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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.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Daily Drift

The legendary airship Graf Zeppelin in 1931. by Beast 1 on Flickr.
The legendary airship Graf Zeppelin in 1931.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Nairobi, Kenya
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Bridgetwon, Barbados
Makati, Phlippines
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Pila, Poland
Chisinau, Moldova
Abbottabad, Pakistan
Dublin, Ireland
Cape Town, South Africa
Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Santiago, Chile
Luqa, Malta
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Belgrade, Serbia
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Rabat, Morocco
Olongapo, Philippines
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Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
San Jose, Costa Rica
Athena, Greece
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Poznan, Poland
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
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Kebon, Indonesia
Ankara. Turkey
Deblin, Poland

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Today in History

392   Theodosius of Rome passes legislation prohibiting all pagan worship in the empire.
1226   Louis IX succeeds Louis VIII as king of France.
1576   The 17 provinces of the Netherlands form a federation to maintain peace.
1620   The King of Bohemia is defeated at the Battle of Prague.
1685   Fredrick William of Brandenburg issues the Edict of Potsdam, offering Huguenots refuge.
1793   The Louvre opens in Paris. But wasn't it already a Palace and it merely opens to the people?
1861   Charles Wilkes seizes Confederate commissioners John Slidell and James M. Mason from the British ship Trent.
1864   President Abraham Lincoln is re-elected in the first wartime election in the United States.
1887   Doc Holliday, who fought on the side of the Earp brothers during the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral 6 years earlier, dies of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
1889   Montana becomes the 41st state of the Union.
1900   Theodore Dresier's first novel Sister Carrie is published by Doubleday, but is recalled from stores shortly due to public sentiment.
1904   President Theodore Roosevelt is elected president of the United States. He had been vice president until the shooting death of President William McKinley.
1910   The Democrats prevail in congressional elections for the first time since 1894.
1923   Adolf Hitler attempts a coup in Munich, the "Beer Hall Putsch," and proclaims himself chancellor and Ludendorff dictator. .
1932   Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected 32nd president of the United States.
1938   Crystla Bird Fauset of Pennsylvania, becomes the first African-American woman to be elected to a state legislature.
1942   The United States and Great Britain invade Axis-occupied North Africa.
1960   John F. Kennedy is elected 35th president, defeating Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the closest election, by popular vote, since 1880.
1966   Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts becomes the first African American elected to the Senate in 85 years.
1983   Wilson B. Goode is elected as the first black mayor of the city of Philadelphia.
1988   George H. Bush is elected the 41st president of the United States.

Non Sequitur


The truth be told


UK Finance Minister Tops List of Brits' Nightmares

A recent Travelodge poll found that UK finance minister George Osborne tops the list of personalities who frequent Brits' nightmares, Reuters reported.

Random Celebrity Photo

Indian hunger striker completes 12 years without eating in protest at actions of the armed forces

Irom Sharmila, who holds the record for the world’s longest hunger-strike, passed another dark milestone in history on Monday when she marked 12 years without eating or drinking. The 40-year-old from India’s north-east has been force-fed in a secure hospital as she continues to protest against the impunity enjoyed by the armed forces.

“We are observing the spirit of Sharmila by holding a candlelit vigil,” the woman’s brother, Singhajit, said from Imphal, the capital city of the state of Manipur. “I last was able to see her on 9 October. She expressed to me that she would not accept any award from any organization until her demands have been fulfilled.” The woman known as the Iron Lady of Manipur has devoted herself to the cause of human rights in a way that is hard to conceive. Since November 2000, when a group of soldiers from the Assam Rifles shot dead a 10 civilians standing at a bus-stop, she has refused to eat, drink or even brush her teeth. Charged with trying to commit suicide, she has been repeatedly arrested, detained and force-fed by tubes that are inserted into her nose twice a day.

Her sacrifice has focused on a struggle that is barely glimpsed in the rest of India, let among the wider world. A decades-long insurgency by up to 50 armed groups and the subsequent response by the government which has sent in thousands of troops, has created a dark, deadly situation in Manipur where the rule of gun – be it the gun of an insurgent or that of a member of the security forces – holds sway. Sharmila, who has not seen her mother since her fast began, is demanding that the government overturn the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a piece of legislation also in force in Kashmir, which makes it all but impossible to hold any soldier accountable for his actions. Campaigners say this law gives broad license to the security forces to act with impunity.

