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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.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Daily Drift

You came!

Today some of our readers have been in:
Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
Bogota, Colombia
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Bangkok, Thailand
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Makati, Philippines
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Cebu City, Philippines
Muar, Malaysia
Manila, Philippines
Jakarta, Indonesia
Nicosia, Cyprus
Warsaw, Poland
Lviv, Ukraine
Santiago, Chile
Erbil, Iraq

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Today in History

1587   In the Roanoke Island colony, Ellinor and Ananias Dare become parents of a baby girl whom they name Virginia, the first English child born in what would become the United States.
1590   John White, the leader of 117 colonists sent in 1587 to Roanoke Island (North Carolina) to establish a colony, returns from a trip to England to find the settlement deserted. No trace of the settlers is ever found.
1698   After invading Denmark and capturing Sweden, Charles XII of Sweden forces Frederick IV of Denmark to sign the Peace of Travendal.
1759   The French fleet is destroyed by the British under "Old Dreadnought" Boscawen at the battle of Lagos Bay.
1782   Poet and artist William Blake marries Catherine Sophia Boucher.
1862   Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart's headquarters is raided by Union troops of the 5th New York and 1st Michigan cavalries.
1864   Union General William T. Sherman sends General Judson Kilpatrick to raid Confederate lines of communication outside Atlanta. The raid is unsuccessful.
1870   Prussian forces defeat the French at the Battle of Gravelotte during the Franco-Prussian War.
1898   Adolph Ochs takes over the New York Times, saying his aim is to give "the news, all the news, in concise and attractive form, in language that is permissible in good society, and give it early, if not earlier, than it can be learned through any other medium."
1914   Germany declares war on Russia while President Woodrow Wilson issues his Proclamation of Neutrality.
1920   Tennessee becomes the thirty-sixth state to ratify the nineteenth amendment granting women's sufferage, completing the three-quarters necessary to put the amendment into effect.
1929   The first cross-country women's air derby begins. Louise McPhetride Thaden wins first prize in the heavier-plane division, while Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie finishes first in the lighter-plane category.
1939   The film The Wizard of Oz opens in New York City.
1942   Japan sends a crack army to Guadalcanal to repulse the U.S. Marines fighting there.
1943   The Royal Air Force Bomber Command completes the first major strike against the German missile development facility at Peenemunde.
1963   James Meredith, the first African American to attend University of Mississippi, graduates.
1965   Operation Starlite marks the beginning of major U.S. ground combat operations in Vietnam.
1966   Australian troops repulse a Viet Cong attack at Long Tan.
1969   Two concert goers die at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York, one from an overdose of heroin, the other from a burst appendix.
1991   A group of hard-line communist leaders unhappy with the drift toward the collapse of the Soviet Union seize control of the government in Moscow and place President Mikhail S. Gorbachev under house arrest

Non Sequitur


The truth hurts

Unchain an honest discussion of race

I noticed something about Obama during the 2008 campaign. Unlike McCain, Palin, or even to a degree Hillary Clinton, Obama never showed anger. He never got indignant. He had to understand that at the first flash of the feared and loathed "angry black man" it would all be over. So he essentially ran for President with one arm tied behind his back.

In response he was called aloof, weak, and ineffectual. His family was attacked. FOX and Limbaugh feverishly worked to define Michelle as "an angry black woman". But he kept his cool, and he won. Had I been in his shoes there's no way I could have done it. I'm pretty sure precious few among us could've.

Of course, we should note, honest discussions about race and politics are forbidden. Disregard all you've learned about the Southern Strategy, voter suppression, etc. The GOP somehow struck a fabulous deal with the media where despite how racists they are we mustn't discuss it. WE MUSTN'T!

When I think about the GOP & media's relationship I picture the GOP in the role of an abusive alcoholic father p*ssing on the Christmas tree. Playing the role of the hysterical shell shocked wife is the media, desperately trying to ignore the dysfunction and pull off THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

The first child to reject a pee soaked gift will be accused of ruining everything and will be forced to apologize. The family will nod their heads in dismay at the wayward child. Some will discuss whether they should send the kids to bed without dinner or perhaps institutionalize them. After all they might be dangerous!

