13 July 2018

Monument Valley

More photos - including panoramas.  Above via the EarthPorn subreddit.

The UK is phasing out coal

Britain has been powered for more than a thousand hours without coal this year, in a new milestone underscoring how the polluting fuel’s decline is accelerating... The pace of coal power’s demise is speeding up. Throughout the whole of 2017 there were 624 coal-free hours, up from 210 hours in 2016.

The fall of coal power has been swift. In 2012 it supplied two fifths of electricity – this year so far it has provided less than 6%... The decline will deepen in the second half of this year, with the planned closure in September of a Yorkshire coal plant and one in Northern Ireland...

Coal’s fortunes have been in contrast to a series of record highs for renewable sources of energy, including wind, solar and biomass. Renewables supplied 30.1% of electricity in the first three months of the year...
This kind of change is triggered by scientific advances, but implementation requires policy changes by an intelligent and progressive government.  Most countries with enlightened leaders are doing the same as the UK.

Tom Hanks supercut

Cheerful story for the day

Dulce Gonzalez was sure her beach wedding was ruined... Gonzalez, 24, watched from inside her parents’ car June 30 as thick raindrops tore at her fairy tale nuptial setup — drenching the rows of white folding chairs set up on the sand, the flower-crowned altar inscribed with her initials and those of her fiance and the petal-strewn white carpet down which she was supposed to walk.

“I was trying to hold my tears,” Gonzalez said in an interview with The Washington Post this week. “I’m about to have a panic attack, I’m asking my mom, ‘What am I gonna do?’ ”

Just then a woman walked up to Gonzalez’s car window, umbrella-less and soaking wet, and made an offer that Gonzalez could hardly believe.

Hold your wedding in my house, the woman told her...
The rest of the story is at The Washington Post

Image credit to the bride; cropped for composition from the original.

12 July 2018

The first four Sir Henry Merrivale novels

The first time I encountered John Dickson Carr's novels featuring Henry Merrivale, I read them in random order as I discovered them in used book stores.  For this final re-read, I'm going to progress through them in the order they were written.  The Merrivale novels were written under the pseudonym of "Carter Dickson," presumably because Carr was already writing several Gideon Fell mysteries each year under his own name. 

The Plague Court Murders (1934)
This is a classic "locked-room" mystery.  The victim is slain in a blood-spattered small outbuilding ("house") located in the center of an estate's courtyard.  Here's how the author describes the scene:
"First, the house.  The walls are solid stone; not a crack or rat-hole in 'em.  One of my men has been going over the ceiling inch by inch, and it's as solid and unbroken as the day it was put in... We've been over floor, ceiling, and walls.  Any idea of hinges or trap-doors or funny entrances you can get out of your mind... Next, the windows, and they're out.  Those gratings are solid in the stone; no question of that.  The gratings are so small that you can't even get the blade of that dagger through 'em, for instance; we tried it.  The chimney isn't big enough to admit anybody, even if you could drop down into a blazing fire; and finally, there's a heavy iron mesh across it only a little way up.  That's out... The door... bolted, and barred; and not one of those bolts you could do tricks with, either.  It's hard enough to pull back even when you're inside the place... Finally, here's the incredible thing... With the exception of the tracks you and I made... there isn't a footprint anywhere within twenty feet of that house.  And you and I know... that when we first walked out there we saw no footprints at all along the direction we went?"  That was unquestionably true...

In silence we walked all around the house, keeping to the margin of the yard.  The puzzle grew more monstrous and incredible as we stared at every blank side.  Yet I have not overlooked, omitted, or misstated anything, and all was exactly as it seemed to be: a stone box, with door and windows solidly inaccessible, no tricks of secret entrances, and no footprints near it anywhere before [Inspector] Masters and I had gone out.  That is literal truth."
For this book and the three below, I'll defer any discussion of the plot and focus instead on curiosities and uncommon language usage.
"The old man, Dean's father, had side-whiskers and a turkeycock nose."  A turkeycock is a male turkey; the term also refers to a pompous, conceited person.  Not sure if the usage here implies a shape to the nose, or a turned-up position (?).

"[They say] that this one mass of dead evil is always waiting for the opportunity to take possession of a living body... Do you think, then, that the clot could take possession...?"  ???

