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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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Daily Drift


Grand Canyon
The colorful Grand Canyon

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And in cities across the USA such as:

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Today in History

1261 Constantinople falls to Michael VIII of Nicea and his army.
1385 John of Portugal defeats John of Castile at the Battle of Aljubarrota.
1598 Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, leads an Irish force to victory over the British at Battle of Yellow Ford.
1760 Frederick II defeats the Austrians at the Battle of Liegnitz.
1864 The Confederate raider Tallahassee captures six Federal ships off New England.
1872 The first ballot voting in England is conducted.
1914 The Panama Canal opens to traffic.
1935 American comedian and "cowboy philosopher" Will Rogers dies in an airplane accident, along with American aviation pioneer Wiley Post.
1942 The Japanese submarine I-25 departs Japan with a floatplane in its hold which will be assembled upon arriving off the West Coast of the United States, and used to bomb U.S. forests.
1944 American, British and French forces land on the southern coast of France, between Toulon and Cannes, in Operation Dragoon.
1945 Gasoline and fuel oil rationing ends in the United States.
1947 Britain grants independence to India and Pakistan.
1950 Two U.S. divisions are badly mauled by the North Korean Army at the Battle of the Bowling Alley in South Korea, which rages on for five more days.
1969 Over 400,000 young people attend a weekend of rock music at Woodstock, New York.

Forty Photos Of The Oval Office Apple Bowl

Since January 2009, there's a big wooden bowl of apples in the Oval Office. Its steadfast presence is kind of soothing.

Prehistoric Shark Species Found in Arizona

The remains of several new toothy shark species are found in the desert state.  
Read more

Romney visits struggling Iowa farmer ...

... who's a multimillionaire with an in-home art gallery

As ThinkProgress notes, the guy isn't exactly every man.
Yes, according to the Des Moines Register, Koethe owns 54 soy and corn farms. And that’s just one of his jobs.

In previous reports on his activity over the years from the Des Moines Register, Koethe is also a described as a millionaire, a real estate mogul, and a former concert promoter who booked acts like Slipknot at his 24,000 square foot event center.

Making this farmer’s life that much different from the average person, Koethe lives in a spaceship house. It might not have a car elevator like Romney’s planned home, but it’s got its own car wash bay and recreation center.
Even better, check out these photos of the poor farmer's home from the SF Chronicle (these are a few, they have more):

A modest home for ma and pa to rest after
spending a day feeding the pigs.
It figures that the only farmer Mitt Romney knows
has an art gallery in his home.

And I Quote

Poll: Voters were more excited with Sarah Palin as VP

Yikes. And folks hated her.
A new survey indicates that a great many Americans aren't enamored with the guy who wants them spending their golden years subsisting on Ramen noodles and strenuously networking to land jobs as Wal-mart greeters.

Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Americans' initial reaction to Paul Ryan is decidedly lukewarm, with more rating his selection for vice president as negative than positive, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll taken after the announcement.

Ryan's ratings were less positive than those for any other vice presidential pick polled on by Gallup since 2000, including Sarah Palin, Joe Biden and Dick Cheney. The only other recent vice presidential selection to gain net negative ratings was Dan Quayle, in 1988.
UPDATE: USA Today has more:
In a nationwide survey taken Sunday, 39% of registered voters call repugican contender Mitt Romney's selection of Ryan "excellent" or "pretty good" while 45% rate it as "only fair" or "poor." Sixteen percent have no opinion.

That's the most tepid reception for a running mate since 1988, when then-vice president George H.W. Bush picked Quayle, an Indiana senator who immediately ran into questions about his draft history during the Vietnam War and whether he was prepared for the presidency.

Is Paul Ryan palling around with terrorists?

He will be in just one month when he attends the hate-group founded Value Voters Summit.  See, here's Ryan right next to the (former) terrorist Kamal Saleem (the asterisk means their attendance is confirmed):
Mitt Romney is in the same row as the (former) terrorist, but Paul Ryan is smack dab right next to him.

