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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, October 27, 2012

The Daily Drift

 "Nuff Said!"

Some of our readers today have been in:
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Ampang, Malaysia
San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Today in History

97   To placate the Praetorians of Germany, Nerva of Rome adopts Trajan, the Spanish-born governor of lower Germany.
1553   Michael Servetus, who discovered the pulmonary circulation of the blood, is burned for heresy in Switzerland.
1612   A Polish army that invaded Russia capitulates to Prince Dimitri Pojarski and his Cossacks.
1806   Emperor Napoleon enters Berlin.
1809   President James Madison orders the annexation of the western part of West Florida. Settlers there had rebelled against Spanish authority.
1862   A Confederate force is routed at the Battle of Georgia Landing, near Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana.
1870   The French fortress of Metz surrenders to the Prussian Army.
1873   Farmer Joseph F. Glidden applies for a patent on barbed wire. Glidden eventually received five patents and is generally considered the inventor of barbed wire.
1891   D. B. Downing, inventor, is awarded a patent for the street letter (mail) box.
1904   The New York subway officially opens running from the Brooklyn Bridge uptown to Broadway at 145th Street.
1907   The first trial in the Eulenberg Affair ends in Germany.
1917   20,000 women march in a suffrage parade in New York. As the largest state and the first on the East Coast to do so, New York has an important effect on the movement to grant all women the vote in all elections.
1922   In Italy, liberal Luigi Facta's cabinet resigns after threats from Mussolini that "either the government will be given to us or we will seize it by marching on Rome." Mussolini calls for a general mobilization of all Fascists.
1927   Fox Movie-tone news, the first sound news film, is released.
1941   In a broadcast to the nation on Navy Day, President Franklin Roosevelt declares: "America has been attacked, the shooting has started." He does not ask for full-scale war yet, realizing that many Americans are not yet ready for such a step.
1962   Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev offers to remove Soviet missile bases in Cuba if the U.S. removes its missile bases in Turkey.

Non Sequitur



Hurricane Sandy is roaring through the Caribbean and is expected to inch up the East Coast of the US, landing in New York City early next week. A winter storm is brewing in the west, and is expected to reach New York City early next week. A mass of Arctic air is rushing down from the north, and is expected to reach New York City early next week. What happens when these weather events collide? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dubbed it "Frankenstorm." And according to NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco, it won't be just New York that will be affected: the storm may cover a large part of the East Coast and reach inland as far as Ohio.
Coastal areas from Florida to Maine will feel some effects, mostly from the hurricane part, he said, and the other parts of the storm will reach inland from North Carolina northward.

"It will get broader. It won't be as intense, but its effects will be spread over a very large area," the hurricane center's chief hurricane specialist, James Franklin, said Thursday.

One of the more messy aspects of the expected storm is that it just won't leave. The worst of it should peak early Tuesday, but it will stretch into midweek, forecasters say. Weather may start clearing in the mid-Atlantic Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 in the Northeast, Cisco said.

"It's almost a weeklong, five-day, six-day event," Cisco said Thursday from NOAA's northern storm forecast center in near Washington. "It's going to be a widespread serious storm."
Read more about Frankenstorm. here

The TSA is now giving tips to terrorists

Sometimes I feel like people are being too mean to the TSA. (NOT)
Then one read stories like this, from the Washington Post the other day:
Flight enthusiasts, however, recently discovered that the bar codes printed on all boarding passes — which travelers can obtain up to 24 hours before arriving at the airport — contain information on which security screening a passenger is set to receive.
Details about the vulnerability spread after John Butler, an aviation blogger, drew attention to it in a post late last week. Butler said he had discovered that information stored within the bar codes of boarding passes is unencrypted, and so can be read in advance by technically minded travelers.
Simply by using a smartphone or similar device to check the bar code, travelers could determine whether they would pass through full security screening, or the expedited process.
A security expert points out that the whole idea behind random screening is that the terrorists don’t know what to expect. Well, now they do!
John Butler, of the blog PunkInflight, who discovered this, explains how it works:
The problem is, the passenger and flight information encoded in barcode is not encrypted in any way. Using a web site I decoded my boarding pass for my upcoming trip.
So, here you see my flight information for my United flight from PHX to EWR. It is my understanding that this is similar to digital boarding passes issued by all U.S. Airlines; so the same information is on a Delta, US Airways, American and all other boarding passes. I am just using United as an example. I have X’d out any information that you could use to change my reservation. But it’s all there, PNR, seat assignment, flight number, name, ect. But what is interesting is the bolded three on the end. This is the TSA Pre-Check information. The number means the number of beeps. 1 beep no Pre-Check, 3 beeps yes Pre-Check. On this trip as you can see I am eligible for Pre-Check. Also this information is not encrypted in any way.
Butler goes on to explain the horrifying implications:
boarding pass