I for one am done with the charade and think a lot of us are. Whether it's Joe Biden's "chains" comment or MSNBC's Touré, who's still in the punishment corner, there's a sense that the curtains are being pulled open and the bright, unforgiving light is beginning to shine in.

Right now Mom & Dad are p*ssed! Neighbors are peeping in to see them flinging Touré around by his fair. Blinded and disoriented by the light everyone's stumbling over wet boxes in a desperate attempt to draw the curtains.

There's a sense right now the kids are sick of playing along and that anything could happen. I find all of this chaos terribly exciting. One strong yank of the drapes and I'm going to make a run for it.

And I Quote

"Hey Mitt: you give back all the jobs & health insurance & retirement benefits you took from the middle class. We'll quit attacking you for taking 'em."
   ~  Paul Begala, in a Tweet

Did you know ...

That a study finds wingnut radio promotes echo-chamber of hate speech

That creepy people can literally give you the chills

The super rich holding $7 trillion overseas to avoid paying taxes

About 7 ways to annoy your flight attendant

Ryan Now Rejects Ayn Rand

Who is this principled, intelligent flip-flopper, again?

Ryan Then:
It was in 2005 that Rep. Ryan, while speaking at a Washington gathering to honor Ayn Rand, shared the news of Ms. Rand’s impact on his life and career. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

Ryan Now:
I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas, who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. Don’t give me Ayn Rand.

Really? Just like that, you suddenly dump your inspiration to please who -  the catholics?

This reminds me of Bush the Smarter in 1980 (I'm really old.)

The Mob/CIA/Pentagon industrial complex needed a warlord in the White House in 1980, so they pressured Reagan to ask Bush the Smarter to be his VP running mate.

One Hitch: Bush was Pro-Choice in 1980 (they always hide that fact and the Democrats are too goddamn polite to ever bring it up) so Reagan told Bush, "You have to be Pro-Life to be on the ticket with me," and what was Bush's reply?

"Fuck those women - I'm in!" and the BFEE global crime spree was born.
A repugican will change his fundamental beliefs for a goddamed grilled cheese sandwich.

Ryan sought stimulus funds while decrying program

In 2009, as Rep. Paul D. Ryan was railing against President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package as a "wasteful spending spree," he wrote at least four letters to Obama's secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups, according to documents obtained by the Globe.
The advocacy appeared to pay off; both groups were awarded the economic recovery funds -- one receiving a $20 million grant to help thousands of local businesses and homes improve their energy efficiency, agency documents show. Ryan’s letters to the energy secretary praising the energy initiatives as he sought a portion of the funding are in sharp contrast to the House Budget Committee chairman’s image as a Tea Party favorite adamantly opposed to federal spending on such programs.

Krugman explains what's in the Ryan plan

In the interest of keeping you informed, I bring you the Professor, briefly back from vacation, to give you the low-down on Paul Ryan's budget plan.
You've probably heard it vilified. You've probably not heard it explained.

According to Krugman, the Ryan budget has two phases, the first ten years, prior to the conversion of Medicare to VoucherCare, and the years after that conversion.

Krugman on the first ten years (all emphasis mine):
In the first decade, the big things are (i) conversion of Medicaid into a block grant program, with much lower funding than projected under current law and (ii) sharp cuts in top tax rates and corporate taxes.

Is this a deficit-reduction program? Not on the face of it: it’s basically a tradeoff of reduced aid to the poor for reduced taxes on the rich, with the net effect of the specific proposals being to increase, not reduce, the deficit.
How does Ryan get to claim that the deficit will be reduced in this phase? "Magic asterisks" — assertions that can't possibly be true, but which everyone accepts.
First, he insists that the tax cuts won’t reduce revenue, because they’ll be offset with unspecified “base-broadening”.
"Base-broadening" means broadening the tax base (taxing more things and/or closing loopholes). Right; lift your glass and say "Never gonna happen."
Second, there are large assumed cuts in discretionary spending relative to current policy[.]
Both of these assertions (magic asterisks) were made without the hint of a shred of a list showing what they would do. That's what makes the asterisks magic; like Tinker Bell, you just gotta believe.

