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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Daily Drift


500px / Photo “Broken Boundary” by Andy Gray on We Heart It. http://weheartit.com/entry/35932297
The good life ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Ankara, Turkey
Sylhet, Bangladesh
Johannesburg, South Africa
Sofia, Bulgaria
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Islamabad, Pakistan
Hanoi, Vietnam
Leeds, England
Phonm Penh, Cambodia
San Jose, Costa Rica
Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles
Manchester, England
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Rue, France
Kavadarci, Macedonia
Naples, Italy
Iloilo, Philippines
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Cape Town, South Africa
Moscow, Russia
Sampaloc, Philippines
Lahore, Pakistan
Barranquilla, Colombia
Claremont, South Africa

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1415   An English army under Henry V defeats the French at Agincourt, France. The French had out numbered Henry's troops 60,000 to 12,000 but British longbows turned the tide of the battle.
1760   George III of England crowned.
1854   During the Crimean War, a brigade of British light infantry is destroyed by Russian artillery as they charge down a narrow corridor in full view of the Russians.
1916   German pilot Rudolf von Eschwege shoots down his first enemy plane, a Nieuport 12 of the Royal Naval Air Service over Bulgaria.
1923   The Teapot Dome scandal comes to public attention as Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, subcommittee chairman, reveals the findings of the past 18 months of investigation. His case will result in the conviction of Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, and later Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall, the first cabinet member in American history to go to jail. The scandal, named for the Teapot Dome oil reserves in Wyoming, involved Fall secretly leasing naval oil reserve lands to private companies.
1940   German troops capture Kharkov and launch a new drive toward Moscow.
1944   The Japanese are defeated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the world's largest sea engagement. From this point on, the depleted Japanese Navy increasingly resorts to the suicidal attacks of Kamikaze fighters.
1950   Chinese Communist Forces launch their first-phase offensive across the Yalu River into North Korea.
1951   In a general election, England's Labour Party loses to Conservatives. Winston Churchill becomes prime minister, and Anthony Eden becomes foreign secretary.
1954   President Eisenhower conducts the first televised Cabinet meeting.
1958   The last U.S. troops leave Beirut.
1960   Martin Luther King, Jr., is sentenced to four months in prison for a sit-in.
1983   1,800 U.S. troops and 300 Caribbean troops land on Grenada. U.S. forces soon turn up evidence of a strong Cuban and Soviet presence–large stores of arms and documents suggesting close links to Cuba.

If Great Literary Works Had Been Written by Lawyers

John MiltonLegal humorist Kevin Underhill imagined a horrifying world in which the greatest works of Western literature were composed by attorneys. At the link, you can read selections from Shakespeare's  A Midsummer Night's Hearing Before the U.S. Patent Examiner and Herman Melville's Moby Dick, or, The "Whale" (A Narrative About, But Not Necessarily Limited to, the Species Enumerated at 50 C.F.R. sec. 224.101(b)(xiv).
Here's the beginning of John Milton's Paradise Lost, New Business Found:
Of Mankind's first inconvenient slip and Fall
Upon the ice, and the party whose petition
Brought the hourly bill into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of joy, till a Judgeship may
Sustain us, and inspire more blissful work,
Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top
Of downtown's height, didst inspire
That Partner who first sowed the holy seed
Of business and brought forth the fabled green
From out of Chaos; or, if oral argument
Delight thee more, and thy advocate that holdeth
Fast unto the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my most friv'lous brief,
That with no better voice will never soar
Above appellate mount, though it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or headnote.

Drug dealer called police to arrest him

A drug dealer called the police and gave them his own description before handing himself in, a court has heard. Alexander Lafferty, 19, rang Central Scotland Police and described a drug dealer operating near the Raploch Community Campus. Stirling Sheriff Court heard that when officers arrived Lafferty was there waiting for them. He later told police he wanted to be jailed due to stress. Sheriff Wyllie Robertson remanded him in custody for reports.
Prosecutor Ann Orr said an operator at the force's Stirling headquarters received the call from a man who said he wanted to report a drug dealer, who turned out to be himself. The depute fiscal said: "He said he wanted to report that there was a male near the Raploch Community Campus with a bag of 500 Valium tablets and was selling them. He gave a description of a male wearing a grey jumper and a blue top." The court was told that officers went to the campus on Drip Road in Stirling, and found Lafferty standing in a doorway, wearing a grey jumper and blue Adidas T-shirt and holding a bag containing 15 blue tablets.

Mrs Orr said he was searched and police found 33 smaller bags on his person, containing another 485 tablets. The court heard the tablets were later tested and confirmed to be 500 Valium tablets with an estimated street value of £500. Miss Orr said that during a police interview Lafferty had confirmed he had called the police, saying he wanted them to come and search him, and that he had done so with the intention of "getting the jail or a remand at least". He said he wanted to be jailed due to stress, and when he was asked what was causing that he said "hunners of different things". Appearing from custody, Lafferty from Raploch in Stirling, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug.

Frazer McCready, defending, said: "He phoned the police and told them about a drug dealer, and it was him. It is probably the easiest case that Central Scotland Police have ever had to solve." Mr McCready told Sheriff Wyllie Robertson: "He tells me he wanted to be sent to Polmont (Young Offenders' Institution) and I told him your Lordship would be glad to oblige." Sheriff Robertson deferred sentence for a criminal justice report and psychiatric reports. He told Lafferty he would be remanded in custody until 19 November. Lafferty replied "Excellent. Thank you Sir", before being led to the cells.

