27 January 2015

A blizzard (of links) for you

"Molten gold was poured down his throat."  Modern forensic pathologists reproduce the death of a Spanish governor of colonial Ecuador in 1599.  They suggest that the reports of his bowels bursting may have been the result of steam generated by the procedure.

How to fold a shirt in two seconds.

Religious and ethnic affiliations of terrorists.  It's not as simple as some media outlets try to lead you to believe.

A lymphoproliferative (tumor-causing) virus is now widespread in wild turkeys.   It's not contagious to humans, but you shouldn't eat the birds.

Norwegian firefighters show you the wrong way to put out a car fire.   Do not aim a stream of high-pressure water at an angle that will push the car down a hill toward houses (video at the link).

A report in Discover suggests that female ejaculate squirted during orgasm is probably just urine.

"At least 42,000 gallons of oil has leaked into the Yellowstone River from a broken pipeline, leaving the Glendive city water supply smelling and tasting like petroleum."

A Florida police department was found to be using mug shot photographs of black men for target practice ("the technique is widely used and the pictures are vital for facial recognition drills.")

An interesting article in WaPo indicates that modern technology has the potential to render life-saving drugs cheaper by orders of magnitude through the creation of "biosimilar" drugs.  They do not report on the amount Big Pharma will spend to squash this.

Over a century ago someone left a .44-40 Winchester rifle leaning against a juniper tree in Nevada. It was just found, slightly the worse for exposure.  The photo at right shows why it was hard for the owner and subsequent passers-by to spot.

Rechargeable lithium batteries are dangerous as plane cargo because when packed in bulk they can ignite. "Shipments of rechargeable batteries on passenger planes are supposed to be limited to no more than a handful in one box... But a loophole lets shippers pack many small boxes in one shipment and get around the rules. Tens of thousands of the batteries may be packed into pallets or containers and loaded into the cargo holds of wide-body passenger planes.

Jamie Diamond, CEO of JPMorganChase, complains that the financial sector is facing crippling over-regulation. "In the old days," Dimon said, "you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two. “Now it’s five or six. It makes it very difficult and very complicated. "You all should ask the question about how American that is. And how fair that is," he added. "And how complex that is for companies."  In other news, "JPMorgan Chase earned $4.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014, the company announced on Wednesday, down from a year ago, but capping what CEO Jamie Dimon called a record year for the biggest U.S. bank by assets."

The QI Elves report that a "typical breakfast" for George IV consisted of "2 pigeons; 3 steaks; 1 bottle wine; 1 glass champagne; 2 glasses port; 1 glass brandy; some laudanum."

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven was recently pulled from bookstores after the author recanted his testimony and said “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.”  I find it most interesting that the author's name is Malarkey.

There may be two planets the size of Earth "hiding" in our solar system.

By 2016 the richest 1% of people in the world will own more than the other 99% combined.  They have already seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014.

If you are in your car in a traffic jam on an icy interstate highway, the last thing you want to see in your rear-view mirror is an 18-wheeler jackknifing behind you and sliding toward your car.  This is a terrifying video (safe for work etc); I'm impressed by the calmness of the driver photographing the incident.  His blinking emergency flashers add a surreal soundscape to the video.

Public Domain Review offers a well-written extensive article about Lord Byron (left, in Albanian dress), Polidori, and the birth of the modern vampire story.

An op-ed piece at Vice's Motherboard is entitled "The Most Anti-Science Congress in Recent History is Now in Session." "That explicit brand of denial is prominent in the party’s new Senate leadership. Many of the men—and they are all men—who are now stationed in the nation’s most influential science posts each exhibit views that can be considered science-illiterate at best, and at worst, outright hostile to modern scientific inquiry."

A man in Vermont has found his niche in life as an icicle farmer.

"Vajacial" is a portmanteau word meaning "facial for the vagina."  It involves "some steaming and applying some vitamins and egg white."

"A U.S. billionaire who made his fortune betting against sub-prime mortgage securities has told Americans to lower their expectations so they have 'less things' in life. Jeff Greene made his remarks after flying into Switzerland on a private jet with his 19-year younger wife, Mei Sze, children and two nannies."  Gag me with a spoon.

The Claas Xerion 3300 VC Octopus Ditch Bank Mower is an impressive machine for destroying butterfly habitat.

An article in the Telegraph explains that the "cowgirl" sexual position is the one most likely to result in a man breaking his penis.

"A New Jersey teacher said he was charged nearly $9,000 after he showed a cut middle finger to a hospital emergency room aide... $8,200 for the emergency room visit, $180 for the shot, $242 for the bandage and $8 for the ointment, plus hundreds of dollars for the nurse practitioner."

Video highlights of an NBA player scoring 37 points in one quarter of a basketball game.

If you don't like basketball, take at look at this remarkable hockey goal (performed at an exhibition).  I believe it's referred to as a "Michigan", named after this classic goal in 2007 and lots of young hockey players can do them.

