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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.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Daily Drift

Yes, we went there ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Warsaw, Poland
Puerto La Cruz, Venezulea
Amman, Jordan
Skopje, Macedonia
Pas-De-Calais, France
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Caracas, Venezuela
Kuwait, Kuwait
Paris, France
Manila, Philippines
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Sofia, Bulgaria
Erbil, Iraq
Beirut, Lebanon
Sampaloc, Philippines
Zagreb, Croatia
Maputo, Mozambique
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tagnuig, Philippines
Bangkok, Thailand
Quetta, Pakistan
Vancouver, Canada
Cairo, Egypt
Taytay, Philippines
Istanbul, Turkey
Cape Town, South Africa
Damascus, Syria
Huai Khwang, Thailand
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cebu City, Philippines
Jakarta, Indonesia
Poznan, Poland

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Today in History

1035 King Canute of Norway dies.
1276 Suspicious of the intentions of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales, English King Edward I resolves to invade Wales.
1859 The first flying-trapeze circus act is performed by Jules Leotard at the Circus Napoleon.
1863 Confederate General James Longstreet arrives at Loudon, Tennessee, to assist the attack on Union General Ambrose Burnside's troops at Knoxville.
1867 Mount Vesuvius erupts.
1903 The Lebaudy brothers of France set an air-travel distance record of 34 miles in a dirigible.
1923 Adolf Hitler is arrested for his attempted German coup.
1927 Canada is admitted to the League of Nations.
1928 The ocean liner Vestris sinks off the Virginia cape with 328 aboard, killing 111.
1938 Mexico agrees to compensate the United States for land seizures.
1941 Madame Lillian Evanti and Mary Cardwell Dawson establish the National Negro Opera Company.
1944 U.S. fighters wipe out a Japanese convoy near Leyte, consisting of six destroyers, four transports and 8,000 troops.
1944 The German battleship Tirpitz is sunk in a Norwegian fjord.
1948 Hikedi Tojo, Japanese prime minister, and seven others are sentenced to hang by an international tribunal.
1951 The U.S. Eighth Army in Korea is ordered to cease offensive operations and begin an active defense.
1960 The satellite Discoverer XVII is launched into orbit from California's Vandenberg AFB.
1968 The U.S. Supreme Court voids an Arkansas law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools.
1971 President Richard Nixon announces the withdrawal of about 45,000 U.S. troops from Vietnam by February.
1987 Boris Yeltsin is fired as head of Moscow's Communist Party for criticizing the slow pace of reform.

Non Sequitur


The 51-star flag

In the wake of Puerto Rico's overwhelming vote in favor of U.S. statehood, what would a 51-star flag look like? There are many possibilities. Picture above is the likely answer, but the top one here is a wonderfully cheeky option. My thought is this: isn't D.C. going to scream blue murder if Puerto Rico gets in and it does not? Maybe we should be looking at 52 star flags.

