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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, April 9, 2015

The Daily Drift

Rat Fink Rides ...!
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Today in History

193 In the Balkans, the distinguished soldier Septimius Severus is proclaimed emperor by the army in Illyricum.
715 Constantine ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1241 In the Battle of Liegnitz, Mongol armies defeat Poles and Germans.
1454 The city states of Venice, Milan and Florence sign a peace agreement at Lodi, Italy.
1682 Robert La Salle claims lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France.
1731 British Captain Robert Jenkins loses an ear to a band of Spanish brigands, starting a war between Britain and Spain: The War of Jenkins' Ear.
1770 Captain James Cook discovers Botany Bay on the Australian continent.
1859 Realizing that France has encouraged the Piedmontese forces to mobilize for invading Italy, Austria begins mobilizing its army.
1865 General Robert E. Lee surrenders his rebel forces to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Va.
1900 British forces route Boers at Kroonstadt, South Africa.
1916 The German army launches its third offensive during the Battle of Verdun.
1917 The Battle of Arras begins as Canadian troops begin a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.
1921 Russo-Polish conflict ends with signing of the Riga Treaty.
1940 Germany invades Norway and Denmark.
1942 In the Battle of Bataan, American and Filipino forces are overwhelmed by the Japanese Army.
1945 The Red Army is repulsed at the Seelow Heights on the outskirts of Berlin.
1950 Comedian Bob Hope makes his first television appearance.
1963 Winston Churchill becomes the first honorary U.S. citizen.
1966 The statue of Winston Churchill is dedicated at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
1968 Murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., is buried.
1970 Paul McCartney announces the official break-up of the Beatles.

New York Doorman Fired For Being Too Nice

New York Doorman Fired For Being Too NiceIn this world of Comcast, Time Warner and other customer service nightmares, being nice is no longer part of companies’ business models.

The Parking Valet’s Reading Material

Here we have a case in which snooping just a little bit paid off big time for a photograph. While he waited for his car to be fetched, redditor mcdngr took a peek at what the parking valet was reading. The exact page gave him some concern, but when the guy returned, it turns out he is taking a criminology course. They had a good laugh about it. After all, the valet had gone to the trouble of buying a textbook instead of just reading it on the internet, so you know he’s not a criminal mastermind.

History's Lesser Known U.S. Presidential Assassinations Were Utterly Gruesome

President James A. Garfield
While the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln have been well covered in media presentations, the deaths of James A. Garfield and William McKinley, the 20th and 25th presidents respectively, have not been as widely featured. Yet both stories are dramatic, and tragically the two died slow and agonizing deaths in those days devoid of the benefits of modern medicine.
An article at TrueCrime i09 quotes historic accounts of the events following the violence. While they are graphic, they are also fascinating, as well as an integral part of our national history. Read the article here, as well as the Smithsonian and History.com pieces on which it was based.

Network Rail suspends steam trains for being a 'threat to the safe operation of the railway'

Steam trains operating across picturesque routes in northern England have been suspended over fears they are a "threat to the safe operation of the railway". Network Rail has halted West Coast Railways (WCR) services after the "most serious" case of a train failing to stop at a signal so far this year. The suspension notice means it cannot run chartered services until 15 May. Network Rail said the decision had not been taken lightly. According to Rail magazine, it is an "unprecedented suspension" as, since privatization, operators have been barred from certain routes but never hit with a total network ban. A Network Rail spokesman said services were suspended from 00:00 on 3 April and would only resume if seven action points are addressed.
The spokesman said: "We have set out a number of actions to address the safety concerns raised and will continue to work with WCR to ensure their services can run safely in future." Network Rail is concerned over a recent Spad (signal passed at danger) incident and the company's response to the problem. Network Rail's suspension notice said it "ranked as the most serious Spad that has taken place this year when the industry risk ranking methodology was applied".
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is investigating. Network Rail said the response from West Coast Railways was "inadequate", in a meeting held on Tuesday. The Carnforth-based company operates charter trips on the picturesque Settle to Carlisle line, which runs through the Yorkshire Dales, as well as, among others, a route taking in Fort William in the Highlands. WCR also owns the Hogwarts Express engine featured in the Harry Potter films.

Woman admits illegal tooth whitening

A woman has admitted carrying out illegal tooth whitening. Faye Hill, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, ran a mobile tooth whitening business and used a self-administered system of whitening.
She pleaded guilty to unlawfully carrying out dentistry at Salisbury Magistrates' Court and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Ms Hill was prosecuted by the General Dental Council (GDC) for the offence which took place last month. She has never been registered with the GDC.
By law only dentists, dental hygienists, dental therapists and clinical dental technicians working to the prescription of a dentist can carry out tooth whitening procedures. Ms Hill was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge, and costs of £600.

