14 February 2016


In a two-and-a-half-minute video, Carl Sagan lucidly explains how Eratosthenes not only deduced a spherical earth, but accurately calculated its diameter in 200 B.C.

Lament posted on a professor's door:  "When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead.  It is difficult only for others.  It is the same when you are stupid."

A hotel safe can be opened using a neodynium magnet and a sock.

Another "fake thumb" magic trick.

""You’d think we could have more influence,” Charles Koch told the F.T. last month over pulled-pork sandwiches at the staff commissary of Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas. The wealthy industrialist and conservative impresario was giving a rare interview in support of his new book, but his disillusionment with the state of the Republican presidential race (and politics in general) was apparent."  Lots more discussion and analysis at Vanity Fair.

Stare at this image for 15 seconds and you will see a giraffe. [the image at the link, NOT the one above this entry...]

Winston Churchill did NOT say “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Darwin Award candidates:  ?Two teenagers in Robertson County, Tennessee, have died after drinking a liquid determined to be racing fuel mixed with Mountain Dew... Vanderbilt toxicologists called the liquid, “DewShine,” which is similar to moon shine only much more potent."

Click and hold the red square.  Don't let it get hit by the blue shapes or the wall.  (You can report your best time in the comments below).

Father of the Year candidate.

The etymology of serendipity.

Speculation about why people used to put the skulls of horses under the floorboards of their homes.

Why you should never ever clean a valuable coin.  Especially not an MS64 1850 $20 gold piece.

"...after researching this topic further, I am now convinced that the wisdom teeth industry is probably a scam."

"...[in New York City] there are three pay toilets, one in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, and one in Queens. Compare that to Singapore, which has fewer inhabitants and over 30,000 public bathrooms."

A high resolution photo of the moon's surface in true color.  Spoiler alert: boring.

Introducing the tiger quoll.

An explanation of which billionaires are supporting which presidential candidates.

Scripts that can be added to a blog or a webpage.

How to make a sled out a frozen towel (actually more like a toboggan).  But even better are strap-on leg sleds.

"Troy Haupt is a 47-year-old nurse anesthetist here in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He has a secret to reveal about Super Bowl I: He owns the only known recording of its broadcast."  The television stations don't have copies.  And they won't let him market his copy.

"Oregon... according to a new analysis of consumer phone calls—placed to businesses across the country, and recorded anonymously—is home to the [fastest] speakers in the nation. The second-fastest talkers? They’re in Minnesota. The third? In Massachusetts. The slowest talkers, for their part, can be found in the South: in South Carolina, Louisiana, and—the most laconically languaged state of them all—Mississippi."

Which foods to stock up if you want to be prepared for a food shortage crisis (civil disorder, natural disaster, etc).

A high school senior with Down Syndrome hits a 3-point shot in basketball.  The crowd reaction is priceless.

The New York Times has a recurrently-updated calendar of all the state presidential primaries and number of delegates awarded.

Here's the Rolling Stone obituary for Dan Hicks, founder of the Hot Licks. (and a bio from 1973). "My Old Timey Baby." "Sweetheart." "I Scare Myself" (with Sid Page on violin).

"A couple, aged 75 and 76, went down to the beach in Porsguen in Portsall on the French coast this past Monday. A wave surprised them and knocked the man down. As he was being swept out to sea, his wife chased after, and was soon swept under herself!"  No deaths, but a sobering video.

I selected today's photos from a larger group posted at Mashable.  The images were taken by North Vietnamese photographers during the war.  "One hundred eighty of these unseen photos and the stories of the courageous men who made them are collected in the book Another Vietnam: Pictures of the War from the Other Side."


  1. 4.963 seconds, and I saw the giraffe! The knee sleds are a great idea, unless you've had your knees replaced :(. Did you ever borrow cafeteria trays in school to slide down the hill behind Old Main?

    1. I didn't attend St. Olaf, but I suspect some of my family members have done that.

  2. 11.017 seconds. Didn't think much of it. A better quality mouse (which mine isn't) would be a significant advantage.

    1. about six seconds, until I ran in to the giraffe. :-)

      seriously, those squares have some kind of boundary region around them, so getting even close gets recorded as a crash. :-(


  3. Replies
    1. I am on the verge of making knee sled for my 7 year old and 9 year old.

    2. Have you considered adapting some ice hockey shin guards? That would give you the general shape and a hinge already present.

  4. I think I must be the only person on earth with sympathy for the so called "DewShine" kids. They did not drink any type of petroleum product, it is unlikely that they could have kept if down if they had tried.

    Rather, they heard that these cars raced on "alcohol", and indeed this is true. Unfortunately there are two types of alcohol racing fuel: ethanol fuel which would have achieved exactly the end they were seeking (drunkenness), and methanol fuel which after consuming more than about 3.5 oz (~100ml) is a sentence to a slow and terrible death.

    They were too clever by half and bumped up against one of those parts of the universe where a seemingly minor childish mistake pulls you right into the grave.

  5. that scripts link - thanks!


  6. So I stared a the image of the man rowing a boat for a long time. Then I realized "this image" didn't mean the image right above the text. Boy do I feel stoooopid.


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