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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

715 St. Gregory II begins his reign as Catholic Pope.
1535 French explorer Jacques Cartier sets sail for North America.
1536 Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, is beheaded on Tower Green.
1568 Defeated by the Protestants, Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England where Queen Elizabeth imprisons her.
1588 The Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon, Spain.
1608 The Protestant states form the Evangelical Union of Lutherans and Calvinists.
1635 Cardinal Richelieu of France intervenes in the great conflict in Europe by declaring war on the Hapsburgs in Spain.
1643 The French army defeats a Spanish army at Rocroi, France.
1780 Near total darkness descends on New England at noon. No explanation is found.
1856 Senator Charles Sumner speaks out against slavery.
1858 A pro-slavery band led by Charles Hameton executes unarmed Free State men near Marais des Cygnes on the Kansas-Missouri border.
1863 Union General Ulysses S. Grant's first attack on Vicksburg is repulsed.
1864 The Union and Confederate armies launch their last attacks against each other at Spotsylvania, Virginia.
1921 Congress sharply curbs immigration, setting a national quota system.
1935 The National Football League adopts an annual college draft to begin in 1936.
1964 U.S. diplomats find at least 40 microphones planted in the American embassy in Moscow.
1967 U.S. planes bomb Hanoi for the first time.

Non Sequitur


What Language Does Your State Speak?

The most common language in every U.S. state is English, and the second-most common language in all but seven states is Spanish. But what comes next? The results tell us something about each state’s history of immigration. Ben Blatt put together quite a few maps exploring the languages spoken in the different states.
One of the most interesting data sets for aspiring mapmakers is the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Among other things, that survey includes a detailed look at the languages spoken in American homes. All the maps below are based on the responses to this survey. For instance, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Chinese are separated as different responses in the data, so were treated as different languages when constructing these maps. If those languages had been grouped together, the marking of many states would change.
Besides the most common languages, the maps are broken down into the most common Native American languages, most common Scandinavian languages, and more.

The International Zip Line between Spain and Portugal

The Spanish town of Sanlúcar de Guadiana and the Portuguese town of Alcoutim are separated by the Guadiana River. You can take a boat across the border. But if you want to move really quickly, then zip line is the way to go.
David Jarman’s Limite Zero is the private company responsible for this fun project. For 15 euros, you can travel at 45 miles per hour down the 0.44-mile long zip line at a 12.47% slope. You can then take a ferry back, which is helpful, because you’d surely want to do it again and again.
The ride lasts about a minute. But since you travel across a time zone boundary, you could also say that it takes one hour and one minute.

China's Strange Proposal For An Undersea Train That Connects To The U.S.

Chinese inventors are known for their wild ideas, like gun powder, ice cream and the compass, but now that China has established itself as an industrial superpower they’re taking those wild ideas to the end of the line.
A report in the Beijing Times states that China is developing a plan to build an 8,000+ mile railroad connecting China to Russia, Canada and the United States, with an over 125 mile stretch spanning the Bering Strait…along the bottom of the ocean.
This bold proposal may not seem like such a bad idea until you consider that the “proposed undersea route would be more than five times longer than the current longest underwater tunnel, the one under the English Channel", not to mention the mountains of red tape to wade through and billions of dollars needed to pull off such a feat of railroad engineering.
If railroads were made of dreams China would have a line that stretches clear to the moon and back...

8 Famous Ideas That Came From Dreams

Inspiration can strike in the most unexpected places, and often, the best creative ideas occur while we're sleeping. Dreams can be a rich source of inner wisdom, and they can be useful in a variety of contexts, from problem-solving to reducing stress.

Here are eight famous ideas and works of art that were created based on dreams.

Conspiracy theorists – Scum of the earth

Conspiracy theorists – Scum of the earth
A playground in Mystic, Connecticut, dedicated to a girl shot during the Newtown massacre, is allegedly being vandalized by “truthers” who claim the shooting never took place.
A vinyl sign weighing 50 pounds was stolen last Tuesday from the Grace McDonnell Playground.
The sign featured a peace symbol that was based on the 7-year-old girl’s drawing. She is one of the 20 children shot by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012.
Grace’s mother, Lynn McDonnell, found out about the theft when a man claiming to have stolen the sign called her.
During a brief conversation, the sign-stealer allegedly told McDonnell that he took the sign because he believes the school shooting was a hoax, CBS2.com reports. He also taunted her that her daughter never existed, a comment that suggested he thought McDonnell was part of the alleged conspiracy.

