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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

96 Vespasian, a Roman army leader, is hailed as a Roman emperor by the Egyptian legions.
1543 England and Scotland sign the Peace of Greenwich.
1596 An English fleet under the Earl of Essex, Lord Howard of Effingham and Francis Vere capture and sack Cadiz, Spain.
1690 Led by Marshall Luxembourg, the French defeat the forces of the Grand Alliance at Fleurus in the Netherlands.
1777 British troops depart from their base at the Bouquet river to head toward Ticonderoga, New York.
1798 Napoleon Bonaparte takes Alexandria, Egypt.
1838 Charles Darwin presents a paper on his theory of evolution to the Linnean Society in London.
1862 Union artillery stops a Confederate attack at Malvern Hill, Virginia.
1863 In the first day’s fighting at Gettysburg, Federal forces retreat through the town and dig in at Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill.
1867 Canada, by the terms of the British North America Act, becomes an independent dominion.
1876 Montenegro declares war on the Turks.
1898 American troops take San Juan Hill and El Caney, Cuba, from the Spaniards.
1916 The Battle of the Somme begins. Approximately 30,000 men are killed on the first day, two-thirds of them British.
1942 Axis troops capture Sevestapol, Crimea, in the Soviet Union.
1945 The New York State Commission Against Discrimination is established–the first such agency in the United States.
1950 American ground troops arrive in South Korea to halt the advancing North Korean army.
1961 British troops land in Kuwait to aid against Iraqi threats.
1963 The U.S. postmaster introduces the ZIP code.
1966 The U.S. Marines launch Operation Holt in an attempt to finish off a Vietcong battalion in Thua Thien Province in Vietnam.

The Science of Bacon

Science confirms it: we cannot resist bacon. There are volatile organic compounds and animo acids involved, so of course we love it.
AsapSCIENCE explains the many factors that make us love bacon, but whether we understand it or not, this video will make you crave a BLT. Especially if you have backyard tomatoes ripening already, as I have.

How to (Truly) Improve Your Luck

In 1938, a Detroit street sweeper named Joseph Figlock saved the life of a baby falling from an apartment building. A lucky moment, indeed. It was also an odd coincidence, because, according to Time magazine, the same man had performed the very same act just a year prior. Even more astounding? It was reported to be the same baby.
Astonishing tales like this make us laugh in disbelief. But behind the laughter lurks fear: Humans have a deep psychological need for the universe to feel controllable—or at least predictable. “People are much more relaxed if they feel in command, whether they really are or not,” says David Hand, a British statistician and author of The Improbability Principle. “The notion that events might happen just by chance can be terrifying.”
As a species, we persuade ourselves that we can influence random events, a fantasy psychologists call “the illusion of control.” Casino gamblers throw dice more gently when they want lower numbers, according to one study. In another, 40 percent of subjects believed they could get better outcomes from tossing a coin the more they practiced. It’s little wonder, then, that people sit up and listen when self-help gurus claim to offer techniques for learning to be luckier. The good news is that, in some sense, you really can “make your own luck.”
For starters, forget about influencing the outcome of truly chance-based events, like coin tosses or lottery draws. You should also avoid trying to make your own luck by focusing on the outcomes you desire, as advised in New Age bestsellers like The Secret. Research by the psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer indicates that the more people positively fantasize about, say, getting a great job, the less money they end up earning, perhaps because fantasy replaces effort that could get them ahead in the real world. Similarly, people who positively fantasize more about romance are less likely to ask out potential partners on actual dates.
Such findings draw attention to the fact that “luck” is an ambiguous term. We use it to describe life’s sheer randomness—but also to explain those opportunities we encounter because we’ve looked for them. Expose yourself to new people and events and you’re far more likely to meet your next employer—or the love of your life—than if you stay locked in your home. The best approach, research suggests, isn’t a laser-like focus on what you think you want. It’s to cultivate a radical openness to unplanned experiences, loosen your grip on your goals, and embrace uncertainty.
Several years ago, the psychologist Richard Wiseman recruited subjects who thought of themselves as either unusually lucky or unlucky. The self-described lucky ones, he discovered, shared a set of behavioral traits that maximized their good fortune. They were receptive to new experiences and invested time in expanding their social and professional networks; when things went wrong, they reminded themselves that things could have gone worse. By focusing less on their goals, they actually accomplished those goals more efficiently. In one experiment, Wiseman asked participants to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. The unlucky people diligently plodded through. The lucky ones were far more likely to spot one of two messages Wiseman had inserted on the page. The first read “Stop counting—there are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The other offered a $250 reward if the reader just asked the experimenter for the cash.
Wiseman concluded that being too goal-focused can actually interfere with achieving goals, something that bears out when you look at successful entrepreneurs. The popular stereotype of the innovator who envisions a miraculous new product or service and then stubbornly fights to make it real isn’t accurate, according to management scholar Saras Sarasvathy. Rather, the most successful innovators are the ones who are willing to use the people and resources at their disposal to take action—even if they can’t see the endpoint.
Uncertainty feels uncomfortable, so we’re tempted to do whatever we can to get rid of it. But learning to tolerate it instead will bring you better luck. Writer Karla Starr refers to this as “structured serendipity.” Don’t abandon your daily schedule, she advises, but make sure it includes chances for unexpected things to happen. Spend an hour wandering a bookstore; invite a random acquaintance for coffee. On social media, follow some people whose enthusiasms you don’t already share. Leave extra time for errands, to permit spontaneous detours en route.
And whether or not you improve your luck, you can take solace in the fact that you’re certainly luckier than Maureen Wilcox. In 1980, she bought tickets for the Massachusetts and Rhode Island lotteries and picked the winning numbers for both. Unfortunately, her Massachusetts numbers were the winning ones in Rhode Island and vice versa, so she won nothing.
And yet, Hand points out, statistically speaking, Wilcox was no less lucky than anyone else who didn’t win that week. The true lesson of her story isn’t that some people have terrible luck; it’s that almost everyone who plays the lottery loses. Spend those dollars on a cup of coffee with a stranger instead.

