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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, May 17, 2014

The Daily Drift

He's still working for Duke Energy ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 199 countries around the world daily.   

And they're off ... !
Today is - The Running of the Preakness Stakes

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Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Fernandina, Newburyport, Wheat Ridge, Georgetown, Avenel and El Dorardo, United States
Toronto, L'ancienne-Lorette, Niagara-On-The-Lake and Lake Louise, Canada
Colegiales and Paso De Los Libres, Argentina
Luquillo and San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Porto Alegre and Curibita, Brazil
Mexico City, Mexico
Bogota, Colombia
Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Shovgenoskiy, Russia
Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mechelen, Brussels and Nivelles, Belgium
Milan, Ivrea, Rome, Due Carrare and Ravenna, Italy
Dublin and Limerick, Ireland
Zhovtivody, Ukraine
Teixoso, Palmela and Porto, Portugal
Rouen, Cerny and Paris, France
London and Leeds, England
Riga, Latvia
Merida, Algeciras, L'Olleria and Madrid, Spain
Oslo and Arendal, Norway
Bucharest, Romania
Ruse, Bulgaria
Colombo and Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka
Jodhpur, New Delhi, Shillong, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Bankura, Patna, Chennai, Cochin, Pune and Udaipur,  India
Jakarta and Magelang, Indonesia
Tehran, Iran
Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Beijing, China
Kuala Lumpur and Seri Kembangan, Malaysia
Rangoon, Burma
Doha, Qatar
Islamabad, Pakistan
Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand
Singapore, Singapore
La Dagotiere, Mauritius
Beirut, Lebanon
Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa
The Pacific
Quiapo, Philippines
Brisbane, Sydney and Collingwood, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand

Today in History

1540 Afgan chief Sher Khan defeats Mongul Emperor Humayun at Kanauj.
1630 Italian Jesuit Niccolo Zucchi sees the belts on Jupiter's surface.
1681 Louis XIV sends and expedition to aid James II in Ireland. As a result, England declares war on France.
1756 Britain declares war on France.
1792 Merchants form the New York Stock Exchange at 70 Wall Street.
1814 Denmark cedes Norway to Sweden.
1863 Union General Ulysses Grant continues his push towards Vicksburg at the Battle of the Big Black River Bridge.
1875 The first Kentucky Derby is run in Louisville.
1881 Frederick Douglass is appointed recorder of deeds for Washington, D.C.
1940 Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium and begins the invasion of France.
1954 The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules for school integration in Brown v. Board of Education.
1973 The Senate Watergate Committee begins its hearings.

Non Sequitur


Hospitals are safer places to be with Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act prevented 15,000 hospital-related deaths in 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. It's also saved $4.1 billion in costs, and prevented 560,000 hospital-related injuries in 2011 and 2012. That means more than half a million fewer falls, bad drug reactions, or hospital-based infections.
The law has also significantly reduced hospital readmissions. Between 2007-11, the 30-day hospital readmission rate held at 19 percent, and has dropped to 17.5 percent last year. The bottom line there is 150,000 fewer Medicare patients being readmitted in the last two years, and that's where much of the savings come in. The administration attributes these big improvements to public-private partnerships launched by the new law.
    "We applaud the nationwide network of hospital systems and providers that are working together to save lives and reduce costs," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  "We are seeing a simultaneous reduction in hospital readmissions and injuries, giving patients confidence that they are receiving the best possible care and lowering their risk of having to be readmitted to the hospital after they get the care they need."
There's an awful lot of really good news for Obamacare these days, from big savings to 90 percent of people paying their first insurance premiums to less people dying or being hurt in hospitals. And that's a lot of bad news for repugicans.

Anonymous Man Installs "Charity Refrigerator" Outside His Home

A man in Hail, Saudi Arabia wanted poor people in his town to acquire food without feeling shame from begging. So he installed a refrigerator outside his home. People can donate food if they have an excess or take food if they need it. This act of kindness is inspiring other people in the region:
Salah, a Bahraini national, said that the idea should be implemented in Bahrain as the fasting month of Ramadan is about to start in the summer.
“It is a great act of charity that can make many people happy and satisfied,” he said. “There is the food factor, but there is also the spiritual dimension, especially during the sacred month when people engage deeply in acts of charily,” he said.
Ramadan, the month during which Muslim adults abstain from food, drink and sex from sunrise until sunset to test their patience, is expected to start on June 28.