In the last year or so, the situation in Manipur has calmed and the authorities have removed the provisions of the AFSPA from a handful of areas in Imphal. However, Sharmila has said she will continue her fast until it is removed from the entire state. The woman who has been given a number of domestic and international honors for her campaign also recently announced she would no longer accept any awards while her fast continued. Mahasweta Devi, a celebrated human rights activist and writer from West Bengal, recently tried to honor the hunger-striker with another award but her brother declined, politely, saying that his sister wanted to wait until her struggle was completed. “After Sharmila comes out winning, she will collect it herself,” he said.

Mother left 5-month-old baby alone in car while stealing cheese

A central Florida woman almost got off scott-free after being accused of shoplifting, that is, until officers found out who she left behind in her car. Altamonte police said 31-year-old Anna Alvarez was caught putting food into her purse in a Publix grocery store on Friday. Store loss prevention said they witnessed Alvarez pay for two tomatoes but not the three packages of cheese she put into her purse.

"Officers got on the scene and were very compassionate to the situation. (They) started talking to the suspect she advised she stole the three packages of cheese for her 3-year-old son, who was hungry," said Altamonte Springs police spokesman Robert Pelton. Alvarez's 3-year-old was with his grandmother, according to police.

Publix decided not to prosecute her for shoplifting and were in the process of banning her from the store when she mentioned her other child, a 5-month-old who had been in the car the whole time. "Officers were escorting her out of the store, at that time she announced that for the last couple of hours she had left her 5-month-old unattended in the car," said Pelton.

The report said her 5-month-old was found screaming and crying in the back seat of Alvarez's car. "It was Friday night and it had gotten a little cool. There wasn't a blanket on the child, he had kicked it off and the child was cold to the touch as well," said Pelton. Police said the windows in Alvarez's car were up and the doors were locked. Alvarez was arrested on charges of child neglect. The 5-month-old was turned over to his father.

There's a news video here.

An Unusual But Not Too Cruel Punishment

Stop SignHave you ever been stuck behind a school bus, kids unloading, and gotten a little bit annoyed because you are in a hurry? You probably have. Did you get a creeping temptation to drive around the pedestrian children, avoiding them by driving onto the sidewalk? Didn't think so.
Shena Hardin got that feeling early and often. So much in fact she actually went around a bus loading a disabled child by driving on the sidewalk regularly, every morning in fact. The Cleveland locals complained about it and she was eventually caught, you can watch that here.
A judge has now suspended Hardin's license for 30 days and ordered her to pay $250 dollars in court costs. Additionally, Hardin will have to stand at an intersection for two days wearing a sign that says "Only an idiot drives on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus."
Take that Shena Hardin. AP story confirms here.



• because she wore a tie, today

Things You Might Not Know About Wyatt Earp

bby Eddie Deezen

One of my all-time favorite films is Tombstone (1993), the greatest Western ever made -in my opinion (and with all due respect to the great John Wayne, who I love and am a major fan of). Tombstone being my favorite Western, I developed an interest in the film's central character, Wyatt Earp. I have recently read my first proper biographies of Earp, and man, this guy just blows my socks off! What a fascinating, bigger-than-life character, right out of a great Western novel. I have read hundreds and hundreds of biographies and autobiographies of men and women of every possible stripe, but this guy is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible characters I have ever read about.

Okay, let me tell you twelve things you may not have known about that legendary lawman from the Old West, Mr. Wyatt Earp.

1. Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (yep, that's his full name) ran away from home several times and tried to enlist in the Union Army in the Civil War. He was unsuccessful and was sent back home every time, as he was only 13 years old.

2. He loved ice cream. He wasn't a hard drinker. In fact, he wasn't a drinker at all. No, the great Wyatt Earp, as macho as they come, never let liquor touch his lips. But he did have a vice: his love of ice cream. Every day in Tombstone, he would stop into the local ice cream parlor and indulge in a scoop.

3. He was arrested for horse theft along with two other men. Wyatt and the other men were accused of stealing two horses (each worth $100) and jailed. Instead of waiting for his trial, Wyatt broke out of jail and escaped through the jail roof.

4. He never was hit or injured during a gun fight. No, not in any gunfight he was ever involved in, which contributed to his legend.

5. He once accidentally shot himself (actually his coat). Although Wyatt was never hit by the bullet of an opponent, once, his single-action revolver fell out of his holster while he was leaning back in a chair and discharged. Embarrassingly, the discharged bullet went through his coat and out the ceiling.

b6. He loved hookers and prostitutes. Wyatt may not have been a drinker, but he loved the ladies (ladies of the evening, that is). In one year (1872) Wyatt was arrested three times for "keeping and being found in a house of ill-repute."

Wyatt was listed as living in a brothel with Jane Haspiel in February of 1872. It is not known whether he was a pimp, an enforcer, or a bouncer in the establishment. Later, in 1876, when his brother James opened a brothel in Dodge City, Wyatt went along with him.