"... that's one of the oldest, stalest, childishest tricks in the whole bag.  Talk about whiskers... Lummy!"  I noted this in a review of an earlier book: "Madame doses herself with sleeping-tables on the same night that she burns with impatience to meet her lover?  Whiskers to you!  You make me laugh."  The sense is obvious, but it's a curious phrase.  Anyone seen it before? [answer in one of the Comments]

"The passage was narrow, but of great length, and reënforced by heavy beams..."  This placement of an (can we call it an umlaut?) over a doubled letter to guide the reader on the separation of syllables.  Less clumsy than "re-enforced" perhaps, but I think not standard modern usage.

"Staring at the dropsical walls, I wondered why they called it Plague Court."  Affected with dropsy (edematous).  ?? not sure of the applicability of the term to walls, unless in the sense of swollen if they are bowing outward.

"There were six of us present [including] a glucose old party named Lady Benning..."  In context she was definitely not a "sweet" lady.  I totally don't understand this usage.

"Inside were three things: a large folded sheet... a short newspaper-cutting... and a bundle of foolscap..."  A size of printing or drawing paper, 13.5x17".

"Beaton, waked and roused from the truckle-bed by a cry, found him clutching back the bed-curtains and grasping at his neck as though in dreadful pain..."  A low bed on casters, pushed under another bed when not in use.  Derived from ME trocle = roller, and thus related to trochlea (pulley/tendon).

"So none [of the plague victims] were suffered to go out into the air, save only within the enclosure of our wall; and these with myrrh and zedory in their mouths."  Also zedoary, an East Indian drug consisting of the rhizome of curcuma, whatever that is.

"... he grew to a thing shunned like the plague itself, nor would any tippling-house take him in."  Must refer to a tavern.

"... the noon editions broke their front pages open with a double column of leaded type." ?boldface

"... five minutes later we had swung left off the stolid, barrack-windowed dignity of the Be-British Street..."  Probably windows like an army barracks and therefore simple and repetitive?

"... if that girl hasn't tumbled off the apple-tree years before this, then somebody's been damned unenterprising."  In context clearly a reference to losing one's virginity, presumably an idiom of the era.

"How long has Joseph Dennis lived here?" "I believe it will be three years this quarter-day..."  In England, one of the four days marking the quarters of the year (Lady Day, Midsummer Day, Michaelmas, Christmas) (in Scotland Candlemas, Whitsunday, Lammas, or Martinmas).

"She backed away and sat down in a horsehair chair behind the table."  I had assumed it referred to the stuffing in a comfy chair, but I found a reference from the 1760s comparing horsehair to a silk textile: "The chairs are plain horsehair and look as well as Paduasoy."  Next stop Wikipedia: "Horsehair fabrics are woven with wefts of tail hair from live horses and cotton or silk warps. Horsehair fabrics are sought for their lustre, durability and care properties and mainly used for upholstery and interiors."  So, perhaps a traditional way to "extend" a supply of silk, but maybe adds to the durability of a chair arm or bottom.  Probably worthy of a separate blog post.  You learn something every day.

"Well, I thought, they're pretty happy, those two.  They've been through hell and blight for some time..."  Blight - etymology Old Norse blikna (to become pale) - is a category of diseases familiar to gardeners.  Unusual usage here.

"... that she and Darworth should set up in this line of mulcting the gullible..."  To punish by fine or forfeiture, or by fraud/extortion.  From Latin mulct = a fine. 

The White Priory Murders (1934)
A variant of the "locked room."  The corpse (beaten to death) is found in a marble pavilion located on a small island in a lake on a historic estate.  It's winter - "A hundred straight feet of unmarked snow on every side of the 'ouse.  Not a tree, not a shrub.  And sixty feet of it thin ice on every side..."  The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway containing only one set of footprints in the newly-fallen snow, leading to the pavilion.  There is nobody hidden in the building, and no secret tunnels etc.
"Bennett remembered him craning and peering over the heads of smaller men: very lean, with one corded hand jabbing his umbrella at the concrete floor."  Stringy or ribbed, from the prominence of veins, muscles, etc.

"Bennett wondered whether he would see any of them again.  Ship's coteries break up immediately, and are forgotten."  A group of people who associate because of common social purposes, a clique.  From MF term for association of tenant-farmers.

"In the course of a starched evening, he had fallen in with a group of Young England who also felt restive."  Stiff, formal.

