05 May 2016

"Grief is love that has no home"

The photo is of a man whose dog died of smoke inhalation.  Some would consider the publication of such photos to be "grief porn," but I've elected to use it to highlight the title, which I consider to be an excellent turn of phrase.

I don't know the original source credit for the photo, which I found at imgur, or of the phrase, cited at Reddit.

A Vietnamese mossy frog

"Mossy Frogs have been described as having one of the ‘best camouflages’ of the amphibian world.  Covered with mottled green and brown skin, the Vietnamese animals are almost indistinguishable from lumps of moss."

"People are just fish + time"

and the sequel...

Girl arrested for buying lunch with $2 bill

A Texas eighth grader who used a $2 bill her grandmother gave her to buy school lunch last year found herself in the police's office.

Danesiah Neal only wanted to buy some chicken nuggets at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston, but the school confiscated the $2 bill, told her it was fake and turned her into the authorities, according to ABC.

Neal, who has never had any problems with the school before, said that police told her she was in big trouble. The school then called Daneisha’s grandmother, Sharon Kay Joseph, who told them the bill was real and that it was given to her at a convenience store.

Police then went to a bank which verified the authenticity of the bill. Since the bill was made in 1953, the school's counterfeit pen didn't work.

No charges were filed against the middle schooler but her grandmother is outraged and says she had to go hungry that day because the school took her money. The police finally gave Joseph her bill back. 'He brought me my $2 bill back,' Joseph told ABC. 'He didn’t apologize. He should have, and the school should have because they pulled Danesiah out of lunch, and she didn’t eat lunch that day because they took her money.' 
Houston schoolchildren have been known to photocopy money and try to spend it, but this is not how incidents should be handled.

A diamond "the size of a tennis ball"

The diamond was unearthed in November in Botswana at a mine owned by Canada's Lucara Diamond Corporation. It measured 1,109 carats, the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. Its name means "our light" in the Tswana language of southern Africa.
Photo credit Donald Bowers/Getty Images.

A Norwegian bunad

Bunad is a Norwegian umbrella term encompassing, in its broadest sense, a range of both traditional rural clothes (mostly dating to the 19th and 18th centuries) as well as modern 20th-century folk costumes...

There is a continuing debate about the extent to which bunads must conform to the standards, or whether it is acceptable to vary or improvise based on general themes. Some groups (sometimes derisively referred to as the bunad police) argue that bunads must be sewn and worn according to strict standards; others advocate a more creative, lenient approach.

Bunads are nowadays often viewed as a status symbol, ranging in the price of $2,000−10,000, depending on the desired design, material, embroidery, gold, silver and accessories. The price also depends on whether the customer buys from a well-established company like Husfliden, from local sewers, or decides to sew or do part of the embroidery themselves. It usually takes up to a year to finish making the bunad, and it has become a tradition for parents to give their children a bunad as a confirmation gift, which they will wear on their confirmation day...

While the contemporary bunad tradition has most of its roots in folk costumes from the 18th and 19th centuries, records documenting the use of folk costumes go as far back as the Middle Ages...

The designs are typically elaborate, with embroidery, scarves, shawls and hand-made silver or gold jewelry known as sølje. There are bunads both for men and women, although women's bunads are more diverse and popular...
When my family gathered for a reunion at Park City many years ago, one of my aunts brought out her bunad.  I had never seen one before, since my mother didn't own one.  It was gorgeous.

Embedded photos from a gallery posted at imgur and discussed at Reddit.

A website for the eternal students among us

Yesterday I came across Better Yourself Online, a website focusing on self-improvement techniques. 

What caught my eye was the link to 60 free literature courses from universities.  The one I clicked on allowed me to download PowerPoint presentations from a series of lectures; there might be others formatted as audio podcasts. 

Looks like an interesting resource.  Feel free to explore and write a comment on this post.

Farm cartoonist fired for criticizing Big Ag

As reported by U.S. Uncut:
Rick Friday, an editorial cartoonist who worked at a local Iowa newspaper for 21 years, has been fired for a cartoon that criticized Monsanto and other major figures in Big Agriculture...

However, the following day, Friday received an email from his supervisor at Farm News, informing him that he would be fired, citing he was “instructed” by a superior to not accept another cartoon from Friday. The supervisor told Friday that “in the eyes of some, Big Ag cannot be criticized or poked fun at.”..

After he was fired, Friday posted the controversial cartoon with a defiant Facebook status, standing by the research he conducted for the cartoon and protesting his sudden dismissal after 21 years and nearly 1,100 cartoons for the paper. As of this writing, the post has been shared over 3,000 times.

“Hopefully my children and my grandchildren will see that this last cartoon published by Farm News out of Fort Dodge, Iowa, will shine light on how fragile our rights to free speech and free press really are in the country,” Friday wrote.
More at the link.  TYWKIWDBI is pleased to contribute to the Streisand Effect.

02 May 2016

How to dress up an external pipe

The artist is Joe Vollan.

Venezuela reportedly near "total collapse"

As reported in the Miami Herald:
A recent International Monetary Fund report that Venezuela will reach a 720 percent inflation rate this year — the highest in the world — has drawn a lot of media attention, but what I heard from a senior IMF economist this week was even more dramatic.

Robert K. Rennhack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department, told me in an interview that Venezuela is on a path to hyperinflation — the stage where the economy reaches total chaos — and could reach a “total collapse of the economic system” in 12 to 18 months if there are no changes in economic policies...