After the first ten years, VoucherCare starts to kick in, which transfers a whole lot of medical costs back to Granny (and all of the suckers who voted for him). But the plan is still not a deficit-reduction plan unless there are major cuts to ... ready? ... the military:
[M]uch of the supposed deficit reduction comes not from Medicare but from further cuts in discretionary spending [which eventually falls] to 3.5 percent of GDP ... this number includes defense, which is currently around 4 percent of GDP.
Of course these are just lies to fool the eagerly-fooled press and the wingnut rubes. The plan's proponents know these are just assertions.

All you need to know? Ryan proposes:
[S]lashing Medicaid, cutting taxes on corporations and high-income people, and replacing Medicare with a drastically less well funded voucher system.
It's the asterisks that make this look like "deficit reduction."

The repugican party again makes it more difficult to vote in Pennsylvania

Seriously, why do repugicans hate our system so much that they keep making it more and more difficult to participate? They're always happy to spend money and let people die for the cause of "spreading democracy" but they certainly are against it at home.

The Inquirer:
On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state's new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote.

A spokesman for the Department of State said county elections officials told the agency that implementing the new online initiatives as well as voter ID requirements was too much to handle less than three months before the election.

But Stephanie Singer, the top elections official in Philadelphia, said she was unaware that there was an issue with setting up a system to allow voters to register and apply for absentee ballots online, and said shifting more activity online would actually make for less paperwork.

The truth be told

Criminal Charges Dropped Because Defendant is TOO Guilty

How do you get criminal charges against you dropped? Here's the unusual story of how one fugitive got the Feds to drop the charges against him: he's TOO guilty!
The federal government has more than 400,000 pages of evidence against fugitive Miami doctor Armando Angulo, taking up some two terabytes of digital space. On the surface, it sounds like a pretty solid case. But at the urging of prosecutors, charges were dropped against the doctor because the evidence is simply taking up too much space on government servers.
"Continued storage of these materials is difficult and expensive," wrote Stephanie Rose, the U.S. attorney for northern Iowa, describing the ongoing evidence storage as "an economic and political hardship" for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
As the Associated Press notes, the collection of evidence against Angulo, who is charged with illegally selling prescription medicines online, is enough to print the classic novel "War and Peace" 625,000 times.

Pussy Riot, sentenced to two years in a penal colony, release new anti-Putin single

Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk trio who've been on trial for singing an anti-Putin song in an Orthodox cathedral, have been sentenced to two years' hard labor in a penal colony. The band released a new single to coincide with the verdict, for which the Guardian has created an accompanying video, above. Below, an excerpt from Miriam Elder's coverage:
Pussy Riot's supporters and opposition activists accused Putin of personally orchestrating the case against them. "They are in jail because it is Putin's personal revenge," said Alexey Navalny, the opposition's de facto leader. "The verdict was written by Vladimir Putin."
The three women were arrested in March after performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The case against them is seen as serving two functions: a warning to other dissidents, and an appeal to Putin's conservative base. Russia's growing campaign against gay rights is seen as a part of that effort, and on Friday Moscow's main court upheld a 100-year ban on gay pride rallies.

Kalashnikov sales to America boom

Izhevsk, the town in Russia where the Kalashnikov rifle is made, is booming. The town is exporting Kalashnikovs by the boatload to the USA, where gun collectors are snapping them up. It's likely the case that more Americans will by killed by other Americans wielding Kalashnikov than were ever killed by Russians with the Soviet-era gun. Andrew E. Kramer has more in the NYT:
“I bought a Saiga because it was made in Russia, right beside its big brothers, the AKs,” Josh Laura, a garage door installer and former Marine in Maryville, Tenn., said in a telephone interview. “No rifle in the world has been as reliable as this one.”
Selling rifles to Americans and other civilians is fundamental to the efforts to save Izhmash, which has made Kalashnikovs since soon after their invention in 1947 but is now struggling.
Demand for new military guns in the Kalashnikov family has evaporated. Simple, durable and relatively cheap to manufacture, about 100 million have been produced over the decades, or about one for every 70 people on earth. Inventories are overflowing, used AK weapons have flooded the market, and cheap Chinese knockoffs are stealing many of the customers that remain.
Importing Russia’s Top Gun

Things you don't see everyday

What Makes a State Fat or Thin?