The Stunning Views And Spacious Interiors of the Glass House Mountain House

The Glass House Mountains are a beautiful stretch of volcanic landscape in Australia. The Glass House Mountain House is a beautiful house built at the peak of one of these hills.
The open design flows freely from interior to exterior spaces, allowing natural cooling as well as allowing for a more spacious feel to the home. This also helps make the structure feel more in touch with its striking natural surroundings.
The designers further worked to make the structure reflect its setting by mimicking the mountain's earth, forest and sky with stone, timber and glass materials that make the space feel all at once grounded and floating at the same time.
Check out more pictures of the amazing cantilevered house at Homes and Hues: Striking Textures, Lines and Angels Rule in the Glass House Mountain House

Infinity Pools and Beyond

The pool pictured above is located at the Hanging Gardens Ubud Hotel in Bali, Indonesia. It is a split-level infinity pool made with stone from the area and containing a wall of solidified volcanic ash. Swimmers are suspended high up over treetops of the lush jungle below. 
Architect Popo Danes designed the hotel and grounds with the intent to blend in with the contours of the land and existing natural habitat. The pool's upper level has a spacious deck, which is connected to the hotel bar. The lower level is built for added privacy and is nearly hidden from view. Guests seeking a romantic evening can reserve the lower level of the pool to dine on a floating, wooden deck draped with sheer fabric. From this candlelit deck, the diners are treated to views of an ancient temple in the distance, with nighttime jungle sounds as their "musical accompaniment." See a larger photo gallery of spectacular swimming pools from some of the most luxurious resorts in the world at this LifeBuzz article.

Three arrested after attempting to steal drugs from police station disposal bin

Three people were arrested after allegedly attempting to steal drugs from a police station in Edmond, Oklahoma. The whole thing was caught on camera and it happened inside the Edmond Police station involving the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics prescription disposal bin.
"It takes a lot of guts to come into the lobby of a police department and think you're going to get away with stealing narcotics," explained Jenny Monroe with Edmond Police. The bins are meant for safely getting rid of old prescriptions, but police say Richard Andress, his daughter, Hollie Andress, and her fiancé, Matthew Waller, stole what others had discarded.
Security footage showed the suspects reaching into the bin numerous times and pulling out pills while the records clerk helped other people. What the trio did not know was there are monitors behind the clerk and a jailer was watching the whole time. Hollie Andress did not think she had done anything wrong. "At some point she's reading the box and she told our officers after she was under arrest that it doesn't say anywhere in the fine print that you can't take drugs out of the box," said Monroe.
OBN has 153 drug boxes in police and sheriff's lobbies across the state and spokesman Mark Woodward said they have never had this happen in the three-year history of the bins. "Everyone should know that you're not allowed to come in and take someone else's medication out of a box, especially a state agency," added Monroe. Police said all three suspects are facing felony Larceny of a Controlled Dangerous Substance charges.

Tom the Dancing Bug


Should the Devil Sell Prada?

According to an article scheduled for publication this October in the Journal of Consumer Research, you’re more likely to buy expensive goods in an environment where snobby sales staffers make you feel not well off enough to do so.
Based on the results of four online surveys, article authors Morgan Ward of Southern Methodist University and Darren Dahl of the Sauder School of Business made the following conclusions about the role of rejection in the buying experience:
1. Rejection makes people want to buy luxury goods, but has little effect on consumers of more affordable brands.
2. Rejection is stronger when salespeople convincingly embody luxury brands.
3. Rejection works better on buyers who have a strong desire for a particular luxury brand.
4. Rejection works best in the short term, but may alienate customers in the long run.
Says Dahl, “Our study shows you’ve got to be the right kind of snob in the right kind of store for the effect to work.”

And You Thought it Was Because You Were Bored

YawnWe yawn when we’re sleepy, bored, or because we see someone else yawn. Some people yawn when they’re stressed. But why? It’s long been believed we yawn to increase the oxygen supply to the brain. However, a study published this week in Physiology & Behavior concludes yawning serves a different purpose: It cools our brains.
Led by psychologists Jorg Massen of the University of Vienna, and Andrew Gallup of the State University of New York College at Oneonta, researchers took their cues from previous studies showing increased brain temperatures precede yawns and equivalent decreases follow them. From this, they postulated we should yawn predominantly within an optimal range of temperatures.  The study, conducted during both winter and summer months on subjects in Vienna, Austria, and Tucson, AZ, finds that range to center around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Farenheit).
Massen concludes that as a brain-cooling mechanism, yawning is not functional when ambient temperatures are close to that of the body, and may even have harmful consequences when it’s freezing outside.

