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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.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Daily Drift

Happy New Year
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Today in History

The Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral searches the coast of Brazil and claims the region for Portugal.
Sir Francis Drake launches a surprise attack on the heavily fortified city of Santo Domingo in Hipanola.
The Abenaki Indians and Massachusetts colonists sign a treaty halting hostilities between the two.
The Old Pretender, son of James III, dies.
The Times, London’s oldest running newspaper, publishes its first edition.
A U.S. law banning the import of slaves comes into effect, but is widely ignored.
The Camp Street Theatre opens as the first English-language playhouse in New Orleans.
William Lloyd Garrison publishes the first edition of a journal entitled The Liberator, calling for the complete and immediate emancipation of all slaves in the United States.
Confederate General Braxton Bragg and Union General William Rosecrans readjust their troops as the Battle of Murfreesboro continues.
Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the Confederacy.
Facilities opened on Ellis Island, New York, to cope with the vast flood of immigrants coming into the United States.
The Pure Food and Drug Act becomes law in the United States.
The German submarine U-24 sinks the British battleship Formidable in the English Channel.
The first gasoline pipeline begins operation. Along the 40 miles and three inches of pipe from Salt Creek to Casper, Wyoming.
Sadi Lecointe sets a new aviation speed record flying an average of 208 mph at Istres.
At a party at the Hormel Mansion in Minnesota, a guest wins $100 for naming a new canned meat–Spam.
In Operation Bodenplatte, German planes attack American forward air bases in Europe. This is the last major offensive of the Luftwaffe.
Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba as General Fulgencio Batista flees.
As the United States builds its strength in the Mediterranean, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi threatens to retaliate if attacked.

Non Sequitur


Advice from An Old Farmer

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.
Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

The 10 Biggest Snowstorms of All Time

Although it’s been strangely warm lately, we all know it can’t last, and sooner or later, we’ll see winter weather. The worst storm I remember was in February of 1998, when my town got 14 inches of wet snow that brought down power lines and left us without power for two weeks. I burned anything I could find in the fireplace until the roads cleared enough for us to go stay elsewhere. But that doesn’t hold a candle to the ten biggest snowstorms ever. The Blizzard of 1888 was devastating.
The storm struck in early March and started out as a serious rain storm. From Sunday night to Monday morning, the temperature plummeted and the rain turned to snow. In the end, New York City received 22 inches (56 centimeters) of snow, shutting the city down and causing floods when the snow melted. Other places received much more: 58 inches (1.5 meters) of snow in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and 45 inches (1.14 m) in New Haven, Conn. Snow drifts as high as 50 or 60 feet (15.2 to 18.3 m) were reported on Long Island, and wind gusts were reported as fast as 80 mph (128.7 kph).
What’s worse, more than 400 people died due to that storm. And it only ranks as number ten on the list! However, storms vary in area covered, amount of snow, amount of damage, number of people affected, and other conditions, so it’s difficult to rank the “worst.” Still, these ten will make you feel lucky to have avoided them.

Passing Out on Live TV

CNN host Poppy Harlow (screen grab)
‘I passed out for a moment’: CNN cuts to commercial after anchor loses her ability to talk

Food Safety Myths

5 Amazing Reasons Your Hot Sauce Addiction Is GOOD For You

If you love piling the spice on heavy, chances are you're already aware of the flavorful wonders of hot sauce — we're big fans of sriracha and Tabasco over here. But hot sauce offers more than a little kick to your senses, it can actually be a tasty resource for successful weight loss. Here are five reasons to get spicy.
1. It doesn't pack on the calories
While certain condiments offer plentiful flavor, hot sauce does the same at a fraction of the calories. It varies from brand to brand, but most hot sauces are approximately six calories per tablespoon.
2. It kicks up your metabolism
Hot sauce offers a boost of vitamin C and capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers that is responsible for the serious heat. But even better than sheer flavor factor, vitamin C and capsaicin have both been shown to assist in revving up your metabolism.
3. It helps with aging
A large study recently confirmed that individuals who ate spicy food on the regular were more likely to live longer than those who don't.
4. It helps keep you satisfied
A little goes a long way with hot sauce! For your sodium level's sake, you definitely shouldn't douse all your food in it, but by keeping your food spicier, you'll need to chow down a little more slowly. Hot sauce is a great way to pace yourself if you tend to keep things harried when you're eating.
5. It can better your mood
While other factors are absolutely at play here, capsaicin brings on endorphins. Not only do these endorphins lessen the spicy blow of the next bite, we know that they are integral to sustain a good mood.