What terrorists or really anyone can do is use a website to decode the barcode and get the flight information, put it into a text file, change the 1 to a 3, then use another website to re-encode it into a barcode. Finally, using a commercial photo-editing program or any program that can edit graphics replace the barcode in their boarding pass with the new one they created. Even more scary is that people can do this to change names. So if they have a fake ID they can use this method to make a valid boarding pass that matches their fake ID. The really scary part is this will get past both the TSA document checker, because the scanners the TSA use are just barcode decoders, they don’t check against the real time information. So the TSA document checker will not pick up on the alterations. This means, as long as they sub in 3 they can always use the Pre-Check line.
Seriously, no one at TSA thought about this?
Does anybody have an old pre-printed boarding pass – one you printed at home – that you can send?
That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, TSA.

The truth hurts

Romney wanted to institute a fee on the blind

The more I read of this man...the scarier he becomes.

Romney surrogate: Powell supported Obama because he’s black

The Not-So-Subtle Racism that is Romney
I always find it interesting that Mormons, a people who have spent 150 years fleeing oppression, far too often find it far too easy to be aggressively bigoted towards others.
The Mormon animus towards gays and lesbians is legendary.  The Mormons hate us.  And are happy to spend millions to rip away our civil rights and force us to live under Mormon doctrine.
But the Mormons don’t like blacks either.  They think women are second class.  And they have a really special appreciation for Jews, who they think need to be mass converted in Mormonism, posthumously, against their will.  Especially if they’re Holocaust victims. (Though they also, crassly, converted Obama’s dead mother only months before the 2008 election, and without his permission or even knowledge.)
They’re persistent in their prejudice as well. The Mormons, who often promise to stop forcibly converting dead Jewish Holocaust victims to Mormonism against the wills of their own family and the Jewish community at large, just keep doing it.  Sometimes to the same person.  Poor Anne Frank has been forcibly converted to Mormonism nine times.  That we know of.

And the Racist Hits Just Keep on Coming from Team Romney

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the subtle racism that’s been coming from Mitt Romney throughout this campaign just keeps coming.
colin powell
This time, its crazy old John Sununu, who’d probably rather be yelling at some (black) kid to get off his yard, telling a TV audience that the only reason Colin Powell is endorsing Barack Obama is because they’re both black.  That seems intended to remind the TV audience that Obama is NOT QUITE LIKE YOU AND ME (unless, of course, you and I are both black, then you’re not voting for Romney anyway, so Sununu and Romney aren’t terribly concerned about your vote – and in any case, the repugican cabal has moved on from its passing interest in token members of the black community – now they like Latinos).
Of course, it never crossed Sununu’s mind that maybe Colin Powell supports President Obama because Mitt Romney is a bullshitter.  Or maybe Sununu simply meant that because Colin Powell is black, he’s particularly smart and realizes that Mitt Romney is a weak, flip-flopping phony:
“I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy,” the former secretary of state said on CBS’s This Morning. “I don’t sense he’s thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have. He gets advice from his campaign staff that he then has to modify as he goes along.”

Romney photoshops image to exaggerate crowd size, gets own name wrong

Zeke Miller at Buzzfeed made a great find.
It seems that Team Romney  - actually Mitt Romney himself – sent out a photo on Instagram touting one of his “big” rallies.  The only problem is that the photo is clearly a really bad photoshop (or, as Zeke generously suggest, perhaps a really really awfully done panorama).
You can go over to Buzzflash and see all the spots where the photo is obviously faked, but my favorite is this below.  I took the photo, reversed it so you can see the Romney banner, then blew it up to make it more easily readable – and what does it read?
“ROMNMNEY 2012.”
“ROMNMNEY 2012″.
Now, for the entire photo that Romney sent out.  First,  here’s the “real” photo that I reverse-engineered by getting rid of the obvious photoshoppping, followed by the “original” that Romney sent out. I have them both left justified so you can see the difference.
Original Romney crowd without photshopping
Original Romney crowd without Photshopping (my mock up).
Romney photoshopped version.
Fake photo Romney sent out.
A wee bit of a difference.
I do a lot of panoramic photography, and have for years.  I use some decently expensive software, but have also used Photoshop, and cheaper stuff.  I’ve never seen any automatic panoramic software do this bad a job.  There’s no way the software wouldn’t recognize, for example, the obvious support beam and cement base – it duplicated it, rather than merged them.  Highly unlikely that this was a software accident.
Oh, and one more thing: Those are rocks, or something similar, at the bottom of the photo and to the right.  How convenient that they look like additional heads in the crowd.

