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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.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Daily Drift

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And I Quote ...!
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Today in History

1496   The Jews are expelled from Syria.  
1507   Cesare Borgia dies while fighting alongside his brother, the king of Navarre, in Spain.  
1609   The Bermuda Islands become an English colony.  
1664   New Jersey becomes a British colony.  
1789   The United States Post Office is established.  
1809   Great Britain signs a treaty with Persia forcing the French out of the country.  
1863   President Jefferson Davis delivers his State of the Confederacy address.  
1879   The British Zulu War begins.  
1884   Mississippi establishes the first U.S. state college for women.  
1894   Coca-Cola is sold in bottles for the first time.  
1903   The Czar of Russia issues a decree providing for nominal freedom of religion throughout the land.  
1909   British Parliament increases naval appropriations for Great Britain.  
1911   Dr. Fletcher of the Rockefeller Institute discovers the cause of infantile paralysis.  
1912   Juliet Low founds the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.  
1917   Russian troops mutiny as the "February Revolution" begins.  
1930   Gandhi begins his march to the sea to symbolizes his defiance of British rule in India.  
1933   President Paul von Hindenburg drops the flag of the German Republic and orders that the swastika and empire banner be flown side by side.  
1933   President Roosevelt makes the first of his Sunday evening fireside chats.
1938   German troops enter Austria without firing a shot, forming the anschluss (union)of Austria and Germany.  
1944   Great Britain bars all travel to neutral Ireland, which is suspected of collaborating with Nazi Germany.   
1945   Diarist Anne Frank dies in a German concentration camp.  
1959   The U.S. House of Representatives joins the Senate in approving the statehood of Hawaii.
1984   Lebanese President Gemayel opens the second meeting in five years calling for the end to nine-years of war.  
1985   The United States and the Soviet Union begin arms control talks in Geneva. 

A Sea of Firecrackers Exploding

In the village of Nanwan, Guandong province, China, local residents annually detonate a pile of firecrackers spread over an open street. This is part of a ceremony in which a local god is removed from a temple and paraded through the streets in order to bring good fortune for the next year.
What could possibly go wrong?
Actually, nothing did. This inflammatory activity was conducted safely. There were no reported injuries or damages resulting from it.

Polite thief broke into car to firstly steal an ‘itchy’ blanket and again to return it with charming note

A homeless thief in Australia who broke into a car to “borrow” a blanket anonymously returned the stolen item to the owner with a cheeky and heart-warming thank you note. Great-grandfather Bert Palin, 82, said he parked his car in Redfern, New South Wales, while visiting family but didn’t realise it had been broken into until he arrived home the next day and found a note from the culprit in the boot.
“I was getting (my wife’s) walker out of the boot when I saw the blanket that we normally toss in after using for picnics, folded neatly with a note,” Mr Palin said. The note read: “Hi, I borrowed your blanket for a little while because I was cold and didn’t have anywhere to go. I hope you accept my apology for taking your stuff without asking. Kind regards, Blankt (sic) theif :) P.S. The blank is really itchy.”
Mr Palin said he was surprised to see the note and learn someone had broken into his car twice - once to take the blanket and a second time to return it. “It was obviously a male or female of some education to have written it the way they did and to break into my car then say ‘thank you’ and ‘PS your blanket was itchy’ … it was breathtaking,” he said.
“I washed the blanket after that because I was concerned about it being itchy.” Mr Palin said there was no sign of any damage to the car as a result of the break in. “The boot just had a plastic clasp that must have been easy to open,” Mr Palin said. “I’ve been passing the note around and people are amazed ... (my grandson) couldn’t stop laughing.” Mr Palin said he accepted the thief’s apology but that if he could say anything to him or her it would be: “keep out of my car”.

Random Celebrity Photos

Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake

The Aftermath of Hiroshima

This year marks 70 years since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After Germany surrendered to the allies in May of 1945, The United States, China and Great Britain demanded that the Japanese unconditionally surrender as well, or be subject to "prompt and utter destruction." Japan refused those demands.In early August of 1945, the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which remain the only times that the atomic bomb was used to fight a war. The destruction in Japan was widespread, and up to 240,000 people were killed in the first four months. Many more succumbed to illness from radiation in the following years. On August 15, Japan surrendered.
Shown here are two photographs from a collection at Vintage Everyday that illustrates the horrors of such nuclear devastation. Be warned that a few of the photos show injured people. Such images are an important testament to the terror of war and a cautionary tale against the use of nuclear weapons.

