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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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1798 British seamen board the U.S. frigate Baltimore and impress a number of crewmen as alleged deserters, a practice that contributed to the War of 1812.
1813 The British announce a blockade of Long Island Sound, leaving only the New England coast open to shipping.
1821 Trader William Becknell reaches Santa Fe, N.M., on the route that will become known as the Santa Fe Trail.
1846 General Zachary Taylor takes Saltillo, Mexico.
1864 Union General William T. Sherman departs Atlanta and begins his "March to the Sea."
1892 King Behanzin of Dahomey (now Benin), leads soldiers against the French.
1902 A cartoon appears in the Washington Star, prompting the Teddy Bear Craze, after President Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a captive bear tied up for him to shoot during a hunting trip to Mississippi.
1907 The Indian and Oklahoma territories are unified to make Oklahoma, which becomes the 46th state.
1913 Swann’s Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust’s 7-part novel Remembrance of Things Past, is published.
1920 Metered mail is born in Stamford, Connecticut with the first Pitney Bowes postage meter.
1945 Eighty-eight German scientists, holding Nazi secrets, arrive in the United States.
1948 President Harry S Truman rejects four-power talks on Berlin until the blockade is removed.
1953 The United States joins in the condemnation of Israel for its raid on Jordan.
1955 The Big Four talks, taking place in Geneva on German reunification, end in failure.
1960 After the integration of two all-white schools, 2,000 whites riot in the streets of New Orleans.
1965 In the last day of the fighting at Landing Zone X-Ray, regiments of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division repulse NVA forces in the Ia Drang Valley.
1967 U.S. planes hit Haiphong shipyard in North Vietnam for the first time.
1979 American Airlines is fined $500,000 for improper DC-10 maintenance.
1982 The space shuttle Columbia completes its first operational flight.
1989 Salvadoran Army death squad kills six Jesuit priests and two others at Jose Simeon Canas University.
1992 Eric Lawes, while using a metal detector to search for a friend’s lost hammer near Hoxne, Suffolk, England, discovers the Hoxne Hoard, the largest hoard of Roman silver and gold ever found in Britain, and the largest collection of 4th and 5th century coins found anywhere within the bounds of the former Roman Empire
1997 Pro-democracy Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng released from prison after 18 years, for health reasons.

Millennials should stick to renting and ignore advice to buy a home

Major online realtor Trulia says it’s high time to take a risk but drinking the real estate Kool-Aid will only lead to financial heartache.

Copyfraud: Anne Frank Foundation claims father was "co-author," extends copyright by decades