Three-year-old boy died after being beaten by bakery owner for scratching his counter

A childish mischief of scratching the counter of a bakery in New Delhi, India, proved fatal for a little boy as the owner allegedly beat him up and, when the boy became unconscious, locked him inside the counter causing his death, police said. The owner of the bakery, identified as Md Iliyas, and his brother Md Iqrar, then packed the body in a plastic bag and dumped it at an isolated place, police said.
Both of them have now been arrested for the gruesome crime. “The incident came to light on Wednesday evening when Rahees Ahmed reported that his 3-year-old son has gone missing from Rani Garden in Geeta Colony. We registered a case and an investigation was started. The body of the child was recovered in a plastic bag from an isolated place the next day,” a senior police officer said.
According to police, at first glance, it looked to be a premeditated crime committed in a professional manner. Several raids were conducted at different places. “During the investigation, more than two hundred persons were examined. A tip-off was received that the boy was last seen at a bakery in Rani Garden. When a police team reached the spot, no counter was found there,” the officer added.
Md Ilyas was questioned and and soon revealed that he had slapped a child who was scratching the bakery counter with a stone. Police claimed Ilyas confessed that the boy suffered head injuries and became unconscious. “Ilyas then put him inside the counter and closed the door. The child succumbed to his injuries,” the police officer said. Police have recovered the bakery counter and the vehicle which was used to take the body to the dumping ground.

The Mental Disorders of Beloved Cartoon Characters

Poor, poor Eeyore. Fans may write off his sadness as slight and occasional melancholy or think that he has a flair for pessimism. It turns out there's a psychiatric diagnosis with his name on it. Same with Bugs and a number of other cool cartoon characters. Many speak of the stigma of mental illness; it may be that the popularity of these long suffering, brave souls will affect positive change in that regard. See more cartoon characters whose personailities line up with DSM-V entries here.

Prehistoric Cubans practiced agriculture much earlier than commonly assumed

The archaeological site of Canimar Abajo in Cuba. Image: UWinnipeg
The archaeological site of Canimar Abajo in Cuba.
Cuban and Canadian researchers have demonstrated the use of cultivated plants in the Caribbean well before the commonly accepted advancement of agricultural groups in the region at around AD 500.
The team, led by Dr. Mirjana Roksandic of the University of Winnipeg (anthropology) and Dr. Bill Buhay (geography), dated some of the remains to 1000 BC, indicating that the practice was much older than previously assumed.
Their findings were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
New method
Using an unprecedented method which combined inferred past diet information gleaned from dental calculus (teeth plaque) starch grains and bone collagen isotope data, the lead author Chinique de Armas, whose PhD was supervised by Roksandic and Buhay, demonstrated that the indigenous people of Canímar Abajo (Matanzas province, Cuba) consumed and processed common bean, sweet potato and a highly toxic plant zamia that needs special treatment prior to consumption.
The bone collagen isotope data was derived at Buhay’s Isotope Laboratory (UWIL) at UWinnipeg. Starch grains were extracted from dental calculus at the University of Toronto (Mississauga) in collaboration with Dr. Sheehan Bestel and independently verified by a leading specialist from Puerto Rico, Dr. Jaime Pagan Jimenez.
Site of Canímar Abajo. Image: Uwinnipeg
Canímar Abajo
Canimar Abajo
The site of Canimar Abajo has been excavated over the last 10 years by Professor Rodríguez Suarez of the University of Havana, who first started examining the possibility that the early indigenous Cubans used domesticated plants in their diet, and who is also a co-author on the paper.
This unequivocal evidence of domestic plant consumption will serve to dispel the notion that indigenous Cubans from that time period (2nd millennium BC) were fisher-gatherers with no knowledge of agriculture and cultivated plants” says Suarez.
According to the team linguist Dr. Ivan Roksandic, “these people have often been called Ciboney”, a name erroneously translated as “cave people.” The new inferred diet information revealed in this study “adds substantially to our understanding of their inherent environmental competence” adds Ivan Roksandic.
Canimar Abajo is just beginning to produce surprises that challenge the archaeological paradigm for the region” according to another team member, Professor David Smith of the University of Toronto (Mississauga).
Mirjana Roksandic adds that, “this is just the beginning of a very fruitful collaboration which is poised to extend this combined methodology of physical (dental calculus starch grains) and chemical (bone collagen isotopes) analysis to other sites in Cuba and the Caribbean.

A ‘publication pollution’ problem ...

Forest-Products-Journal-3-300x211Science and medicine have a ‘publication pollution’ problem

The scientific community is facing a ‘pollution problem’ in academic publishing, one that poses a serious threat to the “trustworthiness, utility, and value of science and medicine,” according to one […]

Light Therapy and the Brain

light therapyCan light therapy help the brain?

