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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.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

326 Emperor Constantine refuses to carry out traditional pagan sacrifices.
1394 Charles VI of France issues a decree for the general expulsion of Jews from France.
1564 Maximillian II becomes emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
1587 Hideyoshi bans Christianity in Japan and orders all Christians to leave.
1759 British forces defeat a French army at Fort Niagara in Canada.
1799 On his way back from Syria, Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Ottomans at Aboukir, Egypt.
1814 British and American forces fight each other to a standoff at Lundy’s Lane, Canada.
1845 China grants Belgium equal trading rights with Britain, France and the United States.
1867 President Andrew Johnson signs an act creating the territory of Wyoming.
1850 Gold is discovered in the Rogue River in Oregon, extending the quest for gold up the Pacific coast.
1861 The Crittenden Resolution, calling for the American Civil War to be fought to preserve the Union and not for slavery, is passed by Congress.
1894 Japanese forces sink the British steamer Kowshing which was bringing Chinese reinforcements to Korea.
1909 French aviator Louis Bleriot becomes the first man to fly across the English Channel in an airplane.
1914 Russia declares that it will act to protect Serbian sovereignty.
1924 Greece announces the deportation of 50,000 Armenians.
1934 Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss is shot and killed by Nazis.
1941 The U.S. government freezes Japanese and Chinese assets.
1943 Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is overthrown in a coup.
1944 Allied forces begin the breakthrough of German lines in Normandy.
1978 The first test-tube baby, Louis Brown, is born in Oldham, England.
1984 Svetlana Savitskaya becomes first woman to perform a space walk.

Diner Owner Has Had Enough

Tara Carson was traveling through Maine with her husband and daughter and ate at Marcy’s Diner in Portland. Carson’s daughter, who is not quite two years old, had a meltdown. Darla Neugebauer, the owner of the diner, reacted to the noise. It’s not really clear what was said and done before Neugebauer lost her temper and screamed at the child. Carson complained on Marcy’s Diner’s Facebook page. Carson’s original post was deleted, but since it went viral, you can see a screenshot of it and Neugebauer’s response (in colorful language) here. Neugebauer left another response the next day, which has also been deleted, but you can see it at Buzzfeed.
The response from the public was so fierce that the local news got involved. You can hear both sides in a WCSH news report that includes a response from the Carsons. 
Despite getting backlash on social media from people who claim they will never eat at the restaurant again, Neugebauer is standing by her actions. "Life's full of choices and you've got to live with all of them. I chose to yell at a kid, it made her shut-up, which made me happy, it made my staff happy, it made the 75 other people dining here happy, and they left, they may never come back, other people may not come in. Their loss really," she said.
The last few posts at the Marcy’s Diner’s Facebook page have thousands of comments and reviews, leaning heavily toward support of the diner owner’s actions. And no matter who is at fault for the brouhaha blowing up all out of proportion, commenters make it clear that they can’t stand misbehaving kids in restaurants. Neugebauer is not backing off, and has enjoyed a packed house since the Facebook posts went viral.

The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature's Most Epic Road Trips

Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez have created an interactive map of literary road trips, complete with quotes about specific places from the books. If you are so inclined, you could recreate those trips in your own car, making all the pertinent stops along the way. or you could sit at your computer and make it a virtual tour.
The above map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel, from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012), and maps the authors’ routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer’s descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times.
And if you haven’t read all twelve of the books, you might want to pick up a new one to enjoy the scenic route. The interactive (and bigger) version of the map is at Atlas Obscura.

This Armored Train Served 7 Armies in Battles from Ukraine to Manchuria

This is the Zaamurets, a land cruising battleship. It was one of many modified or purpose-built war trains that carried destruction on rails. James Simpson tells its story in a longform article at Medium. From 1916 to the 1920s, it served (by my count) at least seven different armies in battles across the breadth of Eurasia.
Tsarist Russia constructed this behemoth, which originally had 2 traversable turrets with 57 mm guns, 8 machine guns, and a top speed of 28 miles per hour. In the midst of the Russian Revolution, it fell into the hands of the Communists, then into the legendary Czechoslovak Legion in its Anabasis-like march across the whole of Russia, then the White Russians, then an assortment of Chinese warlords, and finally the Japanese before disappearing into history. It’s an amazing story that you can read in full here.

How your company’s HR department manipulates and spies on you — even when you’re not at work

Image of young businessman puppeteer (Shutterstock)
Forget the NSA: you should worry about the espionage unit at your job.

