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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, September 8, 2012

The Daily Drift

Just to remind some ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Athens, Greece
Binan, Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sofia, Bulgaria
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Sampaloc, Philippines
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Karachi, Pakistan
Ankara, Turkey
Keningau, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Lahore, Pakistan
San Jose, Costa Rica
Bangkok, Thailand
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Hanoi, Vietnam
London, England
Manila, Philippines
Skopje, Macedonia
Antalya, Turkey
Bogota, Colombia
Birmingham, England
Lima, Peru
Panama City, Panama

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

September 8
1504 Michelangelo's 13-foot marble statue of David is unveiled in Florence, Italy.
1529 The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman re-enters Buda and establishes John Zapolyai as the puppet king of Hungary.
1565 Spanish explorers found St. Augustine, Florida, the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States.
1628 John Endecott arrives with colonists at Salem, Massachusetts, where he will become the governor.
1644 The Dutch colony of New Amsterdam surrenders to the British fleet that sails into its harbor. Five years later, the British change the name to New York.
1755 British forces under William Johnson defeat the French and the Indians at the Battle of Lake George.
1760 The French surrender the city of Montreal to the British.
1845 A French column surrenders at Sidi Brahim in the Algerian War.
1863 Confederate Lieutenant Dick Dowling thwarts a Union naval landing at Sabine Pass, northeast of Galveston, Texas.
1903 Between 30,000 and 50,000 Bulgarian men, women and children are massacred in Monastir by Turkish troops seeking to check a threatened Macedonian uprising.
1906 Robert Turner invents the automatic typewriter return carriage.
1915 Germany begins a new offensive in Argonne on the Western Front.
1921 Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C., is named the first Miss America.
1925 Germany is admitted into the League of Nations.
1935 Senator Huey Long of Louisiana is shot to death in the state capitol, allegedly by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss, Jr.
1944 Germany's V-2 offensive against England begins.
1945 Korea is partitioned by the Soviet Union and the United States.
1951 Japanese representatives sign a peace treaty in San Francisco.
1955 The United States, Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Thailand sign the mutual defense treaty that established the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
1960 Penguin Books in Britain is charged with obscenity for trying to publish the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterly's Lover.
1960 President Eisenhower dedicates NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
1971 The Kennedy Center opens in Washington, DC with a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Mass.
1972 Arab terrorists kill 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
1974 President Gerald Ford pardons former President Richard M. Nixon for any crimes arising from the Watergate scandal he may have committed while in office.

Non Sequitur


Did hackers steal Romney's tax returns?

The Secret Service is investigating.

If this story is true it could be a bombshell for the campaign. The key graph in the pastebin posting from the hackers:
Romney's 1040 tax returns were taken from the PWC office 8/25/2012 by gaining access to the third floor via a gentleman working on the 3rd floor of the building. Once on the 3rd floor, the team moved down the stairs to the 2nd floor and setup shop in an empty office room. During the night, suite 260 was entered, and all available 1040 tax forms for Romney were copied. A package was sent to the PWC on suite 260 with a flash drive containing a copy of the 1040 files, plus copies were sent to the Democratic office in the county and copies were sent to the GOP office in the county at the beginning of the week also containing flash drives with copies of Romney's tax returns before 2010. A scanned signature image for Mitt Romney from the 1040 forms were scanned and included with the packages, taken from earlier 1040 tax forms gathered and stored on the flash drives.
A little while later the same party sent a ransom demand for $1 million in bitcoins, a purportedly untraceable digital currency.

Before people get too excited about this they should remember an earlier episode in which tapes of Bush preparing for his debate with Al Gore were stolen. The repugicans managed to turn a negative story for them into a scandal for the Democrats. This could be a dirty trick intended to neutralize the Romney Tax Returns issue by linking the Democrats to the extortion demand.

The one conclusion that is probably safe to draw from this affair is that there will be renewed government interest in shutting down bitcoin exchanges. The fact that the Secret Service is investigating rather than the FBI suggests that something of the sort may be in progress. The Secret Service was originally formed to safeguard the US currency against counterfeiters and they took the lead role in shutting down the eGold exchanges that preceded bitcoin.

$1 million would be a very large transaction for the Bitcoin network to handle. While the Bitcoin float is allegedly close to $100 million, this figure seems to be inflated by hoarding. It is unlikely someone could buy that much in bitcoins without the fact being noticed.

