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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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Daily Drift

Do you hear banjos...
Carolina Naturally is read in 197 countries around the world daily.   

 Gooey ... !
Today is - Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

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The Americas
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The Pacific
Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1204 The Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople.
1606 England adopts the Union Jack as its flag.
1770 Parliament repeals the Townsend Acts.
1782 The British navy wins its only naval engagement against the colonists in the American Revolution at the Battle of Saints, off Dominica.
1811 The first colonists arrive at Cape Disappointment, Washington.
1861 Fort Sumter is shelled by Confederacy, starting America's Civil War.
1864 Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest captures Fort Pillow, in Tennessee.
1877 The first catcher's mask is used in a baseball game.
1911 Pierre Prier completes the first non-stop London-Paris flight in three hours and 56 minutes.
1916 American cavalrymen and Mexican bandit troops clash at Parrel, Mexico.
1927 The British Cabinet comes out in favor of voting rights for women.
1944 The U.S. Twentieth Air Force is activated to begin the strategic bombing of Japan.
1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies at Warm Spring, Georgia. Harry S. Truman becomes president.
1954 Bill Haley records "Rock Around the Clock."
1955 Dr. Jonas Salk's discovery of a polio vaccine is announced.
1961 Soviet Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin becomes first man to orbit the Earth.
1963 Police use dogs and cattle prods on peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama.
1966 Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American major league umpire.
1983 Harold Washington is elected the first black mayor of Chicago.

Non Sequitur


Rural Hill Scottish Festival In Huntersville NC

Modern Scottish Festivals have their roots in the middle ages. We have reports of athletic competition ("Games") at many times and places when people gathered together; fairs, military musters ("wapenschaws"), even funerals! Games which now feature track and field events, music, and dance have been held in the village of Ceres (in Fife) since shortly after the battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Scottish Games as we know them today began to develop in 1781 when the Highland Society of Falkirk sponsored prize money and trophies for competitions in dancing, piping, and athletics during the town's Fall Fair. In 1818 a Games was presented in St. Fillan's with piping, athletics, and dancing (including the Sword Dance for the first time). Within a few years Gatherings were being held at many towns throughout Scotland. Many of these Gatherings are still being held today.

The increasing popularity of these events eventually led to attempts to standardize the rules of competition and judging. Sanctioning bodies were formed to develop uniform rules and maintain records, Highland dancing, piping, and drumming teachers and judges stand for regular examinations to maintain their certification. With renewed interest in Scottish harp and fiddle their sanctioning organizations are seeing new growth.

As Scots immigrated to far-flung lands they took their sport and culture with them. Tradition tells us that Games were held near Ellerbe, North Carolina in the late 1700s; most sources state that the first Games in the U.S. were presented by Scottish emigrants living in Boston in 1853. One source does state that the Boston Scots had been meeting for "traditional games" for several years before that. There is also a description of the "First Sportive Meet" of the Highland Society of New York in the Emigrant and Old Countryman of October 19, 1836 which gives some indication that regular competition took place during the first half of the 19th Century.

By 1861 at least three other Caledonian Clubs had joined Boston -- New York, Philadelphia, and Newark, New Jersey. The Civil War delayed the spread of these events, but by 1875 Highland Games were being held in at least 125 communities across America. These "Caledonian Games" generally included competitions in dancing, music, and athletics; the athletics could include foot races, hurdle races, wrestling, pole-vaulting, high and long jump, hop, skip and jump, putting the heavy stone, throwing the hammer and the light and heavy weights and turning the caber.

With the rise in intercollegiate athletics in the late 1800's participation at Scottish Games went into a decline. Many events folded; the ones that survived refocused on their cultural heritage and expanded to become Festivals. Games and Festivals offer competition focused on traditional Scottish athletic events, dance and music; they have expanded to include "fun" competitions, non-competitive tests of skill and strength, and historical re-enactments.

The Scottish Games in the United States have grown because many people of Scottish descent still feel the pull of their ancestral homeland and heritage. The Games provide a connection to that heritage. For many, going to the Games is like going home to a family reunion.