Sometimes cleaning toilets pays off

Sometimes cleaning toilets pays off
An honest janitor has cleaned up after finding $100,000 of dirty money in a toilet.
Chamindu Amarsinghe said on Thursday he was speechless to hear he will get $81,597 of the cash he found at Channel 9’s Docklands headquarters, after no one came forward to claim it.
The other $19,500 will go to the state, a magistrate ruled this week.

Will American Pot Farmers Put the Cartels out of Business?

For the first time ever, many of the farmers who supply Mexican drug cartels have stopped planting marijuana, reports the Washington Post. "It's not worth it anymore," said Rodrigo Silla, a lifelong cannabis farmer from central Mexico. "I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization."
Facing stiff competition from pot grown legally and illegally north of the border, the price for a kilogram of Mexican schwag has plummeted by 75 percent, from $100 to $25, the Post reports:
    Farmers in the storied "Golden Triangle" region of Mexico's Sinaloa state, which has produced the country's most notorious gangsters and biggest marijuana harvests, say they are no longer planting the crop…increasingly, they're unable to compete with US marijuana growers. With cannabis legalized or allowed for medical use in 20 US states and the District of Columbia, more and more of the American market is supplied with highly potent marijuana grown in American garages and converted warehouses-some licensed, others not.
As notes David Downs of the East Bay Express, this is a really big deal. In the past decade, Mexican drug cartels have murdered an estimated 60,000 people. The DEA annually spends more than $2 billion to deter the transport of illicit drugs across the border. "So now we have both the DEA and cartel farmers screaming bloody murder about legalization," Downs points out. "Sounds like we're on the right track."

10 Hotel Secrets from Behind the Front Desk

Jacob Tomsky has worked on the front lines of hotels for more than a decade, starting as a lowly valet in New Orleans and ultimately landing at a front desk in New York City. He’s also the author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality and a man with some hospitality secrets to spill.


The fact that a hotel could fail to be profitable astounds me. Why? The average cost to turn over a room, to keep it operational per day, is between $30 and $40. If you’re paying less than $30 dollars a night at a hotel/motel, I’d wager the cost to flip that room runs close to $5. Which makes me want to take a shower. At home. That $40 turnover cost includes cleaning supplies, electricity, and hourly wages for housekeepers, minibar attendants, front desk agents, and all other employees needed to operate a room as well as the cost of laundering the sheets. Everything. Compare that with an average room rate, and you can see why it’s a profitable business.


The term “walking a guest” sends shivers down any manager’s spine. Since the average no-show rate is 10 percent daily, hotels will overbook whenever possible. The sales and reservations departments are encouraged to book the property to 110 percent capacity, in the hopes that with cancellations and no-shows they will fill every room. What happens when the numbers game doesn’t play in the hotel’s favor? Someone gets walked. The hotel will now pay for the entire night’s room and tax (plus one phone call—how cute is that?) at another comparable hotel in the area.
A guest is more likely to get walked if:
1. He booked using Expedia, hence he has a deeply discounted rate and is less important.
2. He never stayed here before and may never visit the city again.
3. He’s a one-nighter.
4. And this one is so much more important than all the others: He is acting like a jerk.


Though most complaints should be delivered to the front desk directly, in person or on the phone, keep in mind that most issues will not have been caused by the front desk at all. So briefly outline your problem, offer a solution if you have one, and then ask whom you should speak with to have the problem solved. “Should I speak to a manager about this?” “Should I speak to housekeeping about this?” Those are wonderful and beautiful questions to ask. Most of the time, the front desk will be able to solve the problem immediately or at least act as proxy.
Want to make sure that the agent doesn’t nod, say “certainly,” and not do a damn thing? Get his or her name. Nothing tightens up an employee’s throat like being directly identified. You don’t have to threaten him or her either, just a nice casual “Thanks for your help. I’ll stop by later to make sure everything has been taken care of. Tommy, right?” Whatever you asked me to do I am doing it. (Will screaming get you what you want? Well, probably. But it’s not nearly as effective.)


To put on a pillowcase, the housekeepers throw a solid karate chop right down the middle of the pillow and then shove it in, folded like a bun. This method is preferred to the civilian method of tucking it under your chin and pulling up the pillowcase like a pair of pants because these ladies have no interest in letting 50 pillows a day come into contact with their faces.



You know what cleans the hell out of a mirror, and I’m talking no streaks? Windex? No. Furniture polish. Spray on a thick white base, rub it in, and you’ll be face-to-face with a spotless, streak-free mirror. However, I am not recommending you take this tip and apply it in your own home. Though using furniture polish is quick and effective, over time it causes a waxy buildup that requires a deep scrub.
The housekeepers kept this move behind closed doors along with another dirty secret I didn’t discover until I walked in on ladies with Pledge in one hand and a minibar glass in the other. Keeping those glasses clean-looking was also part of the job. So the next time you put a little tap water into the glass and wonder why it has a pleasant lemon aftertaste, it’s because you just took a shot of Pledge.