More women have driver's licenses than men in the US

Women have passed men on the nation's roads. More women than men now have driver's licenses, a reversal of a longtime gender gap behind the wheel that transportation researchers say is likely to have safety and economic implications. If current trends continue, the gap will only widen. The share of teens and young adults of both sexes with driver's licenses is declining, but the decline is greater for young men, according to a study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. The study looked at gender trends in driver's licenses between 1995 and 2010.
"The changing gender demographics will have major implications on the extent and nature of vehicle demand, energy consumption, and road safety," predicted Michael Sivak, co-author of the study. Women are more likely than men to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient cars; to drive less, and to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven, he said.
Over the 15 years the study covered, the share of men ages 25 to 29 years old with driver's licenses dropped 10.6 percent. The share of women of the same age with driver's licenses declined by about half that amount, 4.7 percent.
Male drivers outnumbered women drivers from the moment the first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908, the year the automobile became popular, and through most of the last century. In the 1950s, when only about half of adult women had driver's licenses, jokes about women drivers were a staple of comedians.
But the gap gradually closed. By 1995, men with driver's licenses slightly outnumbered women, 89.2 million to 87.4 million. By 2010, 105.7 million women had licenses, compared with 104.3 million men.
Likewise, in 1995 men with driver's licenses outnumbered women in every age group except those over 70. By 2010, women outnumbered men among drivers ages 45 and older and between ages 25 and 29 years old. The share of older women who are also on hanging onto their driver's licenses has also increased.
"I want to be in my own car for as long as possible. I want to be independent for as long as I can," said Diane Spitaliere, 58, a retired government worker in Alexandria, Va.
Male drivers under age 44 are still slightly more numerous than women of the same age, but that's only because young men outnumber young women in the general population, the study said. There now are 105 boys born each year for every 100 girls in the U.S. Women outnumber men later in life because they live longer — an average of 80 years for women, compared with about 75 years for men.
Rising Internet usage may be part of the reason for the decline in the share young drivers, especially young men, Sivak said. A previous study by the transportation institute published earlier this year found that countries that have higher Internet usage also have a lower licensure rate of teens and young adults.
"There is some suggestive evidence that Internet contact is reducing the need for personal contact," he said.
Other researchers have theorized that digital media and technology may make driving less desirable and public transportation more convenient. Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal in most states, but there's no risk to texting or working on a laptop while riding a bus or train. Some transit systems have been seeing significant increases in riders.
Another reason for the growing disinterest among young men in driving may be the erosion of the "car-fetish society," travel behavior analyst Nancy McGuckin said. "Today's young adults grew up in the back seat of cars stalled in congestion, hearing their folks swear at the endless traffic. Nothing romantic about that!"
It is also "no longer cool, or even possible, to work on your own vehicle. The engines are so complex most people don't even change their own oil," she said. "Independence, freedom, being able to customize the car to reflect you — these are not part of young people's association with vehicles."
There also may be economic reasons for the shift, McGuckin's research indicates. Employment of 16- to 24-year-olds as a share of all workers has declined. At the same time, the rate of young men ages 18 to 34 years old living at home has been going up and is greater than the rate of young women living at home.
It may be that unemployment and underemployment have made auto insurance unaffordable for young men, said Alan Pisarski, author of the Transportation Research Board's comprehensive "Commuting in America" reports on U.S. travel trends. "Insurance for males under 25 is just colossally expensive," he said.
There has also been a sharp decline in vehicle trips and the number of miles traveled by vehicle for 16- to 29-year old males, according to McGuckin's analysis of massive government travel surveys between 1990 and 2009. The declines for women were not as great.
"The car companies are very worried," she said.
Gloria Berquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the alliance is aware that the share of teens and young adults obtaining driver licenses is dropping, although the association hasn't seen the research on the gender differences.
"Some research has shown that young adults today connect with their friends through their smartphones, but at some point younger consumers still need to get from here to there, and a car is still a priority where public transportation is unavailable or limited," she said. "This is especially true for younger adults when they enter the workforce."

Papa John’s pizza cuts employees’ hours supposedly due to Obamacare

Right.As the CEO of Papa Johns, John Schnatter can do what he wants to do with the company. He created it, and built it into a massive enterprise across the US. He’s reportedly worth around $260 million and lives in a mansion with its own golf course.
Yet, despite living luxuriously, he claims that charging 11 to 14 cents more per pizza (his estimate of what Obamacare will cost his company) is simply too much — so he’s going to cut his employees’ hours, and pay, instead, so the law won’t apply to him.
At the same time, nobody is forcing anyone to buy his pizza. I always found Papa Johns to be a pretty bad pizza [NOTE FROM JOHN: I'm from Chicago, we are pizza. Papa John's sucks], but next to Dominos Pizza (based in Ann Arbor, Michigan…enough said) it was a mild improvement. Either way, I always avoided the national brands and opted for something local. Now, there’s an even better reason to find better pizza.
pizza delivery
Executives like Schnatter somehow miss the point (much like Romney did during the campaign) that he alone did not create the business. Thousands of employees made his dream house a reality. Yes, it’s fair to give Schnatter credit for building the business, growing it, but nobody builds something like that on their own. He’s typical of the narcissistic CEOs who believe that nobody else was there to help them, and nobody is helping them keep the business afloat.
While alternative choices for pizza are obviously out there, and certainly tastier, Schnatter should have the full opportunity to see just how well his business does with fewer customers and even more important, fewer employees. If he thinks the company can still keep up with the competition while stretching low wage employees, go for it. Sounds like a stupid business move to me, but Schnatter owns the business and can accept responsibility for it.
If only we had fewer CEOs like this and more that cared about the “we” instead of “me.”
The next time you want a pizza, just keep this in mind. CEOs can make choices, but so can consumers.
Huffington Post:
Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said he plans on passing the costs of health care reform to his business onto his workers. Schnatter said he will likely reduce workers’ hours, as a result of President Obama’s reelection, the Naples News reports. Schnatter made headlines over the summer when he told shareholders that the cost of a Papa John’s pizza will increase by between 11 and 14 cents due to Obamacare.
“I got in a bunch of trouble for this,” he said, referring to the comments he made in August, according to Naples News. “That’s what you do, is you pass on costs. Unfortunately, I don’t think people know what they’re going to pay for this.”

Did you know ...