"In a square about it, extending out about sixty feet with the pavilion in the center, ran a low marble coping..."  A finishing course on an exterior masonry wall.  Related to cope as a long cloak or mantle of silk worn by ecclesiastics, and thus related to "cap" (and probably cape).

"I met your ostler or groom or somebody."  Hostler, one who takes care of horses at an inn.  Related to hosteler, hostel, and hospital.

"He lay back in an overstuffed chair and stared at the groined roof with the red firelight flickering on it."  In architecture, a groin is a curved line or edge where two vaults intersect.  From OE grynde = abyss.  Obvious relation to the human groin.

"... Masters' face had assumed a blank and tolerant sadness as of a teacher in an idiot-school, touched now by a satiric grimness."  Self-evident meaning for a word unlikely to resurface in public usage in modern society, except maybe by Donald Trump.

"There was an ancient topheavy geyser-bath in the dingy oilcloth [bath]room."  British instantaneous heated-water bath contraption.

"Maurice was in very high feather tonight; he had even issued orders that some special sherry was to be served, in place of cocktails..."  Idiom meaning to be in excellent form, health, or humor.  From a 15th-century referring to a healthy bird's plumage

"Well, we are to act our parts as of last night; we are to reënact the attempted murder of poor Marcia on the staircase in King Charles's Room."  See reënforced above.

The Red Widow Murders (1935)
"Red widow" in French history ("veuve rouge") was apparently a term applied to the guillotine, and this novel has an entire 20-page chapter devoted to a backstory involving the Terror, but the book has a contemporary setting in the 1930s, which involves the inevitable locked room:
The whole subject of this game to-night is a room in this house - a room at the end of a passage off the dining-room - a room whose door has been locked and sealed up with six-inch screws through the jamb since 1876, the year my grandfather died... The window is covered with locked steel shutters, and the door was watched by five people..."
And now on to the language:
"(the houses) were uniformly tall, with heavy bay-windows, areaways, and high steps."  Outdoor passage leading to a basement, typically under an arch (also archway).

"Tairlaine could see the link-brackets beside the door."  A link is a torch made of tar or pitch.  Ultimately derived from proto-Indo-European "leuk-" meaning light/brightness, whence also leukocyte for white blood cell.

"... I'm head of the house, and I'll open the ball." [in context: start the conversation, give the history].  I've not heard this phrase before.

"... coolest hand in an emergency, with or without express-rifle, I ever saw."  High-velocity rifle, especially used for big game hunts.

"All I've got to say is, it ought to have been scragged, anyhow.  I hate parrots."  To kill, especially by wringing the neck, strangling.  Danish skrog is a carcass.

(in the dining room) "Covers were set for nine on the long table..."  Here I beg ignorance of table settings for a formal dinner.  The Etiquette Scholar webpage on "table setting terms" says cover is "the space allotted the diner on which tableware is placed."  You learn something (useless) every day.

"He consciously interposed himself as a buckler."  A shield.  From Latin buccula = boss (of a shield).  Swashbuckler is related.

"Especially loony-doctors, as you put it.  I myself am on sufferance.  I am permitted to speak only of sport."  "a person who was not a member or official of the House of Commons was officially a stranger, who was allowed to be present at debates on sufferance. "

"By the light of the lamp on the desk, Ravelle and Carstairs were bending over a bagatelle board."  A table game of bar-billiards, played with cues and balls and obstacles.

"She sat propped up under the bed-canopy, the rush-light beside her shining greenish on a face without paint..."  A rushlight is a type of candle or miniature torch formed by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease. For several centuries rushlights were a common source of artificial light for poor people throughout the British Isles. They were extremely inexpensive to make. English essayist William Cobbett wrote, "This rushlight cost almost nothing to produce and was believed to give a better light than some poorly dipped candles.

"She sat in a big fat chair with cretonne on it..."  A fabric noted for its strength, made with hemp warf and linen weft.  The word derived either from a French village or a Frenchman in the textile business.

"And also he probably had a very long steel bodkin almost as thin as a needle..."  A dagger or a sewing needle with a large eyehole.  So I had to look up odds bodkins, and found the best answer at The Phrase Finder: This term borrows the early bodikin version of that word, not for its meaning but just because of the alliteration with body, to make a euphemistic version of the oath God's body. This would otherwise have been unacceptable to a pious audience. That is, odds bodkins is a minced oath.