6 Insane Space Stories You Didn't Learn In History Class

Frankly, American history classes in public schools are lucky if they have time to touch on anything more recent than World War II. Even if they do, there probably wouldn’t be more than a day or two devoted to the entire space race. The story of space exploration is a long and rich one, with occasionally bizarre incidents that we can laugh about, now that we know no one died because of them. This tidbit is bizarre because of the difference in the American and Soviet space programs. Cosmonauts carried a weapon into space that was basically a sawed-off shotgun.
The TP-82 pistol was developed specifically for cosmonauts and packed enough punch to take out a half-ton grizzly bear. That specification is not an accident, either -- despite our sincerest hopes that the Ruskies had armed their cosmonauts with a hand cannon to fight off aliens or in the event they got into a space-train robbery gunfight with the Americans, the gun was actually intended as a survival measure once they were back on Earth. Why? Because unlike the stupid Americans, who directed their spacecraft into the Pacific Ocean, the Soviets cleverly pointed their returning capsules to the nice, soft rock of Siberia. And, as is wont to happen, capsules occasionally went off course, landing somewhere else in the vast, inhospitable wasteland.

In one such instance, two cosmonauts ended up stranded in the middle of the woods in the Urals, 600 miles from their intended landing site, with only a 9 mm pistol to deal with the bears and wolves that lurked in the woods around them. Despite the fact they never encountered either, they managed to convince their bosses that future crews should be packing more heat.
Other stories in a list from Cracked are about American astronauts, and some involve embarrassing bodily functions, told in the colorful language you expect from Cracked.

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1969 Article Shows What Gay Life Was Once Like
We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: 1969 Article Shows What Gay Life Was Once Like
Yes, we still have a long way to go, my LGBT brothers and sisters. But boy, this should remind you of how far we’ve come.

Landmarks Nationwide Lit Up The Night In Beautiful Support Of Marriage Equality

Landmarks Nationwide Lit Up The Night In Beautiful Support Of Marriage Equality (IMAGES)
Breathtaking images…

How One's Hometown May Affect Their Chances of Marriage

According to the New York Times, a "large new data set" exists that indicates how geography can indirectly affect one's odds of marrying. Due to the political leanings of geographic areas, the likelihood of marriage varies. For example,
"Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado."
Residents of the United States, see how your area fares in this context by viewing the charts and interactive maps here.

Woman faked death with ketchup to dodge lover

Police in Germany announced on Wednesday that bloody photographs sent by the ex-lover of a heartbroken man from Bonn were fake and that his old flame was still alive. Following a year long affair by two married people, the woman from Niedersachsen and the man from Bonn, the man received some graphic photos of the woman laying face-down and covered in what looked like blood. Unfortunately the husband of the wife had found out about her straying and the couple agreed to put their differences behind them and try to work things out. The extramarital romance was called off, but the woman's partner in the affair didn't take the break up too well and continued to send dirty photos and emails to the couple, especially to the woman's husband.
Together, the couple hatched a plan to fake the wife’s death using a series of 'bloody' photos featuring the woman's body liberally splattered with ketchup. But the ex-lover called the police as soon as he received the images of the mocked-up bloodbath. Police from Bückeburg were dispatched immediately, but soon realized the crime had been faked and the 'blood' was nothing more than the tomato-based condiment.
A police spokesman said in a statement that “many a police officer asks himself every now and then whether he's on a hidden-camera show or accidentally fell into the location of a third-rate detective film." Police have yet to decide whether to make the case a criminal investigation and whether the couple will need to cover the cost of the police operation.