Four bears in New Hampshire have died from an overdose of chocolate.   A hunter had put down 90 pounds of chocolate and doughnuts as bait.

U.S. chocolate manufacturer Hershey apparently has difficulty competing with the makers of Cadbury Creme Eggs, Maltesers, Kit Kats and Yorkie bars.  So Hershey is suing the importers of those products.

A Reddit thread discusses Edward Snowden's claim that iPhones and other smart phones have spyware that allows the government to monitor the user.

The Koch brothers are budgeting almost $900,000,000 to influence upcoming U.S. elections.

Which day of the week is named in the most song titles? (hint: it's not Thursday).

Also at Public Domain review, a fulltext 1915 book of Russian fairytales (in English) (one illustration below).

About one link for every inch of snow falling on my old friends in the Boston area.  Stay safe, everyone.


  1. Re: hockey goal: It looks like the shooter presses the blade of his stick against the puck, which makes them stick together (by freezing?) and then flicks it into the goal, sometimes from behind the post?

    1. No freezing involved. It's just good stickhandling. The forward motion keeps the puck against the stick.

    2. Right, Stan. My son, Mike, a LW/C, could do cool stuff, but had never seen or tired that one. It is all about forward motion and feeling the puck on the stick. My son - who could wrist shot from the red line and clank the crossbar 9 times out of 10 with regularity (just to show off) - would like to try that one, but now he is an old guy and hasn't played in a long time.

    3. Perhaps now that he's getting "old" he should consider switching over to golf. Some of my classmates on the hockey team still lace up in the winter, but most of them are avid and enthusiastic golfers in their retirement.

  2. Re: biosimilars

    I'm sure there may be some discomfort in pharma from manufacturers of blockbuster biologic drugs, but overall the industry won't be the sticking point here. Biologics and follow-on biologics/biosimilars are incredibly difficult to regulate by virtue of their structural variability (e.g. even very minor changes in the production platform can result in an endproduct that is identical by some measures, but different by others, in reference to the original compound). This isn't a new conversation in the pharma-regulatory worlds, its just taken a very long time to get agreements in place by regulators for establishing therapeutic identity parameters.

    (I work in medicines regulation and am by no means an advocate for pharma, but in this case they're not a greater roadblock than the fundamental complexity of biosimilarity).

  3. Words and phrases used in this post that are new to me include "jackknifing" and "cowgirl sexual position".

    The "overdose of chocolate" link seems to have been taken down or moved or something, because it's not working now.

    I'm bookmarking the "modern vampire story" and "Russian fairytales" links to read later. The "icicle farmer" link is interesting, but it's a pity the presentation style is so poorly suited to the content.

    1. I apparently pruned the chocolate overdose link too much while inserting it. I think it's fixed now. Tx, Adrian.

  4. I remember another blizzard left my cousin in Amherst MA (and her entire neighborhood) without electricity, Internet, heat (in cases where electricity was necessary to turn on the furnace) for a week. Should that be the case for some this time, they probably won't be able to read your blog (now that's a tragedy!).

  5. No, Hershey isn't suing the makers of Cadbury Creme Eggs, Maltesers, Kit Kats and Yorkie bars. They are suing importers bringing in Cadbury products in violation of the Hershey/Cadbury contract.

    1. I've amended the text accordingly. Thank you.

  6. Arguably the most famous "air hook" goal was performed by Mikael Granlund in the World Championship semifinals. The video is definitely worth a look if only for the sheer insanity of the Finnish commentator. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JazGHYDwp-s

    1. That particular video is blocked for me here in the U.S., but I found the goal on this video -


      which replaces the insane Finnish commentator with irrelevant music.

  7. This may be of interest to you, saw this as the only way to send you a link. Describes the pattern of the planets currently visible in the early evening sky.

  8. from an experienced squirter:

    it's not pee...and a sample size of seven is not statistically significant by any scientific standard.

  9. "You all should ask the question about how American that is. And how fair that is"
    I hate it when people claim that something isn't "American", as if there's a homogeneous American mentality or value set. The Republicans use this tactic a lot to say any views against their political positions are un-American. What a load of bollocks. Free thought, free speech. That's American.

  10. "A report in Discover suggests that female ejaculate squirted during orgasm is probably just urine."

    Not even. That is the first thing everyone speculates, and it isn't, I assure you. Ejaculate is completely odorless, for one. And no matter how passionate the woman is, she will know if she let fly with her bladder. The women they studied I think must have been immature in their familiarity with their bodies in some strange way..

    Whatever those scientists were doing wasn't what happens to women I've been with.

    Sorry about the graphic nature of this comment, but also, I've SEEN the fluid come out of the vagina, rather than the urethra. It totally is NOT coming out of the urethra. Which makes me wonder why they didn't try blocking the urethra or diverting it with a catheter. Measuring the before and after is a strange way of looking at ejaculate flow, when a simple catheter would do the job with more finality.


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