The truth be told

The U.S. isn't turning into Greece

Greece is turning into us. Turning its back on its citizenry in order to make the banksters fat and happy...
As the head of Greece largest oncology department, Dr. Kostas Syrigos thought he had seen everything. But nothing prepared him for Elena, an unemployed woman whose breast cancer had been diagnosed a year before she came to him.

By that time, her cancer had grown to the size of an orange and broken through the skin, leaving a wound that she was draining with paper napkins. “When we saw her we were speechless,” said Dr. Syrigos, the chief of oncology at Sotiria general hospital in central Athens. “Everyone was crying. things like that are described in textbooks, but you never see them because until now, anybody who got sick in this country could always get help.” - nytimes

Unusual and Fascinating Coins and Currency

In a continuing series on coins and currency, Dark Roasted Blend has a roundup of weird designs and stories about money. When the USSR was formed, and again when it crumbled, new money was designed for various areas that you may never have heard of. For example, Transnistria is a strip of land bordering Ukraine that is not recognized as a country, but it issues its own currency anyway. The former Yugoslavia has such inflation between 1988 and 1994 that the Dinara unit was issued in bills of 500 billion! And then there's the weird coins of Somalia that you just have to see. More

Man Gets Back £51,000 He Stole

Apparently being a thief pays. 19 years ago bank manager Otto Neuman stole £150,000 in cash, gold bars, and gold coins from his own branch. When he was caught there was only about £51,000 left in cash and the gold recovered. In a bureaucratic twist of events the bank did not claim the money because their insurance company covered their losses. The insurance company also did not claim the money because the gold they recovered had increased enough in value (since it was stolen) that it covered their money spent covering the bank.
Herbert Eichenseder, Neuman's lawyer, has confirmed that an Austrian court has now ordered, some 19 years after the events, that Neuman is to be returned the £51,000 he stole.
Mr. Eichenseder said: "I really didn't believe what the court were telling me but I checked it and it was correct. I had to go into the archives in our cellar to find the details of the case as it was already 19 years old - and I managed to track down the man's details and contacted him to tell him the news. To say that he was surprised was an understatement, but he provided his bank account details and the money has now been transferred."

The Classics

Ford Pick Up woodie by alan33oh on Flickr.
Ford Pick Up Woodie

Introducing World's Strongest Beer

Fantastic Four The Thing
Meet the World's new strongest beer- a beer called Armageddon. With 65% alcohol, this drink is 130 proof. The beer is the creation of the Scottish brewery Brewmeister.
A spokesman said: "Despite being 65%, the beer has a lot of flavour - malty, hoppy, slightly sweet and lots of yeast still in the beer... ...Be careful though, smelling it is probably enough to put you over the limit!"
That 65 percent alcohol by volume trumps the previous champion, a beer made by BrewDog, which was at 55 percent. They were able to achieve such a high percentage by freezing the beer, removing some of the ice that forms, while leaving much of the unfrozen alcohol (because water and alcohol freeze at vastly different temperatures).
The beer is for sale in 330ml bottles at £40.00, but there is a two week back order due to high demand.

The Interesting Origins Of Some Of Our Favorite Foods And Drinks

In the world today, you can have anything from a snack right up to a banquet-style feast delivered to your door by simply picking up the phone or clicking your mouse.

For many, this choice of food and drink and this type of advice can trigger questions such as 'where does such come from?' or 'how do they actually make this or that?.' Everybody knows that milk comes from cows and eggs from hens, but where does some of our favorite food and drink actually originate from?

