20 September 2018

"Are You Going With Me?" (Pat Metheny Group)

Filmed at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, but the audio is obviously from a studio recording.  This video has just the music.

"At the time of the song's recording, Latin American and especially Brazilian music had begun to influence jazz in the United States, and when Brazilian musicians such as Nana Vasconcelos came to play with American artists, this influence, in the case of the Pat Metheny Group, became overt. The "Brazilian" quality of "Are You Going With Me?" is frequently noted; and it has been considered by some to be "obviously samba-based"."

Interesting story about Pat Metheny:  "While playing at a club in Kansas City, he was approached by Bill Lee, a dean at the University of Miami, and offered a scholarship. After less than a week at college, Metheny realized that playing guitar all day during his teens had left him unprepared for classes. He admitted this to Lee, who offered him a job to teach instead, as the school had recently introduced electric guitar as a course of study."

He is apparently the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards in ten different categories.

A more recent performance, with the Metropole Orkest (Netherlands jazz/pop orchestra):

19 September 2018

A "rat king", three "squirrel kings" -- and three bucks

"Rat kings are cryptozoological phenomena said to arise when a number of rats become intertwined at their tails, which become stuck together with blood, dirt, and excrement. The animals consequently grow together while joined at the tails, which are often broken. The phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany, where the majority of instances have been reported...

Most researchers presume the creatures are legendary and that all supposed physical evidence is hoaxed, such as mummified groups of dead rats with their tails tied together. Reports of living specimens remain unsubstantiated

Specimens of purported rat kings are kept in some museums. The museum Mauritianum in Altenburg (Thuringia) shows the largest well-known mummified "rat king", which was found in 1828 in a miller's fireplace at Buchheim [above]. It consists of 32 rats. Alcohol-preserved rat kings are shown in museums in Hamburg, Hamelin, Göttingen, and Stuttgart. A rat king found in 1930 in New Zealand, displayed in the Otago Museum in Dunedin, was composed of immature Rattus rattus whose tails were entangled by horse hair.

The term rat king has often led to the misconception of a king of rats... The Nutcracker, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, adapts a tale by E. T. A. Hoffmann that features a seven-headed Mouse King as the villain..."
Image and text from Wikipedia. Credit to Neatorama.

Addendum #1:  Reposted to add this example of a "squirrel king" -
The Animal Clinic of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, got a surprise this week when a city worker brought in six squirrels fused together by their tails...

This particular group of six were nesting near a pine tree and sap fused their tails together. A city of Regina worker found the young squirrels and brought them to the clinic. The animals were sedated and the veterinarian team worked to untangle the mess of tails. Their tails were then shaved of the matted fur and they were given antibiotics to prevent infection.  (Via Nothing to do with Arbroath)

Addendum #2:  Reposted in order to add this related interesting phenomenon found by my wife at the Buck Manager website:

[T]hese three white-tailed bucks were found locked during the rut. The bucks were located on a ranch in east-central Texas and, from the information that I received, one of the bucks was still alive when the trio was found. Apparently, the antlers were cut from the dead deer and one very tired buck was lucky enough to run back off into the woods.
There are lots of comments at the site, some opining that the event was faked and arguing the method of death, and one who reported seeing a buck attack a pair that was already locked.   My wife found another example at the same website:

 "...there is nothing worse than finding a dead buck that you did not shoot, but how would you feel if you found not one, but three dead bucks on your property? Okay, it gets worse. What if those three bucks totaled 450 inches of antler? That is exactly what a hunter in the mid-West found on his Ohio farm..."
"They had the bank of this creek all tore up."
Addendum #3: And reader Lisa knew of a ancient example of the phenomenon involving Ice Age mammoths.

Addendum #4:  Reposted from 2013 to add this image found by an anonymous reader -

- of a squirrel king in Nebraska, with the victims, as in the example cited above, fused at their tails by pine tree sap.

Addendum #5:  Reposted yet again to add this "squirrel king" found locally here in central Wisconsin:

Their tails had become entwined with "long-stemmed grasses and strips of plastic their mother used as nest material," the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center wrote on Facebook... "It was impossible to tell whose tail was whose, and we were increasingly concerned because all of them had suffered from varying degrees of tissue damage to their tails caused by circulatory impairment," the post read.

