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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.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

Philip Augustus, Henry II of England and Frederick Barbarossa assemble the troops for the Third Crusade.
In Maryland, the first woman lawyer in the colonies, Margaret Brent, is denied a vote in the Maryland Assembly.
Chippewa, Delaware, Ottawa and Wyandot Indians sign the treaty of Fort McIntosh, ceding present-day Ohio to the United States.
Joseph Guillotine proposes a new, more humane method of execution: a machine designed to cut off the condemned person’s head as painlessly as possible.
The French King Louis XVI is guillotined for treason.
Japan rejects the American proposal to neutralize ownership of the Manchurian Railway.
The German Krupp plant begins producing guns under the U.S. armistice terms.
J.D. Rockefeller pledges $1 million for the relief of Europe’s destitute.
An international arms control meeting opens in London.
The League of Nations rejects Japanese terms for settlement with China.
The United States lifts the ban on arms to the Soviet Union.
In North Africa, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel launches a drive to push the British eastward. While the British benefited from radio-intercept-derived Ultra information, the Germans enjoyed an even speedier intelligence source.
A Nazi daylight air raid kills 34 in a London school. When the anticipated invasion of Britain failed to materialize in 1940, Londoners relaxed, but soon they faced a frightening new threat.
Communist troops force the UN army out of Inchon, Korea after a 12-hour attack.
The Soviet Union calls for a ban on nuclear arms in Baghdad Pact countries.
Carl T. Rowan is named the director of the United States Information Agency (USIA).
In Vietnam, the Siege of Khe Sanh begins as North Vietnamese units surround U.S. Marines based on the hilltop headquarters.
The U.S. Supreme Court decides that pregnant teachers can no longer be forced to take long leaves of absence.
Leonid Brezhnev and Henry Kissinger meet to discuss Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT).
President Carter urges 65 degrees as the maximum heat in homes to ease the energy crisis.
Congressman Mike Espy of Mississippi is confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Saudi accuses Iran of sowing 'sedition, unrest, chaos'

Saudi accuses Iran of sowing 'sedition, unrest, chaos'

Taiwan elects Tsai Ing-wen as first female president

Taiwan elects Tsai Ing-wen as first female president

Chipotle Is Closing All Its Restaurants February 8th

Campbell's and GMO Labeling


New Jacket Design Lets You Inflate Insulation

The winter apparel company NuDown has developed a new way to stay warm during the winter while permitting variable temperatures. After all, you may want to wear a parka while walking through -10°F temperatures outside. But once you're indoors, the parka becomes way too hot to wear.
NuDown's jackets are inflatable with a hand pump that stores in a side pocket. Just pump in air to increase the insulation inside the jacket. Then release it for warmer environments. Fast Co Design reports:
The jackets are each fitted with a pump that you inflate when you need to—instead of throwing on more bulky layers, just add air. NuDown says 20 pumps will add enough insulation to keep out the chill on chilly days, 30 pumps will give wearers more warmth on blustery days, and 40 or more is supposedly enough for the harshest conditions (the company gives the example of waiting on a windy ski lift). If the coat gets too toasty, deflate it to cool down.
Each pump supposedly adds one degree Fahrenheit of comfort, but for temps dipping below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, NuDown recommends using its Argon Gas Upgrade kit. The add-on will inject your coat with argon, the same gas that's used in double-pane windows and dry suits, since argon is better at insulating than air

Week End Sleep In

Why do we sleep in on weekends?

100 Years Ago, American Women Held Serious Venus de Milo Lookalike Contests

In 1820, a farmer dug up a mysterious Greek statue on the island of Melos. He found a remarkably well-preserved statue of what is probably Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty—or Venus, as the Romans called her. This amazing find became known as the Venus de Milo.
She arrived at just the right time. The Academic art movement venerated the majesty of the human body, as well as gave men a good excuse to look at pictures of naked women. The Venus de Milo came to epitomize a neoclassical vision of female beauty.
In the United States, the idealization of this beauty standard led to contests in which men searched for women who had Venus’s precise measurements. Thousands of women were measured in this effort, particularly college students, such as this young lady at Wellesley College. Atlas Obscura traces the history of this movement. One leader was Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, the gym director at Harvard University:
These measurement cards did not require just height, weight, bust, waist, and hips. There were 60 required measurements per person, including instep, wrist, forearm, armspan, and “ninth rib.” And all this data was being put toward new and novel applications. In 1893, Sargent used composite figures from female students' measurements to sculpt a statue and exhibit it at that year's Chicago World's Fair. This figure came to be known as the "Harvard Venus." Visitors to the fair were invited to examine it, reflect on how their own bodies compared, and submit themselves to be measured for Sargent's data collection project. [...]
By this time, Sargent had collected the measurements of over 10,000 female students, yet he claimed he had still not encountered the ideal woman. “Among the many thousands who have been measured at the gymnasium, not one has fulfilled every requirement,” he told the Times. The closest was Annette Kellerman, an Australian swimmer and vaudeville star who stood five-foot-four-and-a-half and sported a 35.2-inch bust, 26.2-inch waist, and 37.8-inch hips. Sargent called her the "perfect woman" for publicity purposes, but he was rounding up.
The movement petered out during the 1920s as new beauty standards took hold of American popular culture. It never did find its truly perfect example of the female form, which is reasonable, as my wife would not be born for a few more decades.

