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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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Daily Drift

Autumn is here ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Novosibirsk, Russia
Surabaya, Indonesia
Mercin, Turkey
Wroclaw, Poland
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Moscow, Russia
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
London, England
Johor, Bahru, Malaysia
Jawa, Indonesia
Cape Town, South Africa
Angeles City, Philippines
Hanoi, Vietnam
Klang, Malaysia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Muscat, Oman
Zamboanga, Philippines
Belgrade, Serbia
Segamat, Malaysia
Bogor, Indonesia
Belgrade, Serbia
Warsaw, Poland
San Juan, Phillippines
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Rabat, Morocco
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Kuwait, Kuwait
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Pasig, Philippines
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Today in History

28 BC   The Temple of Apollo is dedicated on the Palatine Hill in Rome.
1470   Henry VI of England restored to the throne.
1760   Austrian and Russian troops enter Berlin and begin burning structures and looting.
1779   The Luddite riots being in Manchester, England in reaction to machinery for spinning cotton.
1781   Americans begin shelling the British surrounded at Yorktown.
1825   The first Norwegian immigrants to America arrive on the sloop Restaurationen.
1863   Confederate cavalry raiders return to Chattanooga after attacking Union General William Rosecrans' supply and communication lines all around east Tennessee.
1888   The Washington Monument, designed by Robert Mills, opens to the public.
1914   Germans take Antwerp, Belgium, after 12-day siege.
1934   In Marseilles, a Macedonian revolutionary associated with Croat terrorists in Hungary assassinates King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou. The two had been on a tour of European capitals in quest of an alliance against Nazi Germany. The assassinations bring the threat of war between Yugoslavia and Hungary, but confrontation is prevented by the League of Nations.
1941   President Franklin D. Roosevelt requests congressional approval for arming U.S. merchant ships.
1946   Eugene O'Neill's play The Iceman Cometh opens at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York.
1949   Harvard Law School begins admitting women.
1950   U.N. forces, led by the First Cavalry Division, cross the 38th parallel in South Korea and begin attacking northward towards the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
1983   The president of South Korea, Doo Hwan Chun, with his cabinet and other top officials are scheduled to lay a wreath on a monument in Rangoon, Burma, when a bomb explodes. Hwan had not yet arrived so escaped injury, but 17 Koreans–including the deputy prime minister and two other cabinet members–and two Burmese are killed. North Korea is blamed.

Non Sequitur


Awesome Autumn Pictures

Autumn is the most beautiful time of the year. It's an outdoor photographer's dream season. Here are 40 crazy awesome autumn pictures to inspire you this fall.