Worker co-ops

Business without bosses

Worker-owned co-ops are a mainstay of crappy economies, and are thriving around the world. Worker-owned co-ops have better productivity than regular businesses, pay higher wages, and offer better benefits packages. As Shaila Dewan points out in the NYT, they're also easier to accomplish than hikes in the minimum wage or fairer tax-codes. On the other hand, this may be an argument against them, since they may diffuse energy that could make a bigger impact on ordinary workers' lives if it were devoted to systemic fixes.
Still, the worker-owned co-op movement is doing very well, and some co-ops are even using their profits to kickstart other co-ops around the world -- helping fund the worker buyout of a profitable Chicago window-factory that was suddenly closed by its investors because it wasn't profitable enough. The workers took in money from the Latinamerican Working World fund, bought the factory's equipment, and moved it themselves into a new facility. Now they're their own bosses, running a worker-owned window company called New Era Windows.
It's unimaginable heresy in today's world to suggest that doing things is as important as owning things, and that this entitles the people who do stuff to a say in the disposition of the businesses they make possible. But there was a time, not so long ago, when this was a mainstream idea.

Another persistent critique is that workers don’t have enough experience to make good management decisions. Some co-ops solve this problem just as other businesses do, by buying expertise they don’t already have. In 2008, the owners of a Chicago window factory decided to close it with little notice, and the workers staged a six-day sit-in that made them celebrities overnight. Another owner took over but closed the factory again. The workers bought the equipment and moved it to a new factory, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars with sweat equity. The new company, called New Era Windows, opened last year. Though the workers are still paying themselves minimum wage, they elected to hire a high-priced, experienced salesman to drum up business.
New Era was lucky to find financing, borrowing $600,000 from a nonprofit called the Working World, which started lending to co-ops in Latin America and has branched out to the U.S. The biggest challenge co-ops face is lack of capital, which is why they are often labor-intensive businesses with low start-up costs. Banks can be hesitant to lend to co-ops, perhaps because they aren’t familiar with the model. Meanwhile, credit unions — another form of cooperative — face stringent regulations on business lending.

Smoking rates correlate with low income

Adapting data from Cigarette smoking prevalence in US counties: 1996-2012, the New York Times presents an interactive guide to the decline of smoking in America. The bottom line is a persistent correlation with low income.
Check out the original study's 1996 chart for men, below. Have a mint, Kentucky!

Turkish government blocks Youtube to shut down spread of phone recording in which PM conspires to hide millions from investigators

The Turkish government has doubled down on its Internet censorship program, blocking all of Youtube in addition to its ban on Twitter. Despite theories about the political theatre of blocking Twitter, it seems like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also genuinely concerned with suppressing a recording of a conversation with his son in which he conspires to hide the money he is thought to have received through corrupt dealing. As with the Twitter block, this one was undertaken as an administrative order from the PM's office, without judicial oversight. The Twitter ban has since been rescinded by the Turkish courts, but the block may not be lifted before the elections.

There is still no official announcement by TİB, the government authority in charge of internet regulation and the organ who implements blocking decisions. However, YouTube’s URL and title appeared on BTK’s (higher organ that includes TİB) web page where the blocked URLs are listed.
The site is still accessible through some ISPs, but the blocking is expected to be implemented fully in an hour’s time by all ISPs.
The government banned Twitter last week on the grounds that the company fails to remove ‘illegal’ content according to Turkish authorities. Yesterday, an administrative court ruled for the suspension of the execution of Twitter blocking.
Last week, Google Inc. has announced that it declined the requests coming from the Turkish government in recent weeks to remove YouTube videos revealing extensive corruption involving PM, his family, ministers, businessmen and several government officials, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The cover to a Korean edition of "Diary of Anne Frank"

 "This is supposedly real," writes Brian Ashcraft.