Your Fake Laugh Isn't Fooling Anyone

Ever hear a joke that isn't funny, but you laugh anyway so the joke teller doesn't feel bad? New research says quit it! Laci discusses how most people can tell when a laugh is fake!

1 in 5 People Carries Gene for Better Cognition

1 in 5 People Carries Gene for Better Cognition

A scientific team led by the Gladstone Institutes and UC […]


The Revenge of the Poor, Betrayal of the Elite Now Leads to The Rise of Super Bugs

Neglecting the conditions and healthcare of the poor has contributed to drug-resistant microbes which have reached crisis proportions.… 
Poverty and superbugs 
On May 1st, the World Health Organization released a report stating that we have reached the “post-antibiotic” era, a time in which many of our common infections are no longer treatable by drugs. According to the report, “The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine…Far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, [it] is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.” Alexander Fleming, the man who gave us the antibiotic when he developed penicillin, stated, “There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.” If he had been alive to see the horrors of dosing livestock with antibiotics for years and years, he would have no doubt added a quote about that as well. Infectious diseases are equal opportunity pathogens, the rich and poor alike are vulnerable to them. However, for over a century, epidemiologists have known that health and socioeconomic status are highly correlated. The poorer you are, the higher your risk of being sick…from all diseases, illnesses, and injuries.
Around the world, these microbes have been festering in poor communities, growing stronger, preparing themselves for outbreaks that affect even those who are not poor. It happens as people travel, as people immigrate, as they have the poor wait on them, and as they become ill enough to need hospital care. In all cases, this brings the problems of the poor to the footsteps of everyone else. In his book, When Germs Travel, Howard Merkel, quotes the journalist Abraham Cahan who said,
“The American public’s concern about unsanitary living conditions and related social problems of the downtrodden seem to get attention only when such epidemics threaten the palaces of the rich.”
What everyone else, particularly the elite in the form of rich pharmaceutical companies, has been doing about this problem will only lead the world to more misery.
If you’re a fan of PBS, you might catch the Frontline series from time to time. In the past year, they have twice covered a growing threat to humanity about which the media periodically sounds the alarm: superbugs. In the episode entitled, “Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria,” Frontline introduces the viewer to gram-negative bacteria, a new class of germ both deadly and resistant to antibiotics. These bacteria are described as having built a coat of armor around themselves that make them impenetrable to the body’s own immune fighting cells and antibiotics. Some examples of the many bacteria that have gone commando are 1) E. coli, infamous for food-borne outbreaks; 2) Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a sexually transmitted disease; and 3) Mycobacterium tuberculosis, of course, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Other bacteria have names like MRSA, CRE, and VRE. Of these, the one associated with the most concentrated outbreaks is tuberculosis. So much so that Frontline also decided to do a documentary on the global crisis being caused by this disease, “TB Silent Killer.”
Tuberculosis is perhaps the scariest superbug, because it is both an airborne and foodborne antigen. Although the United States has had limited contact with Multi-Drug Resistant-TB (MDR-TB) and Extensively Drug Resistant-TB (XDR-TB), these forms of the disease have been rising in other parts of the world at alarming rates, especially in poor countries. The disease likely took a strong foothold in these countries because of the lack of access to treatment they had. According to the Economist, “As a report last year by the Centre for Global Development, an American think-tank, pointed out, resistance often increases the drug bill, because patients are forced to turn from cheap, widely used drugs (whose very ubiquity encourages the evolution of resistant strains) to dearer alternatives” (emphasis added).
This point is important. Patients have been forced to turn to cheap, alternatives to better drugs, leading to the evolution of resistant strains. There are other ways that ignoring the healthcare needs of the poor will come back to bite the rest of us. When the poor are very sick with high fevers due to infection, they will go to the hospital to get treatment. However, when they receive a prescription to continue the antibiotics they receive, they are frequently going to be unable to fill or refill that prescription due to lack of health insurance. This, too, will increase the strength of bacteria.
Healthcare policies made by the elite betray us all. We have two places to turn for help in this crisis: the pharmaceutical industry and government. In the case of the latter, the austerity imposed by our politicians has left governments without funding to conduct necessary research in this area. These politicians are all too often behaving at the behest of special interests: namely the wealthy and corporations. Government can also be faulted for not prioritizing research in this area, as discussed in the “Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria” documentary, but drug development is not a traditional government role, so it is also understandable. Therefore, it is the pharmaceutical industry that society has expected to research and create antibiotics to treat these superbugs. Except, they aren’t doing it.
Drug companies have numerous excuses for not investing ongoing efforts in research to fight drug-resistant forms of bacteria. Despite scientists, who worked for Pfizer, saying they were on the verge of a breakthrough with gram-negative bacteria, the company shut down its antibiotic research division. The company claims that it was a “portfolio management decision” and not a “ruthless” one. They say it was because they wanted to find vaccines instead of antibiotics. They say the research was too hard, even as their scientists say otherwise. Pfizer’s decision to bow out was particularly important, because as a company they were most associated over the long-term with producing antibiotics, including being the company to bring us the first one, penicillin. Other companies are not blameless. They similarly shut down their research divisions for this type of drug. Why? All of these companies have the same reason. It is not profitable to work on antibiotics, because unlike your drugs for chronic conditions like impotence or high blood pressure, people only need them for a short period of time. David Shlaes, author of Antibiotics: the Perfect Storm, writes on his blog this week of new developments at Astra Zeneca,
“We have a company with a promising pipeline for the treatment of resistant Gram negative infections, an impending public health calamity – especially in certain regions of the world (including various areas of the US) caused by resistant infections, and the company will either be taken over by one hostile to antibiotics or the company itself may abandon some or all of its pipeline.”
So, here we are as a society facing a massive public health crisis about which the WHO is not shy to use the word, “apocalyptic.” It truly is a revenge of the poor for neglect of their most pressing health problems. It is worsened by the betrayal of the elite, our corporations and our wealthy, who both refuse to invest in treatments either through private research or public research that requires tax dollars. In the end, though, everyone is vulnerable to these superbugs, and they will have the last word.