Simulated Mars mission to study space food

NewImageIn March 2013, six people will spend four months on Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano simulating a Mars mission. Funded by the NASA Human Research Program, HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) is focused on what future astronauts might eat during long space adventures like a trip to the red planet. More than 700 people with a variety of science/tech/space/health backgrounds applied to participate in the study. Science journalist Kate Greene, a former editor at Technology Review, was one of those selected to be an astronaut "analog." Kate says, "In particular, we are examining the hypothesis that astronauts cannot live by rehydrated foods alone: we will be cooking and baking with shelf-stable ingredients as astronauts on future Mars missions might." Kate will be writing about her experience in various places, including her blog. "Simulated Mars Mission"

Unique Water Towers From Around The World

A water tower is an elevated structure supporting a watertank constructed at a height sufficient to pressurize a water supply system for the distribution of potable water. Many water towers were constructed during the Industrial Revolution; some are now considered architectural landmarks and monuments, and may not be demolished. Some are converted to apartments or exclusive penthouses.

Awesome Pictures


Loreburn, Saskatchewan, Canada Tornado by Robert Edmonds

Halloween in Charlotte, North Carolina

gAlthough it is unclear whether Charlotte, North Carolina, is any more obsessed with Halloween than other cities, there are some interesting people there who take Halloween very seriously. Creative Loafing featured four of those people and the ways they celebrate the holiday. Drew Badger, pictured, is a haunted house consultant who also organizes the local Zombie Walk, among other ghoulish activities.
Drew Badger was only 10 when he inadvertently gave his first haunted house consultation, in 1977. His elementary school was holding its annual Halloween carnival, which included the "Tunnel of Terror." The "really lame attraction," Badger recalls, was comprised of taped-together refrigerator boxes and witches and ghosts made by first- and second-graders. So, Badger and his friend decided to fix it up.

"I cut a hole in one of the boxes, and my buddy got a bowl of ketchup," Badger says. "We smeared it on our arms and when the next group — a group of fifth-grade girls — got to the hole, we reached through and screamed and yelled. They screamed and yelled and got outta there. Within five minutes, we had a line out the door. Something must have clicked in me at that point."
Also meet a man who makes giant monster costumes, a guy who drives a spooky hearse for fun, and a woman who had a Halloween "shotgun" wedding. More

Woman stole coffins from undertaker for Halloween party

A woman who stole three coffins from an undertaker for her Halloween party is facing jail in Kielce, Poland.

Baffled funeral director Tadeusz Prusek said: "We've been neighbors for years.

"I was going to the party anyway and if she'd just asked I would have let her borrow them."

Michalina Illakowicz, 28, denies theft.

More here.

The White House of Horrors

The White House has plenty of history, and plenty of former residents. Some are said to still be there, despite having died long ago.
After moving into the White House in 1945, Harry Truman wrote to his wife Bess about their spooky new abode: “I sit here in this old house … all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway and even right in here in the study. The floors pop and the drapes move back and forth—I can just imagine old Andy [Jackson] and Teddy [Roosevelt] having an argument over Franklin [Roosevelt].”
Some White House ghosts stand head and shoulders above others. Read the reports of the most common specters haunting the president's home.

Could Your Stuff Be Haunted?

Ghostbusting The Creepiest Antiques
You can buy practically anything on the Internet, so why not ghosts? For shipping convenience, the ghosts have attached themselves to objects - often dolls, clowns, and idol figurines, or Ouija boards.

But wearables like clothes and jewelry, art like paintings and photographs, as well as household objects like wooden boxes, furniture, and musical instruments seem to be popular places for lost souls to take up residence. Really, if you believe a spirit, or 'energy,' can attach itself to an object, then any antique could be haunted.

Horror Films You Didn’t Realize Were Based on True Stories

More horror films than you know were based on, or inspired by, real life events. Wes Craven himself told the story of what inspired Nightmare on Elm Street: a series of Southeast Asian men who died while having nightmares. One of them was a 21-year-old who refused to sleep.
Everybody in his family said almost exactly these lines: ‘You must sleep.’ He said, ‘No, you don’t understand; I’ve had nightmares before — this is different.’ He was given sleeping pills and told to take them and supposedly did, but he stayed up. I forget what the total days he stayed up was, but it was a phenomenal amount — something like six, seven days. Finally, he was watching television with the family, fell asleep on the couch, and everybody said, ‘Thank god.’ They literally carried him upstairs to bed; he was completely exhausted. Everybody went to bed, thinking it was all over. In the middle of the night, they heard screams and crashing. They ran into the room, and by the time they got to him he was dead. They had an autopsy performed, and there was no heart attack; he just had died for unexplained reasons.
But that's just one of ten horror stories behind the movies you'll find at Flavorwire.