The truth be told

And I Quote

Churchill said, “The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.”

... and that's exactly what we had under the shrub and what Romney wants to bring back

Romney campaign caught lying about crowd at campaign event

What the Romney campaign claimed:

What actually happened:

The repugnazis

Romney didn't talk about troops because he didn't think they were important

The Democrats savaged Mitt Romney the other night at the Democratic Convention for not even mentioning the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone thanking them for their service, during his speech at the repugican cabal last week.
Today, Romney was asked about that criticism, and he explained that he didn't talk about America's service members in harm's way because he only wanted to talk about "important things."

Via ThinkProgress:
BAIER: To hear several speakers in Charlotte … they were essentially saying that you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. … Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech.

ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.
Well, that clears things up.

In fact, the criticism started with uber-wingnut Bill Kristol.

Gay war veteran talks to Mitt Romney

[Video Link] First posted in December, I just watched this excellent video of a Vietnam war veteran speaking with Mitt Romney about marriage equality. The vet was undecided about who to vote for before he spoke face-to-face with Romney, and by the end of the conversation he decided Romney's reprehensible homophobia made him unsuitable to be President.

Gov. Brown - Defy The Brewers of the World

We didn't see much of the immigrant-hating Governor Brewer at the rnc and it seems, with good reason:
“Voters generally aren’t thrilled with Jan Brewer’s job performance, but they don’t dislike her enough to recall her,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

I am lucky to live in a state that has tried to differentiate itself from Arizona's racist policies. For example, the legislature just passed a bill to allow some undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license. Now a new bill, The TRUST ACT, is sitting on Governor Jerry Brown's desk. It would prevent illegal immigrants from being detained and possibly deported for relatively minor legal entanglements such as traffic infractions and misdemeanors. Under the bill, arrestees who have previous convictions for a serious or violent felony will still be detained.

The measure’s sponsor, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, is quoted in a New York Times editorial and puts it this way: “We want police to distinguish between the woman selling tamales and the gang member who has a record.”

That draws a pretty clear line for Gov. Brown as he ponders whether to approve or veto the Act. If he waves it through, he will not only be doing the right thing, he will reap political rewards from the state's growing Latino electorate. If he opts for a veto, he will conversely be sowing seeds of distrust among Latinos and a sense of betrayal from immigrant rights organizations. That's what one expects from Brewer, not Brown.

Did you know ...

 That 38 companies have cut ties with ALEC

Click here to sign the petition to ask CNN to fire misogynist twerp Erick Erickson

Do some chimpanzees have a secret handshake?

Use the forks, Luke: a 500 pound, life-size, standing Darth Vader cake

About Bill Clinton's top ten ad libs in his DNC speech

This interview with lapsed christian virgin shows why purity messages are so messed up

About the muddling of the medicare issue

About dog shaming

The truth hurts

Who's Getting Fat Off Food Stamps?

A record number of Americans -- 46.7 million, or nearly one in seven -- now use the food stamp program, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The annual cost of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the food stamp program is officially known) hit $72 billion last year, up from $30 billion four years earlier.

SNAP's swelling size and cost have earned it fresh scrutiny from critics, who say SNAP is making two different constituencies fat -- big corporations and the poor -- the first, figuratively; the second, literally.

In-N-Out sued over hiring

A specialized menu is not the only secret popular fast food chain In-N-Out Burger has, a law firm has alleged in a class-action lawsuit filed against the Orange County company.

Wells Fargo mistakenly forecloses on the wrong house, destroys elderly couple's entire lifetime's worth of possessions

Wells Fargo mistakenly foreclosed on a home that had no mortgage, sending in a crew to steal all and throw out all the elderly homeowners' belongings. Alvin Tjosaas helped his father build the family home in Twentynine Palms, CA when he was a teenager, and the couple raised their own children there. The Wells Fargo crew destroyed their entire lives' accumulation of personal possessions. Wells Fargo says it is "deeply sorry" and that it is "moving quickly to reach out to the family to resolve this unfortunate situation in an attempt to right this wrong."