6 Diseases That May Come Back to Haunt Us as Antibiotics Lose Their Power

Still think of TB, typhoid and gonorrhea as infections from the past? WHO's terrifying report will make you think again.
Diseases we thought were long gone, nothing to worry about, or easy to treat could come back with a vengeance, according to the recent World Health Organization report on global antibiotic resistance. Concern at this serious threat to public health has been growing; complacency could result in a crisis with the potential to affect everyone, not just those in poor countries or without access to advanced healthcare. Already diseases that were treatable in the past, such as tuberculosis, are often fatal now, and others are moving in the same direction. And the really terrifying thing is that the problem is already with us: this is not science fiction, but contemporary reality. So what are some of the infections that could come back to haunt us?


TB ought to be treatable within six months once people are prescribed a course of drugs including the once potent antibiotics isoniazid and rifampicin. But today, resistance has emerged not only to these medicines, but to the wider range of pharmaceuticals used to treat the disease. This has led to the emergence of multi-drug-resistant TB, the still less treatable extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), and even to total drug-resistant TB, which has only officially been confirmed in India. Countries such as South Africa have run out of treatment options for many of their patients and are having to discharge them from hospital. Resistance to TB has reached a global scale with XDR-TB now reported in 92 countries.


The sexually transmitted nature of this infection makes it something many are reluctant to talk about or admit to having. However, it's long been thought of as easily treatable and nothing much to fear. Once fixable with penicillin and tetracycline, the bacteria behind the disease have developed such high levels of resistance that there is only one drug left that can treat it. Even this antibiotic, ceftriaxone, is becoming less effective. With last-resort drugs losing their impact, this sexually transmitted infection (STI) could spread throughout the population.


It's likely that you've never heard of this common bacterium, which can cause a wide range of conditions including pneumonia, urinary tract infections, septicaemia, meningitis and diarrhoea. It fits into a wider group of bacteria with the apt acronym of Eskape owing to their ability to avoid the effects of the antibiotics used against them. The acronym stands for the names of the bacterial group members: Enterococcus faecium; Staphylococcus aureus; Klebsiella pneumoniae; Acinetobacter baumannii; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and Enterobacter. Klebsiella and the rest of this group are increasingly being acquired in hospitals. While we fear MRSA, it is in fact a declining threat in hospitals; at the same time Eskape pathogens are causing more and more problems. As the WHO report highlighted, routine hospital visits or treatments could result in these previously treatable bacteria having fatal consequences.


