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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.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Daily Drift

 The good old days ...

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Today in History

1499   Pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck is executed.
1778   Indians, led by William Butler, massacre the inhabitants of Cherry Valley, N.Y.
1831   Nat Turner, a slave who led a revolt against slave owners, is hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia.
1889   Washington becomes the 42nd state of the Union.
1909   Construction begins on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
1918   The German leaders sign the armistice ending World War I.
1919   The first two-minutes' silence is observed in Britain to commemorate those who died in the Great War.
1921   The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery is dedicated.
1922   Canada's Vernon McKenzie urges to fight U.S. propaganda with taxes on U.S. magazines.
1933   The first of the great dust storms of the 1930s hits North Dakota.
1935   Albert Anderson and Orvil Anderson set a new altitude record in South Dakota, when they float to 74,000 feet in a balloon.
1938   Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" is performed for the first time by singer Kate Smith.
1940   Britain's Royal Navy attacks the Italian fleet at Taranto.
1944   Private Eddie Slovik is convicted of desertion and sentenced to death for refusing to join his unit in the European Theater of Operations.
1953   The polio virus is identified and photographed for the first time in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1966   The United States launches Gemini 12, a two-man orbiter, into orbit.
1970   U.S. Army Special Forces raid the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam but find no prisoners.
1973   Israel and Egypt sign a cease-fire.
1973   The Soviet Union is kicked out of World Cup soccer for refusing to play Chile.
1987   An unidentified buyer buys Vincent Van Gogh's painting "Irises" from the estate of Joan Whitney Payson for $53.9 million at Sotheby's in New York.

Non Sequitur


This Winter's Weather: What's to Come

Meteorologists have begun to release their best guesses for this coming winter.  

Sun Causes Vodka Exposion, Fire

The sun sines through a window onto bottles of vodka starting a fire in a liquor store. 
You can't make this stuff up.  
 Sun Causes Vodka Exposion, Fire: Gotta-See Video

Prohibition Repeal Echoes in Marijuana Legalization?

Marijuana legalization efforts like to draw parallels to the repeal of Prohibition. But is history really repeating itself?  
  Prohibition Repeal Echoes in Marijuana Legalization?

Daylight saving time switch led to man being arrested twice at the same time for drunk driving

The end of daylight saving time caused a unique situation in Urbana, Ohio, on Sunday morning. Police there arrested a man twice in one day, but at the same exact time. Chief Matt Lingrell explained that Niles Gammons of Urbana was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated at 1:08 a.m., then released with a summons to appear in court this week. An hour later, it was again 1:08 a.m. and police caught Gammons driving under the influence once again.

According to a statement from police, Sgt. David Reese observed Gammons driving the wrong way down a one-way alley. During his contact with Gammons, Reese determined he was driving impaired and had Gammons submit to field sobriety tests. It was discovered that Gammons had pennies inside his mouth. “It is a false myth that pennies will offset the results of a breath test,” Lingrell said in the release. Gammons was discovered to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana and had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit to drive.

He was issued citations for OVI, obstructing official business and minor misdemeanor drug abuse. He was placed under an administrative license suspension, ordered into court on Nov. 5 and released to the care of a responsible party. Exactly one hour later, while on patrol in the municipal parking lot off of the 100 block of Miami Street, Sgt. Reese saw the same vehicle Gammons had been driving earlier back up suddenly from a parking spot. The vehicle almost collided with the police cruiser. Reese observed it was again 1:08 a.m. and it was Gammons driving.

“Gammons admitted that he knew he was under suspension from the previous arrest,” the release said. He again was arrested for OVI and was transported to the Urbana Police Division, where he submitted to another breath test and was again found to be over the legal limit to drive. He was issued a new citation for OVI and ordered to appear in court. On Monday he appeared in Champaign County Municipal Court and a pre-trial hearing was set for Nov. 15.