"Acne positivity movement"

[Kali] Kushner, 23, from Cincinnati, Ohio, began documenting her struggle with acne on the Instagram account @myfacestory – her experience with the drug Accutane, dermarolling, makeup, scarring, hyperpigmentation, alongside all the ways people have responded to her acne, from her husband, who has been steadfastly supportive, to the traffic police officer who assumed she was a junkie. To her surprise, people began following. Today, with more than 50,000 followers, she makes up part of the growing acne positivity movement.

After years of oppressive aesthetic perfection, acne positivity is a drive for people to be more open about their skin problems, from the occasional spot to full-blown cystic acne. It joins recent moves to celebrate the many and varied appearances of our skin – from vitiligo to freckles and stretch marks – but also seeks to educate those who still believe that acne is a problem for the unwashed and unhealthy...

He tells of a US study in which participants were shown a selection of photographs of high-school students with skin problems, as well as photographs of the same students with their acne airbrushed out, and asked for their impressions. The results, Shergill says, showed that “as soon as you have any disfigurement on your face, you get viewed as an introverted nerd."

While many regard acne as a teenage affliction, it can evolve into adulthood. An estimated 25% of all women over 30 still have the condition.
The story continues at The Guardian.

Every positive integer can be written as a sum of three palindromes

An engine here allows you to test the validity of the statement.  Via Boing Boing.

Pontevedra, Spain, has banned automobiles

Not just on a boulevard or two, but for all of the central city.
Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores has been mayor of the Galician city since 1999. His philosophy is simple: owning a car doesn’t give you the right to occupy the public space.

“How can it be that the elderly or children aren’t able to use the street because of cars?” asks César Mosquera, the city’s head of infrastructures. “How can it be that private property – the car – occupies the public space?”

Lores became mayor after 12 years in opposition, and within a month had pedestrianised all 300,000 sq m of the medieval centre, paving the streets with granite flagstones. “The historical centre was dead,” he says. “There were a lot of drugs, it was full of cars – it was a marginal zone. It was a city in decline, polluted, and there were a lot of traffic accidents. It was stagnant. Most people who had a chance to leave did so. At first we thought of improving traffic conditions but couldn’t come up with a workable plan. Instead we decided to take back the public space for the residents and to do this we decided to get rid of cars.”

They stopped cars crossing the city and got rid of street parking, as people looking for a place to park is what causes the most congestion. They closed all surface car parks in the city centre and opened underground ones and others on the periphery, with 1,686 free places. They got rid of traffic lights in favour of roundabouts, extended the car-free zone from the old city to the 18th-century area, and used traffic calming in the outer zones to bring the speed limit down to 30km/h.
Details at The Guardian.

'Tis the season for Black Swallowtail caterpillars

The rather unimpressive greenery around our mailbox is a confluent group of rue (Ruta graveolens).  Most homeowners opt for mailbox plantings that are a bit more colorful and showy.  We like the rue because this shrubby perennial tolerates poor soil in hot dry conditions (next to an asphalt road and concrete driveway) and because it is a primary food plant for the caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

Earlier in the season the plants are covered with tiny yellow blossoms...

... which, while unspectacular to the human eye, are complex clusters of five-petaled flowers that are very attractive to bees.  We seldom see Black Swallowtail butterflies on the rue (they tend to nectar on larger flowers elsewhere in the garden), but we know females have visited the rue and oviposited there because in September the caterpillars start appearing on the upper outer branches.

What we see are the late-stage instars, mature caterpillars that are starting to look for a place to form a chrysalis.  They seem to know that the greenery of the rue will die back in the winter, leaving only the woody central stems, and they need a secure place for the chrysalis if they are to live through a Wisconsin winter.

When we find the caterpillars, we bring them to our screen porch, which offers them protection from predatory wasps, ants, spiders, etc., and we give them some clippings of the rue for a final snack, and more importantly a variety of sticks they can use for pupation.  In the above photo the two caterpillars have chosen a stick from a birch tree, and the one on the right has already formed its "J", with a silk harness going from the stick around behind its "shoulders."

