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

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Daily Drift

A cottage in the woods ...!
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Today in History

1492 Christopher Columbus signs a contract with Spain to find a western route to the Indies.
1524 Present-day New York Harbor is discovered by Giovanni Verrazano.
1535 Antonio Mendoza is appointed first viceroy of New Spain.
1758 Frances Williams, the first African-American to graduate for a college in the western hemisphere, publishes a collection of Latin poems.
1808 Bayonne Decree by Napoleon I of France orders seizure of U.S. ships.
1824 Russia abandons all North American claims south of 54' 40'.
1861 Virginia become eighth state to secede from the Union.
1864 General Grant bans the trading of prisoners.
1865 Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination.
1875 The game "snooker" is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain.
1895 China and Japan sign peace treaty of Shimonoseki.
1929 Baseball player Babe Ruth and Claire Hodgeson, a former member of the Ziegfield Follies, get married.
1946 The last French troops leave Syria.
1947 Jackie Robinson bunts for his first major league hit.
1961 Some 1,400 Cuban exiles attack the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.
1964 Jerrie Mock becomes first woman to fly solo around the world.
1969 Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
1970 Apollo 13–originally scheduled to land on the moon–lands back safely on Earth after an accident.
1975 Khmer Rouge forces capture the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
1983 In Warsaw, police rout 1,000 Solidarity supporters.

Company Sets New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year

A study a few years back told us that money doesn’t buy happiness, except for people earning under $75,000 a year. The conclusion of the research was that money only contributes to emotional well-being up to the point of not having to stress about money. Above that point, more makes no difference. Dan Price is the owner of Gravity Payments, a credit-card processing firm. He took that study to heart in a concrete way. Yesterday, he announced to his staff of 120 people that he will be giving raises over the next three years to bring them all up to $70,000 a year.
If it’s a publicity stunt, it’s a costly one. Mr. Price, who started the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm in 2004 at the age of 19, said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year.

The paychecks of about 70 employees will grow, with 30 ultimately doubling their salaries, according to Ryan Pirkle, a company spokesman. The average salary at Gravity is $48,000 year.
Price hopes to raise his own salary again when the business becomes more profitable. But he still benefits from company profits, and presumably doesn’t have to make monthly car payments. And with employees who should be near the peak of emotional well-being, at least financially, Gravity Payments will most likely continue to do well. Read the entire story at the New York Times. 

The Story Behind a Hoard of Gold Double Eagle Coins a Man Found Buried in His Back Yard

A man named Terence Castle was digging a pond in his back yard in 2007 when he found the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow. A treasure of 80 gold U.S. Double Eagle coins with dates ranging from 1854 to 1913 were in the cache. The virtuous Castle, whose residence is in the Hackney borough of London, informed authorities of his find and eventually gave up the treasure to its rightful owners: the Sulzbacher family.
Martin Sulzbacher, a Jewish refugee from Germany, was a banker who placed the coins in a bank vault just prior to World War II. In 1940, Martin's wife and children were sent to an internment camp in the Isle of Man, and Martin, declared an "enemy alien," was sent first to Canada and then to Australia. Eventually he joined his family in the Isle of Man. In their absence, Marin's brother, a citizen of the UK, took the coins out of the bank and buried them in the back yard.When Martin and his family returned home after his period of internment, he found that his house had been demolished by a German bomb and his brother and extended family were killed. No one who knew of the location of the coins was still living. Yet when Castle's discovery hit the news, Max Sulzbacher, by that time aged 81, was able to make his rightful claim on the hoard.
Read about six other hoarded treasures found in the last seven years at Mental Floss.

Baggage Handler Wakes Up in Airplane Cargo Hold After Takeoff, Screams Until Plane Turns Around

A baggage handler for Alaska Airlines fell asleep in the cargo area of the plane Monday and began yelling and pounding on the walls when he awoke. Passengers and crew of Alaska Airlines Flight 448 bound for Los Angeles heard screams and banging noises coming from the cargo hold after takeoff. The passengers were told that the plane would return to the airport, and that they would be informed of the reason later. The employee spent 14 minutes in the pressurized, climate controlled cargo hold and was taken to a local hospital when the plane landed.
Read more on this story and see a video news report here.