Now, you might ask yourself why a "former" terrorist isn't spending some time in Gitmo instead of heading to a religious right hate summit.  (Because he might be a fraud - but hey Paul Ryan agreed to speak at the conference of a known hate group, so he gets to explain, not us). But that's not really important. What's important is that Paul Ryan is on a Web site next to a guy who allegedly came to the US to kill us all.

So, first we find out that Paul Ryan's biggest inspiration in life isn't god, but instead a woman who devoted her life to killing god.  Now he's apparently palling around with (former) terrorists.  This guy might turn out to be more fun than Sarah Palin!

The Truth Hurts

Ryan says we should take away Romney's tax shelters

Want to talk Awkward ... Look at Romney's face while Ryan is saying this.
RYAN: What we're saying is, take away the tax shelters that are uniquely enjoyed by people in the top tax brackets so they can't shelter as much money from taxation, should lower tax rates for everybody to make America more competitive.

Ryan confirms he turned over "several" years of tax returns to Romney

Paul Ryan confirms on 60 Minutes that Mitt Romney made him turn over more years of tax returns, to vet him as a possible VP, than Romney will turn over to the American people, so we can vet him as a possible president. Romney turned over 1.5 years worth of returns. Ryan was asked to turn over "several" years, which usually means 3 or more.
It's brazen and arrogant, and tone deaf, of Romney.  What's particularly galling is that Romney is more worried about Ryan's gaffe-factor than he is about his own qualifications for the presidency.  The gaffe-factor must be avoided at all costs, thus the several years of returns - but Romney's qualifications, not so important, just a year's complete returns is fine.

Paul Ryan as sassy man-child

Matt Taibbi's great observation about Paul Ryan, repugican clone writ large.
Paul Ryan, the repugican party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

Every few years or so, the repugicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.

Never mind that each time the repugicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

He didn't build it ...

How socialism helped Paul Ryan go to college
It's not really "socialism," but then again, considering the wide definition that Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney use for "socialism" - anything a Democrat embraces - the word is apt.

More specifically, what Ryan and Romney actually mean by "socialism" is any government program that helps someone. This is why Ryan is so determined to dismantle Social Security (which he wants to privatize) and Medicare (which he wants to replace with a voucher system, meaning, you get to fend for yourself against private insurance companies that will charge you a few thousand dollars a month for really bad insurance).

What's interesting, therefore, is the news that Social Security helped Paul Ryan go to college and make him the man he is today (which is perhaps a justification for getting rid of it). Via Raw Story:
From the age of 16, when his 55-year-old father died of a heart attack, until he was 18, Ryan received Social Security payments, which, according to a lengthy profile in WI Magazine, he put away for college. The eventual budget czar attended Miami University in Ohio to earn a B.A. in economics and political science, and landed a congressional internship as a junior.
So Paul Ryan benefited from the largesse of big liberal government. Government that he now wants to take away from the rest of us.

Did you know ...

About Superpacs and unlimited outside spending in the 2012 election

The 10 reasons why Ryan is worse for Romney than Palin was for McCain

The Multiple Sclerosis Society doesn't like Romney's plans for MS patients

Is Mitt Romney an idiot savant?

Or just an idiot?

That Paul Ryan compares Latinos to animals, decries "anchor babies"

The Romney-Ryan budget punishes the middle class according to independent economists


Oh, and  the Chik-Fil-A fiasco is about more than just marriage

Non Sequitur


Bain Capital buys profitable American plant, ships it to China; soon-to-be-jobless workers train their overseas replacements

