23 April 2017

"Slime videos" explained

A tip of the blogging hat to the elves at No Such Thing As A Fish for explaining in a recent podcast how "slime" is now a "thing".  I found a detailed explanation in a column at nymag.  Herewith some excerpts:
Slime, if you haven’t encountered it on any of your social feeds — or at a child’s birthday party — is a strange, mushy semi-solid that can be made easily with Elmer’s glue, borax, and water, plus a mess of strange sequins, colored dye, and commentary. Slime is so popular as a craft project among teens and preteens that stores are struggling to keep Elmer’s glue on the shelves...

Slime videos are part science, part meditation, and part art form. They’re also a business. Slime creators have hundreds of thousands of followers, and sell their slime on Etsy for money. @Slime.Bun, one of my favorites, has more than 200,000 followers; @slimequeeens has almost 700,000. It’s an industry dominated by teens who started making their own slime just because they loved it — and starting selling it to enable their habit. Alyssa J., a 15-year-old slime creator whose mother preferred that she keep her last name secret for privacy reasons, just started her slime account in August 2016. She says she saw tutorials on Pinterest, and that it “just looked fun,” so she decided to start an account herself. Alyssa’s account, @craftyslimecreator, now has 431,000 followers...

 For Donna Boyd, a 17-year-old from Harrisburg, Virginia, slime is therapeutic. She’s never purchased slime, or made it herself. She just watches hundreds of videos from her five favorite accounts over and over again. “It honestly just makes me happy and de-stresses me,” Donna told me. “I suffer from anxiety, and slime videos help me a lot during panic attacks.” She says she gets lost in them after watching a few, going into a kind of meditative state. One teen I spoke to, Rachel M., told me she spends “at least 15 hours a week” just watching slime videos and playing with slime. She has only bought two slimes herself, but she loves them and says, “I need them.”..

“It doesn’t matter what it’s used for,” Alyssa told me near the end of our interview, dragging out “used” so that it sounded like the most absurd request in the world for a giggly, blue goo to have a purpose. “It’s just slime. Get it?”
Here is a sample video:

BTW, the company that makes Elmer's Glue is private.  You can't buy stock in it.  I checked.

"How Western civilization could collapse"

Excerpts from an interesting longread at the BBC:
The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse...

...there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom...

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour...

According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost. As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war, that did the Empire in...

Whether in the US, UK or elsewhere, the more dissatisfied and afraid people become, Homer-Dixon says, the more of a tendency they have to cling to their in-group identity – whether religious, racial or national. Denial, including of the emerging prospect of societal collapse itself, will be widespread, as will rejection of evidence-based fact. If people admit that problems exist at all, they will assign blame for those problems to everyone outside of their in-group, building up resentment. “You’re setting up the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence,” Homer-Dixon says. When localised violence finally does break out, or another country or group decides to invade, collapse will be difficult to avoid...
Whenever I read about the end of civilization, I am reminded of this classic passage from Hitchhiker:
P.A. VOICE: We are currently awaiting the loading of our compliment of small, lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment, and hygiene during the flight, which will be of two hours duration. Meanwhile we thank you for your patience. The cabin crew will shortly be serving coffee and biscuits… again.

AUTOPILOT: There has been a delay. The passengers are kept in temporary suspended animation for their comfort and convenience. Coffee and biscuits are served every ten years, after which passengers are returned to suspended animation for their comfort and convenience. Departure will take place when flight stores are complete. We apologise for the delay.

FORD: Delay? Have you seen the world outside this ship? It’s a wasteland. A desert. Civilisation’s been and gone. It’s over. There are no lemon-soaked paper napkins on the way from anywhere.

AUTOPILOT: The statistical likelihood is that other civilisations will arise. There will one day be lemon-soaked paper napkins. ‘Till then, there will be a short delay. Please return to your seats.

Therapy dogs waitiing to see their children

Photo taken at an Italian children's hospital.  Via Reddit.

The dangers of kohl eyeliner

Kohl served multiple roles in Egyptian antiquity. Egyptians of all social classes applied the eyeliner daily in veneration of the deities, satisfying both religious obligations and beautifying desires. Wearing the glossiest, highest quality kohl denoted one’s upper class status in society while the less wealthy adulterated their kohl with fire soot. Before the advent of Ray-Bans, it was applied liberally around the eyes to reduce the sun’s glare, to repel flies and to provide cooling relief from the heat. It also trapped errant dust and dirt, a simple remedy to curb the desert’s regular assaults on the body...

Kohl is predominantly composed of the mineral galena, a dark, metallic lead-based product that is also known by the chemical name lead sulfide (PbS). The mineral would be crushed and mixed  with several other ingredients such as ground pearls, rubies and emeralds, silver and gold leaves, frankincense, coral, and medicinal herbs such as saffron, fennel, and neem...

