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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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Daily Drift

Nature's Beauty

Carolina Naturally is read in 192 countries around the world daily.

Paddling along ...

Today is National Canoe Day 

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Today in History

1096   Peter the Hermit's crusaders force their way across Sava, Hungary.  
1243   The Seljuk Turkish army in Asia Minor is wiped out by the Mongols.  
1541   Former followers murder Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Conqueror of Peru.
1794   The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus.  
1804   The Lewis and Clark Expedition reaches the mouth of the Kansas River after completing a westward trek of nearly 400 river miles.  
1844   Julia Gardiner and President John Tyler are married in New York City.  
1862   General Robert E. Lee attacks McClellen's line at Mechanicsville during the Seven Days' campaign. 1863   Jubal Early and his Confederate forces move into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  
1900   The United States announces it will send troops to fight against the Boxer Rebellion in China.  
1907   Russia's nobility demands drastic measures to be taken against revolutionaries.  
1908   Shah Muhammad Ali's forces squelch the reform elements of Parliament in Persia.  
1916   Russian General Aleksei Brusilov renews his offensive against the Germans.  
1917   General Pershing arrives in France with the American Expeditionary Force.  
1918   The Germans begin firing their huge 420 mm howitzer, "Big Bertha," at Paris.  
1926   A memorial to the first U.S. troops in France is unveiled at St. Nazaire.  
1924   After eight years of occupation, American troops leave the Dominican Republic.  
1942   The Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter flies for the first time.  
1945   The U.N. Charter is signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, California.  
1951   The Soviet Union proposes a cease-fire in the Korean War.  
1961   A Kuwaiti vote opposes Iraq's annexation plans. 1
963   President John Kennedy announces "Ich bin ein Berliner" at the Berlin Wall.  
1971   The U.S. Justice Department issues a warrant for Daniel Ellsberg, accusing him of giving away the Pentagon Papers.  
1975   Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is convicted of election fraud.  
1993   Roy Campanella, legendary catcher for the Negro Leagues and the Los Angeles Dodgers, dies.

Non Sequitur


Fishing Tops List of Lightning Death Causes

Most lightning deaths in the United States occur while people are enjoying outdoor activities, with fishing the most deadly.

Did you know ...

About the .001%

Spoiler alert! Ken Jennings tells us pirates never drew treasure maps

That ancient networks of secret underground tunnels found everywhere in Europe

The truth hurts

John Boehner Is Bug Eyed and Terrified as The Senate Unleashes His Worst Nightmare

John Boehner
Speaker John Boehner (r-OH) spends most of his time stuck between the tea party caucus and the political needs of his cabal, and then justifying the resulting dearth of legislation to the press by waving around a pamphlet ironically marked “jobs bill” in large print, which contains nothing related to actual jobs. But this week marks the beginning of Boehner’s worst nightmare, as the Senate advances immigration reform.

The Speaker must eventually be able to move some kind of immigration reform through the House if he is to do his job for the cabal; that is, if he is to do the bare minimum necessary to keep them from losing Hispanics for the next generation.
However, the tea party caucus is already freaking out about the alleged “amnesty” offered in any immigration reform bill that is remotely pragmatic. In other words, the tea party caucus of novices are not in the House to legislate; they are there to appease the base of wingnut extremists that put them there (aka, running for re-election instead of legislating). To this end, they are insisting on changes to immigration reform that render it unacceptable to Democrats.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned Boehner last week that given the civil war dividing the repugican cabal, he needed Democratic votes to move any legislation. She also informed Boehner that he wasn’t going to get Democratic votes by appeasing the crazy, fringe, parasitic extremists in his cabal.
Pelosi told Greg Sargent at the Washington Post that the recent farm bill debacle (aka, “amateur hour” as Pelosi called the debacle at Netroots Nation) in which House repugicans tried to go too far to the right and hence lost Democratic votes should be a warning to Boehner, “They were asking us to abandon our values, because they couldn’t get their act together. Hopefully they learned a lesson that you cannot go too far.”
John Boehner knows that if he wants to move any legislation forward in the House that can actually help elect repugicans in the future, he needs Democrats on board, because the tea party caucus will not budge.
Sargent further explained the position Boehner finds himself in:
Pelosi’s remarks are a reminder of the dilemma Boehner faces. There really may be nothing that a majority of repugicans could support that can also win over Democrats in any significant numbers. Anything that can pass the House with almost entirely repugican votes — whatever that would be — won’t get the support of Senate Democrats or President Obama. Which means, as Brian Beutler put it, that the only way Boehner can get reform through the House that has a chance of becoming law is if he accepts the need to “dispense with the member management theatrics and throw in with Democrats.”
Pelosi seems eager to use the farm bill debacle to sharpen the reality of the choice Boehner faces. “He’s going to have to work with us,” Pelosi says. “Hopefully they’ve learned something about legislating.”
The fact that John Boehner’s fumbling, petulant ineptitude is the best of the modern day repugican cabal speaks volumes about the electoral challenges facing the repugican cabal. It’s all downhill from Speaker Boehner, and he can’t even do the most basic job as Speaker without Nancy Pelosi doing all of the heavy lifting via the Democratic Party behind the scenes.
Without Pelosi quietly doing his job on the rare occasion that the House is actually allowed to vote on something that doesn’t offend most Americans, Boehner’s legislative record would be even more humiliating than it is now. Boehner can either “dispense with the member management theatrics and throw in with Democrats” or face certain legislative and repugican cabal electoral failure.
Instead of making a firm decision to either save his career or save his party, Boehner will spend the hours leading up to the inevitably ugly immigration face off in bug-eyed terror, barely suppressing frightened squeaks of EEP! even as he remains frozen in place, unable even to run from the looming shadow of inevitable demise.
Only the beltway media remains satiated by Boehner’s lurching pivots and red meat distractions. At some point soon, he will realize that even his well worn, sniveling, Obama-hate shuffle pivot won’t save him from the impending shadow of immigration reform doom. That might work on the media, but in spite of their best efforts, the media won’t manage to sell bigotry as a big tent idea for the repugican cabal.