Several days later (the larger cat having moved on), the caterpillar is now fully pupated, attached at the bottom with some glued adhesive [higher on the stick is a remnant from a prior year's successful sequence], and supported by that amazing little silk sling.

We have eight of these now on the screen porch.  The terrarium will be placed where the chrysalises can be snowed on (I think they might need some moisture in the winter to avoid desiccation), and they will live through sub-zero temperatures, will freeze and thaw (perhaps several times), and in the spring...

... magic.

I've seen metamorphosis countless times, and it never fails to fascinate me.  And the beauty of these creatures up close in just incredible.  Here's a view of the underside of the wings -

And then follows the to-me-incredible event when a creature that in its entire previous life crawled around in a small plant, now lets go of a stick and "knows" how to fly.  And eyes that have never before focused more than millimeters away can now locate food and mates at dozens of meters.

You don't have to be a child to retain a sense of wonder with regard to the natural world.

When you purchase a stock photo but forget to write your own caption

Credit (??) to the StarTribune.

15 September 2018

Divertimento #155

Yet another gif-fest (plus some short videos that seem better linked here rather than in separate posts)

Demonstration of a drone being used to extinguish a fire in a high-rise building.

Surprisingly, nobody was killed in this accident

Clever book cover

Creating art with an ink-soaked string 

A girl riding a horse

Lightness and darkness are relative terms

A "draw hitch knot" is a quick-release knot

How to serve a Korean dinner with a lot of side dishes

Dinner served with shovels

California fire tornado 

Woman dries underpants during an airplane flight 

A Congreve clock uses a ball rolling on a zig-zag track rather than a pendulum

Playing around with a skid-steer loader 

Nutation illustrated

"Trashy" people filmed in reverse at an Ohio wildlife preserve.

Taxi driver has had it up to here with a drunk who litters

Hi-rising dough

Building a Leonardo daVinci bridge (example)


Butterflies puddling on a turtle 

Newfoundland dogs are natural water rescuers

Deer freed from a fence 

Two fish in an aquarium have a territorial dispute 

Elephants in Kenya eating birds' nests with chicks and eggs

Wading bird hitches a ride

Turtles on a log

Two-headed turtle 

Aerial view of a dog herding sheep 

Four-legged hay spreader 

Happy cow 

Owl intimidates woodpecker

Snow leopard mom teaching her cub


Cat escapes from a well by climbing a vertical wall

How to fillet an avocado

Power-washing a rug

Launching a remote-controlled glider

Break dancing (perhaps it has another name?)

Leigh Holland-Keen lifts Scotland’s legendary Dinnie Stones (733 pounds)

Surfer riding a massive wave

Splitting rock (smart to have the pegs tied together)

Carving a watermelon

Saving a sea turtle 

Animatronic triceratops

Lake Superior "yooperlites"

Lavender kunzite


Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

When the ground is lava

Just to clarify, this athlete is not wearing a bra (it's a tracker)

When your older sister is a better athlete

Incredible ping-pong shot 

Punt returned for a touchdown in one second


Driving a car on a carpeted stage

Jumping off a dock in the rain 

Ballerina top goes bye-bye 

Volvo collision prevention system doesn't 

Man tries to rob a store

Watch me dive into the pool

Dad surprises his daughter 

Little girl tries a claw machine 

Wait for me !

He finally made it !  Whew !

Toddler putting on his leg 

Elderly man still enjoys jazz


Fun (?) in a tire swing

When your older sister is a better athlete

All of the embedded images come from a remarkable gallery of 24 award-winning photos in the 2017 Nikon Small World competition.  Please visit the link to learn what the depicted subjects are, and to enjoy the rest of the gallery.