Political polygamy

Some guy with a silly name, who I guess I’m supposed to have heard of, just penned a piece over at the Daily Beast about why he’s shocking his friends and voting for Romney.
Either the piece is satire, or the famous guy is kinda goofy.
If it’s satire, I apologize in advance. Far too much satire is far too poorly written. But if it’s for real, wow.
The reason Buzz Bissinger (apparently his real name) is voting for Romney this time is the presidential debate the other night. Sure, Buzz is upset with Obama’s performance. But just as importantly, Buzz is elated that Mitt Romney finally, after years of repudiating every moderate view he ever had, is now back on the reservation as a certifiable moderate repugican.
Voting for a president is based on a combination of factual and emotional perception. The tipping point was last week’s debate in Denver. Romney finally did what he should have done all along instead of his balky cha cha with the old white men of the insane repugican wing: he acted as the moderate he is, for the first time running as himself, not against himself, embracing his record as governor of Massachusetts.
Naive much?
I wrote about Mitt Romney’s death bed conversion to moderation a few days ago when Romney suddenly decided, after a month of defending it, that his 47% comments were just plain wrong. Uh huh. Here’s what I wrote in response:
I’ll tell you what happened.  Romney’s son Tagg is busy “reinventing” his dad for the 100th time, and one of the things he told poppy is that he has to come clean on the 47% remarks.
This man is incredibly disingenuous.  He will say anything to anyone to get elected President.  He used to claim that he was better on gay rights than Ted Kennedy.  Now he panders to the farthest of the gay-hating far-right, while his wife campaigns at conferences sponsored by officially-designated hate groups.  Ted Kennedy, he ain’t.
But then what is Mitt Romney?  What does he actually believe on anything?   He’s flip-flopped on gay rights.  He flip-flopped on health care reform again and again and again and again and again and again. He’s flipped on immigration a few times, on gay adoption, the auto bailout, on guns, on his own college, on SuperPACs, on Solyndra, on carbon pollution, on stem cells, on abortion, on contraception, on Iraq, on climate change, on taxes, on the recession a lot.
He flip-flopped on catfish.
He even flip-flopped on flip-flopping.
That’s why fellow repugican, fellow mormon, John Huntsman called Romney ”a perfectly lubricated weathervane on the important issues of the day.”
At this point, after so many flip-flops, if you actually believe what Mitt Romney is now telling you his position really is, you’re a bit of an idiot.
Biff, Buzz, whatever, goes on to explain that Romney’s 47% comments were really awful.  And right.
Romney’s comments at a fundraiser were stupid, but 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income taxes. Yes, a majority are poor and seniors. But millions do not pay such taxes with incomes of more than $50,000, and whether it’s as little as $10, every American should contribute both as a patriotic obligation and skin in the game. This is our country, not our country club.
Oh I don’t know. Sounds an awful lot like someone’s still got one foot in the country club.
Then Buzz weighs in on health care reform.  While Mitt Romney is going to hurt a lot of people, Barack’s Obama’s reforms might kinda sorta maybe not work some day because you know government is really really bad and will probably mess everything up anyway.
In my other life, as the afternoon talk show host for CBS WPHT-AM in Philadelphia, I have studied the issues assiduously, or as assiduously as I can given their complexities. I know that both candidates, while agreeing on health-care reform, have radically different ideas. I know that when Romney says people with preexisting conditions will be reinsured, he leaves out the gigantic footnote that first they had to have coverage through their jobs. But I also question the ability of Obamacare to control costs, given the administrative nightmare that exists when government is involved.  One of the Obamacare methods of cutting those costs, the computerization of hospital records, has resulted in massive fraud by cheating doctors.
Right.  Because being an afternoon talk show host makes you an expert on health care reform.  But putting that aside, Buzz, what about the fact that President Obama’s reforms have ALREADY insured people with pre-existing conditions who wouldn’t otherwise have insurance, not to mention the fact that 1/3 of the entire US workforce will lose protections if the pre-existing conditions provisions are repealed? What about the fact that Obama’s reforms have already gotten 6.6m kids on their parents plans, who otherwise would never have had insurance?
Not very assiduous after all, Buzz.
At the debate, Romney did not simply act like he wanted to be president. He wants to be president. He showed vigor, and enthusiasm, and excitement, a man who wants to lead. It may all be ephemeral, because most of politics is ephemeral, a cynical means to the end of getting elected. But he also revealed compassion that, during the entirety of this absurdly long march, had never been in evidence before. He recognized the needs of the poor. He recognized the need for regulation.
Are those the same poor you just said were enjoying life at the “country club” by not paying taxes they can’t earn enough to even pay?  I’m not sensing a lot of compassion.
And “it may all be ephemeral” – you think?
Look, President Obama is hardly perfect.  I’ve had some rather public gripes with the man in the past.  But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Mitt Romney is the real deal because, after ten years of reinventing himself as a far-right conservative, he’s decided that his son is right, and the only way he’s got any chance at winning is if he veers back to the left and re-embraces much of what he’s already repudiated.
At some point, when your husband leaves you for another woman, comes back and says he’s sorry, leaves you again, comes back again, and the proceeds to leave you for another fifty women, and you still believe him when he says “this time I’m coming back for good,” then maybe he’s not the only one with a problem.
Mitt Romney scares me.
Sometimes I wish President Obama had more backbone, but he’s not the liar Romney is.  While Obama compromises, Romney capitulates.  Even capitulate isn’t a strong enough word, when Romney was never with you in the first place.  While you may have to sometimes push the President to stand by his convictions, Romney will flip-flop 180 degrees, four different times in one day on the same issue, without blinking an eye.
The man flip-flopped on catfish.
Mitt Romney has lied so many times about who he really is, that no one has any idea what he is going to do as president.  If you really care about your issues, right or left, at least you know what you’re getting with Barack Obama.  With Mitt Romney, you will never know because there’s nothing there – except opportunism.

