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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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Daily Drift


Howard Terpning, Color of Sun
 The color of the Sun

Some of our readers today have been in:
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Ankara, Turkey
Cape Town, South Africa
Windsor, Canada
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Ostrow, Poland
Odessa, Ukraine
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Cairo, Egypt
Kiev, Ukraine
Douala, Cameroon
Johannesburg, South Africa
Manila, Philippines
Qaraghandy, Kazakhstan
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ljubljana, Solvenia
Kotte, Srilanka
Ampang, Malaysia
Skopje, Macedonia
Sevastopol, Ukraine
Makati, Philippines

We would like to welcome our newest readers in: Cameroon

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1248   The city of Seville, France, surrenders to Ferdinand III of Castile after a two-year siege.
1785   John Hancock is elected president of the Continental Congress for the second time.
1863   Union forces win the Battle of Orchard Knob, Tennessee.
1863   The Battle of Chattanooga, one of the most decisive battles of the American Civil War, begins (also in Tennessee).
1903   Italian tenor Enrico Caruso makes his American debut in a Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's Rigoletto.
1904   Russo-German talks break down because of Russia's insistence to consult France.
1909   The Wright brothers form a million-dollar corporation for the commercial manufacture of their airplanes.
1921   President Warren G. Harding signs the Willis Campell Act, better known as the anti-beer bill. It forbids doctors to prescribe beer or liquor for medicinal purposes.
1933   President Franklin D. Roosevelt recalls the American ambassador from Havana, Cuba, and urges stability in the island nation.
1934   The United States and Great Britain agree on a 5-5-3 naval ratio, with both countries allowed to build five million tons of naval ships while Japan can only build three. Japan will denounce the treaty.
1936   The United States abandons the American embassy in Madrid, Spain, which is engulfed by civil war.
1941   U.S. troops move into Dutch Guiana to guard the bauxite mines.
1942   The film Casablanca premieres in New York City.
1943   U.S. Marines declare the island of Tarawa secure.
1945   Wartime meat and butter rationing ends in the United States.
1953   North Korea signs 10-year aid pact with Peking.
1968   Four men hijack an American plane, with 87 passengers, from Miami to Cuba.
1980   In Europe's biggest earthquake since 1915, 3,000 people are killed in Italy.

Non Sequitur



Well, what do you expect from the same people who brought you this: 
It is painfully obvious these dolts cannot spell.

Influence Game: Election over, campaign continues

The election may be over, but a new campaign is being waged in the nation's capital as lobbyists, advocates and trade groups fight to shape the government's response to the looming fiscal cliff.