Following up on promising results from pilot work, researchers at the VA Boston Healthcare System are testing the effects of light therapy on brain function in veterans with Gulf War […]

Mysterious Black Ring Over Kazakh Village

A video of a mysterious dark ring in the sky over the village of Shortandy, Kazakhstan left people puzzled and prompted a wave of speculation. Some assumed that the smoky ring is the result of acetylene or a fireworks explosion. Others blamed the phenomenon on the work of a Vortex ring device.
In fact, this seems to be the result of an electrical transformer explosion. When electrical transformers explode, they produce some amazingly resilient smoke rings.

The Pale Blue Dot And Other 'Selfies' Of Earth

Twenty-five years ago a set of images were taken that provided a unique view of Earth. As the Voyager 1 spacecraft went beyond the orbit of Pluto on February 14, 1990, it took one last look at Earth. Three exposures, each one in a different filter, contained a very small and faint Earth.
Despite Voyager 1 being more than 3.7 billion miles from Earth, the three exposures ranged only between 0.48 and 0.72 seconds in duration. But the data took five and a half hours, traveling at the speed of light, to span the distance between the spacecraft and Earth.

The common lime butterfly

A beautiful creature, but this is one of the few butterflies whose larval form can be an agricultural pest.
Papilio demoleus is a common and widespread swallowtail butterfly. The butterfly is also known as the common lime butterfly, lemon butterfly, lime swallowtail, small citrus butterfly, chequered swallowtail, dingy swallowtail and citrus swallowtail. These common names refer to their host plants, which are usually citrus species such as the cultivated lime. Unlike most swallowtail butterflies, it does not have a prominent tail. The butterfly has also been referred to as the Butterfly of Death,[citation needed] a name it shares with a morphologically similar species, Papilio demodocus, which flies in Africa. The butterfly is a pest and invasive species from the Old World which has spread to the Caribbean and Central America.

Afraid of Spiders?

Blame Your Genes!
Here's John Goodman in the 1990 movie Arachnophobia. Because, you know, posting a picture of a spider in a post about people who are afraid of spiders is just cruel.If you're afraid of spiders, don't blame yourself or your upbringings. Blame evolution instead!
A new study by Joshua New of Barnard College, Columbia University and Tamsin German of University of California Santa Barbara suggests that "spiders have posed such specific and immediate threats" to our evolutionary ancestors that our visual system has developed a mechanism to rapidly identify images of spiders.
In the study, to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, New showed images of spiders and other modern threats like hypodermic needles, as well as other animals like houseflies to 252 people. Most spotted the spiders much more rapidly.
"This demonstrates that some evolutionary-relevant threats are highly-specified and can evoke what is perhaps best termed 'reflexibe awareness': an immediate and elaborated perception sufficient to guide an adaptive behavioral response," New added.
"Humans were at perennial, unpredictable and significant risk of encountering highly venomous spiders in their ancestral environments," New said to The Sunday Times, "“Even when not fatal, a black widow spider bite in the ancestral world could leave one incapacitated for days or even weeks, terribly exposed to dangers. Detection, therefore, is the critical arbiter of success in such encounters — any improvements to the sensitivity, vigilance, reliability and speed of faculties for their detection would have been of significant selective advantage."
So the next time a spider give you the ooies, you can blame your genes.

Mother used wooden bat to save daughter from crocodile attack

A woman displayed immense courage to rescue her 19-year-old daughter from the jaws of an adult crocodile in Thikariyamubarak village near Padra town in Gujarat, western India, on Friday.
At around 9.30am, Kanta Vankar was washing clothes on the banks of the Vishwamitri river when the crocodile grabbed her leg and started pulling her into water. Her mother, Divali, who was standing nearby, heard her shrieks.
Divali grabbed her daughter's hand, picked up a washing bat and started hitting the crocodile. After about 10 minutes, the crocodile gave up and let go of Kanta's leg, forest officials said. Kanta, who suffered injuries on her leg, was taken to hospital for treatment. She was said to be in a stable condition.
"The mother saved her daughter by attacking the crocodile," said range forest officer Ashok Pandya. "We've asked the locals to stay away from the river but many still wash clothes in the river water." A census done by the forest department in January had revealed that the Vishwamitri is home to 260 crocodiles.

‘Dwarf Dragon’

This Puppy Was Adopted After Five Years When His Picture Went Viral

No kill animal shelters are wonderful, but while it's better than being put to sleep, when animals are left up for adoption for years, it is still a big bummer to both the animals and the volunteers. That happened to little Chester. He was at the shelter for five years and volunteers were heartbroken to see the sweet pooch get overlooked time and time again. That's when they decided to post the picture above.
Within a matter of hours, the Facebook image was shared 6,000 times. Someone suggested they make a page just for Chester and the page now has over 6,000 views. While Chester, of course, was adopted almost immediately, the shelter plans to keep Chester's Facebook alive to help promote the adoption of other long-term residents.

Animal Pictures