Reader's Digest a "stooge" of China

Readers Digest was once a staunch anticommunist publication. As recently as 2012, its editors spoke of its cultish wingnuttery in response to claims of ideological decline. Today, however, its website is a bland BuzzFeed clone and it agrees to censor international publications at the behest of its Chinese printers. If the irony is only as deep as Beijing's vestigial socialist pretenses, perhaps a new maxim is needed to embody the power of the printing press—one less about who buys ink by the barrel and more about who sells it.

Hong Kong's Outdoor Escalators

In one of Hong Kong's smartest residential area called Mid-levels, the public is served by an unusual form of transport - the longest outdoor escalator system in the world. The Central-Mid-Levels escalator system covers over 800 meters in distance and elevates approximately 135 meters from bottom to top.

It consists of 20 escalators and 3 moving walkways, connected in places by footbridges and with 14 entrances and exits. To ride the complete length of the escalator system one-way takes about 20 minutes. Opened in 1993, the Hong Kong Central-Mid-Levels escalator now carries more than 55,000 people each day.

Random Celebrity Photos


Jean Shrimpton 
Jean Shrimpton

Is Your State Prepared for a Zombie Attack?

Zombie-preparedness is judged on criteria including triathletes per capita and numbers of veterans and paintball enthusiasts.

Order in the Court!

Redditor pageblanche posted this image and commented "My town keeps it classy." This is occasionally a problem at libraries, too. I don't mind pajamas that much. But I'd rather not touch an ID card retrieved from a bra.

27 Fun Facts About Fun

John Green brings us an early mental_floss video this week, all about fun. Learn new fun facts about games, sports, toys, vacations, theme parks, and other recreational activities. Whether or not you consider these thing “fun” depends on your tastes and whether you’re a adventurer or a fuddy-duddy.

10 Unbelievable Facts You Didn't Know About Redheads

Emma Kellyby Emma Kelly  
1. Natural red hair is harder to dye than other shades
Headstrong as it is, ginger hair holds its pigment much firmer than any other hair colour. If redheads desired to dye their hair to any other color (why would you?), it would only have a noticeable difference after bleaching the hair beforehand. Otherwise, the color won't take.
Bleaching, of course, is just bad news for hair. Especially red hair, which is much more fragile than other shades anyway.
2. Redheads have less hair on their heads
In terms of total number of strands, gingers have far fewer atop their red heads than any other colour.
On average, flame-haired beauties have 90,000 strands, compared to blondes with 110,000, and brunettes with 140,000.
They're not exactly going bald though, as each strand of natural ginger hair is much thicker, so the appearance is often that redheads have more hair in general.
These fewer but thicker strands make it easier to style, so be jealous.
3. Redheads don't go grey
Staying true to its stubborn stereotype, ginger hair retains its natural pigment a lot longer than other shades.
So there's no need to panic about going grey - red hair simply fades with age through a glorious spectrum of faded copper to rosy-blonde colours, then to silvery-white.
4. Red hair and blue eyes is the rarest combination in the world
The majority of natural redheads have brown eyes, with others likely to have hazel or green shades.
But like red hair, blue eye colour is a recessive trait, meaning that both parents must carry the gene for a child to be blessed with it. This makes those with red hair and blue eyes the rarest minority in the world, with only 1% having both.
So, each one is about as rare as a four-leaf clover.
5. They're more sensitive to thermal pain
Countless studies have looked into the genetics behind redheads claiming that they are more or less sensitive to pain.
Research shows that redheads are more sensitive to hot and cold pain, with their bodies able to change temperature much quicker.
Also, in surgery, gingers might require approximately 20% more anaesthesia than other hair colours. The exact reason for this is unknown, but it is thought that a link to the mutated MC1R gene could be the culprit to its effectiveness.
6. The Romans kept redheaded slaves at a higher price
Those with fiery-coloured hair were held in high esteem in Roman art and culture. Thought to be strong and determined, they were more expensive than other slaves, and prisoners would even have their hair dyed to be displayed as trophies.
Either that, or wigs of red hair were reportedly imported from northern Europe, for slaves to wear.
7. Russia means 'Land of Reds'
Translating to mean 'Land of Reds', Russia boasts a high density of gingers located in its Kazan region, at over 10% redheads, a similar density to Scotland and Ireland.
8. 40% of Brits are 'Secret Gingers'
Extensive research conducted by BritainsDNA has found that more than 40% of the population carry the mutated MC1R gene that's responsible for red hair.
Both parents must carry the gene to be able to spawn a ginger baby, which lies at 25% if they're not ginger themselves, but still carry the 'secret gene'.
9. Adolf Hitler reportedly banned ginger marriages
...For fear of 'deviant offspring'. Of course.
10. Gingers generate their own Vitamin D
Having pale skin may mean that redheads burn more easily when exposed to UV rays, but their paleness can serve as an advantage.
Redheads can't absorb sufficient Vitamin D due to low concentrations of eumelanin in their body.
This may sound like bad news, but this lower melanin-concentration means that gingers can cleverly produce their own Vitamin D within their body when exposed to low light conditions.