A 240-fold increase in NO production was sparked by the presence of lead ions, a bona fide tsunami of molecules flooding surrounding cells to respond to invading bacteria. This intense biochemical interaction suggests that kohl was more than just a beautifying cosmetic and the forefather of sunglasses, but also an important antibacterial ointment...

Kohl is still used today in North Africa and Central Asia, despite its considerable toxicity.
There is more information about the toxicity at NPR:
Two Afghan children now living in Albuquerque developed very high levels of lead in their blood because of eye makeup, health workers reported Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The family had just emigrated from Afghanistan as refugees. And they brought the traditional eyeliner, called kajal, with them...

When health workers tested the kajal in the family's home, the eyeliner turned out to be 54 percent lead. That's 540,000 parts per million, or 27,000 times the cap set by the Food and Drug Administration for color additives in makeup.

Lead is a neurotoxin. And it's especially harmful to babies and young children. Even small amounts can damage developing brains and cause permanent problems.

Tilly Lockey and her bionic arm

The above video shows her first attempts to use the new arm; In the longer video below she tells her story:

More details at the Meningitis Research Foundation.

"I've never been on a team before. Even if I don't play, I just want to be on the team..."

"He's at home" was the term for a Nantucket dildo - updated

A long and quite interesting article at Literary Hub traces one writer's journey to document the use of dildos by the wives of Nantucket whalers.
On Nantucket, 80-year-old Connie Congdon and I sat in her dim living room looking at the 120-year-old plaster dildo that a mason had found in her chimney...

In the box were the other antiques the mason had found with the dildo: six charred envelopes from the 1890s addressed to Captain James B. Coffin; letters from the same James B. Coffin to Grover Cleveland and Assistant Secretary of State Edwin Dehl; a dirty and frayed shirt collar; a pipe that still smelled of tobacco when I fit my nose in the bowl; and a green glass laudanum bottle. These items must have been hidden in the chimney by James’s wife,­ Martha “Mattie” Coffin, sometime between when the letters were dated and when she died in 1928. The fireplace was later sealed up, and a closet was built in front of it...

She unwrapped the stony phallus from its pink tissue paper and handed it to me. It was heavier than it looked. The head had been painted wild-berry red. The shaft was off-white and touched with light brown stains. Through the center was a hole no thicker than a straw, as if it had been skewered for drying. Saw marks streaked the cross section of the flat base, and it had been circumcised with whittling scrapes. “No mistaking what it is,” Connie said, as I turned it in my hand...

She bent at the waist, snapped on the flashlight, and peered up the chimney. “Up there,” she said, motioning me to kneel down beside her. “It was on the flue shelf.” I craned my neck. Her light swept over the chimney’s charred innards. The damper ledge where the dildo had been hidden was an arm’s length away...

Nantucket wives were dubbed “Cape Horn widows,” because their husbands might be gone for eight years. In Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab tells his first mate, Starbuck, that of the past forty years of “making war on the horrors of the deep” he’d only been ashore three, leaving only “one dent in [his] marriage pillow.” “[W]ife?” Ahab rages, “wife?—rather a widow with her husband alive!” The dildos, called “he’s-at-homes” in some books on the history of the Yankee whale fishery, were meant to be some insurance of fidelity for a husband who was rarely present.
Much more at Literary Hub.  Well worth the read for those interested in the subject matter.

I can't close without including a link to the famous poem(s) "There Once Was a Man From Nantucket."

Reposted from 2015 to add this report of a similar item being auctioned in Ireland:

Lot 475 is a Victorian-era sex toy – an uncannily lifelike-looking phallus, intricately carved from ivory. Sandwiched in the brochure between a pair of antique miniature portraits and a set of decanter labels, the item is described in the brochure as an “antique carved ivory ladies companion in scarlet lined leather upholstered carry box with inset bevelled glass panel”.

“It is a beautiful piece, which comes from one of the well-known Anglo-Irish families,” says auctioneer Damien Matthews...

“This was a very enlightened family, and this would have been a very loving gift from a husband to wife. You can see that because the level of detail is incredible, down to the folds of the skin. There’s a heart carved at the base of it, where her finger would have been, and a receptacle in which she could keep a lock of his hair.”...

The man did return, and the box was subsequently custom-made in Ireland. “The leather box is Irish. She would have got the box carved for it – there’s a stamp on the lock with the name of an Irish locksmith,” Matthews says...

Matthews says there has been considerable interest in the piece, and that it could go to a museum of erotica, to a collector of antique ivory or Victorian art. The guide price is set at €500-€800.
Further details at Irish Times, via The Guardian.

Tongue-and-groove tree felling

Via.  Video here.

21 April 2017

Divertimento #125

The 125th linkdump becomes the first "gifdump". 

Deep-frying rice vermicelli noodles.

Avalanche rescue dog having fun.

Gorilla vs. Canada goose.  You can guess who wins.

Local sports hero.

