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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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Daily Drift

So true, so very true ...!
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Today in History

217 BC Carthaginian forces led by Hannibal destroy a Roman army under consul Gaius Flaminicy in a battle at Lake Trasimenus in central Italy.
1314 The Scots, under Robert the Bruce, defeat Edward II’s army at Bannockburn.
1377 Richard II, who is still a child, succeeds his grandfather, Edward III.
1667 The Peace of Breda ends the Second Anglo-Dutch War as the Dutch cede New Amsterdam to the English.
1675 Christopher Wren begins work on rebuilding St. Paul’s Cathedral in London after the Great Fire.
1791 The French royal family is arrested in Varennes.
1834 C. H. McCormick patents the first practical reaper.
1862 Union and Confederate forces skirmish at the Chickahominy Creek.
1863 In the second day of fighting, Confederate troops fails to dislodge a Union force at the Battle of LaFourche Crossing.
1887 Britain celebrates the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.
1900 General Arthur MacArthur offers amnesty to Filipinos rebelling against American rule.
1908 Mulai Hafid again proclaims himself the true sultan of Morocco.
1911 Porforio Diaz, the ex-president of Mexico, exiles himself to Paris.
1915 Germany uses poison gas for the first time in warfare in the Argonne Forest.
1919 Germans scuttle their own fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland.
1939 Baseball legend Lou Gehrig is forced to quit baseball because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–a disease which wastes muscles.
1942 German General Erwin Rommel captures the port city of Tobruk in North Africa.
1945 Japanese forces on Okinawa surrender to American troops.
1948 Dr. Peter Goldmark demonstrates his "long-playing" record.
1958 A federal judge allows Little Rock, Arkansas to delay school integration.
1963 France announces it will withdraw from the NATO fleet in the North Atlantic.
1964 Three civil rights workers disappear in Meridian, Mississippi.
1982 John Hinkley Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.
1995 The U.S. Senate votes against the nomination of Dr. Henry W. Foster for Surgeon General.

Did colonial Americans burn down old buildings to retrieve the nails?

On a recent podcast of No Such Thing As A Fish, one of the elves asserted that nails were so valuable in colonial America that when a house was abandoned or otherwise unusable, it was burned down so that the nails used to build it could be harvested.  I found some details about this practice at Colonial Williamsburg, offered by the master blacksmith there:
By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, nail-making had become a specialized industry in advanced economies...

Throughout the colonial period, reasonably priced English nails were readily available in coastal cities, limiting the need to develop a substantial nail-making industry in the colonies.  That is not to say that nails were not made in the colonies, but rather that nails were readily available and reasonably priced as imports... William Allason, merchant of Falmouth, Virginia recorded in one inventory that he had about 750,000 nails on hand.  These were the product of workers back in England...

I often hear the statement that “Nails were so expensive that when moving, people would burn their houses down to save the nails.”  This is partially based in fact. In the 1640’s, here in Virginia, the legislature passed an act that “…forbade the burning of buildings for the nails…”. Some historians jumped to the conclusion that buildings were burned to save nails, because nails were horribly expensive. This seems like a logical explanation for such a drastic act, until you consider the circumstances in which an entire building would be worth less than the nails used to build it...

The act went on to specify that if you had a building that you intended to burn for the nails, you could have two honest men estimate the number of nails in the structure, and petition the legislature. The legislature would give you the estimated number of nails in exchange for NOT burning the building. I suspect that this law may have been aimed at controlling wildfires more than at the cost of nails.

"Relentlessly Gay" Yard Caused A Neighborhood Battle

Baltimore-resident Julie Baker, a widow and mother of four, created a set of rainbow-colored mason jars with the words "Love" and "Ohana" and hung them outside her frontyard. (Ohana, for those of you who haven't seen Disney's Lilo & Stitch cartoon, is the Hawaiian word that means "family.")
Baker didn't think too much of her handicraft until one day, she opened her door to find a note from her neighbor. The note said:
Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay! Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down. This is a 'christian' area and there are Children.
Keep it up and I will be Forced to call the Police on You! Your kind need to have Respect for dog.
A Concerned Home Owner.
But Baker didn't "tone it down." Instead, she planned to turn it up even higher. After she shared the story with a friend who posted it on Facebook, the story went viral, and Baker has started a Go Fund Me campaign.
"I am starting this fundraiser so I can work to make my Home even More 'relentlessly gay.' If we go high enough, I will see if I can get a Rainbow Roof! Because my invisible relentlessly gay rainbow dragon should live up there in style!" Baker added, "Put simply, I am a widow and the mother of four children, my youngest in high school and I WILL NOT Relent to Hatred. Instead I will battle it with whimsy and beauty and laughter and love, wrapped around my home, yard and family!!!"

