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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.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Daily Drift

Light Show!
Some of our readers today have been in:
Ankara, Turkey
Athens, Greece
London, England
Kuantan, Malaysia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Panama City, Panama
Subang Jaya, Malaysia
As, Norway
Cape Town, South Africa
Stockholm, Sweden
Kuching, Malaysia
Tallinn, Estonia
Kajang, Malaysia
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Seremban, Malaysia
Zagreb, Croatia
Lima, Peru
Bayan Lepas, Malaysia
Krakow, Poland
Orleans, France
Santiago, Chile
Warsaw, Poland
Belgrade, Serbia
Bangkok, Thailand
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kalisz, Poland
Makati, Philippines
Beirut, Lebanon
Malang, Indonesia
Moscow, Russia
Lodz, Poland
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Tirana, Albania
Chisinau, Moldova

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Today In History

79 Mount Vesuvius erupts destroying Pompeii, Stabiae, Herculaneum and other smaller settlements.
410 German barbarians sack Rome.
1542 In South America, Gonzalo Pizarro returns to the mouth of the Amazon River after having sailed the length of the great river as far as the Andes Mountains.
1572 Some 50,000 people are put to death in the 'Massacre of St. Bartholomew' as Charles IX of France attempts to rid the country of Huguenots.
1780 King Louis XVI abolishes torture as a means to get suspects to confess.
1814 British troops under General Robert Ross capture Washington, D.C., which they set on fire in retaliation for the American burning of the parliament building in York (Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada.
1847 Charlotte Bronte, using the pseudonym Currer Bell, sends a manuscript of Jane Eyre to her publisher in London.
1869 Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York, patents the waffle iron.
1891 Thomas Edison files a patent for the motion picture camera.
1894 Congress passes the first graduated income tax law, which is declared unconstitutional the next year.
1896 Thomas Brooks is shot and killed by an unknown assailant begining a six year feud with the McFarland family.
1912 By an act of Congress, Alaska is given a territorial legislature of two houses.
1942 In the battle of the Eastern Solomons, the third carrier-versus-carrier battle of the war, U.S. naval forces defeat a Japanese force attempting to screen reinforcements for the Guadalcanal fighting.
1948 Edith Mae Irby becomes the first African-American student to attend the University of Arkansas.
1954 Congress outlaws the Communist Party in the United States.

Non Sequitur


Tropical Storm Isaac lashes northern Caribbean

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands braced for torrential rains on Thursday as Tropical Storm Isaac churned waves of up to 10 feet in the Caribbean and threatened to become a hurricane that could take a shot at Florida just as repugicans gather for their national cabal.

Vintage Photos

China's hard landing?

Somehow there are still a number of economists who can't (or don't want to) see that China is starting its hard landing. Believing in the next quarter, or the one after the next, is not facing the reality that all is not well in China. The economic growth is still well ahead of any Western country but that is completely irrelevant. China needs to maintain even higher growth in order to keep up with internal jobs demand or else things start to turn ugly.
The other problem that won't go away is that China needs buyers in the West and that market is not returning any time soon. China has the problem of 70% of its wealth concentrated in the hands of 1% so they do not have enough middle class buyers to fill in the gaps.

Each month another new sign shows problems and now it's more bad factory activity.
A key private sector indicator on Thursday - which showed Chinese factory activity slumped to a nine-month low in August against expectations of a modest seasonal pickup - throws up the question when the world’s second largest economy will finally hit a bottom.

The second quarter, during which growth slowed to 7.6 percent, was regarded by many economists as the bottom for Chinese economic growth. However, experts say this view may have been overly optimistic.

“(While) we still believe the Chinese economy will pick up steam in the fourth quarter, this idea that the bottom has already passed in May-June is optimistic,” Frederic Neumann, Co-Head of Asian Economics Research at HSBC told CNBC after the release of the data.