More from CBSLA:
Alvin, a retired mason, built the home with his father when he was a teenager.
“I know every inch, every rock…my mom mixed all the cement by hand,” he said...
“My little kids (would) come out here and their dresses were the same color as the wildflowers,” said Alvin...
“When you put your heart into something…it makes me real sad. I’m just glad I have my sweetheart. We’ve been together a long time,” said Alvin.
Owners Lose Possessions After Home Near Twentynine Palms Is Mistakenly Foreclosed

Donte Jamar Sims Arrested For Obama Threats On Twitter

Donte Sims Arrested Obama Threat  
A 21-year-old Charlotte man has been arrested by the Secret Service for allegedly posting threats to kill President Barack Obama on Twitter.
Authorities said Donte Jamar Sims was detained Wednesday. The Secret Service says Sims posted messages including one that said, "Ima Assassinate president Obama this evening!" on Monday morning, two days before Obama arrived in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.
Investigators say Sims told them he hated the president and was high on marijuana when he made the posts. When he found out he was being arrested, he wrote a written apology.
It wasn't immediately known if Sims had a lawyer. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Last Kiss: Photo of a Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde by Mo Gelber

Photo: Mo Gelber
Photographer Mo Gelber snapped this photo of modern day Bonnie and Clyde as they were marched into a Manhattan criminal court last month. Mo entered the photo, titled "Last Kiss" in Canon and director Ron Howard's Project Imagiat10n photo contest and made it to the final rounds, but there's a snag ...
The mystery photo caught the pair stealing their final kiss after a night of mischief.
Gelber launched an all-night search for them after getting a call from the Imaginati10n staff telling his picture was under consideration for the final round and that he needed the couple’s permission.
Early Thursday, Alexis Creque, 28, contacted Gelber, saying she and her boyfriend were the cuffed cuties. “We knew that we were going to be split up once we got to Central Booking,” Creque, 28, told The News explaining the passionate peck and that her boyfriend of five months is still “locked up somewhere in Brooklyn.”
Creque said cops busted her 26-year-old beau on August 15th after he was caught outside the trendy members-only Milk & Honey lounge on the Lower East Side writing on their outside wall.
“He’s a fine artist and does graffiti all over the city. A lot of people know him,” said Creque refusing to share her sweetheart’s identity.
Authorities are charging him in various boroughs for the spree of illegal street art while Creque said she was released because it was her first arrest. “I was just the look-out,” she said. “We had a crazy romance all summer. It is like a movie.”
Read more over at New York Daily News: here

Subject of hoax later arrested in Texas

A man flying home to Texas to celebrate his 29th birthday instead spent the day as the unwitting victim of a midair explosives hoax that forced the plane's return to Philadelphia.

Illinois Boy Wins $1,000, Donates Money to Neighbor Fighting Leukemia

Forget toys and video games.

When Wyatt Erber won $1,000, the Illinois third-grader knew exactly what he wanted to do with the money.

Study Shows Veterans May Be at Risk for Aging at Accelerated Rate

Men and women who serve their country come home every day only to suffer from mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

NFL Players At Risk For Neurodegenerative Disease

Just hours before the 2012 NFL season kicks off, a new study suggests that professional football players are three times more likely to have neurodegenerative diseases than the general population.

Why We Sneeze Into Our Elbows

The logic is simple: Kids touch things with their hands, not the inside of their elbows. But does it help? Read more
Why We Sneeze Into Our Elbows

Why Was 34,969 Count Von Count's Magic Number?

On August 23, 2012, Jerry Nelson dies. He was an American puppeteer, best known for his work with The Muppets. His most famous character is the arithmomaniac vampire Count von Count. The Count loved all numbers, but 34,969 in particular. Why?

Email Will Never Die

The Man Who Invented It Reveals Why
Texting, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter - we have dozens of ways to pass a message from one user to the next, and yet we keep coming back to email. Why? According to the man who sent the first one, Ray Tomlinson, because there's still nothing quite like it.

Possibly the most revealing statement that can be made about the power and perseverence of email is that - unlike almost everything else in the technology industry - how we use it has remained virtually unchanged for more than 40 years.