TSA inspectors get a larger annual clothing allowance that Marine lieutenants get through their whole careers

TSA "officers" have a new deal: awesome new clothes to wear while they touch your genitals.
Under their new collective bargaining agreement, Transportation Security Administration officers get to spend more taxpayer money on their uniforms every year than a United States Marine Corps lieutenant can spend in a lifetime.
“TSA employees will see their uniform allowances nearly double to $446 per year,” the House Transportation Committee noted in a press release on the TSA’s new collective bargaining agreement. “By comparison, a combat Marine Lieutenant receives a one-time uniform allowance of $400. The cost of the increase in TSA uniform allowance is an estimated $9.63 million annually.”
TSA uniform perks more expensive than Marine Corps

The repugican showing in Calif. worries cabal strategists

FILE - This Feb. 24, 2012 file photo shows Kay Aaron waiting for customers at a booth selling pictures of Republican leaders and icons during the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, Calif. If the future happens first in California, the Republican Party has a problem. The nation's most populous state _ home to one in eight Americans _ has entered a period of Democratic political dominance so far-reaching that the dwindling number of Republicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
 If the future happens first in California, the repugican cabal has a problem.

The nation's most populous state — home to 1 in 8 Americans — has entered a period of Democratic political control so far-reaching that the dwindling number of repugicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse.
Democrats hold the governorship and every other statewide office. They gained even more ground in Tuesday's elections, picking up at least three congressional seats while votes continue to be counted in two other tight races — in one upset, Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated physician who mobilized a district's growing swath of Hispanic voters, pushed out longtime repugican Rep. Mary Bono Mack.
The party also secured a supermajority in one, and possibly both, chambers in the Legislature.
"repugican leaders should look at California and shudder," says Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's 2008 campaign and anchored former repugican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election team in 2006. "The two-party system has collapsed."
repugican voter registration has dipped so low — less than 30 percent — that the party's future state candidates will be hobbled from the start.
repugicans searching for a new direction after Mitt Romney's defeat will inevitably examine why President Barack Obama rolled up more than 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote, and 9 of 10 votes among blacks, essential ingredients in his victory. Women also supported Obama over Romney nationally and in California, where they broke for the president by 27 percentage points.
There is no better place to witness how demographic shifts have shaped elections than in California, the home turf of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan that just a generation ago was a reliably repugican state in presidential contests.
A surge in immigrants transformed the state, and its voting patterns. The number of Hispanics, blacks and Asians combined has outnumbered whites since 1998 in California, and by 2020 the Hispanic population alone is expected to top that of whites. With Latinos, for example, voter surveys show they've overwhelmingly favored Democratic presidential candidates for decades. Similar shifts are taking place across the nation.
"There are demographic changes in the American electorate that we saw significantly, first, here in California and repugicans nationally are not reacting to them," said Jim Brulte, a former repugican leader in the California Senate.
"Romney overwhelmingly carried the white vote — 20 years ago, that would have meant an electoral landslide. Instead, he lost by 2 million votes" in the state, Brulte said.
Perhaps no part of the state better illustrates how repugicans surrendered ground than in Orange County, once a largely white, repugican bastion where Nixon's seaside home became known as the Western White House.
Today, whites make up a little more than 40 percent of the population, while 2 in 10 residents are Asian and about 1 in 3 is Hispanic, according to the census.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter managed to collect about a quarter of the vote against Reagan in the county. But by 1996, with the county diversifying, Bill Clinton grabbed 38 percent of the vote, and Al Gore boosted that to 40 percent in 2000. This year, Obama won 44 percent of the vote in Orange County, according to preliminary returns.
Romney "implemented a winning election strategy for 1980," University of Southern California professor Patrick James said in a statement issued by the school. "If you look at the demographics and voting proportions, the Reagan coalition would not win a majority today."
Celeste Greig, president of the conservative California repugican Assembly, said in an email to supporters Friday that the party was in need of a makeover, emphasizing Main Street over Wall Street.
"We have to admit that as a party in California, we're just plain disorganized," she wrote.
Romney bypassed California this year, waging his fight in battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida. In claiming the biggest electoral prize in America, California's 55 electoral votes, Obama rolled up a nearly 21 percent margin. Voters also returned Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Washington in a landslide, after repugicans put up a virtually unknown candidate, Elizabeth Emken, an autism activist who had never held elected office.
Independents now outnumber repugicans in 13 congressional districts in California, a trend analysts predict will continue.
California counted more registered repugicans in 1988 than it does today, although the population has grown by about 10 million over that time. You'd have to go back to that year to find a repugican presidential candidate who carried the state, George H.W. Bush.
Surprisingly, Democrats continued to make gains in the state even at a time of double-digit unemployment, with polls showing that voters are unhappy with Sacramento and Washington. And it could get worse for the repugicans. repugicans are trailing in two other House races in which the vote counting continues.
It remains unclear what direction Democrats, who have close ties to public employee unions, will take with their additional clout. If they achieve the supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, Democrats can pass tax increases and override gubernatorial vetoes without any repugican support.
The state is saddled with a litany of problems, including a long-running budget crisis, massive, unfunded public pension obligations, tuition increases at California universities and growing demands for water, affordable housing and energy.
Gov. Jerry Brown sounded a cautionary note this week, saying he intended to avoid spending binges.
Still, Democrats believe they have the state's demographics on their side with a message that appeals to a younger, more diverse population.
More than half the young voters in the state, ages 18 to 39, are Hispanic, according to the independent Field Poll. Thirty-five percent are Asian. If you look into a classroom in the Los Angeles area — tomorrow's voters — 3 of 4 kids are Hispanic.
The repugican cabal retains pockets of influence regionally, including rural, inland areas.
repugican National Committee member Shawn Steel has been pushing the party to become more aggressive about recruiting Asians.
"It's not just all about the Latinos," he says.
Schmidt traces repugican troubles with Hispanics to 1994, when voters with encouragement from repugican Gov. Pete Wilson enacted Proposition 187, which prohibited illegal immigrants from using health care, education or other social services.
The law eventually was overturned, but it left lingering resentment with many Hispanics at a time when the Latino population was growing swiftly and becoming increasingly important in elections.
California "is not just a large state, population-wise, it's a trend-setting state," said Schmidt, a public relations strategist. "It could be a glimpse of the future."

