Welcome to ...

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, September 19, 2012

The Daily Drift


Autumn interpretation
Autumn officially arrives around 10:30 in the morning on Saturday  September 22.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuantan, Malaysia
Tallinn, Estonia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Ankara, Turkey
Kingston, Jamaica
Warsaw, Poland
Bangkok, Thailand
George Town, Malaysia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Bangi, Malaysia
Slough, England
Kota, Kniabalu, Malaysia
Carthage, Tunisia
Poznan, Poland
Makati, Philippines
Kulim, Malaysia
Panama City, Panama
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Lima, Peru
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Manila, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Moscow, Russia
Belgrade, Serbia

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1356   In a landmark battle of the Hundred Years' War, English Prince Edward defeats the French at Poitiers.
1544   Francis, the king of France, and Charles V of Austria sign a peace treaty in Crespy, France, ending a 20-year war.
1692   Giles Corey is pressed to death for standing mute and refusing to answer charges of witchcraft brought against him. He is the only person in America to have suffered this punishment.
1777   American forces under Gen. Horatio Gates meet British troops led by Gen. John Burgoyne at Saratoga Springs, NY.
1783   The first hot-air balloon is sent aloft in Versailles, France with animal passengers including a sheep, rooster and a duck.
1788   Charles de Barentin becomes lord chancellor of France.
1841   The first railway to span a frontier is completed between Stousbourg and Basle, in Europe.
1863   In Georgia, the two-day Battle of Chickamauga begins as Union troops under George Thomas clash with Confederates under Nathan Bedford Forrest.
1893   New Zealand becomes the first nation to grant women the right to vote.
1900   President Loubet of France pardons Jewish army captain Alfred Dreyfus, twice court-martialed and wrongly convicted of spying for Germany.
1918   American troops of the Allied North Russia Expeditionary Force receive their baptism of fire near the town of Seltso against Soviet forces.
1948   Moscow announces it will withdrawal soldiers from Korea by the end of the year.
1955   Argentina's President Juan Peron is overthrown by rebels.
1957   First underground nuclear test is takes place in Nevada.
1985   An earthquake kills thousands in Mexico City.