Minibars. Most people are appalled at the prices. However, you never have to pay for the items in the minibar. Why not? Minibar charges are, without question, the most disputed charges on any bill. That is because the process for applying those charges is horribly inexact. Keystroke errors, delays in restocking, double stocking, and hundreds of other missteps make minibar charges the most voided item. Even before guests can manage to get through half of the “I never had those items” sentence, I have already removed the charges and am now simply waiting for them to wrap up the overly zealous denial so we can both move on with our lives.


Reservations made through Internet discount sites are almost always slated for our worst rooms. Does this seem unfair? First of all, we earn the slimmest profit from these reservations. And honestly, those guests didn’t really choose our property based on quality; they chose based on value. We were at the top of a list sorted by price. But the guest behind them in line, the one with a heavy $500 rate, she selected this hotel. When she comes to New York, she goes to our website to see what’s available. Since we have no reason to assume Internet guests will ever book with us again, unless our discount is presented to them, it truly makes business sense to save our best rooms for guests who book of their own volition.


Bernard Sadow: the man all bellmen hate, though they’ve never heard his name. In 1970, he invented the wheeled suitcase, the bane of the bellman’s existence. Before that, the bellman was a necessity, a provider of ease and comfort, a useful member of society. When Sadow sold his first prototype to Macy’s in October 1970, he instigated a catastrophic change in the hospitality environment, causing the once noble species to retreat, rethink, and reemerge as a hustler fighting for survival. Sadow might as well have invented the phrase no bellman wants to hear, the phrase that leaves bills unpaid and ruins Christmas: “No, thanks, I got it.” Or that surprisingly prevalent and ignorant phrase: “I don’t want to bother him.” Don’t want to bother him? The man has a family. No one is being bothered here!


Any arriving guest should receive what are referred to as initial keys, which are programmed to reset the door lock when they are first inserted, deactivating all previous keys. Not until the keys expire or a new initial key enters the lock will the keys fail to work. With a “key bomb,” I cut one single initial key and then start over and cut a second initial key. Either one of them will work when you get to the room, and as long as you keep using the very first key you slipped in, all will be well.
But chances are you’ll pop in the second key at some point, and then the first key you used will be considered invalid. Trace that back to me? Not a chance. Trace that back to the fact that you told your 9-year-old daughter to shut her mouth while harshly ripping off her tiny backpack at check-in? Never.


Here is one of the top lies that come out of a front desk agent’s mouth: “All the rooms are basically the same, sir.”
Bull. There is always a corner room, a room with a bigger flat screen, a room that, because of the building’s layout, has a larger bath with two sinks, a room that fits two roll-aways with ease, a room that, though listed as standard, actually has a partial view of the Hudson River. There is always a better room, and when I feel that 20 you slipped me burning in my pocket, I will find it for you. And if there is nothing to be done room-wise, I have a slew of other options: late checkout, free movies, free minibar, room service amenities, and more. I will do whatever it takes to deserve the tip and then a little bit more in the hope that you’ll hit me again.
Some people feel nervous about this move. Please don’t. We are authorized to upgrade for special occasions. The special occasion occurring now is that I have a solid 20. That’s special enough for me!

Perceived age, weight discrimination worse for health than perceived racism, sexism

Perceived age and weight discrimination, more than perceived race and […]

Guys And Dolls

Veteran Toy Designer Wrestles With The Industry's Gender Divide 
Walking through most toy stores, it's easy to see the divide that permeates the industry - boys get car, sports, and building toys, while girls get princess, dress-up, and housework toys. By the time kids can speak, most are asking for playthings that correlate closely with socialized clichés, shaping their sense of self and further enforcing these stereotypes.
Why are children’s toys still so strictly gendered? Collectors Weekly spoke with Stefanie Eskander, who has worked as a designer at companies like Mattel and Hasbro for more than 30 years, about the complicated relationship between gender norms and children's playthings.