"Then I'd see how Mr. Brave Hero felt when he wasn't swanking it, and thought he'd really been poisoned!"  Fashionably elegant, not rare as the swank adjective, but a bit odd as a verb "to swagger/ show off."

"... he found H.M. blinking at the menu and Masters warming his hands before the fire in a private room with a sanded floor."  When I lived in Dallas, some local (cheap) bars had floors sprinkled with sawdust, probably to sop up spilled beer or vomit, but I doubt sand would serve the same purpose.  And not likely for traction in a dining room.  I guess this refers to the boards being sanded smooth rather than left rough.  Apparently a chic feature of the 1930s.

"I'll give you five to one he's out of quod by tomorrow at the latest..."  British slang for prison - not sure why.

"Guy had threatened to split, and was in gay feather."  Maybe similar to high feather  above.

The Unicorn Murders (1935)
A variant of the locked room concept.  The victim dies on a stairway; neither the people on the floor at the base of the stairs, or the people on the floor at the head of the stairs, are able to see an attacker or the weapon (which makes a unicorn-horn-shaped hole in the front of the victim's skull).  The plot was too complicated for my simple mind (the penultimate chapter is entitled "The Triple Impersonation.")
"This girl - who has always struck you as rather a starched proposition, by the way..."  Like "starched evening" above.

"... and slid like a man on skiis." The OED gives the plural as skis (or ski), but not with a doubled i.  Probably a simple missppellinng by the printers.

"... there really had been two policemen waiting at that red car, and now they were on the view-halloo bellow after me."  Google search yields three usages - all by John Dickson Carr.  I'm guessing it refers to police instructions if you see the malefactor, yell out for others to join you in the chase. [Answered in the Comments, with a Mary Poppins video]

"We saw a lean man of probably sixty-odd, whose walk was saved from a dodder only by the humor in his eyes..."  The verb means to shake/tremble/totter while walking as in old age or infancy.  Straight from the Middle English.

"Ramsden, whose boiled eye had been wandering about the hall gave an almost guilty jump."  I have no clue.  Maybe a shortening of "hard-boiled" (callous, unsentimental).

"Without pity or bowels I described Harvey Drummond..."  Compassion, sympathy.  Apparently, just as the interior of a ship is its bowels, the innermost feelings are the "bowels" - the source of the gentlest emotions.  Bowelless means "without pity."  In The Devil in Velvet, Carr describes a character as "loud-mouthed, without pity or bowels, the dread of all sober men."  And again in Most Secret: "Towering, formidable, his every movement betraying the expert swordsman without pity or bowels, he circled catlike..."

"Would he, for instance, growl and retire beaten when Gasquet [cop] snaffled off Flamande [criminal] first?" A snaffle is a "broad-mouthed, loose-ringed bit (metal in a horse's mouth). It brings pressure to bear on the tongue and bars and corners of the mouth. Often used as a training bit."  From Dutch (snavel), German, and OE words referring to the nose.

"Ken, I don't like all this.  It's creepy, and it's muggy, and there's something wrong with it."  The humidity-related meaning doesn't fit.  Probably old English slang.

"Then all of a sudden she let out a skelloch that scared me half to death."  Scream (Scottish).

"H.M. seemed distrait."  (French) Absent-minded, distracted, troubled.  The third meaning might connect to distraught

"You agreed to coöperate." Third time on this post - see reënact and reënforced above. Somebody must know what the two dots are called (umlaut for German, what for English?).  [A tip of the blogging cap top reader Kniffler, who provided a link to the relevant info in Wikipedia]:
The diaeresis mark is sometimes used in English personal first and last names to indicate that two adjacent vowels should be pronounced separately, rather than as a diphthong. Examples include the given names Chloë and Zoë, which otherwise might be pronounced with a silent e. To discourage a similar mispronunciation, the mark is also used in the surname Brontë. It may be used optionally for words that do not have a morphological break at the diaeresis point, such as naïve, Boötes, and Noël. However, it is far less commonly used in words such as coöperate and reënter except in a very few publications—notably The New Yorker
"As for me, to say that I was getting the breeze up is to put it mildly."  I found a minor definition: "An excited or ruffled state of feeling; a flurry of excitement."  Maybe related to "getting the wind up" but I don't have time to look all this stuff up.

"Listen, Gasquet: this fellow's either innocent or bughouse..."  Crazy, insane from the use of the term for an asylum.