In the Guardian, Paul Harris reports from Freeport, IL, where a profitable, competitive auto-parts plant has been bought out by Bain Capital, who have literally shipped the factory to China, and who have extended the "kindness" to the American workers who will lose their jobs of a few extra weeks' worth of work training their Chinese replacements. Mitt Romney owns millions of dollars' worth of equity in the Bain fund that is shipping good jobs overseas, and stands to make a tidy profit from this.
"I understand business needs to make a profit. But this product has always made a ton of money. It's just that they think it is not enough money. They are greedy," said Tom Gaulraupp, who has put in 33 years at the plant and is facing the prospect of becoming jobless at the age of 54.
Mark Shreck, a 36-year-old father-of-three, confessed he was one of the few workers not surprised at the layoffs, as this is the second time his job has moved to China. "I feel this is what companies do nowadays," he said. Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp
The Freeport workers have appealed to Bain and Romney to save their plant. The local town council, several Illinois politicians and the state's Democratic governor have all rallied to their cause. "This company is competitive globally. They make a profit here. But Bain Capital decided to squeeze it a little further. That is not what capitalism is meant to be about," said Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp, 52, pictured.
The anger towards Bain and Romney is palpable. Romney has become the target for the emotions of a community who built lives based on the idea of a steady manufacturing job: a concept out of place in the sort of fluid buy-and-sell world from which Bain prospers. "I didn't have a clue what Bain was before this happened," said Cheryl Randecker, 52. "Now when I hear Romney speak it makes me sick to my stomach."
'I'm sick to my stomach': anger grows in Illinois at Bain's latest outsourcing plan

Animation teacher faces the sack for refusing to push "unnecessary, expensive" textbooks at hedge-fund invested Art Institute of California

Mike Tracy teaches at the Art Institute of California—Orange County, but not for long. In a note on his Facebook page, Tracy explains that AIC-OC (whose parent company, EDMC, is 41 percent owned by Goldman Sachs) has told him he'll be fired if he doesn't agree to sell a quota of expensive and, in his opinion, unnecessary e-textbooks. Here's the note Tracy posted:
As many of you know, I have been in a dispute with our school, the Art Institutes, for some months now, over their policy of mandatory e-textbooks in classes where their inclusion seems arbitrary, inappropriate and completely motivated by profit. In July I asked the US Department of Education, the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education and WASC (our accrediting agency) to look into my concerns. Since that time, the school and its parent company EDMC have escalated the pressure on me to select a book for a class I teach that I don’t think requires one.
Today, the President of the school, Greg Marick, presented me with an ultimatum; either choose a book by Tuesday, Aug 14th or the company will terminate my employment for insubordination. My response, of course, is that I will not change my mind on this issue and that I’m determined to resist the policy however I can. I think this means that, as of this week, I will no longer be teaching at AI.
I want you, my students and colleagues to know that it has been my great honor and privilege to have worked with you over the last 11 years, and that I will miss the opportunity to work for you and with you. I have enjoyed my time as a teacher very much, but it appears as though it is now time to move on. Furthermore, you can count on me to continue the struggle that I have instigated on this issue, if only from the outside. Although it ain't over till it’s over, it looks like a 99.5% deal, barring an 11th hour change of heart by the corporation, which would surprise me.
Here's a petition from Tracy's colleagues and present and past students, asking the administration to reconsider its position.
Animation Teacher Faces Termination For Refusing To Sell His Students Unnecessary Books


Insurance company defends policy holder's killer in court

ProgressiveComedian Matt Fisher says: "On June 19, 2010, my sister was driving in Baltimore when her car was struck by another car and she was killed. The other driver had run a red light and hit my sister as she crossed the intersection on the green light… At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team. If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy."

Shooting at Texas A&M

Because it wouldn't be America without some mindless gun violence at a place frequented by young people.
Three people were killed Monday after a gunman exchanged fire with police near Texas A&M University's College Station campus. The dead included: the shooter, a police constable and a civilian.

Local police said that a handful of others had been taken to the hospital for treatment, including at least one other law enforcement official.
Time for another Romney fundraiser with NRA chief Wayne LaPierre.

Man Swims to JFK Airport

A man whose jet ski failed swam to JFK Airport, evading its $100 million, state-of-the art security system.  