That, ironically, it looks like the repugican cabal's efforts to suppress minority votes actually backfired

And Nate Silver thinks that from here on in, the repugican is at a disadvantage for electoral votes

The truth hurts

Syrian opposition unites to fight Assad

It’s an important step towards permanently removing Assad. Many potential donors have insisted on a unified force, which is now lead by the long time Assad critic and religious leader, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.The Guardian:
Qatar and Turkey, two of the Syrian opposition’s biggest international backers, have called for other states to endorse an umbrella deal signed on Sunday night that unites feuding anti-Assad groups and paves a way for funding to resume.
The formation of the group had been a key demand of the US and the Gulf states, which have sidelined the original political body, the Syrian National Council, and urged that a broader and more representative group be established.
After a week of wrangling in the Qatari capital, Doha, the chance of such a group being enshrined had nearly evaporated. However, an agreement was finally reached that absorbed the SNC and nominated a new leadership.

Prominent Saudi preacher tortures five-year-old daughter to death

Lamaa breathed her last in an intensive care unit of a hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh a few days ago after weeks of suffering from broken arms, skull fracture and head bruises, her mother told Al Arabiya. (Al Arabiya)
A five-year old Saudi girl has died after she was tortured by her father, described as a “prominent” religious scholar who often preaches on numerous satellite television channels.

Lamaa breathed her last breath in an intensive care unit of a hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh a few days ago, after weeks of suffering from broken arms, a skull fracture and head bruises, her mother told Al Arabiya.
“He used all sorts of torture and abuse against Lamaa,” the girl’s mother said, now divorced from her brutal husband.

The mother explained that after she was divorced she had an “agreement” with her former husband regarding the daughter they shared.

Recently, he took his daughter for two weeks as per “the agreement” but he never returned her back, the mother said, adding that she was “surprised” to receive a call from the public prosecutor in Hotat Bani Tamim, located 160 km south of Riyadh, asking her to go to Shamisi Hospital.

The medical report indicated that Lamaa was tortured with whips and electric shocks. She was even burned with an iron, the mother said.

The hospital matron said the man admitted to beating his daughter, but did not explain why.

“I was shocked and could not believe what happened to Lamaa when I saw her. I could not believe that is no mercy in people's hearts,” Lamaa's mother said.

When she asked her former husband at the hospital why he tortured Lamaa, he replied with a “chuckle only.”

The mother and the hospital refused to provide the name of the man and only described him as a “well known” television preacher.

Geronimo, the P.O.W.

bGoyahkla was an everyday Apache tribesman until the day he returned from a trading expedition in 1858 and found that Mexican soldiers had killed his mother, wife, and three children -as well as all the other women and children in his tribe. That's when he became Geronimo, the fearsome warrior who vowed to kill as many white men as he could. In 1886, outmanned and pursued mercilessly, Geronimo surrendered to the U.S. Army. It was a negotiated surrender in which he was told he would be held for two years. From that day until he died in 1909, Geronimo was in federal custody. That didn't mean he spent the rest of his life in prison, though -he was exhibited at the World's Fair and worked for a Wild West show, but was always under Army supervision. But all Geronimo wanted to do was go home to Arizona.
In March 1905, Geronimo was invited to President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade; he and five real Indian chiefs, who wore full headgear and painted faces, rode horses down Pennsylvania Avenue. The intent, one newspaper stated, was to show Americans “that they have buried the hatchet forever.”

After the parade, Geronimo met with Roosevelt in what the New York Tribune reported was a “pathetic appeal” to allow him to return to Arizona. “Take the ropes from our hands,” Geronimo begged, with tears “running down his bullet-scarred cheeks.” Through an interpreter, Roosevelt told Geronimo that the Indian had a “bad heart.”  “You killed many of my people; you burned villages…and were not good Indians.”  The president would have to wait a while “and see how you and your people act” on their reservation.
Read the entire story of Geronimo's punishment at Past Imperfect .

The Fairy Circles of Namibia

Some grasslands in Namibia are spotted with mysterious lifeless circles that appear, then disappear after a few decades. What are "fairy circles" and why do they form?
Writing in the journal PLoS One,Walter R. Tschinkel, the study’s author and a biologist at Florida State University, reports that the circles can last 24 to 75 years.
The circles, which range from about 6 to 30 feet in diameter, begin as bare spots on an otherwise continuous grass carpet; after a few years, taller grass starts to grow around the circle’s perimeter. [...]
So while the reasons for the circles are still unknown, Dr. Tschinkel says his study has raised several crucial questions: “Why are they regularly distributed, rather than random or clumped; why do they appear with the grass dying suddenly; why is there taller grass at the perimeter; and why is there a difference in diameters?”
Until then, he continued, “the mystery of the fairy circles, or at least what causes them, remains a mystery.”
Article and More Photos

Coffee Could Be Extinct by 2080

Coffee-growing regions will be too warm to support the growth of wild Arabica beans.  
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Why Antarctic sea ice cover has increased under the effects of climate change