Colorado is the leanest state once again, while Mississippi has the highest rates of obesity. How does geography play a role? Read more

American Pi

US Population Hit 314 Million People
 Americans celebrate Pi Day on March 14 (3/14), but earlier this week on August 14, we celebrate something kind of related:
Just after 2:29 p.m. EDT today, the American population reached 314,159,265, or pi (3.14159265) times 100 million, according to the Census Bureau's population clock.
"This is a once in many generations event ... so go out and celebrate this American pi," demographer Howard Hogan said in a statement from the Census Bureau.
Megan Gannon of LifeScience has the story: here

Teens with ADHD may need help making transition to college

For students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, making the transition to college can be especially difficult.

Scientists identify senior 'super' brains

A group of 80-year-olds is making scientific waves because of an uncanny ability to age gracefully, from a cognitive standpoint.

Why Misquotations Catch On

You've probably heard the phrase 'Beam me up, Scotty'. Or Humphrey Bogart's iconic 'Play it again, Sam'. They were never actually uttered. In the world of speeches and orations, especially historical ones, the persistent misquotation is understandable. If you're a journalist - especially in the pre-recording age, when all notes were taken by hand - you might then type that mis-remembrance into an article. Multiple versions circulate. And so on.
But in the modern age, where basically everything is track-downable, what's our excuse? Why do misquotes arise - and why are they so persistent and hard to eradicate?

No more spells, hexes, or prayers on eBay

eBay is banning the sale of spells, hexes, healings, blessings, prayers, and other similar supernaturalia. From CNN:
Beginning in September, the site is banning the sale of "advice, spells, curses, hexing, conjuring, magic, prayers, blessing services, magic potions, [and] healing sessions," according to a policy update.
The company is also eliminating its category listings for psychic readings and tarot card sessions.
Has anyone actually been buying magic on eBay? It seems so: The site's "spells and potions" category currently has more than 6,000 active listings and happy feedback from quite a few satisfied buyers.
"Best spell caster on Ebay," one customer wrote after a recent purchase.
"Wonderful post-spells communication!" another raved. "We bought 4 spells! Highly Recommend!"


World's Nerdiest Cult Leader pyhagoras 

Historically, cults and their leaders haven't had much luck getting good publicity. Maybe it's because of their intense religious fervor or their creepy recruiting methods, but most people do their best to avoid these cliques (not to mention the punch they serve). But hey, they aren't all bad. Ancient mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras had his own cult (er, "brotherhood") and if it weren't for him, children today might not be stuck at their desks trying to understand the multiplication tables. While most of Pythagora's philosophical beliefs seem pretty normal now, his theories on mathematics, music, and astronomy truly salvaged his legacy from "total whackjob" to "the father of numbers."
Pythagoras was born on the island of Sámos (off what is now the western coast of Turkey) around 580 B.C.E. As a child, he spent most of his time writing poetry, reciting Homer, and learning to play the lyre. So he was a little precocious, to say the least. By the time Pythagoras turned 22, he pretty much absorbed everything his primary teacher, Pherecydes, had to offer in the areas of math and astronomy, so he was promptly shoved off to Egypt to further his studies. Luckily for our young scholar, this allowed him to get the heck out of Sámos, which was fast becoming a seething pit of unrest thanks to the ruling tyrant, Polycates.
Pythagoras made a quick beeline for the land of the Sphinx and immediately sought out the knowledgable priests of Egypt. But temple after temple turned him away, refusing to let him study with them because he didn't have the proper training in fasting and breathing. That is, until he arrived on the steps of the temple at Diospolis. There, Pythagoras was allowed to experience this training under their guidance, and, if able to endure the "hazing," would be admitted.
no beansAfter completing the rites necessary for admission (and learning the extraordinariily complicated Diospolis handshake), Pythagoras was accepted into the priesthood. He spent the next 22 years there, learning geometry and cosmology while embracing the priesthood's other traditions, such as living life without personal possessions, adhering to a vegetarian diet, and, perhaps most famously, being strictly forbidden to eat beans. Although many historians are unsure why, some have postulated that the bean ban was due to the fact that they caused flatulence (still do), which destroyed the mental peace the priesthood of Diospolis felt was necessary for meditation. Another school of thought notes that black and white beans were used for voting at the time, and remaining sans beans was the equivalent of being apolitical. But, beans or not, during Pythagoras' time as a leader in this brotherhood, he began to develop philosophical beliefs that would one day become the cornerstone of his own teachings.
At Diospolis, Pythagoras wholeheartedly embraced the belief that the world was ruled by a harmony that could best be expressed in terms of numerical relationships. His first proof of this: the beloved Pythagorean Theorem, stating that, "the sum of the areas of the squares on the legs of a right triangle is equal to the area on the square of the hypotenuse." Or, more simply put, "a2+ b2 = c2."