7. He was once fined for slapping a prostitute. Wyatt was fined the sum of $1.00 for slapping a muscular prostitute named Frankie Bell. Frankie had "heaped epithets" on Wyatt and he got upset and slapped her. Frankie spent the night in jail and was fined $20 (Wyatt's $1 fine was the legal minimum).

8. His second wife was probably an ex-prostitute. Wyatt's common-law wife, Celia Anne "Matty" Blaylock, who Wyatt lived with until 1881, was reputedly an ex-hooker.

9. He loved Dick Naylor. Wyatt's favorite horse, a racehorse, was named Dick Naylor.

10. He was put on trial for murder. After Wyatt's signature moment, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, he was tried for murder, along with his best pal, Doc Holliday. If convicted, the two would have been hanged. Fortunately for Wyatt and his legend, he and Doc were both acquitted.

v11. He was a pal of John Wayne. In Wyatt's later years, he lived in Los Angeles and was a technical advisor on several silent cowboy films. He befriended a young actor named Marion Morrison (who later changed his name to John Wayne) and regaled the young thespian with tales of the Old West. Enthralled, the young Duke used to fetch Wyatt cups of coffee. Wayne later claimed his portrayals of cowboys and Western lawmen were based on these conversations with Wyatt Earp.
12. His last words were enigmatic. According to his wife of 47 years, Wyatt's last words, just before he died in January of 1929 were "Suppose, suppose…" Wyatt's wife, friends, and biographers all have only made guesses at what he was about to say to complete his though before he passed away.

The Japanese Invasion of Alaska

The Forgotten Battle
In the early morning of 6 June 1942, 500 Japanese soldiers landed on Kiska, one of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. They took the only inhabitants of the island, a ten man (and six dog) US Navy Weather Detachment by complete surprise and quickly took control of American soil. Today, the island is one of the USA's National Historic Landmarks: the aftermath of the Japanese invasion can still be seen on the rolling hillsides of Kiska.

Random Photo

1joemac:<br><br>More beautiful women at www.1joemac.tumblr.com<br>

Why is it so hard to give good directions?

Where I live, directions to place you've never been usually comes with the caveat "You can't miss it." That phrase is a real downer, because when you hear it, you're doomed to become lost. Then when I find the place I'm looking for, I always wonder why they didn't tell me about the big sign that would have made it all clear. Why can't people give directions that someone can follow?
The reason we find it hard to give good directions is because of the "curse of knowledge", a psychological quirk whereby, once we have learnt something, we find it hard to appreciate how the world looks to someone who doesn't know it yet. We don’t just want people to walk a mile in our shoes, we assume they already know the route. Once we know the way to a place we don't need directions, and descriptions like "its the left about halfway along" or "the one with the little red door" seem to make full and complete sense.

But if you've never been to a place before, you need more than a description of a place; you need an exact definition, or a precise formula for finding it. The curse of knowledge is the reason why, when I had to search for a friend's tent in a field, their advice of "it's the blue one" seemed perfectly sensible to them and was completely useless for me, as I stood there staring blankly at hundreds of blue tents.
The secret to put yourself in the place of a person who doesn't have the knowledge you have -but that's not easy to do. Read more at BBC Future.

Is Extreme Couponing Worth It?

]If you've seen the TLC's TV show Extreme Couponing, then you know the drill: extreme couponers dragged supermarket cart (or even carts) full of stuff worth hundreds of dollars, then checked out to find the register showing a bill of hundreds of dollars, which then miraculously dwindled down to zero or close to it after a big wollop of coupons got applied.
Then cut away to their home's pantries or basements, where the extreme couponers proudly showcase hundreds of single-ply toilet paper rolls, travel-sized toothpaste tubes and several lifetime's worth of Vitamin Water.
Granted today's economy is tough, but is extreme couponing - which consumes so much time that it's like a part-time job - worth it? No, actually, according to one former extreme couponers.
Christy Rakoczy, who used to be an extreme couponer from 2007 to 2010, explains why she has stopped extreme couponing in an article over at Money Crashers and an interview with NPR's Michel Martin:
MARTIN: You also wrote in your piece that you found yourself buying products that you really didn't need or particularly want just because you were getting bargains.
RAKOCZY: That is absolutely true. That's pretty much what you see. Any time someone's really saving a fortune, they're not saving a fortune necessarily on things that they can use. It's, you know, 200 Tic Tacs, 100 jars of tomato sauce that you're probably not going to use. A lot of diabetes monitors. Those are free almost all the time, because they want to get you hooked on using their brand. But, really, what are you going to do with them? It's just stuff that kind of clutters up your house.
MARTIN: Wait a minute. So you were getting diabetes monitors. Do you have diabetes?
RAKOCZY: No, I don't. But any couponer...
MARTIN: So you bought a diabetes monitor but you didn't have diabetes. OK. Well, that's kind of an example, I think, isn't it, Of what you're talking about - buying stuff that you don't need.
RAKOCZY: I bought about 60 diabetes monitors and I don't have diabetes. So I still have a few, actually.