The truth be told

Arizona repugicans Propose Bill That Would Not Allow Atheists To Graduate High School

A group of Arizona politicians — all repugicans, of course — have proposed a law (House Bill 2467) requiring public high school students to recite the following oath in order to graduate:
I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me god.
To quote Comedy Central’s Ilya Gerner: “Nothing says ‘I take this obligation freely’ quite like a state law that withholds your diploma unless you swear an oath.”
Kevin Bondelli adds:
graduating high school is not the same thing as voluntarily accepting the responsibility of a public office or admission to the legal bar. A high school diploma is, with extremely few exceptions, required to have a chance to live above the poverty level. It is the culmination of an education that up until that point was compulsory.
It’s bad enough the repugicans are demanding loyalty of the kind normally reserved for members of Congress and beyond — but there’s also no way I would say those last four words, and the current text of the legislation does not allow for any alternatives.
In other words, if this bill were to become a law, atheists would either not be allowed to graduate… or they would be forced to lie so they could graduate. Neither option is acceptable.
Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal points out another problem:
The Arizona bill could also face legal challenges if it is approved.
jehovah’s witnesses, some muslims and pacifist quakers have in the past challenged loyalty oaths imposed by the federal government and other agencies, saying they conflict with their beliefs and religious professions. Similarly, some Arizona students could challenge the proposed high school oath as a violation of their religious liberties and freedom of expression.
This bill is the work of Representatives Bob Thorpe, Sonny Borrelli, Carl Seel, T.J. Shope, Jeff Dial, David Livingston, Chester Crandell, and Steve Smith.
Smith and Shope have also introduced legislation demanding that all students in grades 1-12 recite the Pledge of Allegiance (with “under god”) every day. At least in that bill, students can get out of saying it with their parents’ permission.
No such exemption exists in the Loyalty Oath.
Keep in mind that in both cases, the bills do not help children get a better education. That’s the saddest thing about all this. The people who are in charge of fixing the education crisis are proposing solutions that would only waste more classroom time and exclude many students from graduating despite fulfilling their current requirements.
***Update***: While the bill still includes the god language, Think Progress reports that it may be revised:
As written, the bill does not exempt atheist students or those of different faiths from the requirement, though Thorpe has pledged to amend the measure. “In that we had a tight deadline for dropping our bills, I was not able to update the language,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Arizona Republic. “Even though I want to encourage all of our students to understand and respect our Constitution and constitutional form of government, I do not want to create a requirement that students or parents may feel uncomfortable with.”
So it’s possible alternative language may solve the atheist problem, but *requiring* students to take the oath still poses a host of constitutional issues. Another option would be to make the oath optional, but that would make this bill completely irrelevant.
Which would be fine by me.

Tom the Dancing Bug


Museum bosses puzzled by ancient Egyptian statue which mysteriously spins itself around

An ancient Egyptian statue has spooked museum bosses after it mysteriously started to spin round in a display case. The 10-inch tall relic, which dates back to 1800 BC, was found in a mummy’s tomb and has been at the Manchester Museum for 80 years. But in recent weeks, curators have been left scratching their heads after they kept finding it facing the wrong way. Experts decided to monitor the room on time-lapse video and were astonished to see it clearly show the statuette spinning 180 degrees – with nobody going near it.