Cash-strapped post office tests same-day delivery

FILE - This Dec. 19, 2011 file photo shows people in line at the U.S. Postal Service Airport station in Los Angeles. Emboldened by rapid growth in e-commerce shipping, the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is moving aggressively this holiday season to start a premium service for the Internet shopper seeking the instant gratification of a store purchase: same-day package delivery. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File) Emboldened by rapid growth in e-commerce shipping, the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is moving aggressively this holiday season to start a premium service for the Internet shopper seeking the instant gratification of a store purchase: same-day package delivery. Teaming up with major retailers, the post office will begin the expedited service in San Francisco on Dec. 12 at a price similar to its competitors. If things run smoothly, the program will quickly expand next year to other big cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York. It follows similar efforts by eBay, Amazon.com, and most recently Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which charges a $10 flat rate for same-day delivery.
The delivery program, called Metro Post, seeks to build on the post office's double-digit growth in package volume to help offset steady declines in first-class and standard mail. Operating as a limited experiment for the next year, it is projected to generate between $10 million and $50 million in new revenue from deliveries in San Francisco alone, according to postal regulatory filings, or up to $500 million, if expanded to 10 cities.
The filings do not reveal the mail agency's anticipated expenses to implement same-day service, which can only work profitably if retailers have enough merchandise in stores and warehouses to be quickly delivered to nearby residences in a dense urban area. The projected $500 million in potential revenue, even if fully realized, would represent just fraction of the record $15.9 billion annual loss that the Postal Service reported last week.
But while startups in the late 1990s such as Kozmo.com notably failed after promising instant delivery, the Postal Service's vast network serving every U.S. home could put it in a good position to be viable over the long term. The retail market has been rapidly shifting to Internet shopping, especially among younger adults, and more people are moving from suburb to city, where driving to a store can be less convenient.
Postal officials, in interviews with The Associated Press, cast the new offering as "exciting" and potentially "revolutionary." Analysts are apt to agree at least in part, if kinks can be worked out.
"There is definitely consumer demand for same-day delivery, at the right price," said Matt Nemer, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities in San Francisco. "The culture in retail traditionally has been to get a customer into the store, with the immediacy of enjoying a purchase being the main draw. So same-day delivery could be huge for online retailers. The question is whether the economics can work."
He and others said that consumers are a fickle lot when it comes to shipping, seeking fast delivery, but also sensitive to its pricing. Many will order online and pick up merchandise at a store if it avoids shipping charges, or will agree to pay a yearly fee of $79 for a service such as Amazon Prime to get unlimited, free two-day delivery or even purchase a higher-priced item if it comes with "free" shipping.
"Customers do like same-day delivery when it gets very close to a holiday or it otherwise becomes too late to shop," said Jim Corridore, analyst with S&P Capital IQ, which tracks the shipping industry. "But while the Postal Service has the ability to deliver to any address, they are not always known for their speed. To increase their speed might prove to be a much more complex offering than they're thinking about."
As the Postal Service launches Metro Post and sets pricing, its target consumer is likely to include busy professionals such as Victoria Kuohung, 43. A dermatologist and mother of three young children, Kuohung for years has gone online for virtually all her family's needs, including facial cleansers, books, clothing, toys, diapers and cookware.
Kuohung lives in a downtown Boston high-rise apartment with her husband, who often travels out of town for work. The couple says they would welcome having more retailers offer same-day delivery as an option. Still, at an estimated $10 price, Kuohung acknowledges that she would likely opt to wait an extra day or two for delivery, unless her purchase were a higher-priced electronics gadget or a special toy or gift for her son's birthday.
"I prefer not to spend my time driving in a car, fighting for parking, worrying about the kids, dealing with traffic and battling crowds for a limited selection in stores," said Kuohung, as her 1-year-old-twins and 4-year-old son squealed in the background. "But right now Amazon delivers in two days since I'm a member of Prime, so it would have to be something I can't get at the corner CVS or the grocery store down the street."
Under the plan, the Postal Service is working out agreements with at least eight and as many as 10 national retail chains for same-day delivery. The mail agency says nondisclosure agreements don't allow it to reveal the companies. But given the somewhat limited pool of large-scale retailers — they must have a physical presence in 10 or more big U.S. cities to be a postal partner — the list is expected to include department stores, sellers of general merchandise, clothiers, even perhaps a major e-commerce company or two.
Consumers will have until 2 or 3 p.m. to place an online order with a participating retailer, clicking the box that says "same-day delivery" and making the payment. Postal workers then pick up the merchandise from nearby retail stores or warehouses for delivery to homes between 4 and 8 p.m. that day. In San Francisco, the post office will closely track work hours and travel, which could quickly add to costs depending on traffic, total package volume or the proximity of merchandise in a delivery area.
"We're trying to revolutionize shipping; we're not simply trying to get a niche market of consumers," said Gary Reblin, the Postal Service's vice president for domestic products. He believes people of varying ages and income levels — young adults who don't own cars, older Americans who are less mobile — will welcome avoiding costly or time-consuming trips to the store.
By targeting big partners, Reblin said, the post office eventually hopes to push pricing down by making same-day delivery a standard option on retail web sites.
The new same-day offering is part of the post office's blossoming shipping and packaging business. That sector was one bright spot in the mail agency's dismal 2012 financial report, which showed a loss of $15.9 billion and forecast more red ink next year
This holiday season, the post office expects a 20 percent jump in its package volume, higher than its shipping rivals.

And I Quote

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.
  ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi 

Gold Christmas Tree

The tree-like ornament is made of 88 pounds of pure gold, standing about 7.9 ft high ... It is decorated with pure gold plate silhouette cutouts of 50 popular Disney characters and draped with ribbons made of gold leaf. The price tag? A mere $4.2 million.

Egypt's Morsi grants himself far-reaching powers

Egypt's president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year's uprising.

How a Yurt Is Made

From a pragmatic point of view, yurt is just a folding, portable house. From a historical and emotional point of view - an area, where many generations of nomads were born and died. The Kyrgyz treat it as something sacred. By the way, the upper part of a yurt became the state symbol which is seen on the flag of Kyrgyzstan. More

Well, that's one way ...

Bull in business
... to clear out the bar and get you wayward husband to come home

Two tons of pigeon droppings in tower

A hatch on a Swedish church tower inadvertently left open for some three decades resulted in 2 tons of pigeon droppings amassing in the tower.