Chicago Investigator Fired For Finding Cops At Fault In Deadly Police Brutality Cases

Chicago Investigator Fired For Finding Cops At Fault In Deadly Police Brutality Cases
His last evaluation said he was not a “team player.”
Read more 

Burglar ransacked house and washed dishes

Haylie Anderson returned to her home, in Milton, South Otago, New Zealand, to find the property "ransacked", apart from several dishes that had been neatly washed and dried. In her bedroom, clothes had been pulled out of drawers, the bed slept in, possibly by two people, and a strong odor of cannabis remained in the air.
She was particularly scared that bolts had been removed from her six-month-old baby's cot, while baby towels had been stolen. A week's worth of food had also been taken , and "my pantry pretty much cleaned out, and my freezer as well". "It was probably someone hard up, but I'm a solo mother myself with two young kids so it is a bit shitty that someone has done that to me.
"This has left me stuffed for this week," Anderson, who is on a benefit, said. "I budget down to the last cent to make sure my kids have what they need." The stolen food included four cans of baby food and Anderson had a blunt message to the person who stole from baby Lexie and her two-year-old son Jaxon. "It is disgusting to steal from children and take food out of their mouths," she said.
Among the carnage, the burglar also washed and dried two cups and two plates, fueling speculation two people were involved. "I'm just trying to find some answers," she said. Police were investigating the break-in, with Senior Constable Jim Jordan, of Milton, saying it was probably the work of "some drunken idiot". The burglar gained access by forcing open a bathroom window of the rental property sometime between Wednesday and Saturday, he said.

‘Hulking’ South Carolina man slaps waitress, claims black family didn’t mind racial slurs

Dustin Lowery (Myrtle Beach Police Department)
The Smoking Gun described Lowery as a “hulking” 260-pound, 6’ 4” construction firm worker. He was said to be 120 pounds heavier and 13 inches taller than the victim.

Indian villagers behead woman over ‘witchcraft’

AFP/AFP - Belief in witchcraft and the occult remains widespread in some impoverished and tribal-dominated areas of India
A 63-year-old Indian woman has been dismembered and beheaded by machete-wielding villagers who accused her of practicing witchcraft, police said Tuesday.
Seven people have been arrested over the death of Moni Orang, a mother of five who was seized from her home in the northeastern state of Assam on Monday after local priests said she was casting spells.
“The attackers armed with machetes and other crude implements descended on the village and took away Moni Orang from her house and then brutally killed her,” senior police official Manabendra Dev Roy said.
“She was decapitated and her limbs were chopped off.”
On Tuesday villagers stormed the local police station to protest against the arrests.
“Moni was a witch and had cast evil spells on her enemies,” said villager Kiran Teronpi on local television.
“There is no place for such sorcerers and so her killing is justified.”
The victim’s husband R. Orang said his wife was “an innocent woman” and accused the priests of stoking “suspicion and provocation”.
Belief in witchcraft and the occult remains widespread in some impoverished and tribal-dominated areas of India.
In some cases women are stripped naked as punishment, burnt alive or driven from their homes and killed.
Some states including Jharkhand have introduced special laws to try to curb crimes against people accused of witchcraft.

Water's Expriation Date

How come that glass of water you left out overnight tasted terrible by the next day? It's just water, right? Does it go bad? 

30 Second Ice Cream

Smack in the middle of a sweltering summer, what better skill to have than to make ice cream lickety-split? With a little help from dry ice!

Hot Summer Nights

Global warming isn't just heating up the days, nighttime lows are also rising across the United States.

Heat Kills

A combination of hot temperatures, high humidity and preexisting health conditions can make heat dangerous.

Archaeology News

Weird, 'hybridized' animal skeletons litter the bottom of storage pits in an Iron Age site in England, archaeologists have found.

Gorgeous NASA Photo Captures Earth from 1 Million Miles Away

by Mike Wall
Gorgeous NASA Photo Captures Earth from 1 Million Miles Away
The DSCOVR satellite took this photo on July 6, 2015. 
It’s the first image of Earth’s entire sunlit side …
Humanity's home planet looks pretty amazing from nearly 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) away.
NASA released today (July 20) the first image of the sunlit side of Earth taken by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft from its final science orbit, and the beautiful photo has already made quite an impact.
"Just got this new blue marble photo from ?@NASA. A beautiful reminder that we need to protect the only planet we have," President Barack Obama said today via his official Twitter account, @POTUS. [Amazing Images of Earth from Space]
DSCOVR, a joint effort of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, launched in February. Last month, it reached its science orbit at Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable spot about 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth.
The spacecraft's primary task is monitoring the solar wind, which should help improve NOAA researchers' forecasts of geomagnetic storms that can disrupt power grids and other infrastructure here on Earth, mission officials have said.
But DSCOVR is also equipped with some Earth-observation gear, including NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, which took the new photo on July 6. EPIC captures a series of 10 different images in a variety of wavelengths, from near infrared to ultraviolet light, which can be analyzed in a number of different ways.
As the new photo suggests, the camera is performing well, team members said.
"The high quality of the EPIC images exceeded all of our expectations in resolution," DSCOVR project scientist Adam Szabo, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. "The images clearly show desert sand structures, river systems and complex cloud patterns. There will be a huge wealth of new data for scientists to explore."
NASA will use the camera's observations to measure ozone levels in Earth's atmosphere and plant growth on the ground, and to build maps showing the distrubution of dust and volcanic ash around the globe, among other things, space agency officials said.
"This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in the same statement.
"As a former astronaut who's been privileged to view the Earth from orbit, I want everyone to be able to see and appreciate our planet as an integrated, interacting system," Bolden added. "DSCOVR's observations of Earth, as well as its measurements and early warnings of space-weather events caused by the sun, will help every person to monitor the ever-changing Earth, and to understand how our planet fits into its neighborhood in the solar system."