Romney calls for US military role in Syrian civil war

Mitt Romney calls  for American military involvement in Syria.
Yes, because if there’s one thing Americans are begging for these days, it’s another war in the Middle East that drains money and requires more US troops.
If the Romney-class put their own sons and daughters on the front lines it might be more sellable, but when is the last time you saw anyone from Romney’s family, the Bush family, or the Cheney family volunteer for battle?
In the case of Mitt Romney, he protested in favor of the war in Vietnam and then scampered off to a posh palace in a flashy part of Paris.
Oh the wars Romney had to fight over whether to ask the butler for a café au lait or a just an ordinary espresso. Oh the humanity!
The fact is, the Romneys of the world are only too happy to volunteer others to fight their wars, but they never step up themselves to do the dirty work. After more than a decade of war – wars which are a large part of the US budget problems – Americans are fed up with never-ending Republican wars. Despite talking a big story about being budget hawks, Republicans freely ignore the runaway costs of the military machine and are only too happy to feed it again and again.  Mitt Romney is no different.
In fact, Mitt Romney is probably worse.  When has Mitt Romney, ever in his life, had to make a decision based on how much it would cost him?  There’s no such thing as “too expensive” in the Romney vocabulary.
Enough is enough. If Romney wants war, let his own kids get off their trust-funds and fight it (and finance it too).
Mitt Romney will call for an escalation of the conflict in Syria by arming rebels with the heavy weapons needed to confront president Bashar al-Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.
Romney is to make the proposal on Monday in what his campaign team has billed as a major foreign policy speech in Lexington, Virginia.
In extracts published in advance, he opened up the prospect, if he becomes president, of a US-Iranian proxy war being fought in Syria.

Ryan gets testy, calls off interview, when asked about tax cuts

Romney campaign staffer tries to block camera
with a piece of paper as Ryan cuts off interview.

Paul Ryan got upset and ended an interview with a local ABC reporter for asking him a pretty simple question.  It was clear that Team  Romney won’t permit Ryan to do an interview, or continue an interview, with anyone who seems prepared to question the Romney campaign’s lies.
In this case, Ryan and the reporter were talking guns, and Ryan was arguing that more gun control won’t help stop crime, bringing opportunity to the inner city will stop crime.  So the reporter responds, “And you can do all that by cutting taxes, with a big tax cut?”
Well, them are fighting words, apparently.
Ryan’s staffer immediately calls the interviews to an end and Ryan starts scolding the reporter for “putting words in his mouth.”
“Those are your words, not mine,” Ryan responds to the tax cut question.
“Thank you very much, sir,” Ryan’s staffer jumps in.
“Yeah, that was kind of strange, you’re trying to stuff words into people’s mouths,” Ryan says while his staffer tries to hold a piece of paper in front of the camera (it’s not entirely clear what he was afraid of people seeing).
“I don’t know if that’s ‘strange,’” the reporter says.
“No, it sounds like you’re trying to answer the question for me,” Ryan responds.
No it didn’t. It sounds like the reporter asked Paul Ryan if his proposed massive tax cuts for the rich are the magic bullet that Ryan thinks are going to stop crime in the inner city by bringing opportunity. What was so difficult about the question?  It’s basic GOP trickle-down economics.
The Romney campaign later told Buzzfeed that the question was “strange” and ‘weird”:
The reporter knew he was already well over the allotted time for the interview when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts. Ryan responded as anyone would in such a strange situation.
The question was pretty straight-forward.  Do Romney and Ryan think tax cuts are going to help people in the inner cities.  Yes or no?  It looks less like the question was strange, and more like Ryan was afraid he was entering 47% territory, i.e., how does a tax cut help you if you don’t even earn enough to pay taxes?
Or as pay Ryan calls such people, un-American “takers.”