Turns Out, Raising Restaurant Workers’ Wages Won’t Cause Job Loss

German experiment will test whether the welfare state can be replaced by a basic guaranteed income

A new experiment to give away money as “basic income” is underway in Germany.

It's The End Of An Error As Du Pont & Dow Chemical Merge

How Corporate Execs Got a Hold of the Red Cross and Drove It Into the Ground

Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, who was hired to revitalize the charity, has cut hundreds of chapters and thousands of employees.
by Justin Elliott
When Gail McGovern was picked to head the American Red Cross in 2008, the organization was reeling. Her predecessor had been fired after impregnating a subordinate. The charity was running an annual deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars.
A former AT&T executive who had taught marketing at Harvard Business School, McGovern pledged to make the tough choices that would revitalize the Red Cross, which was chartered by Congress to provide aid after disasters. In a speech five years ago, she imagined a bright future, a “revolution” in which there would be “a Red Cross location in every single community.’’
It hasn’t worked out that way.
McGovern and her handpicked team of former AT&T colleagues have presided over a string of previously unreported management blunders that have eroded the charity’s ability to fulfill its core mission of aiding Americans in times of need.
Under McGovern, the Red Cross has slashed its payroll by more than a third, eliminating thousands of jobs and closing hundreds of local chapters. Many veteran volunteers, who do the vital work of responding to local fires and floods have also left, alienated by what many perceive as an increasingly rigid, centralized management structure.
Far from opening offices in every city and town, the Red Cross is stumbling in response to even smaller scale disasters.
When a wildfire swept through three Northern California counties in September, the Red Cross showed up but provided shelter to just 25 of 1,000 victims at one site. Because of the charity’s strict rules and disorganization, many evacuees slept outside for over a week, even when the weather turned bad. “These families were sleeping in the rain with their children,” said Wendy Lopez, a local volunteer.
Local officials were so angry they relieved the Red Cross of its duties.
The Red Cross had closed chapters in the area last year. “You’re seeing a huge loss of experienced staff,” said John Saguto, a 15-year Red Cross volunteer in Northern California.
Some emergency planners around the country have concluded they can no longer rely on the charity.
“I essentially wrote Red Cross out of my Local Emergency Operations Plan and advised many other Emergency Managers across the state to do the same,” wrote Tim Hofbauer, an emergency management director in Nebraska, in a 2013 email to a Red Cross executive.
This year, the Red Cross quietly made cuts in the formula it uses to determine cash benefits to victims of home fires and other disasters. A family of four whose home burned down previously could have received around $900 in immediate assistance. Now they would get a maximum of $500.
Over the past two years, ProPublica and NPR have examined the charity’s flawed responses to major disasters, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. A broader look at McGovern’s seven years as chief executive shows her team has repeatedly fallen short of its own goals to secure the organization’s financial future and improve its delivery of disaster services.
McGovern declared in August 2013 — her fifth anniversary on the job — that she had executed a “turnaround” that made the Red Cross a “financially stable’’ organization with balanced budgets in three of the previous four years.
Behind the scenes, however, losses were mounting. The organization ran a $70 million deficit that same fiscal year and has been in the red ever since. Internal projections say the charity will not break even before 2017.
As part of her effort to run the Red Cross more like a business, McGovern recruited more than 10 former AT&T executives to top positions. The move stirred resentment inside the organization, with some longtime Red Cross hands referring to the charity as the “AT&T retirement program.’’
McGovern laid out a vision to increase revenue through “consolidated, powerful, breathtaking marketing.”
“This is a brand to die for,” she often said.
Her team unveiled a five-year blueprint in 2011 that called for expanding the charity’s revenue from $3 billion to $4 billion. In fact, Red Cross receipts have dropped since then and fell below their 2011 level last year.
McGovern declined to be interviewed for this story. Our account is drawn from interviews with present and former Red Cross staffers and volunteers, local disaster relief officials, and hundreds of pages of internal documents.
The Red Cross defended McGovern’s track record in a statement, saying she took over an antiquated organization that allowed each local chapter to create its own system for personnel, technology, and bookkeeping. The layoffs and shuttering of local chapters, the statement said, was painful but essential for an organization that was both inefficient and financially unsustainable.
The charity also said the cuts haven’t affected its ability to provide aid. “Our focus has always been to cut the costs of delivering our services — not the services themselves — and we believe we have achieved that.” It said there has been a small increase over the last three years in overall payments to disaster victims, though data does not exist going back to the start of McGovern’s tenure. Of the cuts in the formula for cash benefits, it said that preliminary data under the new system shows that victims are still getting the same level of assistance as in the past.
McGovern had a major accomplishment this month when a federal judge ended two decades of special government oversight of the charity’s blood-banking operation, which collects and sells blood to hospitals. The Red Cross, McGovern said in an internal announcement, had achieved “quality and compliance milestones that at one point seemed almost unimaginable.”
Still, the unit, which is the Red Cross’ largest division, is an increasing drag on the charity’s bottom line, in part because changes in medicine have sharply reduced the demand for blood. In its statement, the Red Cross pointed to those changes as the reason for the charity’s recent deficits.
But Red Cross insiders said the blood division has also been hurt because the charity bungled a software project and moved too slowly to respond to an evolving industry. Internal estimates obtained by ProPublica show that the blood business lost $100 million in the last fiscal year, a devastating drain on the charity’s finances.
Another key source of revenue, the sale of CPR classes and other training, has similarly struggled under McGovern. A plan to vastly increase the revenues of the division backfired as customers switched to less expensive providers.
Despite the failure of the plan, the former AT&T executive who McGovern brought in to run the division and other top managers were awarded bonuses last year, one former official recalled.
Employee morale has been damaged by the repeated layoffs — or “right sizing,” as McGovern calls it — as well as by the perception that the Red Cross is increasingly focused on image over substance.
A marketing department created by McGovern tried to lift spirits by crafting what it termed the Red Cross’ “internal brand essence.” The slogan, designed “to remind and guide us as we work,” was “Sleeves up. Hearts open. All In.” — an homage to the Friday Night Lights television show’s signature: “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.”
The rallying cry hasn’t worked. An internal survey of Red Cross employees obtained by ProPublica found just 35 percent responded favorably to the statement, “I trust the senior leadership of the American Red Cross.”