9 Totally Awesome Man Caves

Men and women both need a sanctuary to call their own where they can get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and read a book or ang out with friends. Many dudes dream of having their own space in the form of a sweet man cave, but not all man caves are created equal.
Over at Homes and Hues, we've rounded up some of the best man caves ever created -from game rooms to garages. If you're looking for a sweet space to hang with your bros, you won't want to miss this one.
Check out the full list at Homes and Hues: 9 Epic Man Caves

Flower Girl Stole the Kiss ... and the Photo!

No wedding photo is complete without "The Kiss," but when photographer Leah Bullard snapped a photograph of the bride and groom kissing, she got a bit more than she expected: the flower girl wanted in on the action, too!
When Anthony Palmer and Michelle Hall of Knoxville, Tennessee, got married last weekend, Michelle's four-year-old daughter Anderson was the flower girl. When Bullard said that she needed the bride and groom to kiss, the little girl "thought I was referring to her, because she thought she was the bride and so naturally she just leaned in for a kiss and kissed that ring bearer!" said Bullard to KFOR.
"Guess what! When momma kissed, Ikey and I kissed!," said Anderson about Ike the ringbearer, "He was the best ring bearer ever! And he thought I was the best flower girl ever! We're best friends"

Motorist fined for biting fingernails at the wheel

A motorist in Spain has been fined for biting his fingernails while driving.
The driver was stopped by traffic police in the central Spanish city of Salamanca.
The man, who was stopped on June 7th at 10.37am was fined €80 (£60, $90).
The police report cites the reason for the fine as being that the driver "was not maintaining the required freedom of movement" and for "driving while biting fingernails".

Police say man who set fire to former home also intended to blow up it with bowling ball bomb

Inside a burning Florida home on Sunday, investigators found a bowling ball filled with gunpowder connected to long rope used as a wick, like something straight out of a cartoon ready to explode.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the 21-year-old man who put it together before he could light it like he set his former home on fire, according to an arrest report. Tyler Butler faces charges of first-degree arson and attempting to use a destructive device.
He remains in the Palm Beach County jail without bail. On Sunday evening deputies and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue were called to a fire at a foreclosed house in Loxahatchee. Witnesses told deputies they overheard Butler saying he was going to set the home on fire.
Once in custody, Butler admitted to setting the house on fire and creating the device. Bomb technicians went into the home and dismantled the explosive. Butler does not appear to have any other arrests in Palm Beach County. 

Man accused of shooting at brother in dispute over maple tree

A dispute over a maple tree between two brothers in Minnesota culminated in gunfire and criminal charges.
A Dakota County man has now been charged after police say he shot at his brother’s truck following the dispute. Deputies were called to a home in Douglas Township on a report of shots fired. They arrived and arrested 54-year-old Wayne Harris Dierke.
According to deputies, Dierke’s brother said they had an argument and that Dierke was angry about a small maple tree in their yard that had been cut with a knife. His brother said Dierke had a revolver in his hand and threatened to kill him, pointing the gun in his direction.
Dierke’s brother was in his truck at the time and said he heard shots fired and believed Dierke was shooting at his truck tires or the ground. Dierke has been charged with second-degree assault. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison and up to $14,000 in fines.

Bottling the Scent of the Recently Deceased

After her husband passed away, Katia Apalategui's mother held on to her late husband's pillowcase to keep his unique scent.
"This gave me the idea of bottling a dead person's unique scent so that grieving relatives can keep their loved one's memory alive," said Apalategui to The Telegraph. "We take the person's clothing and extract about 100 molecules [sic] of their unique bodily odor. Then in a distillation process that takes four days we reconstruct it in the form of perfume."
Apalategui worked with scientists at Le Havre University to develop the technique to reproduce a person's distinct odor. That odor, she added, could provide "olfactory comfort" that Apalategui claimed is more effective than photos of the deceased.