Why technology might not make children stupid, after all

All this newfangled technology is going to make young people stupid.
This is a very old argument, dating back (at least) to 370-ish BC, when Plato wrote the The Phaedrus. Like the better-known Republic, Phaedrus is written as a conversation between the character of Socrates and other people. At one point, Socrates tells a legend of an Egyptian god who invents writing and tries to give the gift of the written word to a wise king. The king is ... less than enthused.
For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.
Basically, all these damn books are going to make the kids dumb. This is usually my go-to story that I bring up whenever somebody is fretting too much about how the Internet will totally make kids stupid. But journalist Annie Murphy Paul has found an even better argument against techno-fear. At her blog, she quotes an interview with Jay Giedd, a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health:

Interviewer: So how well are our children handling multi-tasking in a digital age that changes, seemingly, by the hour? Early evidence suggests: pretty well. In fact, the human brain has a track record of successfully adapting to challenges it wasn’t initially designed to take on—such as reading.
Giedd: It’s sobering to realize most humans that have lived and died have never read. And so, we’ve been able to change what our brain does based on having the written word and having this environment. And so now the question is will we be able to change to keep up with the new flood of information coming from all kinds of sources. And up until now the human brain has done a great job of changing—adapting to these environments, but there are limitations to this capacity. And so it will be very interesting to see that these so-called digital natives… the children that have grown up never not knowing the multimedia devices… whether their brains will be able to adapt differently than older people.
You can read a larger excerpt of the interview on Paul's site, but the general gist is this: We might be missing the point when we worry about whether technology has gotten ahead of what our brains evolved to do. What our brains evolved to do is adapt. New technologies change the way we think—the shift from memorization to reading certainly did that. But that's not the same thing as making us stupid or stifling our capacity for creative thought. Instead, we take these tools and we find new ways to be creative. We take the tools and we use them to expand our knowledge of the world. It's what we did with books. Maybe we'll do the same thing with the Internet-rich, multi-tasking world we're building now.

Visible from space: Tire tracks on Mars

NASA's robotic rover Curiosity is making its mark on Mars, in a way so big that it can be seen from space.

Seven Ridiculous Things Cities Decided to Ban

eelThe laws are on the books, even if they are overridden by a repeal later. You have to wonder about the events that led the officials of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England to ban slapping people with eels.
Residents of Lyme Regis, Dorset, are no longer lawfully permitted to slap each other with a 5-foot-long conger eel. It’s officially known as ‘conger-cuddling’ or ‘doing the conger’, and the game — which involves knocking opponents off of a platform by swinging the dead fish at them — was both wildly popular in the community and a source of funding for a local lifeboat charity for 32 years. Despite its long history and general appeal, ‘doing the conger’ was banned in 2006 after an animal rights group complained that the game was disrespectful to dead animals.
Imagine a few friends sitting around one day long ago and deciding this would be a fun thing to do. I bet there was alcohol involved. Anyway, this is just one of seven weird things that cities have banned that you can read about here

Underwater Rifle

Enemies can be anywhere, so during the 1970s, the Soviet Union developed guns that could fire underwater. This selective fire rifle, the APS (Avtomat Podvodnyj Spetsialnyj), was among them. It could fire 5.66 mm darts from a 26-round magazine through a smoothbore barrel. The APS was deployed at least once:
The Russian government has publicly acknowledged only one instance of operational deployment.  In November 1989 at Malta, President George Bush and Russian Premier Mikail Gorbachev had meetings aboard a ship and the flotilla on which these two heads of state met were protected by a 16-man team of divers armed with the APS underwater assault rifle.
More and Video of an APS

Bus Stop With Swings

Pressure is building in Mr. Fuji's magma chamber

From the science column at Wired (U.K.):
The pressure in Mount Fuji's magma chamber is now higher than it was in 1707, the last time the nearly 4,000-metre-high Japanese volcano erupted, causing volcanologists to speculate that a disaster is imminent.

The new readings, taken by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, reveal that the pressure is at 1.6 megapascals, nearly 16 times the 0.1 megapascals it takes to trigger an eruption.

...warned that a massive eruption within three years would be likely because of several major factors: steam and gases are being emitted from the crater, water eruptions are occurring nearby, massive holes emitting hot natural gases are appearing in the vicinity and finally, the warning sign that pushed the professor to make the announcement, a 34km-long fault was found underneath the volcano. The fault, experts suggested, could indicate a total collapse of the mountainside if there is another significant shift, and it would probably cause a collapse in the event of an eruption, leading to huge mud and landslides.

Hitachi Seaside Park

The Miharashi No Oka hill offers visitors the sight of the panoramic splendor of the Pacific Ocean. Yet it is not the sea views that people come to see in Hitachinaka, a small city on the east coast of Japan. It is the Hitachi Seaside Park, devastated by the tsunami of 2011 but now restored to its former, somewhat bizarre, glory.