Many Venezuelans believe the country will explode much sooner than in 12 to 18 months. Prices go up daily, supermarket shelves are near empty, there are growing electricity shortages — Maduro has declared every Friday in April and May a non-working holiday in order to save energy — and crime statistics are skyrocketing...
Here are two comments from a Reddit thread:
"Venezuelan here, living in Venezuela. I shared with you guys what life was like living in Venezuela a few months ago, but incredibly it has gotten worse. Back then we didn't have that many power outages. Now there are 4-8 hour outages everyday. Weekends start on Wednesdays. Water is coming super gross through the pipes. What I've noticed recently is that the country has nearly stopped "moving". That and you hear about looting nearly every week. Doing anything at the bank or at some public office takes you so many, unnecessary days because of the power outages. Most people I feel don't even want to work anymore now because the wages are too low and even if their wages were high there's not that much to buy. Food is the new money in Venezuela. If you have a lot of food then you are rich. It kinda feels like a Zombie Apocalypse but without the Zombies."
"I live in Venezuela and we don't even know how to prepare for what is coming. All I can do is work hard to buy as much stuff as I can and save a little bit in USD. Spending and getting into credit card debt seem like good strategies (because of the high inflation rate and a lot of things are cheaper here than abroad). However people like me don't really have a plan for when shit hits the fan. I have a large family here, so feel responsible for them so I won't leave the country. I have a good job and I'm able to buy the food my family requires. But still, I wonder how should I prepare..."

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article73657547.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article73657547.html#storylink=cpy
And this from the Washington Post:
Venezuela, a country of 30 million that despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves has descended into a dystopia where food, medicine, water and electric power are critically scarce. Riots and looting broke out in several blacked-out cities last week, forcing the deployment of troops. A nation that 35 years ago was the richest in Latin America is now appealing to its neighbors for humanitarian deliveries to prevent epidemics and hunger.

The regime that fostered this nightmare, headed by Hugo Chávez until his death in 2013, is on the way out: It cannot survive the economic crisis and mass discontent it has created. The question is whether the change will come relatively peacefully or through an upheaval that could turn Venezuela into a failed state and destabilize much of the region around it.

Buugeng manipulation

Why sugar is added to commercial salt

Explained by a professor of food science:
What really piqued my curiosity was the inclusion of “sugar”... Including only about four one-hundredths of a percent (i.e., 0.04%) of this additive protects or stabilizes the potassium iodide. If no glucose was present, the potassium iodide would eventually break down into its component parts - namely potassium and iodide ions. The iodide ions could then combine to form iodine that could actually vaporize and leave the salt.
Image cropped for size and color-corrected from the original.

Some modern toilets are set at "comfort height"

The Kohler company has a rather informative webpage entitled "How to shop for toilets."  Among the features to be considered (size, shape, water usage, flush technology) when making a purchase is the height of the seat from the floor.
Comfort Height toilets, approximately 2 inches taller than traditional toilets, make sitting down and standing up easier. Toilets that measure between 17 and 19 inches in height from the floor to the top
of the seat are considered Comfort Height toilets, whereas traditional toilets measure below 17 inches in height.
A quick web search yields lots of threads discussing the pros and cons of these higher toilets.  The user's height and a variety of health considerations can come into play (short people may be uncomfortable if their feet do not rest flat on the floor; conversely elderly or physically weak persons may find it easier to rise from the "comfort height" seat.  A column at Slate notes that "bathroom posture" (sitting vs. squatting) may (or may not) have an effect on defecation and on the health of one's nether region.

The American Dental Association sent its members malware

As reported by Krebs on Security:
The problem first came to light in a post on the DSL Reports Security ForumDSLR member “Mike” from Pittsburgh got curious about the integrity of a USB drive that the ADA mailed to members to share updated “dental procedure codes” — codes that dental offices use to track procedures for billing and insurance purposes.

“Oh wow the usually inept ADA just sent me new codes,” Mike wrote. “I bet some marketing genius had this wonderful idea instead of making it downloadable. I can’t wait to plug an unknown USB into my computer that has PHI/HIPAA on it…” [link added].

Sure enough, Mike looked at the code inside one of the files on the flash drive and found it tries to open a Web page that has long been tied to malware distribution. The domain is used by crooks to infect visitors with malware that lets the attackers gain full control of the infected Windows computer...

In response to questions from this author, the ADA said the USB media was manufactured in China by a subcontractor of an ADA vendor, and that some 37,000 of the devices have been distributed.
More information at the link.

28 April 2016

She was fired for saying the word "vagina" without previous approval

Allison Wint, a substitute teacher at a middle school in Battle Creek, Mich., told the Detroit Free Press that she was hoping to provoke a thoughtful dialogue about historical interpretations of O’Keeffe’s work on Friday when she used the word “vagina” during a discussion with eighth graders...

Wint told the Free Press that, in total, she estimates she used the word 10 times during the course of the lecture, prompting giggles from her students, but eventually a substantive discussion...

The next day, according to Wint, she was reprimanded by a school official, who noted that she had said the word “vagina … without previous approval.”

The official told her that referring to female reproductive organs without approval violated school policy, Wint told the Free Press.

She told the paper that she was instructed to gather her belongings and leave the school within one hour.
Good thing they got her out of the school "within one hour."  No telling how much damage she might have inflicted had she stayed until the end of the day.

Re the painting:
Flower of Life II - along with many to follow - presented the sexual anatomy of the flower in sharp focus. By drawing attention to the inherent androgyny of this subject, O'Keeffe could have been attempting to contradict the critical notion that her subject matter was related exclusively to her gender.

But if so, the critics in 1925 missed O'Keeffe's point (as most still do). They interpreted her flowers as they had interpreted her earlier abstractions, as expressions of her sexuality. In 1943, O'Keeffe finally responded: Well - I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flowers you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower - and I don't. ”
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