Historians actualy suspect that older civilizations were aware of this relationship betweens the sides of a right triangle, but that Pythagoras was the first to confirm it mathematically. And although there's nothing in writing to prove such (Pythagoras was one of  those sneaky philosophers who kept nothing written down), it's somewhat supported by the fact that, during Pythagoras' time in Egypt, Egyptian architects began using the theorem to assist them in construction.
But keep in mind that Pythagoras wasn't one of those guys who simply holed himself up like an obsessed calculus student studying for finals (that would come later). He also spent much of his time in Egypt trying to better himself as a person. Building upon the priesthood's beliefs that each human should be pure and act only in a positive manner, Pythagoras began creating a list of "golden words." This was a selection of 71 phrases that would encourage people to attempt to ascend to the highest level of goodness -rules and guidelines from the best way to pray to how to stir a fire correctly. Although his quirky aphorisms reeked of an egomaniac overcome with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, his saying helped influence the Greek medical text, the Hippocratic Oath, which first required doctors to adhere to  professional standards to "do no harm."
triangleHaving spent half his lifetime away from home, Pythagoras finished his studies in Egypt and returned to Sámos. There, he quickly developed a following based on his ideals and philosophies, which were known as "the semicircle of Pythagoras." When not talking numbers with his semicircle crew, he was living in a cave. A really dark, lonely cave, but one in which he must have been able to do some darn good thinking.
During this period in his life, Pythagoras applied his theories on numbers and their ratios to his second love, music, creating the "first" modern musical scale. Like an ancient Good Will Hunting, Pythagoras saw numbers in everything. So when he looked next to the heavens, he was able to roughly determine how all the planets moved within the solar system, and that the Earth was indeed round. Such theories were adopted later by German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, who is best known for one of the earliest and most accurate models of our solar system.
philosoraptorMuch like modern hippies, Pythagoras and his posse practiced vegetarianism, wore no fur, and disavowed private property. Of course, also like modern hippies, his ideas were often approached with fear and derision. In fact, Pythagoras' beliefs were too mad for Sámos, and the group was eventually forced to leave town, ending up in southern Italy. In the city of Crotona (later Croton), Pythagoras founded a philosophical and religious school based on his life experiences and beliefs (and grew a long, white, phiosopher beard). Appointing himself head of the society (thank you very much), Pythagoras dubbed his inner circle of followers the mathematikoi. He was then quick to incorporate all that he had come to value, including the elaborate process one had to endure in order to gain acceptance in his "exclusive group." His Confucious-style sayings were accompanied by the strict belief that the substance of all things was a relationship of numbers, and without it, few things in the universe could exist. Before, Pythagoras had evolved from a learned man into a well-known and mystical leader of an oft-misunderstood cult.
Strangely, no one is absolutely sure how Pythagoras met his end. While some believe he died in the quiet darkness of his own temple, others suspect those who were threatened by his beliefs killed him in the most ironic of places: a bean field.

Could Your Cell Phone Become a Pocket Taxonomist?