Homeless hopping a train


hitch hiking 
This is what repugican policies lead to ...

A Little Old Fashion Rote Memorization is Good After All

When she was forced to teach her students Latin and Greek word roots, high school English teacher Suzanne Kail thought that such "drill and kill" method would backfire. (Progressive educators tend to think that rote memorization would surely kill students enthusiasm for learning, hence the term.)
But is a little old school learning really that bad?
As soon as she began teaching her students the Greek and Latin origins of many English terms — that the root sta means “put in place or stand,” for example, and that cess means “to move or withdraw” — they eagerly began identifying familiar words that incorporated the roots, like “statue” and “recess.” Her three classes competed against each other to come up with the longest list of words derived from the roots they were learning. Kail’s students started using these terms in their writing, and many of them told her that their study of word roots helped them answer questions on the SAT and on Ohio’s state graduation exam. [...]
For her part, Kail reports that she no longer sees rote memorization as “inherently evil.” Although committing the word roots to memory was a necessary first step, she notes, “the key was taking that old-school method and encouraging students to use their knowledge to practice higher-level thinking skills.”
That’s also true of another old-fashioned method: drilling math facts, like the multiplication table. Although many progressive educators decry what they call “drill and kill” (kill students’ love of learning, that is), rapid mental retrieval of basic facts is a prerequisite for doing more complex, and more interesting, kinds of math. The only way to achieve this “automaticity,” so far as anyone has been able to determine, is to practice. And practice. Indeed, many experts who have observed the wide gap between the math scores of American and Chinese students on international tests attribute the Asian students’ advantage to their schools‘ relentless focus on memorizing math facts.
Annie Murphy Paul of TIME has more here.

Random Photo



Identical Twins Not Genetically Identical

You'd be forgiven to think that identical twins have the same DNA. After all, that's part of the plot of many crime novels and TV shows. Plus, "identical" means, well, identical. Right? Maybe not.
Turns out identical twins are actually not identical at the genetic level:
Even though identical twins supposedly share all of their DNA, they acquire hundreds of genetic changes early in development that could set them on different paths, according to new research.
The findings, presented Friday (Nov. 9) here at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting, may partly explain why one twin gets cancer while another stays healthy. The study also suggests that these genetic changes are surprisingly common.
"It's not as rare as people previously expected," said study presenter Rui Li, an epidemiologist at McGill University.
LiveScience has more here.