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x853 The Anne Frank Foundation -- a Swiss nonprofit that supports children's charities and provides a stipend to gentiles who hid Jews during WWII -- has claimed that Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father, is the legal co-author of her diaries, a move that will have the effect of extending copyright on the diaries to at least 2030.
Another editor of a different edition of Frank's diaries, Mirjam Pressler, claims that she is also a co-author. Ms Pressler is still alive, meaning that if she died today, the copyright on the diary would end in 2065.
The Anne Frank Foundation unquestionably conducts good works, but their arguments are spurious ones. First, they argue that they and they alone are qualified to serve as stewards of Anne Frank's memories. This is manifestly untrue. The Dutch charity that runs Anne Frank House have done a pretty good job, and the two foundations have been locked in eternal struggle. If two organizations can represent Frank to the world, why assume that no more exist? The 20th century vogue for extending eternal exclusive rights to descendants or foundations is an aberration in history: virtually every historical person, from St Francis to Shakespeare, is in the public domain. The martyrs of every purge and pogrom, the heroes of every war -- all in the public domain. Some people have made tatty or tasteless things with their legacy, but the titanic outpourings of art, remembrance, scholarship, philosophy and adaptation that have flowed from the freedom of all to share in our common heritage are the foundation of culture, of shared human experience, of heritage itself. Heritage isn't owned -- once it is, it's not heritage anymore. To treat the words of Anne Frank, who inspired so many millions around the world, as an eternal money-spinner for one organization's purposes is to cheapen them. They're not an annuity: they're an inspiration. They can't be both.
The question of whether we should create perpetual ownership of ideas in order to accomplish good works only makes sense if you presume that the ownership costs nothing -- or costs less than the benefit from the good works. There is an undeniable cost to affording ownership to ideas. Every franc made by the Foundation from exclusive commercial rights to Frank's Diaries comes at the expense of the ability of people who labor under privation, slaughter, and exile to read, interpret, adapt and reproduce Anne Frank's words.
The question of giving copyright protection to editors undermines the rights of authors. If my editors are co-proprietors of all my works, then they get the right to trump how I may use those words. My ability to resell my books after they go out of print would be contingent upon approval of my editor, who works for a competing house. No creator should support this view -- it represents eternal corporate bondage for all authors.
Finally, there's the implication of the claimed co-authorship of Otto Frank: by claiming that Otto Frank is co-author (rather than "compiler" or "editor") of his daughter's diaries, the Foundation is arguing that the diaries don't represent Anne's views and thoughts, but rather, that they have been intentionally distorted by her father to the point where they can no longer be said to be a faithful rendition of her diaries.
The decision has also set the foundation on a possible collision course with the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, a separate entity that for years has sparred with the Anne Frank foundation over legal questions, such as ownership of archives and trademark issues.
The museum has been working for five years with historians and researchers on an elaborate web version of the diary intended for publication once the copyright expires. The research is still progressing with a historical and textual analysis of her writing, including deletions, corrections and stains.
“We haven’t decided yet when or how the results will be published,” said Maatje Mostart, a spokeswoman for the Anne Frank House. “Any publishing will always be done within the legal frameworks.” She added pointedly that neither “Otto Frank nor any other person is co-author.”
One of Anne’s own astute diary entries seemed to anticipate the disputes: “Why do grown-ups quarrel so easily?”

How Japan Remembers the Alamo

Onderdonk's The Fall of the Alamo
Have you visited the Alamo? You won't be able to access the basement, but you can explore the beautifully preserved remains of the battle site, explained in rich detail by tour guides and signs.
Among the many memorials there is this unusual monument inscribed with classical Chinese script. It was placed there in 1914 by Shiga Shigetaka, a visiting Japanese scholar who wanted to express the admiration of the Japanese people for the gallant defenders of Texas liberty who fell there in 1836.
Now how did that happen? How did people in Japan learn about the Alamo? Franz-Stefan Gady explains at The Diplomat.
In the 1870s, American Civil War veteran William S. Clarke, formerly the colonel of a Massachusetts regiment of volunteers, taught at an agricultural college in Japan. Among other courses, he taught on military history. In it, he told the story of the Alamo to young student Shiga Shigeta.
Oda Nobunaga as he was depicted in the anime series Battle Girls - Time Paradox)
Shigetaka felt moved by that story, especially its resemblance to a similar incident in Japanese history. In 1575, at the Battle of Nagashino, a small garrison withstood a siege by a massive enemy force until relief came from the famed general Oda Nobunaga. So Shigetaka began his poem with these words:
One hundred fifty are besieged by five thousand;
Not only the provisions but the ammunition is all gone.
Thirty-two men hear the news and hurry to the scene.
The heavy strokes of their sabers lead them into the fortress, through the ranks of the enemy to see
The commander of the fortress wet with blood,
And his men reeling against the walls with exhaustion but with swords in hand.
The determination of these brave foreigners so far away from Japan was familiar to Shigetaka and other people in Meiji Japan. Franz-Stefan Cady writes at The Diplomat:
Shigetaka grew up during the Meiji Restauration in Japan, a time of sweeping social upheaval when many Japanese felt that Western influences would supplant their country’s traditional culture. Perhaps then, he saw the battle as an opportunity to dispel some of the fears held by the Japanese about the West by illustrating that traditional (i.e. heroic or warrior) culture was comparable in both the United States and Japan.
The Japanese scholar’s effort to mythologize the Battle of the Alamo was thus on the one hand to emphasize a commonality of culture, and on the other hand a response to the dawn of Japanese Modernity. […]
Emphasizing the heroism of white Anglo-Texans and their dedication to ideals of freedom (and disregarding the contribution of Mexicans fighting for Texas in the 1830s) thus served to comfort Anglo-Texans in their struggles with Modernity, when they, like the Japanese during the Meiji Restauration, feared to lose their traditional identities amidst the social changes that were occurring in Texas during that time.