Today's hikers can take pictures of organisms with their mobile phones. Tomorrow's hikers may be able to do much, much more. More

Dirt: The Incredible Ecosystem Beneath our Feet

It's time to renew your childhood delight in mud pies! Soil and dirt is teeming with living creatures and forms an intricate ecosystem that brings the dead back to life. More

Retro Photo

Red state drought

I don’t have any empathy for all these repugican farmers in the Red states that don’t believe in global warning because Lush Dimbulb say’s so.
You reap what your sow.

Did you see, near St Louis, the Mississippi River has gone down so much that a longer-than-a-football-field ship built in 1882 (and sunk in 1884) has just resurfaced.
Check it out.

July was hottest on record in US

Wait, but are we sure global warming is for real? Just because the science is once again showing that there's a problem, it's probably best that we pretend as though there is not a problem.

Be sure to click through to see the map that shows the temperature changes. As you might imagine, the US was mostly much warmer than the recent historical average.
July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the contiguous (lower 48) United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It turns out that the month was pretty warm globally as well, lining up as the fourth warmest July since modern record-keeping began in 1880.

The map above shows temperature anomalies for July 2012, as analyzed by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). That is, the map shows how much warmer or cooler each area was in July 2012 compared with the average for the month from 1951–1980. To build their map, scientists at GISS use publicly available data from 6,300 meteorological stations around the world; ship-based and satellite observations of sea surface temperature; and Antarctic research station measurements. For more explanation of how the analysis works, read World of Change: Global Temperatures.

Future Violent Space Weather a Key Concern

The sun and its impact on Earth has been identified as an area of study that needs increased investment. Read more
Future Violent Space Weather a Key Concern

The Soviets' First Space 'Rendezvous'

Fifty years ago this week, two Soviet cosmonauts staged a supposed rendezvous in space...except it wasn't exactly a rendezvous. Read more
The Soviets' First Space 'Rendezvous'

Star Cluster Crash Seen by Space Telescope

Two merging star clusters are seen in a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way.

City Lights


Times Square at dusk, 1932
Times Square at dusk, 1932

Navy's oldest commissioned warship to sail again

In this July 21, 1997 file photo, the Blue Angels fly in formation over the USS Constitution as she free sails off the coast of Marblehead, Mass., in celebration of her 200th birthday.

Lost Antarctic History Found Off Greenland Coast

The wreck of the 'Terra Nova', vessel of Robert Falcon Scott's last Antarctic expedition, has been found off Greenland. Read more
Lost Antarctic History Found Off Greenland Coast

Awesome Pictures

19910728 06 Black Canyon of the Gunnison by davidwilson1949 on Flickr.

Dog left on mountain rescued

When a dog was stranded high on a Colorado mountain, it was a group of men that came to the rescue.
In related news:

Ten Shades of Gray

Sexiest Sharks
In honor of Shark Week, best-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey inspired us to imagine a fish fantasy version of the trilogy.  

Great White Shark

Shark Teeth Weapons Reveal Surprises

Weaponry created more than a century ago on a small Pacific island chain came from mystery sharks. Read more
shark teeth

Giant catfish ransacked couple's home

A Chinese couple claim their home was ransacked by a giant catfish. Xu Xianmin and his wife claim the fish sneaked into their home, in Changji, Xinjiang Province, when their backs were turned.
They thought their one-room home was empty when they locked up to leave for their jobs as sanitation workers at 4am. But when they came back at 9.30am, it had been trashed. They thought they had been burgled until they saw something moving on the floor. "I thought my home had been ransacked by thieves. The table was turned over, and stacked plastic bottles were everywhere," said Xu.

"When I was picking up things from the other side of the table, I suddenly touched something cold and slippery, and it was moving!" After asking neighbors for help, they found a huge catfish on the floor. A baffled Xu added: "No thieves would leave a giant fish in the house while stealing nothing. And it's not possible that someone threw the fish in through the window, as the door and windows were locked.

"All we can imagine is that the catfish somehow sneaked into the house in the time between us opening the door and then leaving for work." To add to the mystery, the couple's home lies in a residential area with no river or pond nearby. A local aquatic expert said the catfish was at least three years old and would be able to survive out of water for a relatively long time.

Animal Pictures