest of compliments that you could ask from any scientific community and I truly thank you very much indeed for this one."
The spider is commonly known as a goblin spider, so the scientists behind the find said that made it Attenborough's goblin spider.
It was not the first such honor for Attenborough: a fossil fish was named Materpiscis attenboroughi previously. More

Animal Pictures


Alligator Snapping Turtle (Jude Haase)