The truth hurts

A Tea Partier Decided To Pick A Fight With A Foreign President

... It Didn't Go So Well.
Michael D. Higgins (who was elected president of Ireland last year) is fed up with over-the-top Tea Party rhetoric, and he isn't afraid to show it. Listen to him call out radio host Michael Graham on everything from health care to foreign policy. Trust me, you don't want to miss this one.
By Mansur Gidfar  

ORIGINAL: By Michael D. Higgins. You can listen to the full interview here.

Hurricane Isaac heads towards repugican cabal

Because, as you know,  weather has a liberal bias
I'm not worried. The repugican party doesn't believe in science, so how can something you don't believe in hurt you?

The repugicans can just pass a platform plank saying Isaac doesn't exist.

(Interestingly, a hurricane also caused problems for the repugican cabal  in 2008.  But then again everyone knows the weather has a liberal bias.) 

The repugican "We Built It" convention receiving tens of millions in government funds

Not that the repugicans, and especially Mitt Romney, are beneath lying, but still - this ongoing "we built it" snafu is getting awfully embarrassing.
Every time Romney tries to highlight something supposedly built without government assistance, we find out that it was built with a LOT of government assistance.  There was Paul Ryan's family business.  Then Romney held a series of "we did build this" events around the country, only to find out that half of them didn't "build this" - they got government assistance, which was exactly the President's point.

And now we're finding out the same thing about the repugican party's downright-socialist convention site in Tampa.
The repugican party's convention site is creating an awkward reality at odds with the conservative media mythology that is at the center of the convention's theme.

In recent days, Faux News has praised repugicans for adopting "We Built It" as a theme for its upcoming convention. "We Built It" is based on the Faux-fueled distortion of President Obama's remarks tying the success of businesses to "this unbelievable American System" that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.

However, the selection of the repugican convention site actually proves President Obama's point about the role of government assistance. The construction of the Tampa Bay Times Forum was majority financed by the public; the arena is owned by local government; and the repugican cabal has received tens of millions in government funds to help with costs and security.
Public financing and government property - Paul Ryan's idol Ayn Rand would roll over in her grave.

Who is John Galt?  Not these guys.

A repugican Texas judge predicts civil war if Obama wins

I think its becoming federal prison time for some of these teasonists. This is an outrage.
It's like moron whack-a-mole these days...


Don't tempt us. Nothing would make my day like watching Texas join Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and any other racists they can find and try to form a new country. Be my guest. Texas will be so busy subsidizing all the other backwards poverty cases it won't know what hit it.
[Obama] is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN. Okay, what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst case scenario here. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. We’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington-Concord take up arms and get rid of the guy.

Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops — with the little blue beanies. I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County. Okay. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say ‘you’re not coming in here’. “And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him, I said ‘you gonna back me’ he said, ‘yeah, I’ll back you.’”
Also,  we were able to confirm that he is in fact a repugican judge.

It's amazing how much repugicans hate our country. After all, they're the only one who keep talking about leaving? Hell, Mr. Romney's family did leave. They hate our system of government (they can't stand the separation of powers, especially an independent judiciary). They can't stand gays, women, blacks, Latinos. Other than the Second Amendment, they don't seem to like the Constitution much either.

They do like the flag, but that's only when they don't have to think very hard about what it actually stands for.

They claim to like the military, but they don't - just look at the way they treated John Kerry for winning a medal for saving his fellow service members. And the way they use our service members without much thought given to the lives they're putting at risk (Iraq comes to mind, and don't forget the shrub's unwillingness to give our troops the body armor they needed). And they mock the commander in chief for having caught bin Laden.

So it figures Texans keep talking about leaving the US.  They and their party left America behind a long time ago.

A catholic cardinal to give benediction at his church's cabal (that'd be the repugican cabal)

Like this is new. The catholic church hopped in bed with the repugicans long ago.  I'm surprised we haven't yet heard of them cutting off communion to Democratic lawmakers - election year is their usual cue to try to swing the election to the repugicans.  It's like they don't even try anymore to pretend they're non-partisan, let alone simply an appendage of the repugican party (the religious equivalent of Faux News - all spin, no truth).
We always joke about how the repugican party would freak out if Jesus "that socialist hippie" actually came back.  But I'm starting to wonder if the reaction from the catholic church, or their buddies in the religious right, would be any different.  Because last time I checked, Jesus never took hostages.