Fifteen Non-Sexual Uses For Condoms

Some guys stockpile condoms when they're sexually active, convincing themselves they'll need to have hundreds of condoms on hand when they could easily get by with a half dozen.
Soon their bedside drawer is overflowing with safe sex products, and the time comes to thin out the "collection" before it scares away potential partners. But what's a guy to do with all those extra condoms?
He could donate them to a friend's cause, or he could do something fun with them like use them as an improvised fishing bobber, take them on a camping trip and use them to start a fire, or fill them with flour and put them to use as a stress balloon.
Just make sure you use the non-lubricated variety or those suckers are liable to go flying across the room!

Gigantic bath plug stolen from garden

A gigantic bath plug weighing 30kg (66lb) has been stolen from a man's front garden. The plug, which fits inside a half-meter-round plughole, was a cherished water feature on the patio of Richard Mudditt's Bristol home.
But Mr Mudditt said somebody walked off with the huge resin plug last weekend. He said: "Maybe somebody thought it was actually bronze and had scrap value but it's of no use to anybody at all and I'd love it back."
Mr Mudditt, from Clifton, said he was 'very sad that it was gone'. "It's pretty heavy for somebody to run off with but whoever wanted it was determined to have it," he said.
"I suspect they drove up in the dead of night and put it in the back of their car." The plug probably has no commercial value, Mr Mudditt said, but to him it was 'priceless'. "We're offering a reward of a couple of hundred pounds, no questions asked, but we would love it back."

Couple devastated by theft of their fairy garden

A couple from Katikati in New Zealand are devastated after thieves took their "fairy garden". On Wednesday morning, Terry and Roz Cooke noticed 15 different objects from their garden had been taken including solar lights, garden ornaments and a fairy bridge. The collection of garden objects was worth about $400 but had a great sentimental value.
They created the garden for their two granddaughters, who visit from Australia, when they first moved to the property about 18 months ago. It included gnomes, terracotta snails and a fairy bridge. "It's annoying, it really annoys me," Mr Cooke said. Initially they did not realize how much had been stolen, he said. "The more I looked, the more I saw we lost.
"They just took the lot. It was a total wipeout of everything. Everything that could be moved, right up to the shed - they did the whole area. If they came any further the security lights would have gone on. For what reason, I don't know. We don't think they could have done it at night-time but I don't know how they could have done it in the day without someone seeing."
Objects which were left in the garden were too heavy to be carried, he said. Mrs Cooke said all the garden pieces had been collected over time. Mrs Cooke thinks the thieves would have scouted out the garden days before the pieces were taken yet none of the neighbors in the area have had issues with things being taken from their properties, she said. The Cookes would not be putting ornaments out in their garden for the next few months, she said.

Identical twins accused of shoplifting identical items

Identical twin brothers are facing identical theft charges after they stole identical items from a Walmart in South Carolina on Wednesday, police allege.
Malik and Shamel Toppin, 17, were caught after a store security officer spotted them each taking two items from the health and beauty department.
When subsequently confronted by police, the Toppins each removed a container of facial cream and deodorant from the pockets of their shorts, according to a police report.
The brothers were arrested for shoplifting, the second time in recent months that they were arrested for retail theft. Malik and Shamel were booked into jail on the misdemeanor charge. They were released from custody at around 4:30am on Thursday.