Ten Haunting Details About The Donner Party’s Deadly Journey

James F. and Margaret Reed, members of the Donner Party 
The horrific experiences of 87 American pioneers known as the Donner Party, who became trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in winter near the end of their 1846 journey to California, serve as a testament to human endurance. After being snowbound during what later was determined as the worst winter in the history of the Sierra Nevadas, only 45 members of the group survived to see sunny California.
Before winter hit, there was a murderous incident that set the tone for the death and destruction that was to come. Two Donner Party covered wagons got tangled together, infuriating their already exhausted owners James Reed and John Snyder. The men began cursing each other, which led to a fight between them. Several witnesses said that John Snyder beat James Reed over the head with his ox whip. In defense of his life, Reed stabbed Snyder in the chest with a knife, killing him almost instantly.
Initially, most of the Donner Party wanted Reed hanged for murder, yet his wife pled for mercy. Eventually, Reed was merely exiled from the group. He was forced to leave his wife and children and give up his wagon. In their absence, Reed went on ahead of the crowd, hoping to pave his family's way and secure them provisions. Ultimately his actions would help save them in the end.
Read more accounts from the Donner Party expedition here. 

The White Whale: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Herman Melville's epic novel was supposed to secure his fame. Instead, it sank his career.
Herman Melville had everything a young author could dream of. By the age of 30, he’d traveled the world and written five books, including two bestsellers. He’d married the daughter of a prominent judge, and he owned a beautiful farmhouse. He hobnobbed with the literati. Strangers asked for autographs.
Then he wrote Moby-Dick and ruined everything.
Today, the book is often hailed as the Great American Novel, an epic D. H. Lawrence called “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world.” But in Melville’s time, it was a total flop. Readers couldn’t comprehend the difficult narrative. Critics dismissed it as the ravings of a madman. When Melville tried to mend his image with a follow-up, titled Pierre, the reviews were equally brutal, and the work cemented his reputation as a lunatic. At just 33, Melville was finished. When he died in 1891, at the age of 72, people were shocked—not because he’d passed away, but because they thought he’d been dead for decades. It would take half a century—and a bored academic—to resurrect the author’s legacy.
In 1839, a 20-year-old Melville boarded a merchant ship docked in New York City and voyaged to Liverpool as a cabin boy. The trip kindled his spirit for adventure. Two years later, he joined a whaler named Acushnet and set off for the Pacific. That’s when he learned how terrifying a 70-foot sperm whale could be.
A full-grown whale can weigh as much as eight elephants. Fifty-two teeth—each nearly the length of a bowie knife—ring its lower jaw. The fluke dwarfs the size of most minivans and can smash a small whaleboat into splinters. And while the behemoths are generally timid, over the years, they’ve given whalers plenty of horror stories to tell. Two in particular stuck with Melville.
The first concerned a seaman named George Pollard Jr., captain of the whaleship Essex. In November 1820, a sperm whale attacked Pollard’s ship in the Pacific, about 2,000 miles from shore. The 85-foot-long leviathan barreled into the boat headfirst and rocked the crew to their knees. When the men heard wood crack below, they rushed into the ship’s hold: The Essex was leaking, but the damage looked repairable.
Then the whale returned.
This time, the animal tore through the waves twice as fast, snapping its jaws as it thundered back into the bow. Seawater gushed in, and the ship tilted on its side. The Essex slowly slipped beneath the waves, leaving Pollard and his men lost at sea.
Melville also learned about Mocha Dick, a vicious whale that had attacked at least 100 vessels and sent 20 boats to the ocean bottom. Lore of the whale fueled nightmares: Rusting harpoons protruded from its back, a ghastly reminder of how many men had failed to kill him—and died trying.
In 1838, Mocha Dick attacked an American ship after its sailors killed a calf and its mother. Enraged, Mocha smashed apart one of the whaleboats, but not before a sailor managed to plant a harpoon in his back.
Neatorama has more.

'Lost World'

The premise behind 'Jurassic World' dates back nearly a century -- to the creator of Sherlock Holmes.



All Kangaroos Are Left-Handed

President Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and kangaroos have at least one thing in common: they’re all left-handed.

This is Why You Shouldn't Have a Raptor for a Pet

If you think cats don't listen, try having a raptor as a pet. We really don't know how the Flintstones did it, because dinos are big jerks!

