21 July 2018

Mantis in amber

"Amber with Inclusions. Hymenaea protera. Oligocene. Dominican Republic."
Photos from other angles at Heritage Auctions.

Alcohol and country music

A relationship examined at The Washington Post:
Although fans imbibe copiously at concerts of every genre, all of which boast songs about drinking, it’s possible that no slice of American life has embraced alcohol with the enthusiasm of country music. The two have gone hand-in-hand for decades, thanks in part to the so-called “tear in your beer” songs that helped make the format famous.

But today, country music and alcohol are inextricably linked as never before. Not only has the genre become known (and sometimes mocked) for its sheer amount of drinking-themed songs, but an increasing number of country acts have created their own brands of booze, including Chesney’s rum, Blake Shelton’s Smithworks vodka, Miranda Lambert’s Red 55 wine and Toby Keith’s Wild Shot mezcal.

In June, Shelton and Jason Aldean opened bars in downtown Nashville. They join recent establishments from Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson and Dierks Bentley, each of whom has a musical catalogue that pairs naturally with a few drinks...

Traditionally, the conjured image is not flattering, from the early-1900s “drunk hillbilly” stereotype to summer 2014, when country concerts saw a spate of intoxication-related hospital trips and arrests, and one death. But that connection is changing, as the genre is skewing younger and wealthier than ever...

Decades ago, when the country format was scorned as niche music of the working class, the prominence of alcohol fed into the cliche of drowning your sorrows at a honky-tonk. Now, it’s the reverse. Modern country singers promote alcohol largely as an escape: partying with friends, having wild nights on the town or — for singers like Chesney who lean into the tropical, Jimmy Buffett vibe — sitting on the beach with a drink in hand...

There’s no doubt the audience appreciates this. And as Nashville continues to see dollar signs (a CMA study this spring found “country music consumers are spending more on alcohol” these days), artists will keep singing about it.

The mutual benefit is a marked difference from decades ago, when there was a negative connotation of even listening to drinking songs in country bars. Now, those establishments embrace the image. And even a Sirius XM satellite radio station proudly plays “music of country-themed bars and honky-tonks across America.” It’s called Red, White & Booze. 
Lots more at the longread link.  Image cropped from one of the originals there.

Subway car floor

Looks wet - but isn't.  Reportedly designed this way as part of an advertising campaign for upcoming collegiate Olympic events in Taipei.  Image via.

Cropmarks as guides to archaeology

Not crop circles, mind you, but variations in crops that are indicative of subsurface archaeological features.  A heat wave and partial drought in Great Britain have rendered such marks unusually prominent.

Last week the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales posted a well-illustrated article (schematic images embedded), showing how ancient earthworks create alterations in crop size and color by allowing water to be retained during times of scarcity.   The advent of drone photography has obviously simplified the detection process immensely.

I recommend visiting their link to see the awesome gallery of British cropmarks, but today I'll embed a different image I found today at Wired:

A previously unknown henge has been revealed in Boyne Valley, in the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO world heritage site, in Ireland's County Meath. Stretching 200m in diameter, 750m from the famous Newgrange monument... The henge is thought to date from the late Neolithic period, up to possibly the Bronze Age, from about 3,000 BCE...

The henge would have been made out of timber with two concentric circles, which would possibly have been 'linteled' with horizontal supports as well. "This is a time period where they're building particularly in timber and earth, as opposed to stone which went before," Davis says.

"We have this bizarre broken ditch, which we don't really necessarily understand yet and that's the most unusual thing about it," Davis says. This ditch is causewayed, broken into lots of little bits, forming a "permeable boundary" meaning it's not a form of defense. Although there are discernible entries and exits, you could in theory enter the structure at any point. "It makes it much more like a symbolic enclosure, rather than a real enclosure."

This all points to the idea that the structure was used for ritual ceremonies that involved feasting, gathering and trading together.
Wow.  I think I'll go climb a ladder in my front yard...

The epitome of poor design

Braille cells on a pebbled surface.

20 July 2018


All the circles are the same color

Zoom your screen to 200% and mouse around to compare if you don't believe.  Via.

Bedroom for siblings in a small house

Clever design to allow privacy in a small space.  Discussion thread includes comments by architect.

Life - and death - on the ocean floor

Narration by ocean scientists monitoring the video feed.  At various places where this video has been posted online I've seen incorrect comments about the burst of "squid ink."  No squids were involved in the making of this video.  The victim is a barracudina; the black ejecta from the pit must be subsurface mud stirred up by the actions of the toadfish.

Unfortunate product name

"Schelde Sports is a Dutch manufacturer of basketballs and volleyballs. Europe is their main market. Outside of the US, mass shootings at schools are not an issue, few people would make the connection with those instead of ‘shooting hoops’... Schelde Sports has since stopped printing ‘shooter’ on their basketballs. Now the label on the balls simply reads ‘School’, ‘Pro’, ‘Club’, etc."

Word for the day: kerf

Like so many simple, short words, kerf is unchanged from the Middle English (the Old English predecessor was cyrf (an act of cutting, a cutting off; a cutting instrument).
  1. The groove or slit created by cutting a workpiece; an incision.
  2. The width of the groove made while cutting with a saw or laser.
  3. The distance between diverging saw teeth.
  4. The portion of hay, turf, wool, etc. yielded by a single cut or shearing stroke.
Posted because I encountered this interesting gif of plywood being kerfed.
"This only shows part of the process. The kerfs will be filled with glue, and the perpendicular notches that run along the kerfs will get a spline similar to a little biscuit joint. Then you trim off the excess and sand the whole thing smooth. They're pretty tough once all the glue is set."
More words to look up (some other day).

A map of crow attacks in Vancouver

Crowtrax is an online tool where users can map thousands of crow attacks in the Vancouver area.  More info at The Guardian.

Decorating a Hungarian gingerbread cookie

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