Random Celebrity Photo

Sean Connery

The other Olympics

olympics bike crash
You may be one of those people who prefer the Winter Games to the Summer Games because the skating, sledding, and skiing all come with a risk of a slip and fall. You may have even avoided all the sunshine and brotherhood of the Olympics television coverage. For you, The Guardian has a gallery of images featuring the slips, falls, and screwups of the London Olympics. Warning: contains faceplants, falling horses, and one bloody face. More

The 2012 Olympics: Year of U.S. Women

U.S. women set the gold standard, both literally and figuratively, at the Olympics this year, providing an example for other countries.
U.S. women's soccer team

Women-only city planned for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is to build a new city exclusively for women. The Gulf kingdom is working on the narrow junction between strict Sharia law and the aspirations of active females who wish to pursue their own careers. ­The new plan is to combine women’s desire to work in the modern age and provide a job environment that would go hand-in-hand with the country’s Sharia law. The Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has been charged to lead the country into a new era. The ambitious mono-city is now being designed with construction to begin next year.

The municipality in the Eastern city of Hafuf is expected to attract 500 million riyals (£84m, $133m) in investments and it will create around 5,000 jobs in the textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing industries. There will be women-run firms and production lines for women. Saudi Sharia law does allow women to work, given that her essential duties of homemaking should not be neglected. But in reality around 15 per cent of women are represented in the workforce, according to some estimates. The Modon plan shadows the government’s desire for women to play a more important role in the development of the country.

"I'm sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suit their interests, their nature and their ability," Modon’s deputy director-general, Saleh Al-Rasheed, said. Saudi’s existing industrial cities already have factories owned by women, as well as companies that employ a small portion of the female population. Apart from Hafuf, the Saudis are developing more women-only projects. “We are now working on a second industrial city for women,” said Saleh Al Rasheed. “We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the kingdom.”

The kingdom’s rampant desire to boost its citizen workforce participation and change the women’s unemployment rate is also changing the retail landscape. The state is attempting to replace foreign salespeople with Saudi women in its female apparel shops. This summer, women started replacing sales staff in cosmetics and perfume shops, only half a year after they replaced male sales staff in lingerie stores. By the end of the year, women plan to replace their gender counterparts in stores selling abayas, the traditional black cloak worn by women. But despite the degree of emancipation, women's rights in Saudi Arabia are still defined by Islam and lack basic freedoms found in many Western cultures.

Health and safety officials ban statue's 'dangerous' arms

A planned new statue of the Jolly Fisherman, mascot of Skegness, has been criticized as “ugly” after it was redesigned due to health and safety concerns. For more than 100 years he has been greeting visitors to the seaside with his arms outstretched in welcome.
But now the Jolly Fisherman, the mascot of Skegness since 1908, has been ordered to adopt a less exuberant pose - on “health and safety” grounds. The design for a new statue on the town’s station plaza portrays the fisherman with his arms clamped by his sides, holding a beach ball and patting a seal pup.

Council chiefs said the change was necessary to prevent children swinging on the arms, getting hurt and claiming compensation. But they have agreed to reconsider the design after critics called it “ugly” and compared it to Buddha or a gargoyle. Mark Anderson, the mayor of Skegness, said: “We don’t want people to make a farce of our logo and our town, and this to me is a farce.”

Anita Ruffle, a senior manager at Lincolnshire county council, said: “We are trying to keep his arms in because we did feel there was the issue of health and safety.” A council spokesman said the aim was to avoid a design which would “entice children or whoever to swing on the arms of the statue, which might lead to some claims”.

There's a news video here.

It's the environment stupid

From (un)Happy, Texas - where the water ran out. - in the Texas panhandle town of happy, main street is entirely abandoned, save for the happy state bank. locals told me it’s been that way for decades, ever since they “ran out of water.” more accurately, the farmers irrigated so much the aquifer level fell below a level affordable enough to pump.

Drought in Colorado and nationally will lead to higher food prices. - coming soon to a grocery store near you: higher prices. pervasive drought in Colorado and much of the rest of the nation means more than just brown lawns and dried-up gardens. crops are stunted, and prices are rising

Drought taps out some water wells around St. Louis. - for months, farmers have been forced to drill deeper wells to water parched crops and feed livestock. but in recent weeks, homeowners across the state have reported that they can't perform basic tasks such as doing laundry or washing dishes, let alone even think about watering their flower beds