The statue of a man named Neb-Senu is seen to remain still at night but slowly rotate round during the day. Now scientists are trying to explain the phenomenon. Scientists who explored the Egyptian tombs in the 1920s were popularly believed to be struck by a ‘curse of the Pharaohs’ – and Campbell Price, a curator at the museum, said he believes there may be a spiritual explanation to the spinning statue.

Egyptologist Mr Price, 29, said: “I noticed one day that it had turned around. I thought it was strange because it is in a case and I am the only one who has a key. I put it back but then the next day it had moved again. We set up a time-lapse video and, although the naked eye can’t see it, you can clearly see it rotate on the film. The statuette is something that used to go in the tomb along with the mummy.

“Mourners would lay offerings at its feet. The hieroglyphics on the back ask for ‘bread, beer and beef’. In Ancient Egypt they believed that if the mummy is destroyed then the statuette can act as an alternative vessel for the spirit. Maybe that is what is causing the movement.” Other experts have a more rational explanation – suggesting that the vibrations caused by the footsteps of passing visitors makes the statuette turn.

The Tallest Abandoned Structure In The World

The Leaning Tower Of Yekaterinburg

Turn your eyes skyward anywhere in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg and you will see it. A tall off-white, disheveled but somehow elegant tower is by far the tallest building in Russia's fourth most populated city.

Yet this is not a monument to a fallen tsar or departed dictator. It's a TV tower. What is more, it's an unfinished TV tower. Nonetheless it gives the city another claim to fame - as the home to the tallest abandoned structure in the world.

In the News

Hunting the source of the mysterious Windsor Hum 

The Windsor Hum is a weird thing — a low-frequency buzzing that drives some people in Windsor, Ontario crazy and, yet, doesn't seem to be heard by the Americans who live closest to its source, an island crowded with industrial facilities. As part of a new feature exploring environmental mysteries, Kim Tingley looks at how grantees of the Canadian government are attempting to identify the exact cause of the Windsor Hum, and how an American company is getting away with banning them from the island. 

Risk of forest fires rising near Chernobyl

A trend towards drier, hotter summers in the forests around the abandoned nuclear power plant at Chernobyl has increased the risks of forest fires in the region — which is a big deal, considering the fact that trees and plants in the area have absorbed some of the radioactive isotopes from the 1986 disaster. If they burn, more people will be exposed to airborne particles. It's a small fraction compared with the people exposed by the original Chernobyl power plant fire, but still dangerous. 

Pork-laced ammo, for people who think jihadis are sharia werewolves

A group of Idaho "gun enthusiasts" have created a line of ammunition meant to fight Islamic extremists. The bullets are coated in pork-infused paint. Apparently some people think that halal dietary laws are somehow related to lycanthropy. 

Meet a man in Hollywood whose job title is Military liaison 

KPCC radio in LA talks to Lt. Steven Cole, who serves as one of the US Army's liasons to Hollywood. — 

Texas set to execute 500th death-row inmate 

In what reads to be an astounding example of wrong, Texas is set to execute its 500th death-row inmate today. Lincoln Caplan, at the NYT, blogs a very compelling case to stay this execution, "Texas’s death penalty system is notorious for its high tolerance of ineffective counsel for defendants, overly zealous prosecutors, and racial discrimination in jury selection. The case of Kimberly McCarthy, the woman scheduled for execution, seems tainted by all three."

Feeling stressed?

The next time someone snubs you at a party and you think hiding is the solution to escape your feelings of rejection, think again. Scientists have shown that reaching out to other people during a [...]

Colonial America's Oldest Unsolved Murder

Pistol conservation at Jamestown Rediscovery Project. When archaeologists in Virginia uncovered the skeletal remains in 1996 of one of Jamestown's first settlers — a young European male designated as JR102C in the catalog — they said he was the victim in what was perhaps Colonial America's oldest unsolved murder. At the time, archaeologist William Kelso, now director of archaeological research and interpretation at , reported that "the lead bullet and shot fragments lodged in his lower right leg contained enough force to fracture his tibia and fibula bones, rupturing a major artery below the knee. JR would have bled to death within minutes."
Now, 17 years later, the forensic archaeologists at Jamestown may have identified the victim and, therefore, the perpetrator of the crime. Recent evidence, Kelso says, points to a duel in 1624 "where a man named George Harrison took a bullet in the leg and later died from it."
The bullet, found by researchers, "hit the right side of the knee suggesting the man was standing sideways, which would happen in a duel," says Kelso. "It is possible that JR102C is that man."
And the man who murdered Harrison in a duel, according to Kelso: Richard Stephens, a Jamestown merchant. Stephens went on to become a court commissioner and an outspoken detractor of Virginia Gov. John Harvey. In 1635, Stephens and Harvey engaged in fisticuffs, and Stephens lost teeth in the bargain. Stephens died circa 1636.