Routine vaccination against typhoid means it's not a disease that is often on our radar, and when it is it's rarely something we fear. However, the disease still affects 21.5 million people each year in the developing world, and globalisation means travel to potential sources of infection is more common. As a result, more than 5,000 people in the US are infected annually after eating contaminated food and drink. Typhoid fever, which is caused by the bacterium salmonella typhi, is treated with antibiotics, but resistance to multiple antibiotics is increasing. Reduced susceptibility to the fluoroquinolone class of drugs and the emergence of multi-drug-resistance has complicated the treatment of infections, especially those acquired in south Asia. Since a vaccination exists, the key is to receive this before you get on to a plane. Otherwise, consuming that innocent-looking vegetable on a trip to Thailand could leave you with a potentially fatal fever topping 100F.

Syphilis and Diphtheria

Although resistance to these diseases is yet to emerge, public awareness of them has reduced as a result of effective treatments. But in an era of resistance there is always the potential for them to return as a serious public health threat. Although rates of syphilis are low, they have been increasing in the UK since 1997. This STI is currently treated by a single injection with penicillin, but resistance to this antibiotic has developed in other diseases. Imagine the impact if it happened again. The fever and chills of diphtheria are mainly prevalent in the developing world, but with travellers contracting typhoid even though a vaccine is available, the same could happen with diphtheria.

So what can be done?

Antibiotic resistance is a problem we can all help to reduce. Good hand hygiene when visiting people in hospital helps. Only taking antibiotics when prescribed by a doctor is crucial; as is always completing a full course if you do have to take them. In addition, doctors themselves should only be prescribing these medicines when patients truly need them. These may be small things, but if we all do them it will have an impact and maybe prevent a future where treatable diseases become fatal once more.

Shorter Men Live Longer

They may not have the easiest ride in life, enduring accusations of inferiority complexes and jokes at their expense, but it appears short men will have the last laugh after all. Scientists at the University of Hawaii have found evidence that they are likely to live longer, with those under five foot two having a greater chance of surviving to old age.
The scientists found that shorter men were more likely to have a protective form of the longevity gene, FOXO3, leading to smaller body size during early development and a longer lifespan.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Really Safe?

Laci takes a look at the top three most popular sweeteners to try to figure out which is the safest.

Virtual pet leads to increase physical activity for kids

Virtual pet leads to increase physical activity for kids

Placing children into a mixed reality-part virtual environment and part […]

Top 5 Strangest Allergies

Did you know that it's possible to be allergic to the sun? In fact, there are some very odd things that it's possible for humans to be allergic to.

How Dangerous Is MERS?

Health care officials hope to contain the MERS virus in the U.S.

Can Medicine Help People Stop Drinking?

Patients trying to overcome alcohol dependence fared better with the help of certain medications, a new review says.

Americas Top Boozy Nations Worldwide

But still, drinkers in the Americas imbibe less than Canadians or Russians, says a WHO survey.

Daily Comic Relief


Fungal Beauty

Steve Axford, a retired IT professional, says he is now free to devote time to his primary interests: photography and travel. Axford's photography is largely an exploration of the natural world, from the smallest plant life to volcanoes. He prefers to photograph remote areas that are infrequently traveled. While documenting the terrain surrounding his home in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, Australia, which he describes as "once a huge area of uninterrupted lowland, subtropical rainforest," Axford has come across lesser known and rarely photographed examples of subtropical fungal species. Axford, in explaining his motivation, said,
"I try to combine the beauty I see with some scientific accuracy, so most of my photos could be used to identify things and will show the fine detail. Recently I have started to take time lapse videos of mushrooms, and other things, growing. This adds another dimension to an already fascinating world and sometimes allows a glimpse into the world of interactions between different life forms."
See more of Axford's compelling captures at his SmugMug and Flickr sites.

Blind Dog Plays Fetch By Ear

Kellar, an English Springer spaniel, was born blind. He can’t see the ball, but he can find it and bring it back! He plays fetch completely by ear. Kellar can hear (or feel) the ball hit the ground, and then it's a matter of following directions. From the YouTube page:
Kellar was originally trained to play ball with the commands "hot" and "cold". We later added "warmer", "passed it", "left" and "right". The process took about a week for the basic commands.
That’s a good dog. Visit Kellar at his Facebook page.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Want to talk about strengthening terrorists - look no further than the shrub junta
  • Wingnuts rebel against Faux News and demand a new tea party driven propaganda machine
  • Murderer who planned to assassinate President Obama sentenced to death
  • Liberal states outperform wingnut ones as repugicans push more trickle down
And more ...
These primates are our Animal Picture, for today.