Bright foliage expected after disappointing 2011

An optimistic forecast has inn owners expecting brisk business when leaf peepers visit the Northeast this fall, with some hoping to recoup losses from last year after images of Tropical Storm Irene swallowing up bridges and roads scared visitors away from Vermont and other affected areas.
The Woodstock Inn & Resort had to cancel reservations for all of September last year due to flood damage. After multimillion-dollar renovations, it's quickly filling up for the five-week season and nearly booked for Columbus Day weekend.
"There's almost pent-up demand from people that missed out last year and they're very excited to be here this year," said Courtney Lowe, the inn's marketing director.
After Irene tore through Vermont at the end of August 2011, national news showed images of floodwaters carrying away roads and bridges, including several of Vermont's iconic covered bridges. Some would-be tourists from Texas and California canceled last fall at the Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield, and the inn was down nearly 25 percent in September.
"When they saw the covered bridge go down the river, and in their world, from Oklahoma to California (to) Texas, every bridge in Vermont" was destroyed, even though only pockets of the state were battered, said Round Barn Farm co-owner Tim Piper.
The inn made up some of the business in October, though, Piper said, when visitors from other parts of New England and from New York made the trek, partly to see the foliage, partly out of curiosity, and partly to help the economy. Vermont reaps more than $300 million from the foliage season, and fall tourism brings in an estimated $1 billion in neighboring New Hampshire.
Now, the inn is nearly full for the foliage season.
"This year, our numbers are back on track to where they should be," he said.
Several couples who were stranded at the Notchland Inn in Hart's Location in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for two days during last year's storm are returning this fall.
"We should have a decent foliage season as long as Mother Nature cooperates," said co-owner Ed Butler.
Visitors should see the show they're expecting.
Dry spells this summer aren't likely to hamper the fall colors in forests and mountains, experts predicted, and could even heighten them in some spots.
Light and the length of days are the chief factors for when trees start revealing the yellows, oranges and reds of fall. The key to the deep reds are cold snaps that stimulate the development of another pigment, said Michael Snyder, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
Visitors could see some brown patches where trees growing in thin soils are dry or where trees are under some other stress and have turned early.
But the dryness also could enhance the color in some spots.
"We've had nice dry, hot summer," said Maine's foliage spokeswoman, Gale Ross. "We're setting ourselves up for an ideal foliage season." She's already fielded numerous inquiries from potential leaf peepers, even one from China.
The bulk of Maine's trees will turn color within the next few weeks.
The season's first online foliage report Wednesday showed leaves still green in the lower two-thirds of Maine. But in the far northern and northwestern parts of the state, 10 to 30 percent of the leaves had changed, marking the start of the season.
Tourism officials in New York's Adirondacks and Catskills said the storms didn't deter visitors overall last year, especially after word spread that a key road in the Adirondacks was quickly repaired.
But there were pockets of disruption.
Christman's Windham House is in an area of the Catskills that was hit hard by Irene.
Owner Brian Christman said there was damage around the 49-room hotel and 27-hole golf course in the Greene County town of Windham, but he was ready to accommodate visitors during the foliage season.
"When they put it on CNN that Windham was devastated, that pretty much stopped business," he said. "We had people come. It was just a fraction of normal."
He figures about a quarter of his annual business comes from leaf-peepers and said this year's reservations are much better.
No matter what Mother Nature produces, it's still spectacular, particularly to guests who come from far away, said Piper, co-owner of the Round Barn Farm.
"In our worst foliage season that I've ever had, they've been in total awe of what Mother Nature gave them. We have variations on what is good, but for these people it's still remarkable thing of nature," he said.

Washington's copy of Constitution goes on display

After buying it at auction for nearly $10 million, George Washington's Mount Vernon estate is displaying the Founding Father's annotated copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Non Sequitur


Great Britain "united against Mitt Romney"

Who hasn't Mitt Romney offended recently? Film producer Harvey Weinstein's remarks won't do much to improve the tattered reputation of Mitt Romney.
Mr Weinstein told the BBC: “I witnessed Prime Minister saying to a group of people, myself included, that Mitt Romney had that unique distinction of uniting all of England against him with his various remarks. On behalf of my love of England, I have to support the President [Barack Obama] who is anything but making faux-pas.”

Mr Romney did not win many fans during his visit to Britain when he publicly cast doubt on whether Britain was prepared for the Olympics.

The repugican candidate said that because of concerns about security, it was “hard to know just how well it will turn out”.

The truth hurts

Guess what? Those lazy-a jobless victims are Romney voters.

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post points to two fascinating maps from Patchwork Nation.
One shows counties that voted for Obama (the darker the purple the more Obama votes). Note the lack of Obama votes in the south.

And the other shows median household income (the darker the green the higher the income).  Note the extent of poverty in the south.

What you see in the maps is that the poorest parts of the country are mostly in the deep red repugican south.

So guess who doesn't pay taxes while they mooch off the government (to use Romney's sentiment)?  Yup.

Cillizza concludes:
Simply put: Romney’s assessment of an electorate motivated entirely by their relative economic status badly misses the impact that other issues — social ones in particular — have on the electorate. Assuming that anyone who doesn’t pay income taxes must, by necessity, be an Obama voter is a major strategic oversight by Romney that, if not corrected, will cost him the election.

Did you know ...

Hey there, Mr. Romney: misconceptions and realities about who pays taxes

That astronomers have found a real-universe version of Dr. Who's home planet, Gallifrey

That a new study finds high-income tax cuts don't stimulate the economy

About scammy scammers and the scams they pull

Ryan's lying about his "6 percent body fat" too

Is anything this guy says true?
For a "numbers guy" he sure gets a lot of numbers wrong.