Did you know ...

7 facts about our veterans that will shock the hell out of you

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How do animals see the world?

Skip the Long Security Lines at the Airport with a Wheelchair

Long wait at the airport security line? Savvy travelers know the shortcut: simply request an airport wheelchair, no proof of disability required!
The practice, tacitly endorsed by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from wheelchair pushers, who sometimes receive tips, is so commonplace that airport workers can predict spikes in wheelchair requests when security is particularly backed up, and flight attendants see it so often on certain routes — including to the Philippines, Egypt and the Dominican Republic, for which sometimes a dozen people in wheelchairs will be waiting to board — they’ve dubbed them “miracle flights.”
“We’d say there was a miracle because they all needed a wheelchair getting on, but not getting off,” said Kelly Skyles, a flight attendant and the national safety and security coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines attendants. “Not only do we serve them beverages and ensure their safety — now we’re healing the sick.”
Sarah Maslin Nir of The New York Times explains: Here

Disabled grandmother used bear spray to fend off 13 attackers after her marijuana crop

It was one disabled woman versus 13 intruders, and she won. The Dixon, California, homeowner, whose identity is being kept hidden, knows what the criminals were after, but wouldn’t let them have it. She went to answer an early morning knock on the door, but not before grabbing a can of bear spray. It was her only defense against 13 intruders.
She was staring down the barrel of a shotgun, facing seemingly impossible odds. Most wouldn’t dare fight back, but this disabled grandmother did. “I’ve always jokingly said, ‘if someone tries to take my income, I’m going to fight. They’re going to have to fight me,’” said the woman. She says the intruders were after her medical marijuana crop in her backyard.

They were apparently so distracted that even the gunman didn’t notice what she was hiding in her hand. “I couldn’t get the safety off,” she said.As they were yelling “where’s the marijuana?”, she flicked off the safety and emptied the can of bear spray on three of the men, including the man pointing the shotgun at her. “I didn’t realize it until it was all over with how dangerous it was,” she said.

“Running as fast as they can away in two different directions and there was 13 of them,” the woman said. “Put that much energy to come, and take it from someone is just chicken,” she said. It was a matter of principle over medical pot, which is her sole source of income. “I would do it again,” she said. Now she’s getting out of the medical marijuana business because she doesn’t want her grandchildren around any danger.

Mexico arrests suspected cartel leader in U.S. jet skier case

Suspect Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo also known as "El Ardilla" (The Squirrel) gestures as he is presented to the media by Mexican marines at the Attorney General's headquarters in Mexico City October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya
Mexican officials said on Monday they had arrested a suspected drug cartel leader believed responsible for the murders in 2010 of dozens of migrants and an American who was killed as he jet skied on a lake on the Texas-Mexico border. Mexican marines arrested Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, known as "Squirrel," on Saturday evening in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across the border from Laredo, Texas, after a car chase and a shootout earlier in the day, Mexico's presidency said in a news release.
The driver was armed with a rifle and had a pistol tucked into his waistband when he was ordered by troops to surrender after the chase, authorities said. He subsequently identified himself as Martinez, who authorities said is the suspected head of the Zetas cartel in Tamaulipas
, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states, all of which border the US. Mexican authorities said Martinez was the mastermind of the murders of 72 migrants from Central and South America in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in August 2010, in the one of the worst single acts of cartel violence in Mexico.
In addition, he is a suspect in the murder of a Tamaulipas police commander who was found beheaded as he was investigating the high-profile death of jet skier David Hartley.
Hartley and his wife, Tiffany Hartley, of the Denver area, were riding jet skis across Falcon Lake to photograph the ruins of a church, Tiffany Hartley told U.S. authorities.
She reported that they were approached by men in two or three boats who opened fire as the couple attempted to speed away and that her husband was shot twice before going under the water. His body has never been recovered.
The U.S- Mexico border bisects Falcon Lake, and the Hartleys were on the Mexican side of the lake when they were shot. The murder drew widespread attention in the United States, especially in Texas.
"This came as shock after two years," Tiffany Hartley's mother, Cynthia Young, told Reuters on Monday when asked about the arrest. "We're trying to piece it all together."
Around 60,000 people have been killed in raging drug-related violence in Mexico over the last six years since President Felipe Calderon sent the military to crack down on the cartels. The Zetas, formed around a group of former Mexican soldiers, has emerged as the most brutal cartel fighting for turf.