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Awesome Pictures


Edible deodorant keeps you smelling of roses

The next time a crowded journey on public transport thrusts you too close to a malodorous armpit, take heart. Help will soon be just a boiled sweet away. Deo Perfume Candy, sweets that release a lingering rose scent through the pores of your skin, will be launched in the UK early next year. Just one serving is said to "fragrance" a 10-stone adult for up to six hours with a delicious floral aroma.
US company Beneo, which has developed the sweet with Bulgarian confectioner Alpi, says the product is perfectly safe and, in principle, works the same way as garlic. Both the sweets and garlic contain compounds that can't be broken down by the body, and so are excreted through the skin. In the sweets, the key ingredient is geraniol, a naturally occurring compound found in plants such as roses, lavender and vanilla. Munching on the sugar-free tangerine-flavored candy will, apparently, turn you into a living perfume atomizer.

US consumers have been snapping up the sweets since they first went on sale online in August, despite their bizarre packaging (more reminiscent of feminine hygiene products than snacks) and hefty price tag ($10 for a small bag). The sweets are expected to be sold in shops in the US soon and are already available in Spain, Germany, China, Korea and Armenia. The UK distributor is currently working with a major high street retailer to prepare the product, appealingly repackaged, for sale in time for next Valentine's Day.

Ingestible perfume isn't a new concept. Japanese researchers were the first to confirm the link between eating geraniol and smelling sweet. Otoko Kaoru chewing gum (translated as "man scent") was launched several years ago but only kept chewers floral fresh for an hour or two. This might explain why the gum was discontinued, or perhaps the manufacturers got the wrong target market; 20 to 40-year-old Japanese men might not have fancied smelling like potpourri.


Can Teeth Heal Themselves?

If you hurt yourself, your body can often self-repair, but we don't usually think of this happening with teeth. Find out how your teeth combat cavities. More

The Rich and Peanut Butter

Rich Kids Get Peanut Allergies

Children from families that were more well off have more sensitive immune systems which doesn't help their food future. Read more
Rich Kids Get Peanut Allergies: DNews Nugget

Peanut Allergies Higher Among Wealthier Kids

Children from wealthier families show higher rates of peanut allergies -- is it too much hygiene? Read more
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Could Jennifer Aniston hold the key to memory formation?

Ever since her leap to fame as Rachel on the popular TV sitcom Friends, Jennifer Aniston has been one of ...
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Exoskeleton Helps Paralyzed Man Walk Again

Four years ago, Mike Loura was struck by a car while riding his bike and became paralyzed. Today, he walked again for the first time thanks to a robotic exoskeleton:
"Ever since the accident all the doctors said you're never going to walk again," Loura said.
However, the husband and father of two girls is walking again. Thursday was day 15, the day Loura strapped on the wearable robot, a breakthrough technology, but it's the first time he's taking steps for others to see.
"Every time I take a step I kinda have to balance myself in a certain position for the machine to know that it's ready to take the next step," said Loura.
"It has an exoskeleton system with battery powered motor that allows someone who can't feel and can't move," said Dr. David Rosenblum, "who's paralyzed, the ability to go from sit to stand to actually taking steps."
WTNH News8 has the post and video clip: here.

Game changer for arthritis and anti-fibrosis drugs?

Game changer for arthritis and anti-fibrosis drugs?In a discovery that can fundamentally change how drugs for arthritis, and potentially many other diseases, are made, University of ...

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Early Human Ancestors Ate Grass

Our ancestors in central Africa 3.5 million years ago ate mostly tropical grasses -- only later did we develop a taste for meat.  
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Random Photo

Science News from a British Perspective

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How to Discover An Element

How to Discover An Element: Gotta-See VideoThe confirmation of the discovery of element 113 by Japanese scientists prompted this accidentally hilarious video of how they did it.  

Atmospheric CO2 Increases Space Junk Risk

High-altitude carbon dioxide can prolong the lifetime of hazardous orbital debris.  
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Astronomical News

How Do Alien Worlds Reveal Themselves?

Exoplanets are hard to find, but astronomers are developing increasingly ingenious ways of detecting their presence.  
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Super-Earth Discovered in Star's Habitable Zone

The exoplanet is one of six believed to be orbiting a dwarf star 42 light-years from Earth.  
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Super-Earth Discovered in Stars' Habitable Zone

Did Saturn Lay an Egg?

Say hello to Methone, Saturn's egg-shaped moon, as imaged by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.  
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Pandas Threatened by Climate Change


Pandas Threatened by Climate Change

Climate change is likely to decimate bamboo -- the main food for wild giant pandas.

Animal Pictures

Brown Bear by RV Bob on Flickr.