Denver TSA Agents Fired Over Coordinated Groping Scheme

The lead of this story from Denver's CBS affiliate pretty much says it all:
    A CBS4 investigation has learned that two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers.
The details: TSA supervisors, acting on an anonymous tip, found that a female agent running a body scanner would intentionally misidentify attractive male passengers as females within the scanner's operating system. The scanner would then identify an "anomaly" in those passengers' genital areas-seemingly because they had, well, more bulk in the groin region than would be expected from a woman. The male agent would then have an excuse to pat down those male passengers' groins.
The male agent was said to "alert" the female agent when he wanted a specific man targeted, presumably by using whichever American Sign Language symbol means "let's both get fired for the stupidest possible reason."

'Drug Squad Stole Cash, Planted Drugs Too Many Times To Count'

US is ‘world leader’ in child poverty

Hungry child eating bread (Shutterstock)
The callousness of America's political and business leaders is shocking once you start looking at the numbers.

Michelle Obama Stands Up for Native Americans, Says Natives Were Stripped of Their Culture

Michelle Obama Vets
Though it hasn’t gotten much attention in the media, Michelle Obama made some truly groundbreaking remarks at the …

'I know what it feels like to be invisible'

A black woman using a laptop computer (Shutterstock)

The silence is deafening ...

Hands cling to jail bars (Shutterstock)

Atheist mom threatened over complaints about ‘bible man’ visits to Texas public school

Woman worried, depressed (Shutterstock)
The "bible man" super hero leads students in bible readings, sets up “baby jesus” displays at school, preaches in sermons that “jesus died on the cross for our sins,” and distributes religious propaganda.

Why Western Girls Move To Middle East To Marry ISIL Fighters - And What Life's Really Like For Them

Why Western Girls Move To Middle East To Marry ISIL Fighters - And What Life's Really Like For ThemWomen played roles in everything from the Red Brigades in Germany, to the KKK in the U.S., sometimes motivated by their partners to join, but also to engage in the "community."

Trouble Underfoot

Shoes and Schizophrenia
A closer look at a medical research report
by Bertha Vanatian
Do shoes cause schizophrenia? Jarl Flensmark of Malmo wants to know, and in a recent paper in the journal Medical Hypotheses, he explains why.
“Heeled footwear,” he writes,” began to be used more than a 1000 years ago, and led to the occurrence of the first cases of schizophrenia. ... Industrialization of shoe production increased schizophrenia prevalence. Mechanization of the production started in Massachusetts, spread from there to England and Germany, and then to the rest of Western Europe. A remarkable increase in schizophrenia prevalence followed the same pattern.”
The story, if accurate and true, is disturbing. Flensmark sketches the details:
“The oldest depiction of a heeled shoe comes from Mesopotamia, and in this part of the world we also find the first institutions making provisions for mental disorders. ... In the beginning schizophrenia appears to be more common in the upper classes. Possible early victims were King Richard II and Henry VI of England, his grandfather Charles VI of France, his mother Jeanne de Bourbon, and his uncle Louis II de Bourbon, Erik XIV of Sweden, Juana of Castile [and] her grandmother Isabella of Portugal.” All of these individuals are either known or suspected of wearing heeled shoes.
He cites evidence from other parts of the world, too -- Turkey, Taiwan, the Balkans, Ireland, Italy, Ghana, Greenland, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.
“Probably the upper classes began using heeled footwear earlier than the lower classes,” Flensmark points out. He then cites studies from India and elsewhere, which seem to confirm that “schizophrenia first affects the upper classes.”
From these two streams of evidence -- the rise of heels and the increase in documented cases of schizophrenia, Flensmark divines a strong connection. He modestly implies that he is not first to do so. In the year 1740, he writes, “the Danish-French anatomist Jakob Winslow warned against the wearing of heeled shoes, expecting it to be the cause of certain infirmities which appear not to have any relation to it.”
Flensmark boils the matter into a damning statement: “After heeled shoes is [sic] introduced into a population the first cases of schizophrenia appear and then the increase in prevalence of schizophrenia follows the increase in use of heeled shoes with some delay.”
“I have,” he writes, “not been able to find any contradictory data.”
Lest critics dismiss this as mere hand-waving or foot-tapping, Flensmark explains, biomedically, how the one probably causes the other:
“During walking synchronised stimuli from mechanoreceptors in the lower extremities increase activity in cerebellothalamo- cortico-cerebellar loops through their action on NMDA-receptors. Using heeled shoes leads to weaker stimulation of the loops. Reduced cortical activity changes dopaminergic function which involves the basal gangliathalamo- cortical-nigro-basal ganglia loops.”
Once could conclude that the medical establishment enjoys Flensmark’s discovery. Virtually no one has stepped up to dispute it.
These guys may look crazy, but they are U.S. soldiers, running a race in high heels for charity.