He never turned a blind eye to the rape of children either.

"The repugicans Condemn Akin's Comments As Blemish On Party's Otherwise Spotless Women's Rights Record"

Hysterical from the Onion. It's short and good, no excerpt really possible, just go read it and smile.

Speaking of criminals ... perhaps Scott will actually be charged this time?

And repugicans can't you support ANYONE who is not an idiot and/or a criminal!?!?

miamiherald.typepad.comThe Miami Herald looks today at Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's role in the Medicaid fraud case at his ...

Random Celebrity Photo


Alice White 1929
Alice White 1929

Jail's Gardening Scheme Backfires when Prisoners Grow Pot

potA jail in western France allowed prisoners to maintain a garden to grow their own food. Alas, the prisoners decided to diversify their crops:
The plants, which had reached a height of around 80cm (two and a half feet) before being spotted at the weekend, were found in vegetable patches located in the exercise courtyard of the Saint-Martin-de-Re prison in the west of France, Christophe Beaulieu, a regional official of the prison officers' union, told AFP.
"When you don't know what you are looking for it is easy to confuse them with other plants," Beaulieu said.

Man in Custody After Locking Himself in Plane's Cockpit

A 37-year-old man was taken into custody after rushing on to an empty plane parked at a gate at Baton Rouge's Metropolitan airport and barricading himself in the cockpit.

Woman took husband to police for 'talking stupidly'

A Wisconsin woman made life a little easier for police on Monday when she drove to the police station and turned her husband in for annoying her.

An officer was about to stop a black SUV after noticing a burned out headlamp when the driver pulled into the parking lot outside La Crosse police headquarters.

She told the officer she had picked up her husband, Johnnie Bolds and wanted to drop him off because he was “talking stupidly” and swearing.

Bolds, 53, was arrested on a warrant from a felony drunken driving conviction. His wife received a warning for the headlight.

Hallucinating mother killed and ate her sons thinking they were pigs

A Thai woman accused of butchering, cooking and eating her two sons last week is believed to have done so because she hallucinated that they were pigs, Mental Health Department deputy director general Kiattiphum Wongrachit said on Tuesday.

"The woman killed her children because she didn't continue her treatment and didn't take her medication," Dr Kiattiphum said. Police last week received a complaint that a Musur woman butchered her two sons, aged one and five, in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district.

Police said they found her asleep at her home, with several body parts apparently from children near her. They took her in for questioning, but she did not respond to any of their questions. They did a background check on her and found that she had been treated for a mental illness in 2007.

The woman, a member of the Musur hilltribe whose name was withheld, will be kept under close watch in the hospital for a long time, he said. The hospital will check whether she is a drug addict and if she will need to keep her calm when she realizes that she killed her children, he said. She has been charged with murder, but being deemed mentally unfit to fight her case she was sent to Suan Prung Hospital for treatment.

Man arrested after attacking roommate with Wolverine claws

A man is facing a felony charge after police say he attacked his roommate with a weapon made famous by a comic book antihero. Kristofer Ryan Huff, 19, of Vernal, Utah, has been charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.

Random Photos


Why All-Night Cram Sessions Are Bad

We've all pulled an all-nighter cram session before the finals, despite others telling us that studying all night is actually worse than getting a good night's sleep.
Well, now science has spoken on why staying up late is not the best strategy:
... a new study published in the journal Child Development finds that when teens don't get the sleep they need on a given night, the next day all kinds of things can go poorly.
"What we learned is that when kids cram, particularly at the expense of sleep, the next day they're more likely to have academic problems even though they spent more time studying that night," explains researcher Andrew Fuligni of UCLA.
"These findings may come as a surprise to many researchers, educators, parents and teens who assume that more studying will surely lead to better grades," says Amy Wolfson, a professor of psychology at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
The study builds on a body of evidence that finds sleep and learning are inextricably linked.
"Lots of things happen during sleep," explains Helene Emsellem, director of The Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md. "We don't just physically restore ourselves." We also process all the information we've gathered during the day. "We take the information and organize it and make all the connections," Emsellem explains. Without adequate sleep, students don't learn as well.
Allison Aubrey of NPR's Morning Edition has the story: Here