Slate has more on exactly what it means to have six percent body fat:
Here’s who else maintains 6 to 8 percent body fat: Olympic 100-meter sprinters, that’s who. Also, world-class boxers, wrestlers, and marathoners, according to this study of elite American athletes. Top collegiate swimmers look pretty fit, right? Well, they average out at a plump 9.5 percent, at least according to another study. Positively porky, compared to Ryan. (For some perspective, the average man has body fat of 17 to 24 percent, and most women a bit more.)

If his claim is to be believed—a Ryan spokesman did not respond to questions—he’s more along the lines of Tour de France cyclists who also get down around 8 or 9 percent to prepare for major races. According to Iñigo San Millan, a veteran cycling physiologist who has worked with numerous Tour de France teams, the lowest body fat he’s ever measured on a cyclist was 8.3 percent. That’s at peak fitness, racing shape.

Ryan’s claim, in other words, puts him squarely in the company of elite athletes. (And also, freakily, with these guys.) But while Ryan is definitely skinny—he told Allen that he’s 6-foot-2 and weighs 163 pounds, and his suits flutter like a Christo project gone wrong—that might be a stretch. At anything less than 10 percent body fat, says Martin Rooney, a well-known trainer who works with NFL and MMA athletes, “a man with his shirt off is lean and shredded. Veins everywhere and really cut up. This is the model and bodybuilder look. So if he is saying he is 6 percent, he is shredded with a six-pack and should have no reason not to do photo shoots everywhere.”

So far, he hasn’t. The only topless Ryan photo to surface is this grainy vacation shot on TMZ, from before he started P90X.
The photo isn't that grainy. Ryan is clearly in good shape. But six percent good shape?

If he lies about the little things...

The truth be told

Feds: N.C. sheriff and deputies targeted Latinos

A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that a North Carolina sheriff and his deputies routinely discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted arrests with the intent of maximizing deportations.
Knowing these clowns as we do we wonder why it took two years. It was obvious the first second. 

Woman arrested after fight over parking space

A parking lot dispute goes way too far in Baltimore County. Two women were rammed with a car in the middle of a busy shopping center.

Daily Funny

Tipping at the Blackjack Table

13 blackjackA blackjack dealer and a player with a thirteen count in his hand were arguing about whether or not it was appropriate to tip the dealer.
The player said, “When I get bad cards, it’s not the dealer’s fault. And, when I get good cards,the dealer obviously has nothing to do with it. So, why should I tip him?”
The dealer replied, “When you eat out, do you tip the waiter?”
“Yes, sure I do,” responded the player.
“Well then, he serves you food, and I’m serving you cards. So you see, you should tip me.”

“Okay, I see your point,” agreed the player. “But, the waiter gives me what I ask for … I’ll take an eight.”

On the road to art ...

This is What Happens When a Paint Truck Rolls Over
Truck accidents usually make a mess on the road, but this truck roll over in the Brazilian town of Manaus made a particularly colorful mess. The truck was carrying about 28,000 pounds of paint when it tipped over: More

Here's a Shocker ...

Neil Young: Piracy Is 'The New Radio,' Way To Get Your Music Heard
Though his recent statements are unlikely to shock the many young music fans who grew up downloading albums and songs illegally, many were surprised when Neil Young said he didn't really mind piracy.

"It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio," Young said at a recent conference. "I look at the radio as gone ... Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around ... That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it."

Young also invoked Steve Jobs to illustrate his point, noting that while Jobs was pivotal in the digitization of music, the late Apple CEO would listen to vinyl at home.

Vigorous anti-piracy efforts in the United States and abroad continue to dominate tech headlines. The founder of Pirate Bay, one of the web's most popular torrent websites, was recently arrested in Cambodia and sent back to his native Sweden, where he's facing a one-year jail sentence.