Don't pick up a desert tortoise

"Because desert tortoise live in an arid climate where most of the rainfall occurs during the monsoons, it is able to store water in its bladder for use during drought. It can go over a year without drinking. One of its defense mechanisms when handled or disturbed is to release the contents of its bladder, which can deplete its water supply and can cause harm or death during a drought. For this reason, if you find a desert tortoise, do not pick it up."
Interesting that it can harvest water from the bladder.  Mammalian bladders have a transitional epithelium that is virtually impermeable to water.  But I found an NCBI article that documents reabsorption of water from Gila monster bladders, so presumably the same adaptation has evolved in tortoises.

Man amused to find cow in his hot tub

A man in Iceland was surprised to find a cow in his hot tub earlier this week.
"It was amazing, I've never seen anything like it, it was a great splash," says Guðjón Birgisson, from Melar.
"We thought we were hallucinating, but on closer inspection we saw that this was a real cow. This was a terribly funny and amusing spectacle," said Guðjón.
"It all went well and was very enjoyable, there was no damage to us and the cow was not hurt. I thought it fun," added Guðjón laughing.

Amazing images show what looks like monkeys domesticating wild wolves

by Cody Sullivan
Ethiopian wolf and geladas
An Ethiopian wolf mingling with gelada monkeys in Guassa Plateau.
Peaceful interactions rarely occur between a predator and prey. But researchers in Ethiopia caught wild wolves and monkeys called geladas intermixing without agression. The seemingly tamed wild wolves just up and walk through the monkey herd, while the monkeys act like the wolves don't exist.
Other carnivores on Ethiopia's Guassa Plateau, feral dogs and servals mostly, hunt the gelada monkeys — it would seem that the wolves would be a natural predator as well. But instead researchers observed the two species happily intermixing for years.
This peaceful interaction could be similar to how dogs were first domesticated by humans. "The gelada case is comparable to what early domestication of dogs might have been like," study researcher Claudio Sillero, of the University of Oxford, told New Scientist's Bob Holmes.
From their observations, they think the mutual friendship helps the wolves hunt, by making rodents easier to spot and catch.
They reported the incident in the Journal of Mammalogy
An uncommon friendship
1024px Gelada_group
High up on the grassy Guassa Plateau 12,000 feet above sea level, gelada monkeys travel in herds up to 700 members strong. With long fangs, and wild manes of hair the gelada monkeys appear pretty vicious for an herbivore that likes to eat flowers and seeds. They share these grasslands with their main predators, servals and feral dogs, as well as wolves.
According to New Scientist: "You can have a wolf and a gelada within a metre or two of each other and virtually ignoring each other for up to 2 hours at a time," says [study researche Vivek] Venkataraman. In contrast, the geladas flee immediately to cliffs for safety when they spot feral dogs, which approach aggressively and often prey on them.
When the wolves enter the gelada monkey herd, they alter their behavior to show the monkeys they aren't aggressive. Normally wolves run in a zig zag pattern or make rapid movements when searching for rodents. But when around monkeys they slow down to a more sedate stalk even when hunting.
And even more surprisingly, the wolves in the study don't try to eat the baby geladas — an easy-to-get meal. 
There's always exceptions to the rule, of course, and during their observation period the researchers did observe one altercation: One of the wolves attacked a baby monkey. The adult geladas quickly mobbed the wolf, which dropped the baby monkey unharmed and ran off.
Primates have been observed to form associations with other animals, but, the authors write, these relationships are rare and often fleeting. In contrast, the gelada's relationship with the wolves is pretty stable — the researchers observed it over the course of years — and it doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.
Monkeys and wolves 2

Why work together?
Other than engaging in fewer fights, were there other benefits to these co-habitating creatures? The researchers found that when these two species intermingle, the wolves can snatch up rodents about 40% more often than when hunting away from the monkeys.
Why? The researchers have two theories: Either the geladas flush rodents out of their homes, making them easy targets, or the rodents have trouble distinguishing between the two similarly sized and colored animals, and don't run away from the wolves.
While the wolves earn easier meals, the monkeys don't seem to benefit from having the wolves around. They don't scare away other predators that prey on geladas — the researchers saw feral dogs kill numerous monkeys during the study.
Historically wolves also tagged along behind another species: humans. Thousands of years ago researchers believe that wolves scavenged along the outskirts of human settlements or groups. While the humans probably killed aggressive wolves, the non-aggressive wolves were tolerated and eventually domesticated after people found value in them as hunters and possible companions.

Animal Pictures