A Suspicious Neighborhood

No, you shouldn’t be suspicious of this neighborhood -it is suspicious of you! This is a picture of Liar's Bridge in Sibiu, Romania. The legend is that if you tell a lie while standing on it, the bridge will collapse. And with the houses watching you, I wouldn't chance it. The somewhat unsettling windows in the roofs are called eyebrow dormers. I don’t know who took this picture, but a search leads me to believe they may be Russian. 

Mini-Strokes and Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar may have suffered mini-strokes that changed his personality in later life: study

Comedian Ricky Gervais sets off shitstorm by tweeting photo of hunter and giraffe she killed

Hunter Rebecca Francis (Twitter.com)
A big game hunter from Utah is the focus of a wave of Internet outrage after comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted a photo of her lying next to a freshly-killed giraffe.

The Insect Ecology of an Abandoned Prison

It’s an art installation that is a science museum within a historical museum. Greg Cowper is a curatorial assistant in the department of entomology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. He also has a cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, which was abandoned for decades and then opened to the public as a historical site. The exhibited called Greg Cowper: Specimen is a showcase of insects caught on the prison grounds over the past few years, displayed in objects that real prisoners used, on furniture made from parts of the prison. The overall effect is that of a hundred-year-old display of an inmate’s hobby, and in fact was inspired by such a collection. At the same time, Cowper is learning about the types of insects that take over when an institution is left to nature.
“In my thinking about this penitentiary, it’s almost like an island,” he said, noting that it’s surrounded by a wall that stretches 30 feet up and 10 feet into the ground. “Here’s an island in urban Philadelphia that continually has new species in it, and I also find stuff that I know absolutely is new for that year.”
After Eastern State was abandoned in 1971, nature took over, the trees growing as high as the cell blocks. After reopening to the public in the 1990s, it was maintained in a deteriorated state, with Cowper describing it as a “disturbed environment.” Curiously, rather than Pennsylvanian fauna, most of the 600 specimens he’s trapped and caught in his butterfly net are invasive species that arrived in the United States in the past decades.
The reception for the new season of the exhibit is May first. Read about Cowper’s project and see more pictures at Hyperallergic. 

Cougar Wants to Stay Under House

Two workers went underneath a home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles yesterday. One fled as fast as he could after he came face-to-face with a mountain lion! He alerted Jason Archinaco, the homeowner, who called authorities.

Armando Navarrete, a team leader with Los Angeles Animal Services who was the first wildlife official on the scene in Los Feliz, said the mountain lion was about 25 feet behind a wall separating the crawl space from a balcony under the house.
The worker who discovered the animal looked as white as a ghost, Navarrete said, and had gotten out of there “like a bat out of hell.”
Navarrete said he at first figured the beast for a bobcat. But when he crawled in himself and got about 10 feet away, he knew he was staring at a top-of-the-food-chain animal.
The cougar was identified as the locally famous P-22, a tagged cat who makes his home in nearby Griffith Park. He became internet famous when his image was captured by National Geographic photographer Steve Winter in 2013 with the Hollywood sign in the background.
To get the cat out of the crawl space, authorities tried making noise and shooting bean bags at him, but the cat wouldn’t budge. He made no aggressive movements. With a crowd of people around and helicopters overhead, wildlife authorities blocked the entrance to the crawl space and decided to wait until the neighborhood was calm before trying again to get P-22 out. After all, he may have been underneath the house a long time before being spotted. As of this morning, he was still underneath the home.

Animal Pictures