The Big Bang Theory Apartments

floor plans
DeviantART member Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde (nikneuk) renders fictional TV apartments into detailed floor plans. Look hrough her gallery and you'll see the apartments of Friends, Frasier, and Carrie Bradshaw's apartment from Sex and the City plus a few other interiors. The floor plan shown is from The Big Bang Theory, showing Penny's apartment on the left, and Sheldon and Leonard's apartment on the right. It will enlarge considerably at the link .

Dining room table spontaneously "exploded"

On a recent Seattle morning, Adam Welch heard an crashing sound and saw broken glass everywhere. Turned out that his dining room had table spontaneously shattered. While spontaneous glass breakage is apparently a fairly rare phenomenon, there are several possible causes, according to Wikipedia. WCSH6 news took shards of Welch's table to Seattle Stained Glass for an expert opinion:
(Glass worker Justin) Ivy said if the glass has been damaged in the past, like a "deep scratch, a chip on the edge" that could cause problems.
"A hot pan, a bright sunny day, things like that, can cause thermal stress, and cause it to break. It can release that tension in the glass and cause it to just explode," Ivy said.

Robot Recognizes Self in the Mirror

Justin Hart and Brian Scassellati of Yale University have taught a humanoid robot named Nico to recognize its own reflection in the mirror:
Nico is the centrepiece of a unique experiment to see whether a robot can tackle a classic test of self-awareness called the mirror test. What does it take to pass the test? An animal (usually) has to recognise that a mark on the body it sees in the mirror is in fact on its own body. Only dolphins, orcas, elephants, magpies, humans and a few other apes have passed the test so far.
Precise recognition of where its body is in space will be key if Nico is to get to grips with the mirror test, which by its nature is performed in 3D. Before it does, though, the robot will need to learn more about itself. The team plan to teach Nico how to recognise where its torso and head are, what shape they are, and their colour and texture so it can see and react to the mark on its body.
So today, robots took the crucial first step toward becoming self-aware, tomorrow we beg Nico to open the pod bay doors to no avail! More

Watch This Brain Cell in Action

In this video you can actually SEE a neuron in the brain just going about its business being a neuron. Read more
Watch This Brain Cell in Action: Gotta-See Video

Science News

Antarctica warming 'not unique'Ice shelf break-up

The recent Antarctic Peninsula temperature rise and associated ice loss is unusual but not unprecedented, according to research.

White-handed gibbonGibbons 'sing soprano' on helium

Researchers record the sound of gibbons' calls in the presence of helium, finding that they use the same tricks as human soprano singers.

Rice growingWild rice gene gives yield boost

A gene from wild Indian rice plants can significantly raise the yield of common varieties in nutrient-poor soils by boosting root growth.

Arctic cap set for record melt due to warming

Brace yourself for the "climate change isn't real" week in Tampa. This is where we will have the opportunity to listen to people discuss the benefits of rape, talk about the world being created in seven days and ignoring science. The repugican cabal ought to be another mind numbing event.

The Arctic ice cap is melting at a startlingly rapid rate and may shrink to its smallest-ever level within weeks as the planet's temperatures rise, US scientists said Tuesday.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder said that the summer ice in the Arctic was already nearing its lowest level recorded, even though the summer melt season is not yet over.

"The numbers are coming in and we are looking at them with a sense of amazement," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the university.

"If the melt were to just suddenly stop today, we would be at the third lowest in the satellite record. We've still got another two weeks of melt to go, so I think we're very likely to set a new record," he told AFP.
Also brace yourself for keynote speaker Chris Christie as he talks about the benefits of austerity days after his state reported the worst unemployment levels in thirty five years.