It's worth noting that Young's new message is a slightly different tune than the one he was singing three years ago, when he blasted YouTube for not paying him and Warner Music Group for hosting their songs.

In January, Young defended both record companies and pirates, while appearing to be most concerned with the quality of the music being delivered to consumers, arguing that CDs and digital downloads offered a dismal listening experience.

Alternative Uses for Booze

10 Alternative Uses for Booze (That Don't Involve Getting Drunk)
Assuming you have any left over from your weekend debauchery, there are a few good ways to put your booze to use. Ways that won't result in arrest or texting your ex at 3am. (You really shouldn't do that.) From moisturizer to deodorizer, alcohol has at least ten alternative applications, all of which are arguably better than its intended use. More

The Starbucks Diet

 Losing weight may be as simple as going to your neighborhood coffee shop. At least, that's what worked for Christine Hall, who lost nearly 80 pounds by eating only Starbucks food:
A law librarian with two jobs, she gets her meals from the Starbucks right near work, where employees have cheered on the 5-foot, 4-inch Hall as she’s gone from weighing 190 to a trim 114 pounds.
As she tracked her calorie intake online, she started eating almost exclusive at Starbucks two years ago because it’s convenient and the products include calorie information. [...]
A daily menu could consist of oatmeal for breakfast and a 5-calorie cup of coffee, a “bistro box” with fruit and cheese for lunch, and, she said, “I love a panini for dinner because it fills me up.”

Halliburton's Misplaced Radioactive Cylinder

Somewhere in West Texas is a 7-inch radioactive cylinder that Halliburton would like to find. Read more
radioactive cylinder

The Great Seattle Windshield Epidemic

The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic is a phenomenon which affected Bellingham, Seattle, and other communities of Washington state in 1954. It is considered an example of a mass delusion. It was characterized by widespread observation of previously unnoticed windshield holes, pits and dings, leading residents to believe that a common causative agent was at work. It was originally thought to be the work of vandals but the rate of pitting was so great that residents began to attribute it to everything from sand flea eggs to nuclear bomb testing.

Originating in Bellingham in March, police initially believed the work to be vandals using BB guns. However the windshield pitting was soon observed in the nearby towns of Sedro Woolley and Mount Vernon and by mid April, appeared to have spread to the town of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.

First tidal turbine in US goes live in Maine

How beneficial this will be still needs to be answered, but it's good to see new energy efforts being explored in the US. Tidal energy has been implemented in Europe and there have been some positive results in terms of generating new forms of energy. The issue of underwater damage is always going to be there so minimizing that impact is critical for the success of any of these programs.
Early days, but it's a big step.
Maine's Ocean Renewable Power Co. has started generating electricity for the power grid from its tidal energy turbine on the bottom of Cobscook Bay near Lubec, in easternmost Maine. It is the first commercial tidal energy project to do so in North America, beating larger rivals who have tested or plan to test devices of their own in the Bay of Fundy region.

Company spokeswoman Susy Kist confirmed Thursday that the turbine has been generating power for the grid.

She said power started flowing nearly two weeks ago, but the company had been waiting to announce the milestone until local utility Bangor Hydro had an opportunity to confirm it. The turbine can generate 180 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 30 homes, according to The New York Times.

First Ever Etruscan Pyramids Found in Italy

The pyramids were spotted by a series of ancient stairs that had been carved into the wall of what is now a wine cellar. Read more

Roman Mosaic Found Under Farmer's Field

The mosaic, found in Turkey, once decorated the floor of an elaborate bath complex.
Read more
roman mosaic

Eight Unusual Rock Islets Around the World

Usually, a rock islet is a landform composed of rock, lying offshore, uninhabited, and having a minimal vegetation. But sometimes, rock islets don't look exactly like this - some are naturally strange looking, and some of them people have adapted to their own needs and made them pretty unusual. Uniqueness makes these small islands very popular among local visitors, foreign tourists and photographers from around the world.