The Secret Lives Of Kitchen Spices

Kitchen spices are dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substances primarily used for flavouring, colouring or preserving food. Sometimes a spice is used to hide other flavours. And some of them have secret lives. There's a warmonger, a cure-all, and a former currency in your cabinet. Do you know which is which?

Daily Comic Relief

Neil deGrasse Tyson Found Planet Krypton

We all know that Superman came from the Planet Krypton, but where exactly was that planet located before it exploded? Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked by DC Comics to find it:
I’ve often wondered exactly what kind of star Krypton orbited and where it was. Up until now all we’ve known is that it was red, and red stars come in many flavors, from dinky red dwarfs with a tenth the mass of the Sun up to massive supergiants like Betelgeuse which outweigh the Sun by dozens of times (I’ll note that a deleted scene in "Superman Returns" indicates it’s a red supergiant).
Well, that’s about to change. DC comics is releasing a new book this week – Action Comics Superman #14 – that finally reveals the answer to this stellar question. And they picked a special guest to reveal it: my old friend Neil Tyson.
Actually, Neil did more than just appear in the comic: he was approached by DC to find a good star to fit the story. Red supergiants don’t work; they explode as supernovae when they are too young to have an advanced civilization rise on any orbiting planets. Red giants aren’t a great fit either; they can be old, but none is at the right distance to match the storyline. It would have to be a red dwarf: there are lots of them, they can be very old, and some are close enough to fit the plot.
I won’t keep you in suspense: the star is LHS 2520, a red dwarf in the southern constellation of Corvus (at the center of the picture here). It’s an M3.5 dwarf, meaning it has about a quarter of the Sun’s mass, a third its diameter, roughly half the Sun’s temperature, and a luminosity of a mere 1% of our Sun’s. It’s only 27 light years away – very close on the scale of the galaxy – but such a dim bulb you need a telescope to see it at all (for any astronomers out there, the coordinates are RA: 12h 10m 5.77s, Dec: -15° 4m 17.9 s).
Phil Plaitt of Bad Astronomy has the story: here.

The Coffee Ring Effect

Never-before-seen footage from a laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Physics and Astronomy showing microscopic particles moving in a drop as it dries. Penn physicists have recently shown that simply changing particle shape can eliminate the ring-shaped stain that is left behind when drops of certain liquids dry.

Ancient Egyptian D20 Die

Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
When ancient Egyptians play Dungeons & Dragons with this D20 die above, we betcha they played with real dungeons! The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a nifty collection of the Ptolemaic Period (304 - 30 B.C.) dice, carved out of serpentinite rock: More

Complex Tool Find Argues for Early Human Smarts

The stone tools show humans innovated relatively advanced weapons much earlier than thought.  

How Asteroids Can Save Mankind

Asteroid mining may seem like science fiction, but with resources running short on Earth, mining the sky could be humanity's only hope. Near-Earth asteroids are packed to the brim with precious metals and resources.

Duriavenator: Thunder lizard or cleaning appliance?

Duriavenator is a dinosaur — a kind of T.Rex-ish, pointy toothed dinosaur that lived in what is now England. 
But I think it sounds like the name of a 1950s vacuum cleaner company, don't you? 

Singing Sand Dunes Explained

When Marco Polo heard it in China, he suspected evil spirits. When residents of Copiapo, Chile, heard it emanating from a sandy hill, they dubbed the peak El Bramador, for its roars and bellows. Scientists today call it 'singing sand,' but they're all referring to the same thing: As sand grains shuffle down the slopes of certain sand dunes, they produce a deep, groaning hum that reverberates for miles.

But how these dunes produce this 'music' remains a much debated mystery. Another vexing question is why different dunes sing different tunes - and how can some even sing more than one note at a time?

The Sleeping Goddess

The Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey in Cornwall, are one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. The style of the gardens is typical of the nineteenth century Gardenesque style, with areas of different character and in different design styles. The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, over a period from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century.

Located on Woodland Walk is an amazing sculpture of a sleeping goddess entitled 'Mud Maid.' The incredible larger-than-life sculpture even has grass and moss growing atop it.

