24 May 2013
I always like to end my blogging morning with a good image at the top of the page. Here's another photo of this famous rock formation (named because of its resemblance to a troll's tongue):
It is located near Odda and the Hardanger Fjord, well south of the Fjaerland Fjord where my ancestors lived.
See also Preikestolen.
Top image via Reddit; second one via Wikipedia.
Excerpts from a story at the Motherboard section of Vice:
The events of 9/11 remain the most photographed in history. It’s from out of that mass witness and record that one image, the 9/11 photograph that still hardly anyone has ever seen, seemed to challenge our deepest notions of not only what it meant to die – and eventually be partially reconstructed – in the new data age, but what confronting death, as witnesses or consumers of information, said about ourselves as witnesses or consumers of information. Making it all the more arresting, perhaps, was its stark, almost calm anonymity. Nobody had a clue as to who the photo’s subject, seen plummeting from the very top of the North Tower, could be. Countless newspapers and wires ran the image the following morning, but almost immediately got so much shit from readers that for most outlets there became no other option but to pull the photo. Eleven years on, the Falling Man is still suspended.In deference to the sensitivities of some readers, I'll place the photo and some additional text below the fold...
The image above is a screencap from a video on a television documentary about tornados. Twin twisters rotating about one another produced a figure that could be viewed as humanoid in shape.
A discussion thread at the extensively-redacted AskHistorians subReddit examines whether or not there was a legend among pre-contact plains native Americans of some tornados being referred to as "dead man walking" and whether this image is representative of that.
I have often wondered why tornados are not depicted in ancient rock art petroglyphs in North America.
The U.S. has waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan justified, at least in rhetoric, by the claim that people deserve the right to vote for their leaders. Most of us assume that the right to vote has long been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Not according to the Supreme Court. In Bush v. Gore (2000), the Court ruled that “[t]he individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.”..Two Congressmen from Minnesota and Wisconsin want to change that:
The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy. Yet most Americans do not realize that we do not have a constitutionally protected right to vote. While there are amendments to the U.S. Constitution that prohibit discrimination based on race (15th), sex (19th) and age (26th), no affirmative right to vote exists...
Two members of the House of Representatives, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Representative Keith Ellison, D-Minn., announced on May 13 that they would introduce an amendment to the federal Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote in America. Here is their proposed amendment:There's more at the Salon source.
SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.
A variety of British sources today are reporting the unusual case of a hedgehog that was inflated like a balloon (the above image is via The Times). On the left is an almost-unrecognizable hedgehog lying on its back on a towel, presumably on some type of tray for the xray machine. The image at the right is an AP view of the little critter, showing the skin inflated by gas.
The subcutaneous emphysema developed because a wound became infected with gas-producing organisms. The same thing can happen in humans; here are excerpts from a 2009 report published in Surgical Infections:
‘‘Flatus Profuse Present in the Muscles’’: Subcutaneous Emphysema of the Lower Abdominal Wall and Thighs, Described in 1593 by Fabricius HildanusThose familiar with the word flatus being used only in reference to farts will recognize now that it can also be applied to other collections of air or gas, and is derived from the Latin verb flare ("to blow") which gives us inflation.
Between 1598 and 1641, 600 medical and surgical observations made by the famous German surgeon Guilhelmius Fabricius Hildanus (1560–1634) were published in his Observationum et curationum chirurgicarum centuriae I–VI. One of the case reports, published as Observatio LXX in the fifth Centuria, bears the title (in translation) Of flatus, profuse present in the muscles. This case report probably is the earliest accurate observation of subcutaneous emphysema of the lower abdomen and thighs attributable to a retroperitoneal abscess.
Here is an English translation of the most essential part of this case report:
In the year 1593, in Keulen, I was sent for a boy of about ten years old, who has suffered heavily from smallpox, of which he was almost cured, but now his belly, down from the umbilicus, and his hips and thighs were peculiarly extended with flatus, which was present between the skin and the muscles, and partly in the muscles, and when these parts were touched with our hands, they rustled, just as fresh calf’s meat, that the butcher has inflated with air. He felt no pain, his internal parts were comfortable, and with almost no effects of the previous illness. We used several means, internally, to strengthen the noble internal organs, and externally, to make the flatus disappear, which ultimately resulted in a favourable outcome.