14 September 2018


Fjaðrárgljúfur (pronounced [ˈfjaːðraurˌkljuːvʏr̥]) is a canyon in south east Iceland which is up to 100 m deep and about 2 kilometers long, with the Fjaðrá river flowing through it. The canyon has steep walls and winding water. Its origins dates back to the cold periods of the Ice Age, about two million years ago. It is located near the Ring Road, not far from the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The canyon was created by progressive erosion by flowing water from glaciers through the rocks and palagonite over millennia.
Via the EarthPorn subreddit.  I quite enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek clarification: "For those confused, it's pronounced 'flglhlhaldhslflr.'"

Found under the floorboards of an old house

A vintage eggshell cutter for serving soft-boiled eggs.  Not to be confused with one of these.

Image cropped and improved from the original posted at the WhatIsThisThing subreddit.

Alma Deutscher - musical prodigy (updated)

As reported in The Telegraph:
Deutscher's father said she could name the notes on a piano by the age of two. She was given her first violin for her third birthday, and was playing Handel sonatas within a year.

Earlier this year, Deutscher composed a short opera called The Sweeper of Dreams, which narrowly missed out on making the final of a contest run by the English National Opera to unearth young, talented classical musicians.
Reposted from 2012 (the embed above shows her performing at age 6) to add this incredible video:

Scott Pelley selects four notes, and the now-12-year-old young lady takes less than a minute to compose and play a piano sonata based on those notes.

Via Neatorama.  Her Wikipedia page.

Bridezilla is angry...

The social media entry embedded above will serve as an appropriate introduction for anyone not familiar with the portmanteau term "bridezilla."  And don't get her started on the registry...

12 September 2018



The story of a Confederate flag and a heart attack

I liked Ike

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first U.S. president I knew of (I was an infant during the Truman administration), and I liked him.  He was Pennsylvania Dutch, like my father, and seemed to my youthful mind to be a proper President.  Growing up in a household with one parent a Republican and the other a Democrat, I wound up with zero interest in politics per se until my collegiate years, when the events of the late 60s commanded my attention.

As a blogger, I've posted a smattering of information about him - most remarkably the fact that during his tenure as a conservative Republican, the top marginal income tax rate was 91%, and most memorably his televised "farewell warning" to the nation.

I learned more about him yesterday [2012] from an article in The New Republic, which mused about why today's Republicans seldom mention him:
Conservatives had expected that Eisenhower, as the first Republican president since 1932, would repeal the New Deal; instead he augmented and expanded programs like Social Security, thereby giving them bipartisan legitimacy as well as added effectiveness. Conservatives had expected that the president would support Senator Joseph McCarthy’s crusade to tar all liberals as pro-Communist; instead he denied McCarthy the authority to subpoena federal witnesses and receive classified documents, thereby precipitating the red-baiter’s overreach and fall.

Eisenhower governed as a moderate Republican. While he failed to take bold action against Southern segregation as Democratic liberals and Republican progressives urged him to do, he helped to cool the overheated partisan rhetoric of the preceding two decades and built a middle-of-the-road consensus that marginalized extremists of left and right. He was well aware that his moderation earned him the implacable enmity of GOP conservatives. As he put it, “There is a certain reactionary fringe of the Republican Party that hates and despises everything for which I stand.” But this did not greatly bother him, since he also believed that “their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

The conservative movement’s tablet-keepers have long memories, so it’s unsurprising that Ike has remained a devil figure for the right. What may seem more surprising is that at a moment when Republicans are posing as stalwart defenders of a balanced federal budget, they dismiss the example of the most fiscally conservative president of the past eighty years. Eisenhower balanced the budget three times in his eight years in office, a feat that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush came close to achieving. Ike cut federal civilian employment by 274,000 and reduced the ratio of the national debt to GNP, though not the absolute level of debt. The economy bloomed under his watch, with high growth, low inflation, and low unemployment.

 But Eisenhower’s economic success matters little to today’s Republicans given his deviations from conservative orthodoxy. Ike disdained partisanship, praised compromise and cooperation, and pitched his appeals to independent voters. He approved anti-recessionary stimulus spending, extended unemployment compensation, and raised the minimum wage. He pioneered federal aid to education and created the largest public-works program in history in the form of the interstate highway system. He levied gasoline taxes to pay for the highway construction, and believed that cutting income taxes when the federal government was running a deficit would be an act of gross fiscal irresponsibility. The Republican presidential candidates who are beating the drum to bomb Iran are in stark contrast with Eisenhower’s refusal to intervene in Vietnam. And conservative hawks find something vaguely pinko about Ike’s drive to restrain the pace of the arms race and his famous warning about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.”