Scientist Seeks To Launch Aerial Bigfoot Search With Blimp

Idaho scientist Jeffrey Meldrum is shrugging off skeptical fellow scholars in his quest for evidence of Bigfoot. He has turned his sights skyward, with plans to float a blimp over the U.S. in search of the mythic, ape-like creature. Idaho State University has approved the unusual proposal Meldrum, an anatomy and anthropology professor ridiculed by some peers for past research of a being whose existence is widely disputed by mainstream science.
Now Meldrum is seeking to raise $300,000-plus in private donations to build the remote-controlled dirigible, equip it with a thermal-imaging camera and send it aloft in hopes of catching an aerial glimpse of Bigfoot.

Baby elephant born at Dutch zoo

After almost 22 months' pregnancy, mother Indra  gave birth to a healthy 70kg baby at DierenPark Amersfoort zoo on 1st November.

 It is not yet clear whether it is a boy or a girl.

Crocodile captured after two years on the lam

It took an Internet search, shark nets and two weeks of floating in a sewage pond, but Gaza policemen said Tuesday that they have finally captured a crocodile that was terrifying residents.

A crocodile which escaped from a zoo in the Gaza Strip two years ago has finally been captured. Police enlisted the help of fishermen to drain the pit and catch the reptile with shark nets. The animal, which locals have accused of eating their livestock, has been returned to the zoo.

The reptile, measuring 1.8m (6ft), had fled its enclosure and crawled into a sewage pit near the northern town of Beit Lahia. Wastewater workers discovered the fugitive animal in one of the sewage basins two months ago. "He had a lot of spirit in him. He wanted to be free," Lt Col Samih al-Sultan, who led the hunt, said.

The animal's strength and stubborn determination earned it the nickname "Rock", the official added. A team of six policemen and fishermen sat in a boat in the pit for a fortnight, trying to catch the crocodile. After several failed attempts, they eventually decided to drain the pond and managed to snare the reptile with shark nets.

Locals have welcomed the capture of the crocodile, which they say has been eating their ducks and goats. "We were afraid he would eat us," said one farmer. Zoo workers said the crocodile had grown considerably over the last two years. It remains unclear how the reptile managed to escape in the first place.

Faithful dog stuck beside toddler through long scary night

It as a discarded nappy, foot and paw prints, and the sound of a crying child that drew police to two-year-old Dante Berry, who was found in the Australian bush near Mildura, Victoria. Grubby, with prickles in his bare feet and wearing nothing but a long-sleeved top, the Mildura toddler was found with faithful German shepherd Dasher in state forest more than 4km from their home. Almost 14 hours after raising the alarm, Dante's mum embraced her little boy again at 10am yesterday. More than 100 police, firefighters, neighbors and strangers were thanked by his parents for their part in the desperate search.

"We are happy, but not surprised, to learn that his faithful dog Dasher stayed by his side and was also found safe and well," they said. The pair's adventure started at 8.30pm on Tuesday, when Dante's mum Bianca Chapman discovered they had disappeared from the front yard. A search was started as the pair wandered down dirt tracks and through scrub in thunderstorms. Mildura Sen-Sgt Stephen Phelan said a nappy on the side of a dirt track 2km from home, with foot and paw prints around it, set search parties on the trail about 8.30am yesterday. "From our information he's renowned for pulling off his nappies," Sen-Sgt Phelan said.

But it was a sharp cry in knee-high scrub that led senior constables Carol Rigby and Greg Lee to find Dante several meters from the track, "stunned" and dehydrated. "We've run down here and called out at the same time, hoping he might call back, and we've seen the dog appear in the bushes," Sen-Constable Rigby said. "(Dante) was very grubby. He had very grubby feet and legs and hands. He was more stunned and amazed than anything. There was a bit of rain overnight and some thunderstorms, which must have been a bit nerve-racking for the child, but he was in pretty good nick considering."

Department of Sustainability and Environment tracker Will Hannah said tracks showed the pair had gone around in circles. "You could just imagine what was going through his little mind - lost (and) dark. Lucky he did have his dog to keep him warm overnight," Mr Hannah said. Sen-Sgt Phelan said with the thunderstorms, Dante "picked one of the worst nights to go missing". The resilient toddler was smiling as he ate McDonald's on his hospital bed hours after the ordeal. Dante's grandfather Percy Chapman thanked the army of supporters, many of whom they didn't know, who " went looking for my grandson". Mr Chapman said Dante and Dasher had disappeared before, but had never traveled this far.

Animal Pictures


Bobcat by Stephen Oachs (ApertureAcademy.com) on Flickr.