Who Invented the Escape Key?

escape keyLife, alas, does not come with an escape key. But your computer keyboard probably does. Why is it there? Pagan Kennedy of the New York Times explains that a computer programmer invented it to interrupt processing:
The key was born in 1960, when an I.B.M. programmer named Bob Bemer was trying to solve a Tower of Babel problem: computers from different manufacturers communicated in a variety of codes. Bemer invented the ESC key as way for programmers to switch from one kind of code to another. Later on, when computer codes were standardized (an effort in which Bemer played a leading role), ESC became a kind of “interrupt” button on the PC — a way to poke the computer and say, “Cut it out.”
Why “escape”? Bemer could have used another word — say, “interrupt” — but he opted for “ESC,” a tiny monument to his own angst. Bemer was a worrier. In the 1970s, he began warning about the Y2K bug, explaining to Richard Nixon’s advisers the computer disaster that could occur in the year 2000. Today, with our relatively stable computers, few of us need the panic button. But Bob Frankston, a pioneering programmer, says he still uses the ESC key. “There’s something nice about having a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here key.”

The most polluted place in the world

At Grist, Jess Zimmerman has an interesting piece about a lake near a notoriously leaky former Soviet nuclear research site, where the radiation level is so high that an hour on the beach can be enough to kill you.
You can’t really blame Lake Karachay for acting up — it comes from a really rough area. The lake is located within the Mayak Production Association, one of the largest — and leakiest — nuclear facilities in Russia. The Russian government kept Mayak entirely secret until 1990, and it spent that period of invisibility mainly having nuclear meltdowns and dumping waste into the river. By the time Mayak’s existence was officially acknowledged, there had been a 21 percent increase in cancer incidence, a 25 percent increase in birth defects, and a 41 percent increase in leukemia in the surrounding region of Chelyabinsk. The Techa river, which provided water to nearby villages, was so contaminated that up to 65 percent of locals fell ill with radiation sickness — which the doctors termed “special disease,” because as long as the facility was secret, they weren’t allowed to mention radiation in their diagnoses.
Read the rest at Grist

The Prandtl–Glauert Singularity

It's an amazing site - a cone of vapor appearing around an aircraft which is travelling at transonic speed. Known as the Prandtl–Glauert Singularity, this astonishing effect simultaneously widens the eyes and drops the jaw. Yet how does it occur?

Seven Incredible Abandoned Train Graveyards

Motionless and almost grotesque, the rusting carriages of the once fast-moving vehicles pepper the rugged or overgrown terrain. Victims of the elements and the ravages of time, their present condition seems to mock their former purpose, and yet they still hold an undeniable attraction.

Awesome Pictures


Ancient spider never got to finish dinner

This is a spider, which was encased in tree sap while in the act of attacking a wasp. The sap turned to amber, leaving an incredible preserved scene, with even individual strands of silk from the spider's web remaining unbroken for 100 million years.
The paper this is taken from (sits behind a paywall, unfortunately)
Learn more about the preservation of bugs in amber at the website for NOVA's "Jewell of the Earth" documentary

Deer Emerges From The Undergrowth With A Crown Of Bracken And Leaves

He is one of the mightiest of creatures - and apparently also one of the most regal. Other deers quickly scattered when the self-proclaimed King of Richmond Park emerged with a crown of leaves he had created from the bracken. Photographer Mark Smith watched as the deer raked the ground in Surrey's 2,400-acre Royal Park with his antlers - a typical show of strength.

Rutting season is underway and the males are jealously guarding their territory in the hope of attracting a mate. The stag slowly built up his headdress until it was covering his entire head.

Animal Pictures


by elizabeth castro