I also find it interesting that this report gives such a good description of the crepitus detectable in SQ emphysema ("when these parts were touched with our hands, they rustled...") and I'm very curious about the next part: "...just as fresh calf's meat, that the butcher has inflated with air."
Why would butchers of the time inflate meat with air?? Does anyone know?
The argument in this Guardian column argues that terrorism is defined as attacks directed at civilians:
That this was a barbaric and horrendous act goes without saying, but given the legal, military, cultural and political significance of the term "terrorism", it is vital to ask: is that term really applicable to this act of violence? To begin with, in order for an act of violence to be "terrorism", many argue that it must deliberately target civilians. That's the most common means used by those who try to distinguish the violence engaged in by western nations from that used by the "terrorists": sure, we kill civilians sometimes, but we don't deliberately target them the way the "terrorists" do.More at the link (those who reflexly dislike Glenn Greenwald's column can give it a pass).
But here, just as was true for Nidal Hasan's attack on a Fort Hood military base, the victim of the violence was a soldier of a nation at war, not a civilian. He was stationed at an army barracks quite close to the attack. The killer made clear that he knew he had attacked a soldier when he said afterward: "this British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
The US, the UK and its allies have repeatedly killed Muslim civilians over the past decade (and before that), but defenders of those governments insist that this cannot be "terrorism" because it is combatants, not civilians, who are the targets. Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that's not "terrorism", but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism? Amazingly, the US has even imprisoned people at Guantanamo and elsewhere on accusations of "terrorism" who are accused of nothing more than engaging in violence against US soldiers who invaded their country.
The video is a promotional one by the company. At their website they offer data suggesting that the two-wheeled Segway is gentler on turf than the 4-wheeled conventional carts. At $6K, they won't be widely bought by the general public, but perhaps they will find their way into the rental business.
23 May 2013
Found at imgur (p.s. - discovered this week that it's pronounced "imager").
And GIF is pronounced "jif" (according to its creator):
He is proud of the GIF, but remains annoyed that there is still any debate over the pronunciation of the format. “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” Mr. Wilhite said. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
Professor S.K. Gupta has been working on creating a robotic bird for over 8 years now, and other engineering groups across the world have also been working on robotic birds. And while the RoboRaven isn’t the first robotic bird to take flight, it is the first robotic bird to have two independently functioning wings. That gives it a huge advantage in flight, since the independent operation gives it more aerodynamic configurations and more practical applications.At 1:49 in the video the robotic bird is attacked by a hawk.
Via The Dish.
"...everyone has special needs, like Father, who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him from getting fat, or Mrs. Peters, who wears a beige-colored hearing aid, or Siobhan, who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs.
But Siobhan said we have to use those words because people used to call children like the children at school spaz and crip and mong, which were nasty words. But that is stupid too because sometimes the children from the school down the road see us in the street when we're getting off the bus and they shout, "Special Needs! Special Needs!""
---from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
The artist is Kumi Yamashita. An image of the final product is posted at her Facebook page. See also my previous post about her portraits created with thread and nails and with denim.
The longest drive ever was 515 yards.
The longest putt ever was a monstrous 375 feet.
The longest golf course in the world is the par 77 International Golf Club in Massachusetts which measures a fearsome 8325 yards.
The longest golf hole in the world is the 7th hole (par 7) of the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan. It measures an incredible 909 yards.Found at The First Tee.
125,000 golf balls a year are hit into the water at the famous 17th hole of the Stadium Course at Sawgrass.
It is thought the word golf comes from the Dutch word "kolf" or "kolve", meaning "club". Historians believe this was passed on to the Scottish, whose own dialect changed this to "golve," "gowl" or "gouf".
21 May 2013
As a partial explanation of my absence from the blog for several days, I'll offer this photoessay showing the outburst of growth in the woods behind our home. This past winter was unusually prolonged, so when non-Arctic temperatures finally arrived, most people in this part of the country rushed outdoors. I headed to the woods behind our house. (The photos should enlarge with a click)
This tree arches over the entry to the woods; this past winter we had several dead and undesirable trees taken out and failed to realize that this tree was leaning on one of those. When its support was removed it bent to the extent that the top branches now touch the ground. Not sure if they will collect enough light there for the tree to thrive, but for now it creates a living gateway.