Heartbeat-Powered Pacemaker

heartThe idea proposed by researchers at the University of Michigan is to harvest the energy released by a heartbeat to power the pacemaker regulating the same heart:
Piezoelectric materials generate an electric charge when their shape is changed. They are used in some microphones to convert vibrations into an electrical signal.
Researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to use the movement of the heart as a source of electricity.
In tests designed to simulate a range of heartbeats, enough electricity was generated to power a pacemaker. The designers now want to test the device on a real heart and build it into a commercial pacemaker.

Star Trek Universal Translator Coming to Real Life

That universal translator you see in Star Trek? Yes, that one that can instantaneously translate languages while being spoken?
It's coming to real life, courtesy of Microsoft:
Microsoft researchers have demonstrated software that translates spoken English into spoken Chinese almost instantly, while preserving the unique cadence of the speaker's voice—a trick that could make conversation more effective and personal.
The first public demonstration was made by Rick Rashid, Microsoft's chief research officer, on October 25 at an event in Tianjin, China. “I'm speaking in English and you'll hear my words in Chinese in my own voice,” Rashid told the audience. The system works by recognizing a person's words, quickly converting the text into properly ordered Chinese sentences, and then handing those over to speech synthesis software that has been trained to replicate the speaker's voice.
More | YouTube clip of the translator in action

The World Without The Internet

Can you imagine a world without the Internet? If you're as old as I am, you probably can. But even I would miss the articles about bacon, all your base are belong to us, Chocolate Rain, and of course pictures of cats.

The iPod's 4,000-Pound Grandfather

These days, music lovers are spoiled. With one small handheld device, you can flick your thumb and hear anything you want - from Jay-Z or Lady Gaga to a postwar blues rag or a Bach concerto. Some of us remember when you had to get up and turn over the vinyl record to hear the 'B side' of an album, or when you'd put foil on your antenna to pick up the best radio station from a sea of static.

An iPod's the same thing as a giant orchestrion 100 years ago. An orchestrion is like a souped-up player piano. These automatic music machines encased in beautiful wood cabinets don't just play piano but also drums, bells, and pipes that can imitate violins as well as woodwinds and horns.

Russian Wants to Buy, Destroy Hitler's Home

A Russian MP wants to raise millions to buy Hitler's 500-year-old Austrian birthplace home -- and then destroy it. 
  Russian Wants to Buy, Destroy Hitler's Home: DNews Nugget

Vampire Skeleton Rediscovered in Britain

A skeleton unearthed in the U.K. reveals a man buried with metal spikes through the shoulders, heart and ankles. Read more
Vampire Skeleton Rediscovered in Britain

Iceman Mummy Finds His Closest Relatives

DNA from an ancient Iceman suggests he looked a lot like the Stone Age farmers throughout Europe. Read more

A 8,500-Year-Old Murder Mystery Uncovered

The remains of a man and a woman are found at the bottom of a Stone-Age well in Israel.
Is it a whodunnit? Read more

8,500-Year-Old Murder Mystery Uncovered

What Destroyed The Maya?

The Maya civilization was among the most advanced in history, and its disintegration has perplexed researchers for ages. One of the most compelling theories to date suggests that a shifting climate, playing puppeteer to sociopolitical marionettes, had a devastating role in the Maya's downfall.

Now, researchers have combined remarkably detailed climate data - recorded in a Central American stalagmite - with historical records to help determine what really happened to this mysterious Mesoamerican society.