Vietnam may be home to new virus affecting nervous system

Patients in Vietnam and other locations with central nervous system infections may well be suffering from the effects of a newly discovered virus, according to a study to be published in mBio®, the online open-access [...]

You can't make this stuff up ...

Tuesday, June 25

Woman faces up to 20 years in jail for throwing dog poo at man who didn't clean up after his pet

An woman from Austin, Texas, is facing felony charges after losing control at a dog park in North Austin. According to her arrest affidavit, 46-year-old Rebecca Trammell is charged with the second degree felony of aggravated assault.

Austin police say they received a disturbance call from the Canyon Creek Apartments' dog park. They found that a woman, Trammell, had become frustrated with a dog owner who she claims was not cleaning up his dog's feces. The victim told police he was going to get a doggie bag to pick the feces up when Trammell began yelling at him.

According to the affidavit, Trammell picked up the faeces and threw it at the dog's owner. She then picked up a large, jagged rock and threw it at the man's body. The rock missed the man by six inches. Due to the size and close proximity of the rock to the victim, officers say it could have caused serious bodily injury. Next, she spat in the man's face.

After the incident, Trammell reportedly attacked another person. She admits she became angry because that dog owner did not have his animal on a leash. Police say Trammell grabbed the owner's leash, cutting his hand and seriously injuring him. Trammell's bond has been set at $7,000. She has requested a Mental Health/Mental Retardation (MHMR) attorney to represent her. Trammell is facing two to 20 years in prison and a possible $10,000 fine.

Thieves wore women’s swimsuits to steal booze

Thieves wearing one-piece women’s bathing suits to hide stolen bottles of liquor were caught by police in Switzerland last week.

A department store detective spotted two men acting suspiciously in front of a liquor stand in the Schaffhausen store, cantonal police said on Thursday. The detective stopped the two men as they were leaving the store.

He discovered one of the men had five bottles of spirits tucked into a women’s bathing costume, worn as underwear beneath his clothes. A patrol of the Schaffhausen police arrived on the scene and arrested two Romanian men, aged 34 and 26, as well as a 35-year-old accomplice.

Police discovered that another one of the men was wearing a women’s bathing suit, which he also used to hide stolen goods. The three shoplifters were sentenced for theft by a prosecutor. They were ordered to be evicted from Switzerland by the federal migration office.

Walker hindered aging robber's getaway

An elderly man who allegedly robbed a woman at knifepoint failed to flee the scene because he was too slow putting his walking frame into a stolen car.

The man, aged 64, was still in the Belmont shopping center car park in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, trying to pack several bags and his walking frame into the woman's car when he was arrested at about 2.30pm on Saturday. Police allege the senior from Queensland had bought a knife from the shopping center's Kmart store and approached a 22-year-old female as she prepared to drive out of the car park.

Geelong Senior-Constable Paul Mitchell said the victim wound down her window and the man held the knife to her throat, demanding she give him the vehicle. After putting his walker in the car, the man drove a short distance before getting out to load in other bags. With his stunned victim quickly calling 000, police were able to arrest the man before his planned escape to South Australia.

Sen-Constable Mitchell described the alleged circumstances as "the most bizarre incident" he had encountered on the job. "He (the suspect) was charged with one count of armed robbery and was remanded in custody to appear in Geelong Magistrates Court ." The victim was shaken but her car and belongings were recovered without damage.

Elderly couple face fine for having bird feeder in their garden

The bird feeder in Alfred and Annette Rockefeller's Bergen County, New Jersey back yard attracts five different species of birds. It has also drawn the attention of borough officials, who issued the couple a summons for feeding wildlife after receiving complaints from neighbors. Alfred Rockefeller, 77, who is disabled and homebound, said feeding the birds is one of his few joys since he became confined to his home two years ago.

The Rockefellers said they used to spread bird food on the ground, but borough officials visited their home and said that was not allowed. In response, they bought the hanging feeder. But the borough's environmental health specialist, Leo Egan, has now said that the wire wreath-style feeder filled with peanuts hanging beside the couple's deck is not appropriate for birds "He stated emphatically that birds do not eat peanuts," said Rockefeller.