Islamic State jihadists get beheaded by Afghan militia group

Islamic State jihadists get beheaded by Afghan militia group

US created the Islamic State by invading Iraq

German politician: US created the Islamic State by invading Iraq

Bandwidth Battleground

Sikh man hit by car and beaten up while waiting for ride in California

Amrik Singh Bal (KFSN)Sikh man hit by car and beaten up while waiting for ride in California

Wingnuts erupt in a DVD-burning fury after ‘Buffy’ creator Joss Whedon supports Planned Parenthood

Writer/director Joss Whedon - Shutterstock
Wingnuts responded with a righteous fury calling him a “baby murderer” and saying it was time to burn their copies of “Firefly.”

Reconciled couple seeking to undo their divorce denied by court

Should those irreconcilable differences suddenly become reconcilable, don't go looking to get un-divorced in New Hampshire. The state's Supreme Court this month upheld a lower court ruling refusing to vacate a New Castle couple's 2014 divorce after 24 years of marriage. Terrie Harmon and her ex-husband, Thomas McCarron, argued on appeal that their divorce decree was erroneous because they mended fences and are a couple once more. But the justices, in a unanimous ruling said the law specifically allows them to grant divorces - not undo them. Courts in some states, including Illinois, Nebraska, Mississippi, Arkansas, Maryland and Kentucky, will vacate divorces within a certain time frame or under certain circumstances, at the parties' request. Others, including New York and South Dakota, maintain they, like New Hampshire, have no statutory authority to undo a divorce. Attorney Joshua Gordon, appointed to defend the lower court's ruling, said allowing the couple's divorce to be undone could jeopardize the finality of all divorces. "Divorce is a uniquely fraught area of litigation," Gordon argued.
"For divorced couples, it is often important to have the solace of knowing that their former spouse is indeed former." Harmon and McCarron were married in 1989 and filed for divorce in January 2014; the divorce decree was finalized in July that same year. In March, they filed a joint motion to vacate the decree. New Hampshire law does allow for divorces to be set aside for reasons of fraud, accident, mistake or misfortune. Gordon said that none of those circumstances happened in the Harmon-McCarron divorce and that any adverse financial consequences the couple claimed were "self-imposed." He said it's his understanding they had several reasons for trying to vacate the decree.
"I think it was partly sentimental, and partly that they had some business interests that a divorce and remarry would be more complicated than undoing the divorce," Gordon said. Harmon, a lawyer, argued in court papers that a couple shouldn't have to show the decree was legally flawed if they reconcile. She said that test is "designed to balance the interests of adverse parties," not those who want to get back together. Attorney Kysa Crusco, head of the family law section of the New Hampshire Bar Association, said Harmon's argument was "creative" but the law and prior New Hampshire rulings are clear. "People just have to be cautious in making sure divorce is what they really want," she said.