Police officer found coffin full of strange weapons in park

Some residents are concerned after a coffin full of weapons was found near Candace Strawn Park in DeLeon Springs, Florida. Volusia County deputies said the Florida Wildlife Commission contacted them on Thursday afternoon after an officer found a brown wooden coffin lying near the tree line.
When deputies opened the coffin, they found weapons included a crossbow, a black ball and chain, a set of nunchuks, forceps, a ball studded with metal spikes, a double-sided axe, a baseball bat with screws attached, scissors, a metal hook on a wood handle, a wood-handled knife, a folding knife, a silver baseball bat, a crowbar and metal chains.
There were also two hatchets, a boat anchor, a poker, blacksmith pliers, a sword blade minus the hand grip, a wooden stick, a hammer, two sickles, large black tongs, two axe handles and a wooden sword. "I think it's sad that someone would leave weapons that kids could get a hold of and hurt themselves," Rick Shook said.
"Who would do something like that?" he asked. Deputies said the items appeared to be old, rusty and inside of the coffin for a while. No signs of blood or hair were found with the coffin indicating foul play. A spokesperson for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said they consider the case closed.

The Medieval Combat World Championships

Medieval combat is still a thing, thanks to the International Medieval Combat Federation. The World Championship Games took place last weekend at Castillo De Belmonte in Cuenca, Spain, and the U.S. fared pretty well.
On Sunday, the last day of the four day event which began on May 1, fair-play and respect were on show in the finals of the men and women's longsword event.

Poland's Marcin Waszkielis took the gold in the men's event beating Britain's Lukas Cowal and with women joining the world championships for the first time the USA's Suzanne Elleraas from San Diego made history in Medieval Combat becoming the first female longsword gold medalist.

"We made history for all the women in the world," runner-up Aline Planchon from Belgium said as she stood next her opponent.
A good time was had by all. See plenty of news and pictures from the event at the Federation’s Facebook page.

Friday the 13th is More Common Than You Think

Nick Berry at Datagenetics says that the 13th day of the month is more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week. How could that be? Well, this is the guy who taught us how to win at Hangman and Battleship, how to defeat a monster with math, and other useful stuff, so you know there’s an explanation. Darned if I can condense it, though. The chart above should tell you it’s true, but you’ll have to go to Datagenetics to see why.

Oh look! We have a Friday the 13th coming up next month! By then, you’ll be able to explain all this to your family and friends and really impress them.

Woman tried to have home she doesn't own demolished because she didn't like the residents

A 62-year-old Florida woman tried to have a home she doesn't own demolished because she didn't like the people who live there, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. Ana Moreta Folch is charged with felony property damage after she called a land-clearing company and told them she wanted an unoccupied mobile home she owned torn down, deputies said.

White Death

In 1938, the Soviets requested a buffer zone in Finland because they expected the Nazis to attack through the country, yet the Finns resisted and maintained they were neutral. In November of 1939, the Red Army attacked Finland to get what they wanted. The result was the Winter War.
In the municipality of Rautjärvi near the Soviet/Finnish border, 34-year-old Simo Häyhä was a farmer and hunter leading a flagrantly unexciting life. Upon news of the hostilities, he gathered up food, plain white camouflage, and his iron-sighted SAKO M/28-30--a variant of the Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle--and went to defend his country. Before the four-month war ended, humble Häyhä would gain infamy among the Russian invaders, and come to be known as the "White Death."
Read about how Häyhä achieved 505 confirmed kills in a war that lasted a little over three months before he was shot, and the fearsome legend that grew up around him, at Damn Interesting.

Spider-Man and Superman Were Very Unethical Journalists

Two of the most popular superheroes work in journalism. Peter Parker (Spider-Man), is a photojournalist with the Daily Bugle of New York City. Clark Kent (Superman) is a reporter for the Daily Planet of Metropolis. It's a good industry for superheroes to work in. Journalists often get access to information first. When there's a crisis, Peter Parker and Clark Kent often learn of it quickly because they work in that field.
But are they good journalists? That profession has certain ethical standards. When there's a conflict between their two occupations, Spider-Man and Superman often compromise their public jobs to advance their superhero work. That's the argument that Daniel J. Snyder, a writer for The Atlantic, makes:
Up until a few years ago, and for the majority of his 50-year existence, Peter Parker committed repeated acts of fraud against his employer, The Daily Bugle and its editor-in-chief, J. Jonah Jameson (who would later, as the mayor of New York, employ Parker as a photographer). He sold staged photos of himself as Spider-Man and used his position in the media to influence the public's perception of his actions. Meanwhile, Superman, as award-winning Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, has reported on himself and given privileged information to his girlfriend, Lois Lane, whose relationship with Superman remains undisclosed.
Hypocritically, Snyder does not disclose how his own secret identity compromises his objectivity on this story.



Which TV Shows Are Aliens Watching Now?