Daily Comic Relief

Texas student suspended for refusing RFID tracker

A student in San Antonio, TX, has been suspended from school for refusing wear a RFID tracking device on privacy and religious grounds (she believes the tracker is somehow related to the "Mark of the Beast"). The school's funding is based on student attendance, so they use prisoner-style trackers to follow students' movements. A judge has temporarily reversed the suspension.
The suspended student, sophomore Andrea Hernandez, was notified by the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio that she won’t be able to continue attending John Jay High School unless she wears the badge around her neck, which she has been refusing to do. The district said the girl, who objects on privacy and religious grounds, beginning Monday would have to attend another high school in the district that does not yet employ the RFID tags.
The Rutherford Institute said it would go to court and try to nullify the district’s decision. The institute said that the district’s stated purpose for the program — to enhance their coffers — is “fundamentally disturbing.”
“There is something fundamentally disturbing about this school district’s insistence on steamrolling students into complying with programs that have nothing whatsoever to do with academic priorities and everything to do with fattening school coffers,” said John Whitehead, the institute’s president.

Bank cases illustrate rise in wage-and-hour lawsuits

By Andrew Dunn


Two Charlotte bankers have sued their employers claiming they were required to work overtime hours without pay to meet quotas, joining a rising tide of litigation over wages in the aftermath of the recession.
In one case, a former loan processor said Wells Fargo imposed a mandatory quota on her and her coworkers, forcing them to regularly work overtime without pay to meet the demand.
In the other, a former SunTrust Bank financial services representative claims she had to stay late at work to meet mandatory sales quotas and spend one night a week calling customers to hawk more services.
The two cases illustrate the wave of so-called “wage-and-hour” lawsuits filed in the past five years as large companies have downsized. Financial services companies have been one of the primary targets.
A record 7,064 wage-and-hour suits were filed in 12 months ending March 31, according to the law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP. The number spiked in 2007, and then rose steadily between 2008 and this year.
Settlements have ramped up, as well. About 107 wage-and-hour cases were settled last year, up from 20 in 2007, according to NERA Economic Consulting. Banks and insurers made up more than 20 percent of the settlements over the past five years, second only to the retail industry.
“There’s definitely a trend,” said Catherine K. Ruckelshaus, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, a New York nonprofit that promotes workers rights.
Law firms representing both employers and workers point to the large number of displaced workers following the financial crisis as a cause for the increase.
At the same time, the nature of work in the U.S. has shifted toward jobs that can fit into a gray area as far as who is eligible for overtime and who is exempt. Generally, salaried employees who have wide latitude over how they conduct their jobs are exempt. Hourly employees and those who primarily take direction from supervisors are not.
“They’re squeezing the workers who are left, and they’re increasingly building into their business plans that this whole swath of jobs is exempt even though it may not be,” Ruckelshaus said.
Employer defense law firms also point to workers’ attorneys becoming more aggressive after seeing successful settlements and court rulings in past years.
Neither of the Charlotte suits, filed in federal court, have received a formal response from the banks.
“Wells Fargo is committed to fully compensating its team members in accordance with all federal and state requirements,” spokeswoman Christine Shaw said in a statement. “We only just have been served with the North Carolina complaint, however, and it’s too early to comment on the specifics.”
SunTrust representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Two cases
The Wells Fargo suit was filed Nov. 6 by Yolanda Frazier, who worked at the Three Wells Fargo tower uptown primarily processing foreclosure files.
She claims she had a certain number of files she was required to process per day, and had to stay after her shift if the quota wasn’t met.
That meant Frazier and her co-workers “regularly” had to work more than 40 hours per week, and beyond what the bank would pay in overtime, the suit states. In some cases, she claims supervisors revised timesheets to eliminate some of those hours.
Frazier is seeking to be part of a statewide and nationwide legal action representing all current or former Wells Fargo employees with similar job duties.
At SunTrust, Terri Burleson worked at a branch in Matthews where she claims employees would be disciplined if they did not meet mandatory sales quotas.
Meeting those quotas regularly meant staying late or working through lunch, the suit says.
The suit also states that branch workers had to take part in a “call night” at least once per week without pay where they telephoned people offering SunTrust products and services. The bank is headquartered in Atlanta.
Burleson, too, is attempting to be part of a larger legal action.
Record numbers
These two suits are part of a rising number of actions taken against large companies in the past five years.
A California suit filed earlier this year claims Wells Fargo limited overtime for loan underwriters to an “unrealistic level in comparison to the amount of work it demanded.” In a legal response filed with the court, Wells Fargo denied the allegations and said the bank has not authorized or permitted any wrongdoing. The case is pending.
Another, filed last year in Texas, said Wells Fargo loan processors were forced to work overtime without pay. The bank again denied the claims and said Wells had no knowledge of unpaid overtime if any occurred.
In 2007, Wells Fargo settled a wage-and-hour lawsuit brought by business systems employees for $12.8 million. They had claimed they were wrongly classified as exempt from overtime pay while working more than 40 hours per week.