Man fell to his death from cliff while distracted by electronic device

A man who went to Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, California, on Friday night to watch the sunset and became distracted while using an electronic device fell over the cliff edge plummeting 60 feet to his death, officials said.

Woman Calls 911, Complains Of Dizziness, Shoots Paramedics And Steals Ambulance

Woman Calls 911, Complains Of Dizziness, Shoots Paramedics And Steals Ambulance

7-year-old boy killed indoors by drive-by shooting while visiting relatives in Miami

7-year-old boy killed indoors by drive-by shooting while visiting relatives in Miami

New Jersey cop fired for having sex in his patrol car while on duty

New Jersey cop fired for having sex in his patrol car while on duty

Off-duty Las Vegas cop and her husband open fire on housemate they mistook for an intruder

An off-duty Las Vegas police officer and her husband shot a relative who returned home unexpectedly on Xmas night.

Police determine flat-earther’s tinfoil-wrapped boat isn’t a bomb

Confused flat-earthers set up a baffling display promoting their conspiracy theory in a shopping center parking lot.

Throwing Hot Tea Into The Air In The Arctic Circle

It's hard to understand how cold it is in the Arctic Circle unless you've been there, but photographer Michael Davies came up with an interesting way to illustrate the chill- his friend flung hot tea into the air while Michael snapped a pic.
When the hot tea hits the subzero temperature air it instantly turns into a spray of ice crystals that look especially beautiful when paired with a sunset glow.
The hot tea experiment is just one of the many interesting aspects to Michael's photographic trip to the Arctic Circle, which you can see in his Flickr gallery here.

Now underwater, this ancient Egyptian trading city was once the “Hong Kong of its era”

by Deena Shanker
If you were an ancient Egyptian looking for a gift for a loved one, you wouldn’t go to Target. But you might have stopped in Naukratis.
Once thought to have been a small town on the Nile Delta in Egypt, an excavation by the British Museum has revealed that the ancient city of Naukratis was actually a major Greek trading hub. Indeed, Naukratis could potentially be considered the “Hong Kong of its era,” according to Dr. Ross Thomas, the museum’s curator and the project leader, as reported by the Guardian.
First located in 1884 by British archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, the site “occupied a special place in the minds of scholars and a general public alike, speaking particularly to romantic minds,” according to the British Museum. Situated on the Canopic (western) branch of the Nile, Naukratis has been excavated multiple times since its 19th century reveal.
This latest excavation discovered evidence of a 1,000-year trading network, beginning in the seventh century BC, according to the Guardian. More than 10,000 artifacts were found at the site—previously thought to have been fully harvested of its archaeological prizes—including the wood from Greek ships and relics of the “festival of drunkenness.” (The name of the city means “mistress of ships.”)
The findings are significant because until now, experts believed Naukratis to be about 30 hectares (or about 0.12 square miles). But, the British Museum’s Thomas explains, he now believes the city was at least twice that size. In addition to being a trading center, Thomas says there is also evidence of “tower houses,” apartment-like structures ranging from three to six stories tall. “We should imagine a mud-brick Manhattan, populated with tall houses and large sanctuaries, befitting a large cosmopolitan city.”
The British Museum plans to feature pieces unearthed at Naukratis in its Sunken Cities exhibition next year. Opening in May of 2016, the exhibit will include approximately 200 artifacts retrieved from the Nile, including some on loan from Egyptian museums—the first such loans since the Arab Spring revolution, according to the BBC.

The Year in Weird Science

Scientific studies can yield results that are often unexpected, occasionally shocking and every now and again just downright weird.

River ecosystems show ‘incredible’ initial recovery after dam removal

River ecosystems show ‘incredible’ initial recovery after dam removal
River ecosystems show ‘incredible’ initial recovery after dam removal
A songbird species that flourishes on the salmon-rich side of dams in the western United States struggles when it tries to nest on the side closed off from the fish and the nutrients they leave behind. But the songbird and the rest of the divided ecosystem rebounds,...

Giant Squid Visits Harbor in Japan

The rarely seen creature of the deep spends a few hours amid the boats moored in Toyama Bay.

Animal Pictures