Multiple factors, including climate change, led to collapse and depopulation of ancient Maya

A new analysis of complex interactions between humans and the environment preceding the 9th century collapse and abandonment of the ...
Continue Reading

Mayan Rocket

In 1952 Ruz Lhuillier was excavating the staircase of the Pyramid Temple when he found a sealed passageway that led to the burial crypt and sarcophagus of King Pakul. This was the first burial crypt found in Central America, let alone in a pyramid, and fueled a debate that the Incas were in some way connected to Egypt. The lid of the sarcophagus is the depiction of King Pakul.

Pacal (AKA Pakul) the Great ruled over the Mayan city of Palenque, in what is now southern Mexico, during the seventh century. Upon his death, he was buried inside a pyramid called the Temple of Inscriptions. The intricately carved lid of his sarcophagus has become a classic work of Mayan art—and an oft-cited piece of evidence for ancient alien theorists. In their view, Pacal is pictured in a spaceship during takeoff, with his hand on a control panel, his foot on a pedal and an oxygen tube in his mouth.
In the center of that frame is a man sitting, bending forward. He has a mask on his nose, he uses his two hands to manipulate some controls, and the heel of his left foot is on a kind of pedal with different adjustments. The rear portion is separated from him; he is sitting on a complicated chair, and outside of this whole frame, you see a little flame like an exhaust.

Pakal’s tomb has been the focus of attention by some “ancient astronaut” enthusiasts since its appearance in Erich von Däniken’s 1968 best seller, Chariots of the Gods?. Von Däniken reproduced a drawing of the sarcophagus lid (incorrectly labeling it as being from “Copan”) and comparing Pacal’s pose to that of 1960s Project Mercury astronauts, interpreting drawings underneath him as rockets, and saying it is supposed evidence of extraterrestrial influence on the ancient Maya.

Stories Of A Hollow Earth

In 1741 the Norwegian-Danish author Ludvig Holberg published 'Klimii Iter Subterraneum,' a satirical science-fiction/fantasy novel detailing the adventures of its hero Niels Klim in a utopian society existing beneath the surface of the earth. Peter Fitting, author of Subterranean Worlds: A Critical Anthology, explores Holberg's book in the wider context of the hollow earth theory.

Amazing Buildings Devoured By Sand

The deserts and sands are the best landscapes for finding old and abandoned buildings. The arid climate lends itself to preservation, and there is little danger of serious decay or damage from flooding.

At the same time, the sand is an ever-shifting geographic feature that can swallow whole towns both quickly or slowly. This article deals with the partially buried buildings in sand, some of which were abandoned for hundreds of years, and some only a few years.

Awesome Pictures


Monument Valley

Lobster is Cheap ...

... Except in Restaurants lobster 
Fishermen are hauling in a bumper crop of lobsters this year. The harvest started early and remains big. Wholesale prices are way down right now.
It’s clear that if you walk into a fish store that the price of live lobsters has indeed fallen sharply. But at the restaurants and seafood shacks that dot the coast, prices have fallen only modestly. Instead, the lobstermen’s pain is leading to windfall profits for restaurant owners, fueling dark talk of price fixing in some quarters.
The market-price scheme does work in reverse: When lobster prices rise, the market price does rise with them. If the price of lobster spikes, there’s no sense in a restaurant selling one at a loss even if you have empty tables. But the ratchet really only goes in one direction. When upward price swings squeeze margins enough, restaurants raise prices. But falling retail lobster prices generate big restaurant profits, angry lobstermen, and vaguely disappointed tourists.
Read more about how market forces shape the price of restaurant food at Slate.

Woman just misses record half-ton catch

A 5-foot-9-inch woman tournament fishing in Hawaii waters fought a 12-foot marlin more than four hours before getting it on her team's boat and weighing it at more than a half-ton - a would-be world record.

A rat that doesn't gnaw discovered

A unique new species of near-toothless rat that lives off earthworms and doesn't chew or gnaw has been discovered in Indonesia, research suggests.

Baby raccoons rescued and reunited with mother

An Arlington, Virginia, family recently had their house's chimney capped, not realizing that a raccoon mother and her four kits had been living inside.