The Hitachi Seaside Park is not large, it covers only 3.5 hectares yet the flowers draw people from all over the Ibaraki prefecture and beyond. There is something on offer all seasons. It is truly famous for the nemophilas which wash the whole area in to a blue hue.

The wet get wetter and the dry get drier

The other day, a reader asked why I call climate change "climate change", instead of "global warming". The short answer is that, from my perspective, climate change does a much better job of giving people an accurate mental picture of what is going on. Global warming sounds like the world is just going to get hotter, and while that's technically true on a global-average-temperature-basis, it doesn't really reflect what's happening locally.
And, frankly, what most people care about is the stuff that happens locally.
Today, Treehugger posted this NOAA video, which does a really good job of explaining one reason why a rising global average temperature can end up creating different climate change outcomes in different places. It's a great 4-minute primer on why "global warming" is more than just warming.

Science News from a British perspective

Arctic melting at 'amazing' speed

BBC science editor David Shukman reports from Svalbard in Norway, where researchers say they are amazed by the speed at which Arctic sea ice is melting. 693

Horseshoe crabFossil records 'crab' death march

The behaviour of an ancient horseshoe crab in its final moments before death has been captured in the fossil record.
  • Race to save Arctic archaeology

    A recently discovered 500-year-old Alaskan settlement is rapidly falling into the Bearing Sea and disappearing sea ice accelerates erosion of the land.
  • Nasa rover 'sniffs' Martian air

    The US space agency's Curiosity rover uses its big onboard laboratory to measure the composition of the Red Planet's atmosphere.

H2O News

Global Ocean Sprawl May Boost Jellyfish

Artificial structures like harbors and shipping facilities offer habitat for jellyfish young to flourish. Read more

Top 5 Surprises From Climate Change

The impact that carbon pollution is having on the planet is happening now. The climate is changing and with it are coming many surprises. Read more
Florida coast

Hurricane Link To Climate Change Explained

Will hurricanes become more frequent or powerful because of climate change? We asked an expert. Read more
Hurricane Link To Climate Change Explained

Landscape Changes from Trawling Seafloor Massive

Bottom trawling is dramatically altering the ocean floor and harming habitats, similar to the way that farming has permanently changed the landscape. Read more

South America's Melted Ice Could Cover U.S.

The water melted from two Andean icefields over the past 12 years was enough to cover the U.S. in 1.2 inches of water. Read more
South America's Melted Ice Could Cover U.S.

Ivory: The New Blood Diamonds

Ivory has replaced blood diamonds as a major source of cash for criminal armies.  
Read more
Ivory: The New Blood Diamonds

X-Ray Of A Stingray

Japanese River Otter Declared Extinct

After 30 years without being seen, the Japanese river otter (Lutra lutra whiteleyi) has been declared extinct. Though droppings from the otter found in 1999 are still giving hope to some that maybe the animal is deep in hiding. At least Yoshihiko Machida, a professor emeritus at Kochi University still plans to continue searching for it, he told The Mainichi. But Japan's Ministry of the Environment holds no such optimism. Last week, it declared the otter and several other species extinct, including the horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus pumilus miyakonis), and from the island of Kyushu the Japanese subspecies of the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus). The bear, thankfully, can still be found elsewhere in Japan. More

Animal News

Cute Owl Loves Back Scratcher

When someone starts scratching this cute little owl, he melts on the spot. Read more
Cute Owl Loves Back Scratcher: Gotta-See Video

Bird Hunts on the Ocean Floor

This sea bird has a rarely observed method of food gathering; it dives to the ocean floor and hunts. Read more
Bird Hunts on the Ocean Floor: Gotta-See Video

Bear Encounters: More to Come?

Hunger and drought can drive bears toward populated areas. Could feeding them be the answer? Read more
Black Bear

5 Sharks, Rays Needing Urgent Protection

These five rays and sharks are getting priority attention at this week's IUCN World Conservation Congress. Read more
porbeagle shark

Mike Rowe Hunts Deadly Snakes

These are some of the most dangerous snakes in the world, and Mike has to grab them.  
Read more
Mike Rowe Hunts Deadly Snakes: Gotta-See Video

Animal Pictures


Perched cormorant (by Tambako the Jaguar)