In the Upper Midwest of the U.S., the primary choices for foliage plants in shaded woodlands are hostas. This cluster at the base of the arching tree was one of the first I planted perhaps 10 years ago. It will fill out to cover the entire mulched area before midsummer. All except one of the clusters have had Repellex tablets placed in the root zone in an effort to dissuade rabbits from enjoying lunch here; one plant serves as a control. We'll see what happens.
An even more striking foliage plant in my view is Pulmonaria spp. I think we planted just a few; now they have proliferated in scattered locations in the woods. I love the leaf patterns; the flowers are a bonus in the early spring but don't last long.
These Lilies of the Valley came to us in an exchange with a neighbor to whom we donated some of the pulmonaria. The other flowers in bloom this week include the bleeding hearts (photo at the top of this post), phlox, trillium, bluebells, dandelions, wild geraniums and violets.
Last fall I spent uncounted hours laying down landscape fabric and then dragging tarps full of hardwood mulch to the woods to create walking paths. There's still lots of work to do to finish the paths (I'm laying down logs from the cut trees and partially embedding them on the sides of the paths to keep the mulch from spreading. The paths give me a more secure footing for walking and also subdivide the garden into areas where we can experiment with different botanical combinations.
This hosta was the first one I planted in the woods after I spent the better part of probably two summers grubbing out the buckthorn and honeysuckle underbrush by the roots. The soil back here is black loam several inches deep, and the other plants love it once you remove the invasives that steal all the water and light. This fellow will be huge by the end of the summer; I probably should subdivide him.
We've added bluebells; these are not the English bluebells that you see in immense masses in the forests of the National Trust in Britain. I put chicken wire around this cluster this week to keep the rabbits at bay, because we want to harvest the seeds to scatter in other areas of the woods. Last summer the rabbits nibbled these down to the ground.
It makes sense to incorporate some landscape features into the planting scheme (and it makes way more sense than trying to move them). Here three varieties of hosta cluster around a set of large boulders.
Some phlox was initially planted in the center of this area; it has now spread up and down the hillside. The ferns are escaping from their bed and may have to be restrained because they will shade out everything else, and they are aggressive spreaders in soil like this.
A felicitous combination of plants - Jacks in the Pulpit at the far left just getting started, a variegated hosta, a Pulmonaria cluster, and at the far right some native violets.
Both the white trillium and the yellow ones need some protection from rabbits until they manage to spread to some distant locations. The chicken wire is unattractive and "unnatural,", but is a temporary means to an end.
I really enjoy having Jacks-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) in the woods. Never had to plant them; the year after I got out all the invasive underbrush, a couple Jacks emerged. Now there are hundreds of them; the largest/oldest ones in the woods get as high as my thigh.
Last fall I wrote a post for this blog about propagating Jacks; I heard recently from my friend that her transplants have emerged and appear healthy.
I'll be back out in the woods and yard in the days to come. Also facing the annual monster chore of Cleaning The Garage. And hobby and family stuff is accelerating - and the Monarchs will be arriving within a week or so. So the blog posts will be fewer for the next several weeks.
16 May 2013
On a recent Venue visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, I was captivated by a gallery filled with scrimshaw items, carved by American nineteenth-century whalemen as gifts for mothers, wives, and sweethearts during their long sea voyages... scrimshanders carved baleen, walrus tusks, and whale teeth into hundreds of thousands of pie crimpers.More photos at the Edible Geography source. And a new word for me: scrimshander. Not in my Random House dictionary, but I found it along with scrimshandy, and scrimshoner as a referent under scrimshaw.
Serious pastry chefs today still crimp the edges of their pies using their fingers. Some might go as far as using a fork or spoon to create decorative patterns; and the truly gadget-obsessed, or those with no limitations on their kitchen storage space, might even own a simple stainless steel crimping wheel.
Nineteenth-century scrimshaw pie crimpers, however, are not just useful for sealing pies with an attractive flourish. They incorporate forks for punching air holes, knives for cutting off excess pastry, tart tampers that double as decorative stamps, and, most importantly, two, three, or even four crimping wheels, each of which would imprint a different pattern on your pie crust.
Photo credit: New Bedford Whaling Museum/Nicola Twilley.