Animal Control removed her and two babies from the house. "But the next day, someone heard more chattering," said Lori Thiele of the US Humane Society.

The babies probably hadn't nursed in more than 72 hours. Humane Society workers rehydrated them and placed them in what they call "a reunion box" with a camera nearby.

Sure enough, the raccoon mother returned after three days of separation, scooping them up and taking them to their new home.

Intrepid tortoise marched halfway across Scotland

A tortoise found wandering across a Stirling street is thought to have crawled all the way from Arbroath. The intrepid reptile, nicknamed Noddy by his rescuers because of his typically tortoise-like head movements, would have had to cover more than 72 miles to get to the spot where he was found. At a speed of 0.13mph, said to be average for a healthy tortoise, the trip would have taken him nearly 554 hours, or more than 23 days, non-stop. Experts at the Scottish SPCA say that in reality the determined tortoise may have taken months or even years to make the trip.

The charity, which is now caring for Noddy in its Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre at Balerno in Edinburgh, said that when he was found in Main Street, St Ninians, Stirling, on Saturday, he had a dog tag engraved with an Arbroath phone number glued to his shell. Charlotte Leask, 23, who spotted him, said: “My flat’s on the first floor overlooking the street and I had just looked out because I was expecting a friend for lunch. I noticed the traffic had stopped and drivers had put on their hazard lights. Then I saw there was this little thing walking up the middle of the road. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realized it was a tortoise.”

Ms Leask said she ran downstairs and rescued Noddy, and tried ringing the number on his shell. When she found the line was dead, she took him to Central Scotland Police headquarters nearby. Officers there called the SSPCA. She said: “He was a bit smelly and his shell was flaking from being out of doors for so long. He had potentially been on the road for a long time.” A spokeswoman for the SSPCA said: “Obviously, this tortoise once lived in Arbroath, and we can’t say for certain that he crawled all the way to Stirling, but it’s certainly not impossible.

“His shell is weathered and he has obviously been out of doors and on his own for a long time. It would be an incredible journey for a tortoise, but stranger things have happened.” Kenny Sharpe, assistant manager at the SSPCA’s Edinburgh and Lothians Animal Rescue and Rehoming Center, said Noddy was a male Hermanns tortoise. “He’s a friendly wee guy, although his shell isn’t in the best condition,” he said. “When we saw he had an identity tag stuck to him we thought we’d have no problem reaching his owner, but unfortunately the details have not been kept up to date.”

Turtle rescued after being taped to helium-filled balloons and sent flying

Authorities in California are looking for whoever taped a turtle to several balloons and sent it flying in an Oceanside neighborhood. The incident happened last Sunday afternoon. The turtle was spotted duct-taped and dangling from balloons that were caught high up in a eucalyptus tree. Some neighbors next door saw what was going on and tried to help the turtle.

"We look up and there's green and blue balloons up there," said resident Chanelle Wright. "He was just swinging his arms trying to get out of it. Somebody had taped him to the balloons." Wright said: "I called the Humane Society to try to get the fire department out here, but it took about an hour for everybody to actually show up." In the meantime, the turtle hung dangling in the wind. That's when Joel Rabagos' mother got out her camera and started taking video of the hanging turtle.

"When something like this happens, she always takes the video camera, no matter what it is," Rabagos said. The Oceanside Fire Department eventually arrived with a big ladder truck, but as they were about to rescue the turtle, a gust of wind blew him down to earth. A Humane Society employee cut the turtle free from the balloons. The employee said it was a box turtle. The animal wasn't physically hurt, but both Wright and Rabagos are outraged that anyone could treat an animal in such a cruel way.

"What were you thinking? I mean, a turtle is still life. There's no reason to be putting him up in a balloon and sending him off," Rabagos said. "It's animal abuse. If you didn't want the turtle, give it away, take it to a pet store," Wright said. The turtle is now being held at the Oceanside Humane Society while an investigation is conducted. If detectives can find out who taped the turtle to the balloons, they could face charges of animal abuse.

There's a news video here.

Animal Pictures