Ghost Photography of the 19th Century

The spiritualist movement rose at about the same time photography was invented. Therefore, it was no wonder that the earliest use of trick photography was to show evidence of spirits that one could communicate with -for a small fee. Buzzfeed has a collection of quite a few of these "spirit" pictures. More

Real Live Apeman 1937

This is a photo of an apeman captured in the jungles of Brazil in 1937.  

Dog saves choking owner's life by slapping her on back

A dog is supposed to be a man’s best friend but a woman from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, has an extra special relationship with her beloved pet after it saved her from choking to death. Aysha Perry was settling down to watch some evening TV with a plate of chicken while Sheba, a Japanese Akita, was asleep in the kitchen. The 18-year-old then began choking with a piece of chicken stuck in her throat. Aysha helplessly tried to reach for her phone but was struggling to breathe and thought she was going to die.
Sheba’s protective instincts kicked in and the bitch bounded into the living room to aid her struggling owner. Aysha said: “She whacked me on the back with one of her huge front paws and the piece of chicken flew out. I was at home on my own and genuinely thought I was going to die. I’ve only had her for two weeks, she must have heard me choking and came running in. My flat mate wasn’t home so there was no one else around to help me.

“I was on the floor trying to get to my phone when she came running in. It’s a good job she has such big paws otherwise I don’t think it would have dislodged the chicken.” Aysha wasn’t aware of four-year-old Sheba’s life-saving skills but has done some research into the Akita breed. She added: “They are quite an unpredictable breed and were used for bringing down bears. She could obviously sense I was in distress.”

Aysha said she has since repaid the favor after four-and-a-half year old Sheba got her paw stuck in a fence. “I don’t think we are quite even yet but have definitely got a special relationship. After she helped get the chicken out of my throat she began licking my face to make sure I was okay. I think she deserves some recognition because it was a very heroic act. I don’t know anyone else whose dog would do something like that.” Japanese Akitas are known for their ‘fierce protectiveness towards their human companions’.  Enthusiasts claim mothers in Japan, in ancient times, relied heavily on their pet Akitas to take care of their very young children. In 1931, the Akita was officially declared one of Japan’s national treasures.

Fox with a conscience returns stolen handbag

The hunt is on for a ‘thief’ who stole a handbag from a woman. The suspect is described as 1.25 ft high, with pointed ears, hairy and red. Jeremy Clark, 38, has told how he was at home in Maple Drive, Burgess Hill, West Sussex, when he spotted a fox making off with his wife's handbag - then return it to her.
He was preparing to go to hospital with his wife, Anna, 35, when the cunning carnivore made his move. He said: “We were in the [estate's] car park and he looked at me for a few seconds before letting out this feeble yelp. “Next thing I knew he had my wife’s handbag in his mouth and was running towards the bushes.”

Jeremy screamed at the fox to drop the bag but he scuttled off out of sight. He added: “Anna had everything in there: her phone, money, purse, keys and letters. I couldn’t believe the fox had just taken it – it was mad. I thought that was it.”

But a few minutes later the guilty looking fox crept back into the car park with his bushy tail between his legs. In his mouth was Anna’s bag which he dropped at her feet before running off.  Jeremy added: “I have no idea why, we couldn’t believe it. We see the fox around quite a bit. I think people feed it.”

Bird of Fire

Bird On Fire
Let me introduce you to the most interesting bird in the world, the ʻĀkohekohe (Palmeria dolei). This critically endangered bird is only found on the island of Maui in Hawaii. There are about 3,800 individuals in two separate populations on Maui. It has distinctive calls from the "whee-o, whee-o" to the "tjook, tjook, chouroup" and even a rarely heard "hur-hur-hur-gluk-gluk-gluk".
The bird, sadly, is on the decline. Deforestation of the ʻĀkohekohe's natural habitat is one factor. Another is due to the bird's unique colors, it is very desirable to collectors and poachers. Competition from nonnative species that have been introduced to the ecosystem has also hurt the ʻĀkohekohe. Finally, in the 1900s mosquitoes were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands and the diseases they carry have been deadly to these magnificent birds.
Conservation efforts are under way and the species is under the protection of the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Animal Pictures