SETI astronomers are always looking for signs of extraterrestrial life by watching the skies for radio signals (sadly, with the exception of the Wow! Signal, there hasn't been any promising signs), but can the reverse also be true? Are alien civilizations out there watching for signals from Earth - and if so, what sort of things are we telling them through our television broadcast.
In Carl Sagan's 1985 novel Contact, which was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, alien's first transmission to Earth contained images of Adolf Hitler (uh-oh!) opening the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Obviously, they've been watching our TV. But if you think watching Hitler was bad, imagine getting transmissions of Jersey Shore, which has just now reached Alpha Centauri. Needless to say, we are all doomed!
Abstruse Goose has an updated 2014 version of a visualized list of what TV shows aliens are now watching - given the electromagnetic broadcast that leaked into space.

The Deepest Hole in the World

The Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. brought about several competitions between the two nations. The best known is the space race, in which the Soviets were the first to orbit the earth, while the Americans were the first to walk on the moon. Americans also barely beat the Soviets to the deepest depth of the ocean. Another “race” was to dig the deepest hole into the earth -for scientific purposes, of course. While the U.S. abandoned their "Project Mohole" due to lack of funds, the Soviets drilled for 14 years, producing the Kola Superdeep Borehole which goes down over seven miles.
In actuality, the Kola Superdeep Borehole consists of several holes branching from one central hole. The deepest of these, named "SG-3", measures just nine inches in diameter but extends 12,261 meters (or 7.5 miles) into the Earth. That's roughly a third of the way through the Baltic continental crust. To meet scientific objectives and provide a nearly continuous look at the crust's profile, the Soviets even developed instruments to take direct physical measurements at the bottom of the borehole. The drilling apparatus thus allowed for greater measurement integrity since rock samples would deform under their incredible internal pressure when brought to the surface. Needless to say, the project produced enormous amounts of geological data, most of which elucidated how little we know about our planet.
Not only geological, but biological discoveries were made at tremendous depths. From looking at the picture above, you'd never know this is a world-record-breaking spot. Read about the Kola Superdeep Borehole and what was found there at Atlas Obscura.

Read about what didn’t happen right here

When bison are bullies

"'Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo' is a grammatically correct sentence in American English

Bird attack left trucker unconscious and minus a tooth

Two bird attacks in Channelview, Texas, have left people wondering what's going on. A trucker named Benny Hines was just walking back to his rig when the first incident happened.
First one bird, then in seconds, three others. "The more I tried to fight them off the worse it got. It was like why were they after me you know," said Hines. Benny was down, bleeding and unconscious.
Benny also lost a tooth. People nearby heard the commotion. They rushed to help the man on the ground and called 911. But no one knew what happened to him, until they checked the video.
Benny's now out of the hospital and back on the road. "They had to put some stitches on my face," he said. Lonny Sieger was also attacked by a bird at the same location. "I felt something on my neck, and there was a bird coming after my ass," he said.

Top 10 Weird Looking Birds That Look Photoshopped

You've probably heard that birds are distant relatives of dinosaurs. You also probably heard about that time Kirk Cameron tried to debunk evolution by badly Photoshopping a crocodile's head to a duck's body, much to the amusement of the scientific community as well as the Internet.

But truth is stranger than fiction, and 65 million years of evolution are better at making crazy birds than photo manipulation software.

Daily Comic Relief


Psilocybin inhibits the processing of negative emotions in the brain

Psilocybin inhibits the processing of negative emotions in the brain

Emotions like fear, anger, sadness, and joy enable people to […]

New species of metal-eating plant discovered in the Philippines

New species of metal-eating plant discovered in the Philippines

Scientists from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños have discovered a […]

Extinct kitten-sized hunter discovered in Bolivia

Extinct kitten-sized hunter discovered in Bolivia

A Case Western Reserve University student and his mentor have […]

Humans Not Ready To Meet Aliens

Humans are not yet ready to make contact with intelligent aliens, a study suggests. Space psychologist Professor Gabriel de la Torre from the University of Cadiz in Spain came to the conclusion after questioning 116 American, Italian and Spanish university students.

The survey assessed participants' knowledge of astronomy and their perception of cosmological order - the 'place' things occupy in the universe.

Astronomers Create First Realistic Virtual Universe

Astronomers Create First Realistic Virtual Universe

Move over, Matrix – astronomers have done you one better. […]

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Longevity gene may boost brain power
  • The monster that pond scum wrought
  • Scientists create man-made DNA
  • Radiation from early universe found key to answer major questions in Physics
And more ...
These Caracals are our Animal Picture, for today.