The Breathtaking Colors of Iceland's Landmannalaugar Region

Wildflowers beside lake in LandmannalaugarArctic sunrise over lake BláhylurAn icy glacier river near Jökulgil canyonLandmannalaugar sunset over snowy mountainsLava cones at HeklusandarColored mountains of Austurbamur, Landmannalaugar
Landmannaulaugar is famous for its hot springs, volcanic eruptions, and the beautiful colors of its landscape – which is like nowhere else on Earth. More

Pig Odors Raise Human Blood Pressure

Just 10 minutes of exposure to smells from swine operations in North Carolina was enough to raise the blood pressure of people who lived nearby. Read more
Pig Odors Raise Human Blood Pressure

Paleo News

'Alien' Horned Dinosaur Discovered

The 2-ton, 20-foot-long horned dinosaur that roamed the Earth about 80 million years ago. Read more

Flying Dino Too Weak to Lift Off?

These pterodactyls had the wingspan of a F-16 fighter, but they may have been too out of shape to fly. Read more

Animal News

Brazil To Clone 'At Risk' Animals

Brazilian authorities are going to begin cloning the DNA of at-risk animals to keep in captivity. Read more
Brazil To Clone 'At Risk' Animals: DNews Nugget

Hot-Pink Angelfish Glows

The new angelfish joins the long line of genetically engineered fish, though this one won't be at your pet store anytime soon. Read more
Hot-Pink Angelfish Glows: DNews Nugget

Clownfish Talk to Keep the Peace

Finding Nemo fish communicate with a series of clicks and pops to keep the social order intact. Read more
Clownfish Talk to Keep the Peace: DNews Nugget

Do Some Animals Get a Taste for Human Blood?

Recent killings by a leopard in Nepal reveal how circumstances can cause predators to develop at taste for humans. Read more

Flesh-Eating Bug Killing Salmon

Nearly 40 percent of Atlantic salmon are being eaten alive by a nasty parasite. Read more
Flesh-Eating Bug Killing Salmon: DNews Nugget

The Banana Slug

Nature's Giant Recyclers
Perhaps it is the mucus, perhaps the snake-like appearance or the habit of many species of slug to regard your garden and the carefully cultivated plants within as dinner - but the slug generally has a pretty bad press. A lot of people don’t like slugs. The sight of them in a garden has been known to turn even the most mild mannered in to mad mollusk murderers.

Yet the giant Banana Slug has more than just its size and resemblance to a certain yellow fruit as a claim to fame. This is one of the unsung champions of the forest, for the banana slug only eats dead organic material which they then turn in to soil.

Global Shark Tracker

With Ocearch's Global Shark Tracker you can observe the navigational pattern of sharks that have been tagged with satellite tracking technology all for the purpose of shark conservation.

Sharks play a crucial role of maintaining balance in the delicate oceanic ecosystem as they have an effect on all levels in the food web below them. Unfortunately sharks are being slaughtered every day putting the shark at risk for survival. The navigational and migratory data being collected from Ocearch will be used to support and devise successful conservation and management strategies.

Bringing Back the Puffins

Atlantic puffins once nested up and down the coast of Maine, but hunting and egg-collecting reduced their numbers to, well, hardly any. Puffins instead nested in Canada. That is, until one guy decided he could bring some of them back to the U.S.
In 1969, a young biologist and birding enthusiast named Stephen Kress moved to Maine to teach at the Hog Island Audubon Camp on the coast. He learned that puffins had once been common on the coastal islands but had been hunted relentlessly. By 1901, a single pair was left in the state, and only a few pairs had been seen since. Unlike many people in Maine at the time, Kress had a visceral sense of what had been lost: He had recently worked in eastern Canada, which has some of the largest puffin colonies in the world. He started to wonder if Atlantic puffin chicks could be transplanted from Canada to Maine and used to re-establish the population south of the border.

More experienced seabird biologists shook their heads. Puffins, like many seabirds, return to their natal islands to breed. If puffin chicks were transplanted to new islands, they wouldn’t breed there; they would simply head back to the islands where they’d been born. The biologists said Kress’ notion was an idealistic waste of time or, worse, an arrogant effort to manipulate nature.
So Kress was not only motivated by a desire to see the puffins return, he also was inspired to prove the experts wrong. It took years of work and changing tactics, but the puffins eventually returned to Maine. Read about how Kress and his colleagues achieved their goal at Slate.

Animal Pictures