Copyright troll tries to use TorrentFreak to intimidate victims

TorrentFreak changes the site to empower them to resist trolling
Prena Law, a notorious porno copyright troll sent out a blackmail letter to victims that included the URL of a TorrentFreak article describing one of the rare cases in which someone stood up to a troll and lost. TorrentFreak felt that this was misleading, and resented being used as part of a sleazy scheme, so they replaced the article with a page explaining how copyright trolls work, and how to defend yourself against them.
Porno copyright trolls are companies that sends out legal threats to people, claiming they were downloading porn with embarrassing titles and demanding money not to permanently associate their names with porn by naming them in lawsuits. Thousands and thousands of people have been victimized by them.
We redirected the URL referenced by Prenda to a page with information about these mass-BitTorrent lawsuits.
So, instead of being scared by an article about a $1.5 million judgment, Internet bill payers can inform themselves about the steps they can take to respond to the settlement letter.
The page in question explains that increasingly judges are condemning the practices of copyright trolls, and that many mass lawsuits have been thrown out. Just recently a judge designated Prenda’s ways as a “bad faith effort,” and dismissed one of their mass-BitTorrent lawsuits.
In addition to some much-needed balance we also included links to attorneys who are familiar with these lawsuits, plus links to other useful resources. Hopefully, this will enable a few of the victims to respond properly and resolve the matter without having to pay up.
TorrentFreak Trolls a Copyright Troll

NY judge to Argentina: The court will be obeyed

Argentina has finally run out of wiggle room in a billion-dollar showdown over foreign debts unpaid since the country's world-record default a decade ago, and the stakes couldn't be higher for President Cristina Fernandez.

Finnish police confiscate 9-y-o's laptop after she downloads a song from the Pirate Bay

A nine-year-old Finnish girl's computer was confiscated by the police after she downloaded a track from the Pirate Bay. She was trying to preview the new album by Chisu (she later bought the album and went to the concert). The Finnish TTVK (Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre) demanded 600 Euros in summary fines from her family, along with a gag order, and the family refused, so they sicced the police on them.
Events started when last year's october family's daughter tried to preview to Chisu's new album. According to child's father, searches took her to the Pirate bay. Next spring the father got a letter from TTVK demanding 600 euros. TTVK's letter also demanded a nondisclosure. Father didn't oblige, but instead, wrote a letter back to the attorney. Letter included photographs of the bought album, and the tickets to the concert, which her child attended.
According to a TorrentFreak report, the confiscated machine was a Winnie the Pooh laptop.
9-year old girl prosecuted for Piratism in Finland

Man arrested in Athens over ID theft of most of Greek population

Greek police have arrested a man on suspicion of stealing the personal data of roughly two thirds of the country's population, police officials in Athens said on Tuesday.
The 35-year old computer programmer was also suspected of attempting to sell the 9 million files containing identification card data, addresses, tax ID numbers and license plate numbers. Some files contained duplicate entries, police said.

"We are investigating what the source of the data was and how they were used by the man arrested, and also the possibility of him providing them to someone else," police spokesman Christos Manouras said.
Police were also looking into whether the man had obtained the data files by hacking into a government server and whether he had an accomplice, officials said. The files were discovered after police raided his home. No charges have been pressed yet and the man is expected to appear before a prosecutor later.

Random Celebrity Photo

The Indomitable Miss Bettie Page

R.I.P. John Fairfax

A Man Who Rowed Across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans When He Wasn't Doing Even More Extraordinary Things
John Fairfax
John Fairfax of Henderson, Nevada died at the age of 74. He was the most interesting man in the world:
At 13, in thrall to Tarzan, he ran away from home to live in the jungle. He survived there as a trapper with the aid of local peasants, returning to town periodically to sell the jaguar and ocelot skins he had collected.
He later studied literature and philosophy at a university in Buenos Aires and at 20, despondent over a failed love affair, resolved to kill himself by letting a jaguar attack him. When the planned confrontation ensued, however, reason prevailed — as did the gun he had with him.
In Panama, he met a pirate, applied for a job as a pirate’s apprentice and was taken on. He spent three years smuggling guns, liquor and cigarettes around the world, becoming captain of one of his boss’s boats, work that gave him superb navigational skills.
Later on, Fairfax settled down and engaged in more pedestrian activities, like crossing the Atlantic and Pacific in a rowboat and becoming a professional baccarat player.