Ducks, deer, geese, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs, among other animals, were being lured to the quiet cul-de-sac lined with well-manicured split-level homes, Egan said. He said the bird feeder was causing numerous complaints. "There were a lot of animals ... being attracted," Egan said. "The animals don't recognize the yard line between one house and another. There was spillover, and other neighbors had damage to their gardens from the animals."

The Rockefellers say police visited their home again last week, prompting Annette Rockefeller, 66, to go to police headquarters to inquire about the source of the complaints. She was told it would take a week to get the information. "I feel like we're getting picked on over here," Annette said. "To me it's like, what's going to be next? I'm going to be walking around my yard in shorts and be told I'm ugly and bringing down property values." Now, the Rockefellers must appear in court to answer the summons issued by borough police which could result in a fine of $250 to $500.

I'm looking for Bigfoot, not pot!

Sm bigfoot1 
Tim Marczenko of Toronto claims that Durham County police harassed and falsely arrested him for possession of a controlled substance. Marczenko was trudging through the brush and apparently police suspected that he was a pot grower. He was actually searching for Bigfoot. According to the National Post, Sasquatch-seeking is an alibi that others have tried using in the region. But Marczenko was serious! “(The police officer) asked me, ‘What are you doing out here?’ I told him I was investigating a Bigfoot report and he said, ‘Wow, you’re a terrible liar,’ ” Mr. Marczenko said. ” ‘I know it sounds crazy but I’m not lying about it,’ I said. He kept telling me I was lying about the situation.” 

Random Photos



Three Inhabital Planets

Gliese 667C is a very well-studied star. Just over one third of the mass of the Sun, it is part of a triple star system known as Gliese 667 (also referred to as GJ 667), [...]
Three potentially habitable worlds have been discovered orbiting Gliese 667C, a star only 22 light-years from Earth, tripling the potential for life evolving there.


Tuesday, June 25

Bumpy-Faced Beast Dominated Before Dinosuars

Over 250 million years ago, the cow-sized Bunostegos dominated the world’s one big desert.

Can sea otters help fight global warming?

The University of California’s Science Today examines whether an abundance of sea otters can help fight global warming. A UC Santa Cruz study suggests the answer is yes.

Lifeboat towed stranded calf to safety after it plunged from cliff

A lifeboat was dispatched on a mission to rescue stranded livestock at the weekend. A volunteer crew with Red Bay RNLI was scrambled to action to save a stuck calf on Saturday after the unfortunate animal plunged off a cliff. The alarm was raised at 1.45pm when a farmer contacted Belfast Coastguard requesting assistance after the animal fell and became stranded on an inaccessible part of the coastline near Cushendun in county Antrim, Northern Ireland.

In a statement, it said that after “assessing all options it was decided that the only way to recover the animal safely was take it in harness and gently float it a short distance out to sea. Then it could be guided and brought ashore further up the coastline where the farmer could safely collect the animal.” The crew returned to the station to collect more men and equipment for what was dubbed a “challenging recovery”.

The calf was swaddled in a net and tethered to the lifeboat. The lifeboat crew then towed the animal slowly a quarter-of-a-mile along the the coastline, where it was retrieved by the farmer. The RNLI’s Red Bay lifeboat helm Paddy McLaughlin said: “This was not your usual call-out for the lifeboat crew. When we heard the poor animal had fallen and was stranded, we felt we could help.”

He said they had good training and equipment, but that he did not know of any similar cases where they had been deployed to save animal life, rather than human life. “I’m not sure a lifeboat net has ever been used to recover an animal before,” he added. “But there is a first time for everything. The calf did not seem to be injured after his fall and made his way back inland with the farmer after we dropped them off.”

Animal News

Red panda escapes zoo, is recaptured with help from Twitter 

Three weeks ago, humans set Rusty the Red Panda up on a blind date of indeterminate length with a female red panda named Shama at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Today, Rusty "went out for a pack of smokes", but his attempt at skipping town was thwarted by the zoo's Twitter followers, who caught him hiding in the bushes of a nearby neighborhood. 

Real-life "Lassie" retires 

After a seven-year career leading hundreds of search and rescue operations, 10-year old collie Mij—personally responsible for saving 14 lives, according to the Daily Mail—is retiring. 

Animal Pictures


via Igor Shpilenok: Wild horses and wild tulips.

There is a small island on Lake Manych-Gudilo that is within Chernye Zemli Nature Reserve in the south of Russia. It is home to wild tulips and wild horses. I have spend several days in the end of April watching those horses and I can tell you wild horses behave very different from domesticated ones..