Black Ooze

The recent increasing humidity in northern Chile is degrading the region's famous 7,000-year-old mummies from the ancient Chinchorro people.

Ain't that always the way ...


Reducing Fertility

Physical labor, hypertension and multiple meds may reduce male fertility

Working in a physically demanding job, having high blood pressure, and taking multiple medications are among health risks that may undermine a man’s fertility, according to a study by researchers […]

Being ‘laid off’

lossy-page1-600px-Los_Angeles,_California._Lockheed_Employment._A_worried_applicant_waiting_to_be_interviewed_-_NARA_-_532210.tifBeing ‘laid off’ leads to a decade of distrust

People who lose their jobs are less willing to trust others for up to a decade after being laid-off, according to new research from The University of Manchester. Being made […]

Alzheimer's Battle

Researchers make some interesting new finds, as they try to uncover the cause of this horrible disease.

Calvin and Hobbes Was "Our Only Popular Explication of the Moral Philosophy of Aristotle."

In the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Caldwell argues that the revered Calvin and Hobbes was America's most profound comic strip. He quotes the late political scientist James Q. Wilson, the inventor of the Broken Windows Theory of policing, who stated that Calvin and Hobbes expressed an Aristotelian worldview:
The late political scientist James Q. Wilson described “Calvin and Hobbes” as “our only popular explication of the moral philosophy of Aristotle.” Wilson meant that the social order is founded on self-control and delayed gratification—and that Calvin is hopeless at these things. Calvin thinks that “life should be more like TV” and that he is “destined for greatness” whether he does his homework or not. His favorite sport is “Calvinball,” in which he is entitled to make up the rules as he goes along.
Day-in, day-out, Calvin keeps running into evidence that the world isn’t built to his (and our) specifications. All humor is, in one way or another, about our resistance to that evidence.

7 Strange Ways Your Brain Can Fail You

The weirdest organ in our bodies is the one that makes us who we are. But when something goes wrong in the brain, it can present itself in any number of bizarre ways. That may depend on what’s wrong, what region of the brain is affected, or considering the odd ways the brain works, pure luck. For example, a case in Paris 150 years ago had a particularly specific symptom: 
When Louis Victor Leborgne died in 1861, aged 51, he had been virtually speechless for 21 years. Not completely speechless: He could speak one word, “tan”. Over and over again: “Tan. Tan.” In the months before he died, a doctor called Pierre Paul Broca, a language specialist, had become interested in his case. Leborgne was apparently still intelligent, still aware of his surroundings, still capable of telling where he was and how long he’d been there. But he’d lost all use of language, reported Broca:
He could no longer produce but a single syllable, which he usually repeated twice in succession; regardless of the question asked him, he always responded: tan, tan, combined with varied expressive gestures. This is why, throughout the hospital, he is known only by the name Tan.
After Leborgne’s death, Broca examined his body, and found a lesion in the posterior inferior frontal gyrus – a brain region now known as “Broca’s area”.

Bright Minds: Stained Glass Tributes to Tesla, Turing, and More

In anticipation of Pi Day coming up on the 14th, the folks at Shutterstock invited (or, as they say, “challenged”) artist Aaron Coleman to create lithographs of stained glass artistry featuring heroes of science. Coleman rose to the challenge, and gave them Ada Lovelace, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Alan Turing, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, rendered in stained glass imagery using Shutterstock photos. Go see them all- each has a short biography of the scientist, too.

Random Photos

Twiggy colors

The Wellcome Trust's Best Science Photos of the Year

Scanning electron microscope view of a boll weevil
The Wellcome Trust has announced the finalists in their 2015 Wellcome Image Awards, which celebrate the best in science photography. A panel of nine judges will select from the images of the finalists. The winning entry will be anmounced at a ceremony on March 18th, 2015.
See more of the finalist photos here, and visit the Wellcome Images Website to see winners from the past year.

Cross section of a cat's tongue

Pollen Grains, Asteraceae 

Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanic frequency filter for atomic clocksQuantum mechanic frequency filter for atomic clocks

Atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world. In an atomic clock, electrons jumping from one orbit to another decides the clock’s frequency. To get the electrons to […]

Alien Life

The hunt for signs of life on planets beyond our solar system should cast as wide a net as possible, some researchers stress.

Gliese 581d Might Exist After All

Does it exist or not? Astronomers are claiming that the potentially habitable exoplanet is just noisy data, while others say it's too early to discount the existence of Gliese 581d.

Dark Matter Factory

A dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way is humming with gamma rays, leading astronomers to hypothesize that it could be filled with annihilating dark matter particles.