A Modern Crusoe

David Glasheen, of Restoration Island off of Brisbane, has been likened to Robinson Crusoe and Tom Hanks' character from Cast Away - Chuck Noland. Why? Because David Glasheen lives on a desolate island 1,500 miles from civilization.
Glasheen was once a businessman in Australia. In the stock market crash of 1987 he lost everything, millions of dollars and eventually his marriage. Then he upended himself and left his corporate life in Sydney for the island life. Photographer Brian Cassey joined Glasheen on the island and produced an article for The Sydney Morning Herald titled The Last Days of Eden.
David grows his own vegetables, catches his own fish, brews his own beer, and keeps himself -along with his dog Quasi- entertained. Check out more photos and info here.

The Bajau Sea Gypsies of Borneo

The Bajau people of Borneo are sea gypsies who spend almost their entire lives on the ocean – living off the bountiful waters of the Coral Triangle. More

Awesome Pictures

Astronomical News

Artist's impression of Makemake surfaceDwarf planet Makemake laid bare

Astronomers make use of a chance event to get a look at Makemake, one of five "dwarf planets" that also include former favoured planet Pluto.

Rocky Exoplanets May Be 'Squishy' Worlds

'Super-Earths' may contain hot minerals that morph into liquid metals, potentially generating life-protecting magnetic shields. Read more
Rocky Exoplanets May Be 'Squishy' Worlds

Science News

Whose Dust Are You Eating?

A sweet new video from NASA shows how dust and other flavors of tiny airborne particles are violating your airspace. Read more
Whose Dust Are You Eating?

Search for Extreme Life Takes to the Skies

Astrobiologists plan a stratospheric hunt for microorganisms that could have seeded life beyond Earth. Read more

New Zealand's 'Lord of the Rings' Volcano Erupts

A New Zealand volcano used as a backdrop to "The Lord of the Rings" films erupted on Wednesday, spewing a column of ash three kilometers (1.9 miles) above the North Island. Read more

Reward Offered For Stolen Rocks

Archeologists offered a $1,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of vandals who stole four priceless ancient rock carvings, and damaged others in the California desert. Read more
Reward Offered For Stolen Rocks: DNews Nugget

Biggest US Marine Sanctuary Expands

A pristine tropical reef that has weathered several natural disasters is now part of America's largest marine sanctuary. Read more
Rose Atoll

Grand Canyon Flood Underway to Rebuild Beaches

The Colorado River cascaded in a flood from the Glen Canyon Dam, the first step in an ongoing experiment to rebuild beaches and fish habitat in the iconic Grand Canyon. Read more

Mount Doom, Einstein Crater, and Arrakis Plains: Geekiest Place Names In The Solar System

Ancient civilizations gave us the names of planets in our solar system. But as modern scientists have zoomed in on these bodies and their moons, they needed to find names for ever more features on their surfaces.
But sometimes it seems that astronomers get a little tired of always asking their mythology friends for new pantheons to mine for names. Scientists are, after all, just as geeky as any other nerd subculture and they like to stamp the solar system with lesser-known minutiae from their favorite books or devote a crater to a scientific hero.

This Pacific island does not exist

Sandy Island, a 20-mile strip of land in the Pacific between Australia and New Caledonia, easily found on Google Maps and many other charts, does not exist. The ocean at that point is in fact 4,620ft deep.
That's what they're saying, anyway.

Mystery of the deep-sea BLOOP solved

Remember the deep-sea "bloop" noise that some people thought might be coming from a giant squid? Turns out it's an icequake. (Here's a WAV of it)
The broad spectrum sounds recorded in the summer of 1997 are consistent with icequakes generated by large icebergs as they crack and fracture. NOAA hydrophones deployed in the Scotia Sea detected numerous icequakes with spectrograms very similar to “Bloop”. The icequakes were used to acoustically track iceberg A53a as it disintegrated near South Georgia Island in early 2008. Icequakes are of sufficient amplitude to be detected on multiple sensors at a range of over 5000 km. Based on the arrival azimuth, the iceberg(s) generating “Bloop” most likely were between Bransfield Straits and the Ross Sea, or possibly at Cape Adare, a well know source of cryogenic signals.
Icequakes (Bloop)

Animal Pictures