"Auguste whoomed, getting up out of his chair with indignant snortings and shakings of his head."  I couldn't find this.

Today I listed all four of these books on eBay, as a single lot.

I'm not going to tell him. You go ahead...

Via the Iamverybadass subreddit.

11 July 2018

Laughter is contagious

This is the famous "Dad at Comedy Barn" video.  24 million views on YouTube, just to hear a man laugh.  If this is your first time viewing it, don't give up in the first two minutes (and the red advertising box closes via the small "x" in its corner).  And note it even ends with a refrain of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Reposted from 2009.  And again from 2013 because I needed a laugh tonight.

09 July 2018

Churches closing in Minnesota

Excerpts from an article in the StarTribune:
When La Salle Lutheran locks its doors in August, it will become the latest casualty among fragile Minnesota churches either closing, merging or praying for a miracle. Steep drops in church attendance, aging congregations, and cultural shifts away from organized religion have left most of Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations facing unprecedented declines.

“Sunday used to be set aside for church: that’s what families did,” said Donna Schultz, 74, a church member since grade school at La Salle, in southwest Minnesota. “Now our children have moved away. The grandkids have volleyball, dance on weekends. People are busy with other things... 

Mainline Protestant churches have been hit the hardest. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Minnesota has lost almost 200,000 members since 2000 and about 150 churches. A third of the remaining 1,050 churches have fewer than 50 members. The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in Minnesota, has shuttered 65 churches since 2000.

Catholic membership statewide has held steady, but the number of churches fell from 720 in 2000 to 639 last year, according to official Catholic directories. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which closed 21 churches in 2010 and merged several dozen others, is again looking at ways to consolidate church staffing and programs...

And it seems likely to get worse. Most Americans still report that they are Christian, but the worshipers in the pews on Sunday increasingly have gray or white hair. The median age is older than 50 for nearly all mainline Protestant denominations, according to the Pew Research Center, a national polling and research group in Washington, D.C. For Catholics, it’s age 49...

Churches in every rural area are merging and sharing services in an effort to keep their doors open, bishops said. The ELCA now offers advisers who specialize in counseling closing and fragile churches, and finance experts to help churches survive with ever-shrinking budgets...

Along with declining attendance, many Twin Cities churches facing closings and mergers have something else in common — old boilers or furnaces, leaky roofs, deferred maintenance...

Even so, Minnesota religious leaders insist church life is not becoming a relic. It will just look different. Christian churches will need to be more creative, financially leaner, and more in tune with their communities if they are to survive the 21st century, they said.
More at the link.  The article mentions some prominent urban churches, but I suspect the majority of the closings are in rural communities, which suffer from the double whammy of the changing attitudes of young people plus the progressive depopulation of rural towns, as large corporate farms displace the traditional small family enterprises.

Whatever your sentiments are regarding religion - even if you are frankly agnostic or aggressively atheist, you have to recognize the loss going on here in terms of the social structure of these small towns.  In communities of a few thousand residents, churches have traditionally provided the backbone of support for the elderly, the impoverished, and the troubled youth.   This aspect of community mutual support is emphasized in the brief but touching video at the bottom of the article, which I'm unable to embed. It's worth 3 minutes of viewing.

Photo credit Leila Navidi - Star Tribune.

July 5

Details at the Evening Standard.

The Trump administration publicly opposes breastfeeding

This is not something I can relegate to the q-3-monthly Trump clumps.  This is such unmitigated crap that it deserves the spotlight of a main post.  From CBS News:
U.S. officials threatened Ecuador with punitive trade measures after the country introduced an international resolution that encouraged breastfeeding during a global health conference, according to The New York Times. The threats reportedly occurred in May at the U.N.-affiliated World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The Times says the U.S. delegation opposed the measure, which was widely expected to be adopted. The U.S. officials, according to the Times, first tried to remove language from the resolution that called on nations to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding." Another section called on countries to restrict promotion of food products that could have harmful effects on children.

When U.S. efforts to water down the measure failed, the delegates reportedly threatened Ecuadorian delegates with retaliatory trade measures and said the U.S. would withdraw military aid unless the country withdrew the measure. The strong-arm tactics worked, and Ecuador dropped its support of the resolution. 