 In fairness to today’s Republicans, Eisenhower’s values—prudence, pragmatism, reasonableness, frugality, and respect for the past—find little resonance on either side of our present partisan divide, or in American culture as a whole.
Some day I should read a full biography of him; I'm open to suggestions as to which one to choose.

There's more at The New Republic, via The Dish.

Reposted from 2012 to add some new information.

In 2016 I posted Eisenhower, LeMay, Nimitz: "Hiroshima bombing unnecessary." Some interesting information there, especially in several comments by readers in the discussion thread.

But what prompted my repost this morning is an article in the April issue of The Atlantic about Eisenhower's views on civil rights.  Herewith some excerpts.
At a White House stag dinner in February 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower shocked the new chief justice of the United States. Earl Warren was Eisenhower’s first appointment to the Supreme Court and had been sworn in just four months earlier. Only two months into his tenure, Warren had presided over oral arguments in the blockbuster school-segregation case Brown v. Board of Education. As of the dinner, the case was still under advisement. Yet Eisenhower seated Warren near one of the attorneys who had argued the case for the southern states, John W. Davis, and went out of his way to praise Davis as a great man. That alone would have made for an awkward evening. What happened next made it fateful. Over coffee, Eisenhower took Warren by the arm and asked him to consider the perspective of white parents in the Deep South. “These are not bad people,” the president said. “All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big black bucks.”

It was an appalling moment. Here was the president leaning on the chief justice about a pending case while using the racist terms of an overseer. Several of Eisenhower’s admirers have attempted to downplay the encounter, but reports confirm that he used racially charged language in private. The incident left such an impression that Warren recounted it in his memoirs some 20 years later. Ever decorous, he sanitized the slur from “black bucks” to “overgrown Negroes,” but in his biography, Super Chief, Bernard Schwartz, one of Warren’s confidants, recorded the actual phrase in all its rotten vinegar. Warren had been a prosecutor and a governor, and was no choirboy; he had heard bigoted language before. Yet as the chief justice, he embodied the impartiality of the entire federal judiciary. He was a man who believed in fairness and dignity. The president’s words had shaken him...

[after the Brown decision] Eisenhower pointedly refused to endorse it. Instead he delivered this bafflingly terse answer to a reporter’s question: “The Supreme Court has spoken, and I am sworn to uphold the constitutional process in the country. And I will obey.” There endeth the statement. Eisenhower offered no comment in support of racial equality, no expression of solidarity with African Americans, and no sign of agreement with the Court’s opinion...

...Eisenhower freely praised the Court’s decisions in other contexts, including, as a candidate, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), which invalidated President Harry Truman’s attempt to seize control of the steel mills during the Korean War. And Eisenhower abandoned restraint and threw himself into causes that seemed closer to his heart than civil rights, such as the fight for a balanced budget. During violent melees in protest of Brown, Eisenhower temporized, speaking in private of the need to “understand the southerners as well as the Negroes,” and denouncing “extremists on both sides”—a familiar equivalence that elevated racist mobs to the status of civil-rights marchers...

Sadly, if every president forfeits all civil-rights recognition by using racist language in the ugly spirit of his age, then Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson must go as well. Eisenhower acted to desegregate the armed forces and took strong steps to desegregate Washington, D.C. After procrastinating, he decisively enforced Brown by sending federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to face down Governor Orval Faubus. The president lent his support, with mixed success, to the effort to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1957...

Eisenhower believed in incremental change, driven by social progress rather than law. He demanded intolerable levels of patience from African Americans, who had already waited centuries for equality. Warren, by contrast, recognized that America’s formative pathology—its racism—was a terminal cancer that must be dealt with urgently. He engineered the boldest stroke against segregation since Reconstruction.
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