Random Photo

Soundtrack to history: 1878 Edison audio unveiled

It's scratchy, lasts only 78 seconds and features the world's first recorded blooper.
The modern masses can now listen to what experts say is the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the first-ever capturing of a musical performance, thanks to digital advances that allowed the sound to be transferred from flimsy tinfoil to computer.
The recording was originally made on a Thomas Edison-invented phonograph in St. Louis in 1878.
At a time when music lovers can carry thousands of digital songs on a player the size of a pack of gum, Edison's tinfoil playback seems prehistoric. But that dinosaur opens a key window into the development of recorded sound.
"In the history of recorded sound that's still playable, this is about as far back as we can go," said John Schneiter, a trustee at the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady, where it was played Thursday night in the city where Edison helped found the General Electric Co.
The recording opens with a 23-second cornet solo of an unidentified song, followed by a man's voice reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Old Mother Hubbard." The man laughs at two spots during the recording, including at the end, when he recites the wrong words in the second nursery rhyme.
"Look at me; I don't know the song," he says.
When the recording was played using modern technology during a presentation Thursday at a nearby theater, it was likely the first time it had been played at a public event since it was created during an Edison phonograph demonstration held June 22, 1878, in St. Louis, museum officials said.
The recording was made on a sheet of tinfoil, 5 inches wide by 15 inches long, placed on the cylinder of the phonograph Edison invented in 1877 and began selling the following year.
A hand crank turned the cylinder under a stylus that would move up and down over the foil, recording the sound waves created by the operator's voice. The stylus would eventually tear the foil after just a few playbacks, and the person demonstrating the technology would typically tear up the tinfoil and hand the pieces out as souvenirs, according to museum curator Chris Hunter.
Popping noises heard on this recording are likely from scars left from where the foil was folded up for more than a century.
"Realistically, once you played it a couple of times, the stylus would tear through it and destroy it," he said.
Only a handful of the tinfoil recording sheets are known to known to survive, and of those, only two are playable: the Schenectady museum's and an 1880 recording owned by The Henry Ford museum in Michigan.
Hunter said he was able to determine just this week that the man's voice on the museum's 1878 tinfoil recording is believed to be that of Thomas Mason, a St. Louis newspaper political writer who also went by the pen name I.X. Peck.
Edison company records show that one of his newly invented tinfoil phonographs, serial No. 8, was sold to Mason for $95.50 in April 1878, and a search of old newspapers revealed a listing for a public phonograph program being offered by Peck on June 22, 1878, in St. Louis, the curator said.
A woman's voice says the words "Old Mother Hubbard," but her identity remains a mystery, he said. Three weeks after making the recording, Mason died of sunstroke, Hunter said.
A Connecticut woman donated the tinfoil to the Schenectady museum in 1978 for an exhibit on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Edison company that later merged with another to form GE. The woman's father had been an antiques dealer in the Midwest and counted the item among his favorites, Hunter said.
In July, Hunter brought the Edison tinfoil recording to California's Berkeley Lab, where researchers such as Carl Haber have had success in recent years restoring some of the earliest audio recordings.
Haber's projects include recovering a snippet of a folk song recorded a capella in 1860 on paper by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, a French printer credited with inventing the earliest known sound recording device.
Haber and his team used optical scanning technology to replicate the action of the phonograph's stylus, reading the grooves in the foil and creating a 3D image, which was then analyzed by a computer program that recovered the original recorded sound.
The achievement restores a vital link in the evolution of recorded sound, Haber said. The artifact represents Edison's first step in his efforts to record sound and have the capability to play it back, even if it was just once or twice, he said.
"It really completes a technology story," Haber said. "He was on the right track from the get-go to record and play it back."

On The Table With One of History’s Most Infamous Surgeons

gBefore the use of ether revolutionized surgery in 1846, Dr. Robert Liston was the premiere surgeon at his teaching hospital in London. In those days, surgery was a last resort, patients had to be restrained, and speed was essential. Liston was very good at what he did.
Richard Gordon, a surgeon and medical historian, calls Liston the “fastest knife in the West End.” His style may have seemed careless, but in the age before anesthesia, speed was essential to minimizing the patient’s pain and improving their odds of surviving surgery. Slower surgeons sometimes had pain-wracked and panicked patients wrestle free from their assistants and flee from the operating room, leaving a trail of blood behind them. Only about one of every 10 of Liston’s patients died on his operating table at London’s University College Hospital. The surgeons at nearby St. Bartholomew’s, meanwhile, lost about one in every four.

Liston’s quick hands were so sought after that patients sometimes had to camp out in his waiting room for days waiting for their turn to see him. Liston tried to see every last one of these patients, no matter their condition. He especially loved treating those cases that his fellow surgeons had dismissed as beyond help, which earned him a reputation among colleagues as showy.
Read more about Dr. Liston and the way surgery was done in the 19th century. More

Who Were The Most Dangerous Scientists In History?

The recent Italian court ruling that respected seismologists are guilty of manslaughter and should serve six years in prison for failing to predict the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake has sent shockwaves through the scientific community. The decision has been widely decried by the scientific community as poorly thought out bordering on ridiculous.

Science has more than its fair share of detractors and enemies who feel threatened or maligned by it. Much of what science has achieved has been used for ill or had negative consequences over the centuries, so can we now expect others to be condemned for failing to anticipate the future?

How Scientists Recreated Neanderthal Man

A team of scientists has created what it believes is the first really accurate reconstruction of Neanderthal man, from a skeleton that was discovered in France over a century ago. In 1909, excavations at the La Ferrassie cave in the Dordogne unearthed the remains of a group of Neanderthals.

One of the skeletons in that group was that of an adult male, given the name La Ferrassie 1. These remains have helped scientists create a detailed reconstruction of our closest prehistoric relative.

Animal Pictures