But the Russian delegation eventually stepped in and introduced the measure without any threats from the American officials, the Times reports. However, U.S. officials tried for two more days to use procedural methods to stymie its ultimate adoption.

The Times says it spoke with more than a dozen participants at the assembly from several countries. Most of the sources requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from U.S. officials. At least a dozen countries in Africa and Latin America reportedly declined to support the measure over fears of retaliation.  

The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations. The Department of Health and Human Services, however, defended its decision to reword the resolution.

"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children," an HHS spokesperson told the Times.

The Times says baby food industry lobbyists attended the meetings but health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they influenced the Americans' threats. 
So who in their right mind opposes breastfeeding (except for individual patients with medical contraindications etc)?  Only people who have sold their soul to industries that profit from the sale of baby formulas.  So "baby food industry lobbyists attended the meetings" in Geneva, but there is "no direct evidence that they influenced the Americans' threats." ???  They were just passing through Geneva at the time and happened to be innocent bystanders when some rogue American diplomat decided to strongarm the conference participants because breastfeeding is harmful and dangerous?  Fucking bullshit.
The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding. Over all, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations...

During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the W.H.O., several negotiators said. Washington is the single largest contributor to the health organization, providing $845 million, or roughly 15 percent of its budget, last year...

Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.

A 2016 study in The Lancet found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.
I titled this post "Trump administration" because they are the ones who are sucking up to the industry.  It is not the American people who oppose breastfeeding, and not even the American congress - and not even the red-state voters who wear MAGA hats.  This is policy work perpetrated by an out-of-control administration.  They need to be called out on this.  I'm sick of this shit.

A brilliant and remarkable man

Excerpts from his Wikipedia page:
George Washington Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove... Missouri, some time in the early-mid 1860s... His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George's parents... After slavery was abolished, Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised George and his older brother James as their own children...

He homesteaded a claim near Beeler, where he maintained a small conservatory of plants and flowers and a geological collection. He manually plowed 17 acres (69,000 m2) of the claim, planting rice, corn, Indian corn and garden produce, as well as various fruit trees, forest trees, and shrubbery. He also earned money by odd jobs in town and worked as a ranch hand... His art teacher, Etta Budd, recognized Carver's talent for painting flowers and plants; she encouraged him to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames. When he began there in 1891, he was the first black student...

In 1896, Booker T. Washington, the first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), invited Carver to head its Agriculture Department. Carver taught there for 47 years, developing the department into a strong research center and working with two additional college presidents during his tenure. He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton, initiated research into crop products (chemurgy), and taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen to their soils by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans and cowpeas)... In addition, he founded an industrial research laboratory, where he and assistants worked to popularize the new crops by developing hundreds of applications for them...
Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications resulting from a fall.
I first read about him in one of the classic Landmark books back in the 1950s.   He seemed to be part of such a remote history that I was surprised recently to find this colorized photograph of him from 1942.

Colorization credit (many other impressive photos there).  Via.

Minnesota bears outside their primary range

The Minnesota DNR has set up an interactive public database for reporting sightings of black bears outside their primary range.  On the map the area in black is the expected normal range; the diagonal line across the state represents approximately the boundary between the "north woods" ecosystems and the historical prairie and (further west) the Great Plains.  (You can see the continuation of the forested areas into Wisconsin and Canada from the green background of the original topo map.)

06 July 2018

Can you walk? Do you appreciate it as much as this little girl does?

Young woman, Luzon (Philippines}, 1875

"At the Musee De L'Homme in Paris the picture is only identified as Sangley Filipina meaning Chinese Filipina. The photo was taken by Francisco Van Kamp who was a European that had a photo studio in Manila. The shine in her hair is from coconut oil and her half open fan means she is single."
Via the OldSchoolCool subreddit.

How you can inherit genetic material from your older brother or sister

An article in this month's issue of The Atlantic - Your DNA Is Weirder Than You Think - includes this startling observation:
In pregnant women, fetal stem cells can cross the placenta to enter the mother’s bloodstream, where they may persist for years. If Mom gets pregnant again, the stem cells of her firstborn, still circulating in her blood, can cross the placenta in the other direction, commingling with those of the younger sibling. Heredity can thus flow “upstream,” from child to parent—and then over and down to future siblings.
I'm familiar with conventional, mitochondrial DNA, and epigenetics, but the stem cell double transfer caught me by surprise.

You learn something every day.
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