Random Photo


Nicole Neal for Ann Summers Lingerie

As space shuttle Endeavour retires in LA, 400 trees to be removed, four times as many to be planted

To make room for the space shuttle Endeavour as it is transported from Los Angeles International Airport to The California Science Center, some 400 trees must be removed from the city streets. The shuttle is just too damn wide. An agreement was today reached between the Science Center and South LA neighborhood groups to plant four times as many trees as will be removed.

Man, is it Hot in here

Only the summers of 1998 and 2010 were warmer. Records go back to 1880
While the USA sweated through one of its warmest summers on record, so, too, did the rest of the globe, federal scientists from the National Climatic Data Center announced Monday.
The average summer temperature over global land and ocean surfaces tied with 2005 as the third-highest on record at 61.25 degrees F, or 1.15 degree F above the 20th century average of 60.1 degrees F.

An ice-free Victoria Strait, shown on Aug. 27, eliminated any ice-related concerns that could have affected this year's search for Sir John Franklin's lost ships.
The ice covering the search area for the two lost ships of Sir John Franklin's doomed Arctic expedition suddenly disappeared more than three weeks ago, eliminating any ice-related issues that might have hampered technologies deployed in the search.

Ice is Hot right now

Arctic Seals At Risk From Disappearing Snow

It isn't just polar bears that are threatened by declining sea ice: their primary prey is too.
Read more
Arctic Seals At Risk From Disappearing Snow

Huge Greenland Iceberg Blocking Traffic

A Manhattan-size chunk of ice is choking Nares Strait, between Greenland and Canada.
  Read more

Svalbard: Norway's 'Galapagos' in the North

French photographer Samuel Blanc provides a tour of Norway's archipelago in the Arctic. Read more
Little Auks

Ice expert foresees final collapse of arctic sea ice within four years

A leading expert on the science of ice predicts the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years, and describes a "global disaster" unfolding in northern latitudes "as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded." 

World's most powerful digital camera opens eye, records first images in hunt for dark energy

Zoomed-in image from the Dark Energy Camera of the center of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, which lies about 17,000 light years from Earth.

Rare 'Fire Devil' Caught on Film

While dust devils find their heat source in the sun, fire devils arise from hot spots in preexisting wildfires. Read more

Chris Tangey took this intense image of a tornado sucking a brushfire into the sky near Alice Springs, Australia. From The Australian:
"There was no wind where we were, and yet you had this tornado," Tangey says.
For him, it sounded "like a fighter jet"; for (firefighter Ashley) Severin, it was like "standing behind a 747". "I've never seen anything like it. I just thought the ground was going to start trembling," Severin says. "The noise it was making, the speed, the red flames in the centre of it. It was like a kaleidoscope show."

Awesome Pictures

Storm Front by myn91 on Flickr.

Catchy vegetable names increase affinity for greens

Would you rather eat “carrots” or “crunchy yummy carrots”? Or, if you’re a youngster, “X-Ray Vision Carrots”? Kids seem to ...
Continue Reading

Culinary DeLites

Simultaneously cold and hot, Steve's popsicles will give you a delicious if confusing experience. They're made of just cucumbers, peppers, sugar and lime juice.

Aww, ain't it cute

An adorable possum broke into an Australian bakery and ate so many pastries that he couldn't move. This is how they found him! Too many cakes. 

Lion, No Lyin'

In The 1930s, Daredevils Would Drive Up Walls With Lions For Passengers
The Wall of Death is a carnival sideshow featuring a silo- or barrel-shaped wooden cylinder inside of which motorcyclists, or the drivers of miniature automobiles, travel along the vertical wall and perform stunts, held in place by centripetal force.

Derived directly from United States motorcycle boardtrack racing in the early 1900s, in 1915 the first 'silodromes' with vertical walls appeared. Sometimes the riders drove alone, sometimes they had another performer as a passenger and sometimes the passenger was a lion.