Lovesick teenager killed mother's chickens for not mending his relationship with his girlfriend

Limestone County sheriff's deputies say a domestic incident in Elkmont, Alabama, ended with several dead chickens and a young man in jail. The charges are against 18-year-old Haden Smith.
Deputies say Smith's mother called them after he sent her threatening texts and killing her chickens. Deputies say Smith texted her on Thursday morning saying he would kill a chicken every fifteen minutes unless she contacted his girlfriend's parents and mended his relationship with his girlfriend.
He gave her a deadline of noon until the chicken massacre started, deputies say. He also threatened to burn her house down, kill any responding deputies and kill himself, according to the sheriff's office.
Smith killed six chickens before he was arrested. He texted his mother photos of the each dead chicken every fifteen minutes, deputies say. Smith was arrested and charged with third-degree domestic violence and third-degree criminal mischief.

Man exposed himself to store owner before stealing women's clothing

Police in western Pennsylvania are searching for the man they say flashed a store owner, then robbed her, taking money and women's clothing. Richland Township police, just east of Johnstown, Cambria County, are investigating the theft at the King and Queen Shoppe. It's a robbery unlike any other Richland Township Police Det. Kevin Guadlip said he's investigated.

Son claims mother stabbed his nipple with pencil for complaining she bought too much at Walmart

A 65-year-old Florida woman is accused of stabbing her son in the nipple with a pencil after he complained she bought too much stuff at Walmart.
Gale Higley’s son told Port St. Lucie police on June 11 that he came home from a bar and discovered Higley made a lot of unnecessary purchases at Walmart and spent a lot of money.
He said they argued over her “spending habits,” and that his mother stabbed his left nipple with a pencil and slapped his face. Police noticed a small mark on the nipple in question. Meanwhile, the accused nipple stabber said she argued with her son over how she prepared lasagna for dinner. She put the lasagna in the microwave, but he wanted it in the oven.
Higley said she slapped her son, but denied stabbing him with a pencil. Higley appeared intoxicated, as did her son. Investigators found a pencil with no tip. It’s unclear whether the pencil was among the alleged Walmart purchases. Police arrested Higley of Port St. Lucie, on a battery charge. She was taken to the St. Lucie County jail.

Fake dentist and his assistant pulled five teeth from woman’s mouth

Last month, Erika Martinez said a man posing as a dentist held her down and yanked five of her teeth out over about an hour or two. “The truth is, it felt like it lasted years,” Martinez said in Spanish while her lips concealed a checkerboard smile. “It was horrible pain. Very traumatic.” Police said Mario Alberto Sabillon-Mejia, 33, masqueraded as a dentist and denture-maker and offered discount oral care in Dallas and Houston. He and his alleged assistant, Tiffany Gonzalez, were arrested on Wednesday and charged with practicing medicine without a license. The pair face prison time, and Martinez “is going to require extensive medical and dental treatment to heal from her injuries,” Dallas police Lt. Tony Crawford said. Crawford said police obtained a ledger that suggests Sabillon-Mejia has at least 50 other patients in the area and operated in Dallas and Houston. He had claimed to be a dentist in Honduras, but is not, Crawford said.
Martinez turned to Sabillon-Mejia because she didn’t have dental insurance. A clinic told her she would have to pay $9,000 to fix her teeth. Instead, she went on a local Facebook group and asked if anyone knew about cheap dental services. A woman told Martinez that Sabillon-Mejia could help her. She called him and he met her at her home in West Oak Cliff. Martinez told police that Sabillon-Mejia and Gonzalez quoted her a price of $1,500. About a week later, the woman gave Gonzalez the first $500 to do the procedure at her house, police said. Crawford said he has never heard of a dentist that didn’t take X-rays. Nor does he know of any dentists who make home visits. “I’ve never heard of one that did,” Crawford said. “I wish mine did.” On May 25, Sabillon-Mejia gave Martinez an anesthetic and started pulling teeth. The pain was excruciating. She bled profusely. They held her down.
Martinez said that she asked the pair to stop the procedure, but they said they had to keep going. At one point, Martinez fainted. The two allegedly cleaned their dental tools in Martinez’s sink and carried them around in an unsanitary bag. Afterward, Martinez said, the pair gave her little advice: “Just not to eat pork, and that was it,” Martinez said. On June 3, Sabillon-Mejia gave the woman a tooth mold and demanded another $500 payment for it. Crawford said Sabillon-Mejia had tools for making dentures. “We think he was just getting his experience by practicing on people that were hiring him,” Crawford said. “He wanted to be a dentist, I’m assuming.” Martinez grew wary and decided to contact police for her own safety and the safety of others. She identified the two from a photo lineup. When she found out they didn’t have licenses, Martinez said she “felt very lucky to be alive.”

Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, who is a real dentist, said she has had many patients come to her after seeing unlicensed dentists. “Sadly, it’s always a bad result,” she said. Still, most of them don’t want to report it to police, Garcia said. “They feel ashamed that they’ve been taken advantage of and they feel bad for doing that,” Garcia said. “That doesn’t change the fact that you are risking your life.” Garcia said there is “no excuse” to go to an unlicensed dentist. Most dentists offer payment plans, she said. Crawford said the alleged dentist shouldn’t have been offering services, either. “Any time you practice medicine without a license not knowing what you’re doing, you’re going to cause people irreparable harm,” he said. Sabillon-Mejia is being held in Dallas County jail in lieu of $105,000 bail. He also has an open DWI charge in Dallas County and is living in the country illegally. Gonzalez, whose bail was $3,500, posted bond on Thursday morning. Both also face charges for possession of a dangerous drug. Crawford said he hopes other victims come forward.

2015 Weather in Focus Contest Winner

“Proton arc over Lake Superior” by Ken William, Clio, Michigan
Second Place, "Weather, Water and Climate Category"
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association announced the 2015 winners of its annual Weather in Focus Photo Contest, which recognizes photographers who have captured images of weather or the science used to forecast weather, water and climate. A panel of judges selected the winners from more than 2000 entries taken between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.
The contest is divided into four categories: Science in Action; Weather, Water & Climate; In the iMoment and Professional Submissions.
See the other spectacular photos from the winners here. 

 “Fire in the Sky over Glacier National Park” by Sashikanth Chintla, North Brunswick, New Jersey
Honorable Mention, "Weather, Water and Climate Category"

“Rolling clouds in Lake Tahoe” by Christopher LeBoa, San Leandro, Calfornia
Third place, "In the iMoment" Category

Giant Whirlpool on Lake Texoma Can Suck in a Full-Size Boat

When boating on Lake Texoma, which like its name suggests, is on the border of Texas and Oklahoma, you better heed the warning buoys and stay away from certain parts of the lake. Why, you ask? So you don't get sucked into this giant 8-foot wide whirpool that can swallow a full-size boat!
The whirlpool is an intake vortex that drains the lake, which is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States and formed by the buildup of water at Denison Dam on the Red River. When the water level on the lake rises to a certain level, the US Army Corps of Engineers open the floodgates that drain the lake, just like a big bathtub.

Five Famous Monsters That Are Far Scarier In Other Countries

Monsters are the driving force behind many of our favorite pop culture franchises, the stars of creature features we love or video games we love playing, but other people don’t see monsters as stars.
They see monsters as an inherent part of their cultural mythology, creatures that were created to give shape to the darkness and sometimes to scare superstitious people into doing the right thing.

For example, the dusty Draugar you face in the video game Skyrim are based on creatures from Norse mythology, undead monsters that symbolize jealousy and greed. A Draugr can expand to any size and shape change into a cat, plus they can raise their own army of the undead...
This classic Cracked article reveals the story behind 5 Famous Monsters That Are Way Scarier In Other Countries which, at very least, proves that Bethesda showed gamers some mercy in Skyrim.

Meet Quasi Modo, The New World's Ugliest Dog

After a ruff competition for the World's Ugliest Dog title, a 10-year-old so-strange-looking-he's-actually-cute mutt named Quasi Modo has won.
Quasi Modo has a spinal birth defect that made him hunchbacked (just like his namesake Quasimodo, the protagonist in Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). The dog's owners, veterinarian Virginia Sayre and her husband Mike Carroll in Loxahatchee, Florida, adopted him after he was abandoned at an animal shelter.
"My appearance can be a little unsettling to some (I have had grown men jump on top of their cars to get away from me because they thought I was a hyena or Tasmanian devil) but once they get to know me I win them over with my bubbly personality," Quasi Modo's biography stated.
According to Chief Judge Brian Sobel, Quasi Modo was selected because he "epitomized excellence in ugliness."
Last year, Quasi Modo came in second place in the same competition, which is held annually at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. Here's a video clip showing Quasi Modo at his home at the G & M Ranch in Loxahatchee Groves, Florida:

Mama Raccoon Teaches Baby How to Climb a Tree

Baby raccoon needs to climb, but he isn't born knowing how. Mama raccoon will teach him, though. She lifts him up by her forepaws, encouraging him to grasp the bark of the tree. It's working!

Few Things Say "Pure Joy" Like this Bear in a Swimming Pool

This adorable brown bear named Bruiser jumps into a swimming pool with gusto in this footage. His delight in the cool dip is wholly evident in both his expression and body language. Bruiser enjoys daily swims where he resides at Single Vision Sanctuary in Melrose, Florida.

Animal Pictures