In Texas, water may be free, but it's not forever. - since there's not a whole lot of water falling from the sky, much of the farm belt is looking underground to local aquifers. but here's the thing about that: a new study in the journal "nature" says 20 percent of the world's aquifers are being over-exploited, including those in Texas 

U.S. drought exposes “hydro-illogical” water management. - the historic drought withering much of the united states this summer has revealed a need for strategies to better manage water supplies that could remain under severe pressure both this year and in the longer term

Mystery Rock Shelf Floating in Pacific

Floating pumice rocks are covering an area larger than Israel in the South Pacific.
Read more
Pumice island

A Timeline Of Future Events

While some predictions of science fiction have come to pass, if we were to compile a calendar of future events based on speculative fiction, we would run some hazards - not least the natural reluctance of authors to affix specific dates to their imaginings.

By leaving their dates murky, writers allow their predictions the possibility of eventually coming true. Looking forward to science fiction dates that have yet to come, here are some dates to put on your future calendar.

Pools In The Sky

Dubai, Melbourne, Zambia, and Bali are among the places with the most impressive cantilevered or otherwise exceptionally suspended water-based workout/hangout venues. If the Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao's swimming pool is to be believed, people aren't content with lounging on inflatable creatures in their backyard pool anymore. They want a truly unique - and dizzying - experience.

Iceberg Tsunami

Jens Møller, together with his uncle and an Australian tourist went to see a glacier just north of Ilulissat in Greenland. While filming from their boat, a large chunk of the glacier slid into the ocean and began making a large wave.

YouTube link

Hey, it's raining

The natural sound of rain can be very relaxing.
Get the rest you deserve by listening to the sounds of rain.


The Staging Posts Of The Desert
There were once thousands of caravanserai, staging posts for the weary traveler, dotted throughout Asia, North Africa and the South-Eastern parts of Europe. The Silk Road, an important and extensive trans-continental network of routes, was dotted with them. Many still survive, but more are abandoned and slowly turning to dust.

WWII "war sand" on the beaches of Normandy

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As much as four percent of the sand on the beaches of Normandy consists of shrapnel left over from D-Day. In a post about this at BLDGBLOG, Geoff Manaugh references a book called "Sand: The Never-Ending Story." The book is about the science and culture of sand, from the ocean floor to Mars. Written by geologist Michael Welland, it sounds like a fascinating read!

Retro Photo


Old time Trainmen of the Southern Railway
Old time Trainmen of the Southern Railway

Fire Ants and Technical Chaos

Fire ants are the geeks of the insect world. They seek out technology, particularly electric gadgets. And they have super powers, such as the ability to survive being cooked in a microwave oven. Don't believe me? Watch this clip from the BBC program Supernatural – The Unseen Power of Animals

The Honeypot Ant

Photo: Greg Hume/Wikipedia
It's a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie: a lair of ants with huge, swollen abdomen used as living food storage. But that, Neatoramanauts, is not science fiction. It's science fact!
Meet the honeypot ant, which belly can expand to the size of grapes as worker ants keep on feeding it "honey" (such as sugary extracts from oak galls, nectaror even liquids from the body of preys). During tough times, the honeypot ant will regurgitate honey to feed its colony.
These honeypot ants are so valuable that rival ant colonies often try to kidnap them, and they're so tasty that Australian Aboriginal people like to eat them like candies! Yum!

Giant Squid Eye

Photo: Christine Dell'Amore
That blob in a jar used to belong to a giant squid. That's right, you're looking at the eyeball of a giant squid looking right back at you!
Chris Mah of the National Museum of Natural History's Department of Invertebrate Zoology gave the tour:
The largest invertebrate, giant squid—along with their kin the colossal squid—also have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, which measure some 10 inches (25 centimeters) wide. The massive organs allow them to detect objects—like a hungry sperm whale—in the ocean depths. Peering close into the jar, the eyeball didn’t look all that different than ours, white with a round black pupil at the center.
Christine Dell'Amore of National Geographic News has the post: here

Shark vs. Octopus

When a shark and octopus meet on the field of battle, who walks... er... swims away?  
Battle: Shark vs. Octopus: Gotta-See Videos

Animal Pictures