Giant Viruses Are Ancient Living Organisms

Researchers are giving viruses, which have genes but no cellular structure, a place on the tree of life. Read more

Swapping Jobs Changes Honeybee DNA

beeHoneybees in a hive have fairly identical genes. The queen is the mother, a very few drones are the fathers, and those drones are closely related to each other anyway. But "epigenetic" changes in the DNA, those that switch genes on or off chemically, differ among bees that do different jobs. And bees can change those chemical switches themselves, when needed. Under normal circumstances, young worker bees are nurses in the hive, and turn into foragers as they age, when a chemical changes which genes are expressed. Scientists can track those changes by the amount and pattern of methyl (CH3) molecules in their DNA.
Led by Andrew Feinberg of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and Gro Amdam of Arizona State University in Tempe, the researchers coaxed forager bees back into nursing roles by removing all the nurses from the hive while the foragers were out looking for pollen. When the foragers returned, they noticed the lack of nurses, and about half of them took on nursing roles. Examination of the methylation patterns in DNA from their brain cells showed that these too had switched back to the pattern associated with nurses.

“What is exciting is that the genes that change back are the same genes that changed in the other direction initially — and the same ones that would regulate epigenetic behaviour,” says Feinberg.

Gene Robinson, a bee researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was not involved in the research, says that although the paper does not necessarily prove that epigenetic mechanisms cause behavioral differences, “it demonstrates for the first time that if behavior is reversible so is the methylation”.  
Further research may determine exactly what triggers the correllation. More

Re-grown lizard tails are cheap knock-offs of the original

A new study suggests that the "miracle" of re-growing a lost tail is less awesome than it might first appear. Sure, growing a new tail is cool and all. But the new tails have completely different anatomy — a tube of cartilage in place of vertebra, for instance — and are likely less flexible than the original model.

Glaucus atlanticus: For once, the Internet is not lying to you

For once, the Internet is not lying to you
This is actually a real life animal.

This is the Glaucus atlanticus. It is a type of nudibranch—shell-less mollusks known for their extravagant shapes and colors. It is venomous.
The London Natural History Museum has some good information about these creatures, including the drawing at left, which was made in the late 1700s by Sydney Parkinson, the official ship's illustrator for Captain Cook's second voyage to the Pacific.
You see all those pointy bits Glaucus atlanticus? According to the Natural History Museum, those are called cerata. They are the organs where G. atlanticus stores the stinging cells that it steals from the jellyfish it eats.
Because it eats jellyfish. And not just any jellyfish—but Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish. G. atlanticus eats the jellyfish tentacles and, as part of the process of digestion, stores stinging cells from those tentacles in the tips of its cerata. Then G. atlanticus gets to be venomous, too. Fun! Sharing!
Here's how the Smithsonian Magazine blog described the process last Spring:
A gas-filled sac in the stomach allows the small slug to float, and a muscular foot structure is used to cling to the surface. Then, if it floats by a man o’ war or other cnidarian, the blue dragon locks onto the larger creature’s tentacles and consumes the toxic nematocyst cells that the man o’ war uses to immobilize fish.
The slug is immune to the toxins and collects them in special sacs within the cerata—the finger-like branches at the end of its appendages—to deploy later on. Because the man o’ war’s venom is concentrated in the tiny fingers, blue dragons can actually have more powerful stings than the much larger creatures from which they took the poisons.
In conclusion, there are two lessons to take away from G. atlanticus.
First, the Internet isn't always lying to you. Just sometimes.
Second, don't touch things that look pretty. Because they will probably kill you.
More at The Encyclopedia of Life
A scientific paper documenting the presence of G. atlanticus in Andhra Pradesh.
The Sea Slug Forum has a description, photos, and sightings.

Animal Pictures



500px / Photo “”Royal” at the Edge of the Forest” by Richard Hahn on We Heart It. http://weheartit.com/entry/37558164

I didn’t think a 6x6 was a Royal. I think a Royal is a 7x7. Still a great pic though.