Man guarding turtle's nest shot in buttocks with own gun by possibly intoxicated man

A Florida man believed to have been intoxicated was arrested on late Friday night after, authorities and witnesses said, he shot an elderly man with whom he was having an argument over a turtle's nest in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, sending the victim to the hospital. According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, 72-year-old Stan Pannaman went to the beach to watch over a turtle egg nest along with his friend Doug Young, President of South Florida's Audobon Society, at around 11pm. Young said he and Pannaman had volunteered to wait for baby sea turtles to hatch so they could help them into the ocean.

Animal News

The discovery of a genetically distinct group of kangaroos sheds light on how they survived aeons of climate-induced changes to their grassland home.
Officials hope the new system will put a serious dent in the number of killings of the endangered animals.
When dolphins dive deep below the water's surface, they avoid decompression sickness likely because the massive sea creatures have collapsible lungs.

Dogs Are Even More Like Us Than We Thought

For one, canines shun people who are mean to their owners, a new study says.
Picture of a man fishing with dog in foreground
A fly fisherman and his golden retriever enjoy the Provo River in Utah. 
Canines, emerging research suggests, are more like humans than we ever imagined.
It's likely no surprise to dog owners, but growing research suggests that man's best friend often acts more human than canine.   
Dogs can read facial expressions, communicate jealousy, display empathy, and even watch TV, studies have shown. They've picked up these people-like traits during their evolution from wolves to domesticated pets, which occurred between 11,000 and 16,000 years ago, experts say.
In particular, "paying attention to us, getting along with us, [and] tolerating us" has led to particular characteristics that often mirror ours, says Laurie Santos, director of the Yale Comparative Cognition Laboratory.
A pug watches humans in Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park in Alaska. 
are very observant of their owners' interactions with other people, new research suggests.
Eavesdropping Dogs

Social eavesdropping—or people-watching—is central to human social interactions, since it allows us to figure out who's nice and who's mean.
According to a study published in August in the journal Animal Behaviour, our dogs listen in too.
In a new study, scientists tested 54 dogs that each watched their owners struggle to retrieve a roll of tape from a container. The dogs were divided into three groups: Helper, non-helper, and control.
In the helper group, the owner requested help from another person who held the container. In the non-helper group, the owner asked for help from a person who turned their back on them. In the control group, the additional person turned his or her back without being asked for help. In all experiments, a third "neutral" person sat in the room.
After the first round of experiments, the neutral person and the helper or non-helper both offered treats to the dog.
In the non-helper group, canines most frequently favored the neutral person's treat, shunning the non-helper. However, in the helper group, the dogs did not favor either the neutral or helper's treat. Scientists have previously observed similar results in human infants and tufted capuchin monkeys.
So are dogs taking sides by ignoring the people who are mean to their owners? Only future research will tell.

Made You Look

Gaze following is instinctual for many animals—including humans, chimps, goats, dolphins, and even the red-footed tortoise—because it alerts animals to everything from immediate threats to "a particularly tasty berry bush," says Lisa Wallis, a doctoral student at the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna, Austria.

Dogs were previously thought to only follow human gazes when it involved food and toys. Now, a new study suggests dogs also follow human gazes into space—but only if they're untrained.

"We know they should be able to do it," says Wallis, leader of the research published in August in the journal Animal Behaviour, but training was the "missing piece of the puzzle."

In recent experiments, Wallis and her colleagues recruited 145 pet border collies with a range of training levels and ages. The researchers wanted to see if age, habituation, or training influenced the dog's tendency to follow a human's gaze.

Wallis then observed the dogs' reactions as she gazed toward a door. Surprisingly, only the untrained border collies followed her gaze—the trained animals ignored it. That may be because trained dogs learn to focus on a person's face, and not where the person is looking.  

When Wallis and colleagues spent just five minutes teaching the untrained dogs to look at her face, they began ignoring the instinct to follow her gaze.

Even more surprising is that the untrained dogs often glanced back and forth between her and the door, baffled at what she was looking at. The behavior, only seen before in humans and chimps, is called "check backs" or "double looking," she said.

"It's a lesson for us all that we should always examine whether training has an effect in these types of studies," says Wallis.

Next Steps in Dog Research

In humans, aging hastens declines in short-term memory and logical reasoning skills, making it more difficult to learn new tasks.

Previous research has found similar declines in dogs, but long-term memory is a little-known aspect of dog biology.

That's why Wallis and colleagues are studying how dogs both young and old memorize tasks, and whether the animals can remember them months later.

The results are still in the works, but Wallis expects to discover that it's tough—but not impossible—to teach old dogs new tricks.

Animal Pictures