Teenager armed with potato peeler threatened to stab men while riding bicycle with no tires

A hooded teenager who robbed a man at potato peeler-point has been jailed for three-and-a-half years. Black-clad Connor Berry, 18, got off a mountain bike with no tires and menaced two men with his mouth covered and his hood up. The street raider held a potato peeler to a man’s side and demanded: “Give us your money or I’m going to stab you.” Berry and two younger boys aged 15 and 16 accosted two friends heading home from playing football in Stockton north east England. The first victim was “patted down” and jabbed with the potato peeler when he could only hand over £2, Teesside Crown Court heard on Thursday. He was punched to the head by the 15-year-old when he said he would not hand over his phone, said prosecutor Jenny Haigh. Berry rifled through his pockets and took the phone, the court was told. The second man was pushed, his pockets searched and his phone and £5 taken. He was told by Berry to go away “before I stab you”. Both of the victims ran off and later said they were left nervous, scared and reluctant to go out.
“This has ruined my life,” said one of the men in a statement. “I’m petrified to go out on my own." Berry and the two younger boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all from Stockton, admitted two counts of robbery. Berry also admitted possession of a bladed article. He had six previous offenses including burglary though none for violence. Alex Bousfield, defending Berry, said he showed a concerning amount of bravado. He said Berry “seems to talk the situation up”, claiming he held a potato peeler to the victim’s neck. Berry described himself as schizophrenic - though he has not been diagnosed and would not be assessed or take medication.
And he showed “paranoid thoughts” that he needed to possess a weapon for protection. “He’s been found in possession of a weapon in prison,” added Mr Bousfield, suggesting Berry could become institutionalized. Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Berry: “You are clearly a disturbed young man. You had a knife. There was a group of you who attacked both men. You were disguised. They were terrified.” Berry was locked up for three-and-a-half years - his first custodial sentence. Each of the younger boys was given a one-year intensive referral order. All three received a five-year restraining order banning them from approaching the victims.

Young lady told police that her fake ID was legal if she were acting

An 18-year-old Florida girl informed a police officer her fake driving license was not illegal because it could be legally possessed if she were acting, according to her arrest report.
Abbie Caay Huff of Pensacola, was stopped for speeding by a Fort Walton Beach police officer on Oct. 24. During the stop, officers noted open containers of alcohol in the vehicle and all the passengers appeared to be under the age of 21.
Officers searched the vehicle and found a Mississippi driver license for Huff that listed her as being over the age of 21. It turned out the license was false, the arrest report indicated. Huff’s Florida license indicated she was 18.
Huff had an Escambia County warrant out on her for battery. While in custody Huff said, “the license wasn’t illegal because it was not used and it can be legally possessed if she were acting,” the officer wrote in the report. She is charged with possession a fake ID and has a Dec. 8 court date.

Woman arrested after becoming angry about all-you-can-eat pancake deal small print

A Chicago woman is facing assault and property damage charges after becoming angry when a Denny’s waitress explained that she was not allowed to share her $4 all-you-can-eat pancake special with her friends.
Natasha West, 27, was dining on Friday at a Denny’s in Oak Lawn, a Chicago suburb, when a server explained that the unlimited pancake offer was good for a single diner. This did not sit well with West, who was apparently was under the impression that her $4 bought everyone at the table and unending pancake bounty.
According to the Oak Lawn Police Department, West cursed at the waitress and threw several punches at the employee (though the blows did not land). West and her party then left Denny’s without paying their bill, but not before she repeatedly kicked a door on the way out.
West was subsequently arrested after Denny’s workers gave police a description of the car in which she and her friends had fled. West was charged with assault and damage to property. One of West’s friends, Jerome Ivory, 31, was also arrested, for providing police with false identification.

New Sports

These silly sports might not make it to the Olympics, but they'll make you wish they would.

Skier Miraculously Survives 1,600-Foot Fall Down the Side of a Mountain

Teton Gravity Research, described on their website as "an action sports media company committed to fueling progression through its films and website," was filming pro skier Ian McIntosh in the Neacola mountain range of Alaska when disaster struck.
McIntosh, 24, set off from his perch at the top of a mountain with an incredibly steep drop. All was well until he fell into a five-foot trench during one of his turns, which led to a 1,600-foot long tumble down the mountain, during which he was unable to stop. According to TGR,
"TGR Co Founder, Todd Jones, says [the accident] “was the most terrifying crash I’ve ever seen.” While filming for Paradise Waits up in the Neacola range of AK, Mac dropped into a line he thought he had studied thoroughly enough, only to fall into an unseen five foot deep trench on one of his first turns.
'From there, my slough took over and their was no way to stop, I pulled my airbag to help prevent against any possible trauma injuries as I tumbled to the bottom,' he said. While attempting to regain his footing, Mac lost a ski and cartwheeled over 1,600 feet in under a minute."