Poor James Smithson’s Restless Corpse

The picture is of William Henry Bishop, US Consul in Genoa Italy in 1904, holding the skull of James Smithson. Smithson was the English scientist whose fortune was beaqueathed to the US to found the Smithsonian Institution. We posted about that bequest last year. But Smithson's story didn’t end with the Institution; even his body couldn’t rest in peace. Smithson was buried in Genoa, Italy, in 1829. Around the turn of the 20th century, the cemetery was slated to be demolished. Alexander Graham Bell lobbied to have Smithson’s body brought to the US, and he went to Italy to fetch him in 1904. Smithson’s remains were interred at the Institution. But strange sightings were attributed to Smithson’s ghost in the many years since, and in 1973, a museum curator decided to open up the coffin and check on the corpse. As if Smithson’s tale wasn’t strange enough, that’s when things got weird. The blog BizarreVictoria has the rest of the story.
Okay, right, are you guys ready for this to get worse?
So, we have Smithson’s monument all mangled to shit, his casket broken open, his 150-year old skeleton exposed to all and sundry, and now everything is ON FIRE.
Then, “He didn’t want them to ruin the silk by using an extinguisher so he told them to fill their mouths with water and come back to spray it down. So they did it.”
The silk is already ruined. It’s on fire. And if you, A CURATOR, were so concerned with preservation, why did you have random workmen bust open a sealed relic with improper tools, without any authorization to do so?
And now, to cap things off, a whole group of people are just spitting on James Smithson. Congratulations. This might be the worst thing I’ve ever written about on this blog.
You can read the whole account at BizarreVictoria. Oh, it’s all true. I checked around.

Police investigate theft of 'priceless' stone ball

A unique prehistoric carved stone ball, said to be so rare it is priceless, has been stolen from a Scottish museum. The ball, which is about 6cm across, was taken from its display cabinet at the volunteer-run Dunblane Museum while curators' backs were turned. Museum curator Marjorie Davies said the theft was "shocking" as the ball was irreplaceable. Known as a petrosphere, the ball was originally found near Dunblane about 100 years ago. The museum said the ball had been taken in November, and initially staff tried to trace it by circulating details to other museums.
Police have only just been called in. Mrs Davies said: "It's big enough to hold in your hand, but you wouldn't be able to close your hand round it. These things are unique to Scotland. They tend to be found in the north of Scotland." She said that scholars could not decide what they were used for or why they were made.
"They are very, very rare, and anybody who tried to sell it would immediately have to furnish the provenance of it," she added. "You certainly couldn't put a price on it." Police in Dunblane are investigating the theft and have appealed for information. A spokesman said: "If you have any knowledge of who may be responsible or know the whereabouts of the stone ball, please contact officers."

Pastafarian told he will lose his license if caught driving without a colander on his head

A man’s insistence that it is his religious right to wear a colander on his head has strained his relationship with the Russian government.
Andrei Filin is the latest ‘Pastafarian’ to win the right to wear a colander for his official driver’s license photos.
However, the deputy chief of Moscow’s State Traffic inspectorate, Vladimir Kuzin, has said that Mr Filin’s victory for the Cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster comes with a catch.
“The next time he is stopped by the traffic police, if he doesn’t have a pasta strainer on his head, his license will be taken from him,” Mr Kuzin said.

Man who cut off hand in insurance scam jailed

A farmer in Castellón, Spain, cut off his right hand and staged a car accident to claim insurance money. Castellón's provincial court sentenced the man to four years in prison as well as a fine of €3,000 (£2,275, $3,275), on top of the €335,000 (£254,500, $365,500) in insurance money that he will be forced to repay.
According to the court sentence announced on Wednesday, the farmer was having financial troubles in 2007, struggling to pay off his mortgage so he came up with an elaborate plan to cash in on insurance policies. In the early hours of December 10th of that year, he took a sharp blade and hacked off his own right hand, entirely with the intent "to collect the insurance" the court wrote, adding that it was unclear whether he had had assistance in the amputation or had managed it alone.
According to court papers, the man from the rural region of Castellón in eastern Spain then applied a tourniquet to stem the bleeding, got in his car and drove to a point where there was a curve in the road. He swerved off, landing the car ""practically perpendicular" in an orange grove, and then carefully staged an accident by placing his severed hand in the footwell and torching the car with some petrol he had brought with him.
The man, identified only as Miguel B.P., 42, of Nules, then called emergency services and when police and firefighters arrived at the scene was found calmly "smoking a cigar". The farmer went to eight different insurance companies to collect compensation. "Yes, it's unusual - a bit unusual," a spokeswoman from the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary said. "You do see cases like this sometimes, but not regularly."