Curiosity's Short Circuit

Engineers analyzing a problem with NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity suspect an intermittent short circuit in its drill triggered the protective software that automatically suspended science operations on Feb. 27.

Venus' Mysterious Surface

Bouncing radar off Veuns' surface, radio astronomers have built up a detailed, and beautiful, view of the planet's landscape without leaving Earth.

Lucky 13


'Rats with Wings'

Pigeons are everywhere! And in astonishingly diverse forms. While it's an easy line to call them "rats with wings" and just dismiss them, Trace finds there's actually much to love about pigeons, starting with their crazy-cool flying skills.


Chameleons change color by tuning photonic crystal-like structures in their skin. See photos.

Fishy Surgery

The tricky procedure buys a fish more time.

A new kind of trouble

Once on the brink of extinction, the now-flourishing fox is having too many deadly run-ins with humans.

Them As Count Bird Feathers

by Stephen Drew
Through the years, many humans have spent days, months, or years counting feathers on birds. Here are some of those counters’ reports to their fellow humans.
Wetmore’s Comprehensive Feather-Counting Report
In 1936 Alexander Wetmore of the U.S. National Museum in Washington, D.C., gathered all of the reports he could find in which someone or other counted how many feathers were on particular birds:
“The Number of Contour Feathers in Passeriform and Related Birds,” Alexander Wetmore, The Auk,
vol. 53, 1936, pp. 159–69.
“The work of feather counting is tedious and exacting,” Wetmore admitted, “and yields small result relative to the labor involved.” Among Wetmore’s gatherings from his predecessors:
Dr. Jonathan Dwight found 3235 feathers on a male Bobolink taken in spring. R.C. McGregor has recorded 1899 feathers on a Savannah sparrow (presumably a western form) and 6544 on a Glaucous winged Gull both enumerations being made from study skins. Miss Phoebe Knappen has reported 11,903 feathers on an adult female Mallard obtained March 19, 1932 at Pohick, Virginia, the bird being one that had died from phosphorus poisoning.
Wetmore proceeded to have someone he could count on do some new counting on Wetmore’s behalf and for his credit:
The actual labor of counting was done under my direct supervision by Marie Siebrecht (now Mrs. James Montroy) who, employed as an assistant, worked carefully and conscientiously at a long and somewhat tedious task...
Wetmore kept records of where each bird entered his locus of control. Many came via a single collecting point:
I am indebted to Miss Phoebe Knappen for a number of birds killed by striking the Washington Monument during fall migration.
Wetmore detailed how Montroy performed her function:
In this study contour feathers alone have been considered, the downs and filo plumes being disregarded. The feathers were plucked a few at a time by means of fine tweezers and were counted in lots of one hundred, a check mark being made for each hundred. At any interruption in the work the number counted was set down at once to avoid error....
The feathers as counted were placed in a glass beaker on which there was a paper cover held in place by a rubber band. By means of a small hole cut in the paper top it was possible to confine the feathers and to ascertain the weight of the plumage.....
With ordinary small birds one specimen was counted each day, two being handled on a few occasions. The work was exacting so that more prolonged effort was liable, through fatigue, to lead to errors.

Can You Legally Park a Horse in New York City?

On November 25, 1783, General George Washington, mounted on a white charger, marched the Continental Army into New York City as the last British troops in that city evacuated. For many years, this event would be remembered as Evacuation Day, an important holiday in New York City for more than a century.
When General Washington dismounted from his horse, where would he have parked it?
Where would you park a horse--that is, tie it off and leave it alone--now?
Rhett Jones of Hopes & Fears thoroughly researched that question. As you might expect, NYPD cops can park their horses with great leeway. But what about those of us without government privileges? Jones eventually tracked down an answer in the New York City Traffic Rules, section 4-12.f, which says:
No person shall leave a horse unbridled or unattended in a street or unenclosed place unless the horse is securely fastened, or harnessed to a vehicle with wheels so secured as to prevent it from being dragged faster than a walk.
So, basically, you just need a solid hitching post.

Man Finds Python in his Cereal Box

Jarred Smith of Sydney, Australia was freaked out to say the least when he tried to have a simple breakfast of Corn Flakes and got a Diamond Python instead. The snake was coiled up so tight in his cereal box that a man from NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) had to tear the box to get it out. Read more on this story at the Daily Telegraph. (Warning: Aside from the F bombs in the video that are bleeped out, there are two PG words not censored, but they're nothing you couldn't hear on network television.)

Animal Pictures