Hair of the Dog


The Most Expensive Burgers in America

You have to wonder why a restaurant would offer a super-expensive hamburger, when a $5 burger on a real plate is gourmet food to most Americans. One reason is the publicity it brings, and the other reason is that some people will actually buy them just to show off how much they can spend on one. Take, for example, the Absolutely Ridiculous Burger from Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar in Southgate, Michigan.
Weighing in at 338.6 pounds, Michigan’s 540,000-calorie “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger” features 15 pounds of lettuce, 30 pounds of bacon, 30 pounds of tomatoes, and 36 pounds of cheese. The burger takes 22 hours to prepare, and it requires the strength of three grown men to lift the patty into the oven. According to the menu, “There is ABSOLUTELY no reason for this burger. But if you order it, we’ll make it, and you figure out what to do with it!”
The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger will set you back $1,999. Not all the pricy burgers are big, but they’ve each got something that makes them unique. First We Eat has a list of seven costly burgers, ranging from $120 to $5K.

Cereal flake size influences calorie intake

People eat more breakfast cereal, by weight, when flake size […]

Beer Marinade Reduces BBQ Cancer Chemical

Beer-bathed pork formed less potentially cancerous chemicals when grilled, according to a new study.



Do Smart Students Smoke More Pot?

It seems like everyone knows someone who is incredibly smart, but also smokes a lot of pot! Is there a link between someone's intelligence and their likelihood to smoke marijuana? Trace was curious and did some digging of his own to find out.

Why Are There More Suicides in the Spring?

Suicide is a serious issue all over the world, and the number of victims seems to peak in the spring time. Why are suicide rates so much higher this time of year? Laci discusses this shocking trend and some theories as to why this occurs.

Do Our Dreams Mean Anything?

Recurring dreams can be weird and confusing. Why do we dream about some things more often, and how should we interpret them? Annie joins DNews today to talk about some common dreams, and some theories as to why they occur.

Can Money Relieve Grief?

The victims of the missing Malaysian flight are being compensated $5,000 for now, with more to come. What will that accomplish?

Why Do We Need Earwax?

Earwax can be a gross and uncomfortable nuisance that builds up in our ears. What's the point of it, and can it tell us anything about our ancestors? Join Trace as he breaks down everything you need to know about earwax.

Daily Comic Relief


NASA Astronaut Snaps Soyuz Launch from Orbit

As three new crew members were launched into orbit on board a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan, space station astronaut Rick Mastracchio photographed the rocket's flames from high above.

Soyuz Problem Delays Station Crew's Arrival

Russian flight controllers are working to figure out why a Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three new crew members for the International Space Station failed to fire its steering thrusters as planned.

Earth or Not

A new app from Cosmoquest puts your knowledge of Earth to the test.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Anti-Anxiety drugs and Sleeping Pills linked to risk of death
  • Newly discovered molecule may offer hope for immune disorders and runaway inflammation
  • Vibration may help heal chronic wounds
  • Warming climate may spread drying to a third of the earth
And more ...
This Moth is our Animal Picture, for today.