Argument: The Rebels Had a Really Stupid Strategy to Blow up the Death Star

The Battle of Yavin is the event Star Wars fans most commonly think of as the destruction of the first Death Star at the end of Episode IV. The Rebels concocted a risky plan to take out a much more powerful force. It was, through skill, courage, and a lot of luck, successful. The Empire faced a major setback in its plans as a result.
Hooray! And Jordan Freiman of Death and Taxes magazine joins you in the celebration. But he also argues that the Rebel Alliance demonstrated extraordinary stupidity in its battle plan.
The crux of his argument is that the famous trench run, which was modeled after a real-life bombing campaign by the Royal Air Force during World War II, was completely unnecessary. As Spock commented upon Khan's tactics in the Battle of the Mutara Nebula, it demonstrated two-dimensional thinking. Instead of flying down a long and dangerous trench toward the Death Star, the Rebel fighters should have flown directly at it, perpendicular to point of impact. Frieman explains:
Just because the exhaust port is at the end of the trench, that doesn’t mean you have to use the trench to get there. You have spaceships! And the exhaust port is facing upward! You even show it facing upward in your little diagram. Why not just fly straight down towards it? Flying through the trench makes everything more difficult. You have no room to maneuver and, more importantly, rather than hitting the port with a straight shot, you now have to angle the proton torpedoes to go straight and then curve down. That’s so much more difficult!
Also, you know how everyone groans when he says “the shaft is ray shielded, so you’ll have to use proton torpedoes.”? Why is everyone groaning? How would you even hit that thing with a laser if you’re approaching it from the side? USE YOUR HEADS!
If I remember correctly, the point of the trench run was to get so close to the surface of the Death Star that the space station's anti-ship weapons could not be brought to bear against it. The trench run began at the point closest to the Rebel fleet. Flying directly toward the exhaust port would have required the X-wing squadron to be exposed for a much longer time

Dinosaur Puke Mystery Deepens

An unusual skeleton discovered in fossilized dinosaur yak might not be the creature we thought it was after all.

The World According to Orangutans

These often solitary great apes with soulful eyes can look like philosopher-kings.

Hairy Beasts

Having a bad hair day? It’s probably nothing compared to what these incredibly hairy animals experience 24/7.

Roadside cesarean saved dead doe's fawn

A baby muntjac deer has made a miraculous recovery after a man performed a roadside cesarean to remove it from its dead mother’s womb. The animal was saved by the actions of an undercover animal welfare investigator who came across the body of a doe while driving near Cromer, Norfolk, in the early hours of Wednesday. He had initially intended to drag the dead animal to the side of the road, but as he got closer he noticed that something was moving inside it.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous because of his job, said: “Its stomach was really extended and something was thrashing about inside, so I ran back to grab my pocket knife and performed an emergency cesarean. When I got it out, I held it by its back legs to gently shake it like you do with a lamb and then cleared its airway. It is a miracle in itself that it was not injured when its mother was hit.”
He immediately took the tiny female fawn to the home of Wendy Valentine, who is the founder of Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Frettenham, near Norwich, where he works. Ms Valentine said: “You have to be very quick because once the mother dies the baby also dies very quickly, so the deer must have only just been hit. When it first came in I was not sure the little deer was going to make it. But I am glad it has just about pulled through.”
The pair dried off the animal with a hairdryer before feeding her with a special mixture called colostrum to help boost her immune system. The animal is now on the road to recovery and is being looked after by the investigator who saved it. He said: “It is perhaps something you will never come across again in your lifetime and I am just thankful that I knew what to do. I feel really proud of myself to be honest.” When it is old enough, it will be released with other deer looked after by Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

Animal Pictures