Vietnamese SWAT team tactical training.

A group of wild turkeys marching in a circle around a dead cat.

The "master of disguise" is not the one you expect.

Dog and rabbit are BFF.

The Pope getting a pizza delivered to his vehicle.

When a video camera's shutter speed synchronizes with a helicopter's rotors, the resulting video is unnerving.

Baby bottle robot prototype - unsuccessful.

Unsuccessful attempt at bank robbery.

Windy day.   This one went viral last week.  She holds on to her tablet like a champ.

"Living the dream."

Kinetic wood sculpture.

Tree stump removal.

Hot water and Skittles.

A dog swimming with a breaststroke, not a dogpaddle.

This woman not only counts money faster than you, but faster than you can even imagine.

Fluid dynamics of a drip-free wine-bottle lip.

An astronaut aboard the ISS demonstrates the Dzhanibekov Effect.

This was labeled "bubble gum" but it's probably slime (about which more later this week).

Lightning striking a car.

Rescuers offer a King Cobra water (note the size of this magnificent creature).

Donald Trump signs his "energy independence Executive Order."

A man tries to kick a dog.  Karma ensues.

Girl annoys dog at beach.  Karma ensues.

Every dot in this video moves in a straight line only.

A little bird is ecstatic about receiving pats.

Kingfisher breaching after a successful dive (the minnow can be seen wiggling in his gullet).

This is a "power broom."  Very cool.

A high-definition night vision camera looks like daylight until you realize the stars are visible.

I can't describe this remarkable baseball play.  Just watch.

Throw a lighted cigarette butt in a hole in the sidewalk.  WCGW ?

A "deceased spirit" is set free at a funeral.  WCGW?

HMB while I skimboard across a pool.  WCGW?

Red panda vs. rock.  We'll call it a tie.

Bow down before the awesome power of a crocodile's tail.

Add water to compressed soil.

Polyox is a self-siphoning gel.

Donald Trump being reminded to be patriotic.

Hydrophobic sand.

A runaway tire.

What to do when a baby elephant has a stuffy nose.

The Daily Show interviews a man on the street re Obama's role in 9/11.

The smile of a Syrian girl who survived a suicide bombing.

This is an armadillo's defense.  And this is the feline version of the same thing.

I found the pix in the subreddit on Unstirred Paint.  (There seems to be subreddit for everything).

19 April 2017

Seraphine (2009)

I encountered this trailer for Seraphine while watching the DVD of A Man Called Ove and decided to give it a try.  Here's the blurb:
Based on a true story, SÉRAPHINE centers on Séraphine de Senlis (Moreau), a simple and profoundly devout housekeeper whose brilliantly colorful canvases adorn some of the most famous galleries in the world. German art critic and collector Wilhelm Uhde (The Lives of Others Ulrich Tukur) - the first Picasso buyer and champion of naïve primitive painter Le Douanier Rousseau - discovers her paintings while she is working for him as a maid in the beautiful countryside of Senlis near Paris. A moving and unexpected relationship develops between the avant-garde art dealer and the visionary outsider artist. Martin Provost's fictionalized and poignant portrait of Séraphine is a testament to creativity and the resilience of one womans spirit.
That's an accurate summary.  It's not a cheerful movie, but it is extremely well acted and filmed, scoring 89% on Rotten Tomatoes; it received these César Awards in 2009:
If you can't find the DVD at your library, the full movie is online here.

18 April 2017

17 April 2017

It's sad that this is basically true

Source (where you can click through all the Dilbert cartoons).

Canine freestyle

This is better than some of the ones I've seen presented at Crofts.   I can't begin to imagine the countless hours these two have spent together developing this routine.

Via Neatorama.


Normal child's skull (with some overlying bone dissected away) to show the relationship of the baby teeth to the unemerged adult teeth.

Image cropped for size from the original via.

The Zanclean flood

According to this model, water from the Atlantic Ocean refilled the cut-off inland seas through the modern-day Strait of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean Basin flooded mostly during a period estimated to have been between several months and two years. Sea level rise in the basin may have reached rates at times greater than ten metres per day (thirty feet per day).  Based on the erosion features preserved until modern times under the Pliocene sediment, these authors estimate that water rushed down a drop of more than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) with a discharge of up to  2×108 m3/s (7.1×109 cu ft/s), about 1,000 times that of the present day Amazon River. Studies of the underground structures at the Gibraltar Strait show that the flooding channel descended in a rather gradual way toward the bottom of the basin rather than forming a steep waterfall.

Not all scientific studies have agreed with the catastrophistic interpretation of this event. Some researchers have estimated that the reinstallment of a "normal" Mediterranean Sea basin following the Messinian "Lago Mare" episode took place in a much more gradual way, taking as long as 10,000 years.
Related: flooding of the Black Sea basin.

I do hope someone invents time travel soon, because I'd like to go back and watch this.
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