Naked lady in excited state of delirium allegedly broke woman's nose and Waffle House window

A Georgia woman is accused of stripping naked outside a Waffle House and attacking several diners while in a state of excited delirium.
After allegedly punching a woman in the face and breaking her nose, she also threw multiple platters at people inside the diner on Friday night.
Jennifer Mary Nicholson, 38, of Marietta, damaged a window when she hit it with a platter and also threw one at a Cobb police officer. Nicholson was not wearing any clothes during the tirade. “The accused stripped off all of her clothes off in front of Waffle House staff and patrons during a suspected excited delirium state,” the warrant states.
Nicholson resisted being arrested, scratching a police officer across the chin and drawing blood, according to police. Once she was arrested, she was charged with aggravated battery and criminal damage to property, both felonies, and simple assault, obstruction, simple battery and public indecency. Nicholson is being held without bond in the Cobb jail.

Attempts to smuggle drugs inside fake carrots and on a sledge foiled by authorities

US Customs and Border Protection agents found half a million dollars' worth of marijuana disguised as carrots earlier this week. On Sunday, they stopped a tractor-trailer at the Pharr International Bridge along the Texas-Mexico border near the Gulf of Mexico.
Mixed in with real carrots, they found more than 2,800 orange, carrot-shaped packages. Inside those packages there were nearly 2,500 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $499,000, officials said. The case is under investigation by agents of Homeland Security Investigations.
Meanwhile, a Canadian man was arrested while pulling a sledge carrying more than 180 pounds of prescription pills across the border into the US. 21-year-old Cedrik Bourgault-Morin was apprehended early on Wednesday after he crossed the border from Quebec along a railroad line into North Troy, Vermont.
Prosecutors say Bourgault-Morin was wearing white camouflage and border patrol agents were alerted to his presence when he triggered a sensor. Prosecutors say agents found 300 vacuum-sealed bags of anti-anxiety Xanax pills in a duffel bag on the sled. They say the pills had a street value of $1.6m. Bourgault-Morin is being held in a Vermont prison.

Black hole 'missing link' may have been found in the Milky Way

Black hole 'missing link' may have been found in the Milky Way

Cat's Best Friend Is This Particular Koi

Timo the cat is an internet celebrity, what with his cat hammock, masterful Christmas tree decorating style, and adorable yawning.
But he hasn't forgotten the people who loved him before he was famous. For 3 years, his best friend has been a koi. Oh, he's polite to all of the koi in the pond. But the grey one always gets special attention.

Woman handcuffed by her pet python rescued after advice over the phone from snake catcher

A woman in Australia's Sunshine Coast was bitten and "handcuffed" by her pet python at 3am, prompting an unusual over-the-phone rescue bid by a local snake catcher and her housemate. The woman was handling the black-headed python in her Sippy Downs home when it bit her on the thumb and constricted her hands together. The woman's housemate was woken by her screams and contacted snake catcher Stuart McKenzie to assist.
After a few failed attempts at talking him through loosening the grip of the pet, the concerned housemate sent him a picture of the bind. This was the first time Mr McKenzie had helped someone remove a python from themselves over the phone. "After the snake had stopped biting her, it continued to constrict her hands together like you can see in the photo," he said in a Facebook post. "The guy was very relaxed and kept her calm while he tried to uncoil the snake, but with no luck.
"I then told him that he would have to head-grab the python in order to be a bit more forceful with uncoiling it, I got him to send me a picture of the situation so that I could give them the appropriate advice. After about 20 mins on the phone they were finally able to get the snake off her hands safely and back into the enclosure. Thank goodness for that! At one stage I thought I was going to have to get in my car and drive over and give them a hand," he said.
The snake catcher said it was normal for a python to wrap around something that it bites. "Most of the time they just bite and let go as a defensive thing but sometimes they will bite and hold on, that's when they coil up," he said. He said black-headed pythons were normally found in North Queensland, not on the Sunshine Coast. "If it was one of our native carpet pythons, I would have been more inclined to come out," he said.

Getting In Tune

These creatures won't win any Grammy awards for their vocals, but the fact that some of them sing, or sort of do, at all might surprise you.

Animal Pictures