24 March 2016


This is a "self-loading laundry basket."

This image dramatically illustrates how relatively small our galaxy (the Milky Way) is.

Cliteracy is an "art project that fuses street art, textiles and typography" with the goal of educating the public about the clitoris.

"How do you film a conversation? Most likely, you’re going to block the actors, set up the camera, and do shot/reverse shot. But where do you put the camera? What lens do you use? And how do you cut back and forth? Today, I consider the Coen brothers — Joel & Ethan — and see how these choices lend a particular feel to their version of shot/reverse shot."

How to pronounce Godiva (as in the chocolates).  You've been saying it wrong.  Belgium's Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs explains the preferred pronunciation.

"Iraq's Mosul Dam faces "unprecedented" risk of a "catastrophic failure" that would unleash a wave of water which could flatten cities and kill hundreds of thousands within hours..."

"This fossil may be the oldest and most detailed example of a central nervous system yet identified, with even individual nerves -- rarely preserved soft tissue -- visible enough to study."

Kindertrauma is a website about "the movies, books, and toys that scared you when you were a kid. It’s also about kids in scary movies, both as heroes and villains. And everything else that’s traumatic to a tyke!"

"MacWilliams studies authoritarianism — not actual dictators, but rather a psychological profile of individual voters that is characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.
So MacWilliams naturally wondered if authoritarianism might correlate with support for Trump..."

A coroner says an 86-year-old Pennsylvania woman died after she apparently tripped and her medical alert necklace caught on her walker and strangled her.

Ballet shoes will soon be available in "flesh" tones for persons of color.

Americans lie about having voted.  Blatantly.  This video shows some of them, captured in video by Jimmy Kimmel's crew.

How to restore an old, beaten-up book.

Disney flies in foreign workers, abusing the provisions of the H-1b visa for persons having "specialized knowledge," and then has the current workers train their replacements.

"Phubbing" is phone-snubbing - paying more attention to one's phone than to one's partner.

There are different shades of black (resulting from reflectivity rather than admixture of other colors).   Videos at the link demonstrate, and show the blackest material in the world ("Vantablack," made of carbon nanotubes).

Five-story basements are causing problems in London.  "A resident of Kensington Palace Gardens — the most pricey street in Britain — Hunt planned a five-story basement to house a car museum, a tennis court, an elevator, a swimming pool and a rotating Ferris wheel for vehicles."

"In 1983, 90% of US media was controlled by fifty companies; today, 90% is controlled by just six companies." And two of those are owned by the same person.  "Before passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, a company could not own more than 40 radio stations in the entire country. With the Act's sweeping relaxation of ownership limits, Clear Channel now owns approximately 1225 radio stations."

How to catch a joey.

How to remove a popcorn ceiling (spackle knife + vacuum).

Rescue of an elephant stuck in mud.

An article about Cliven Bundy and the plundering of the West. "... the BLM had begun to impound Bundy’s herd, which had been illegally grazing on a 578,724-acre parcel of public land in the Mojave Desert known as the Bunkerville Allotment of the Gold Butte range. The BLM planned to sell the herd in order to reimburse the public for an estimated $1.1 million in grazing fees and fines that Bundy owed. Bundy, decrying federal tyranny and vowing to do whatever it took to protect his rights to graze his cattle, called in the press to witness the start of a “range war” on Gold Butte..."  It's a long read, and not particularly uplifting.

A collection of video representations of migraine auras.

Why were so many home runs hit in major-league baseball last year?  It may just reflect a regression to the mean, or...

HMB while I dodge this bull...

A family video captures images of a moose shedding an antler.

A plagiarism scandal rocks the world of crossword puzzles.  “When the same theme answers appear in the same order from one publication to the next, that makes you look closer,” Shortz tells Eli Rosenberg for the New York Times. “When they appear with the same clues, that looks suspicious. And when it happens repeatedly, then you know it’s plagiarism.”

"In the end, the oil attrition wars may lead us not into a future of North American triumphalism, nor even to a more modest Saudi version of the same, but into a strange new world in which an unlimited capacity to produce oil meets an increasingly crippled capitalist system without the capacity to absorb it."

Octopus vs. seagull.  Octopus wins.

Ungraceful Golden Lab puppy vs. stairs.  Stairs win.

Photo credits to Robert Clark, from his new book, “Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage” via a gallery posted in the Washington Post, where you can read explanations of what the images represent, and their scientific relevance.


  1. i would REALLY like to know who came up with the popcorn ceiling.


  2. Ballet dancers of color have been painting and dying their "flesh colored" clothing for a long time. Glad the manufacturers are finally clueing in.


  3. My house flooded in December 2014, causing an unplanned remodel. The contractor helping me out suggested removing the popcorn ceiling in the livingroom (the worst kind of popcorn texture...it has sparkles).
    My wife and I hated the popcorn ceiling since the day we bought the house 12 years ago. Getting rid of it was the best thing we could have done! I just do not understand how it was ever considered fashionable.

    1. Depending on the room and the furnishings it can make a BIG difference in the room acoustics. So, not fashion but practicality (Ok, the sparkles are just fashion)

    2. Interesting point. I found several good links by Googling popcorn ceiling + acoustics. Tx, rocky.

    3. I grew up with this referred to as 'acoustic ceiling'. I only heard the term 'popcorn' for maybe the past 10 years.
      While not attractive IMHO, It doesn't bother me. I just thought 'popcorn' was another marketing slander dreamed up by the cable channels to compel dissatisfaction. (Since, you know, that is their job - create a new 'need' and then cut to commercials selling solutions to these 'needs')

  4. About 3 months prior to having my first migraine aura (I have the auras but not the migraines, for which I'm thankful), I saw a web article on "Migraine Aura Art," paintings and depictions of what migraine auras look like. At the time I said to myself, "Yeah, sure. An aura is going to look like a cheesy technoid SF paperback cover."

    Incredibly, at least for me, it did and it does. Mine start out near the center of my vision and take about 10 minutes to expand until they're completely out of my vision. Truly freaking bizarre. If I hadn't seen the article, I would have run blubbering to the nearest emergency room.

    Let me see if the link's still active ...

    Google for "migraine aura art" and you'll get a bunch of hits.

    The arc-like images here are close to what I see:




  5. You probably already know this, but here we go folks.


  6. I've been saying 'Go, Diva, go Diva: it's your birthday!' for my own amusement for decades only now to find out that I was providing a public pronunciation service....

  7. I remember, and so I'm sure will many readers, when articles about authoritarianism and its relevance to American politics went viral around 2007. It's hard to believe it's been almost 10 years.

  8. You quote - "Before passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, a company could not own more than 40 radio stations in the entire country. With the Act's sweeping relaxation of ownership limits, Clear Channel now owns approximately 1225 radio stations."

    Media concentration is still a serious issue, but there have been a few changes regarding Clear Channel Communications: (1) The company took a page from Blackwater and Philip Morris and has changed its name to avoid the negative connotations of its previous name; it's now iHeartMedia. (2) In a deal to go private and to address the tremendous debt it took on to grow so big, Clear Channel -- I mean, iHeartMedia -- sold off about a third of its radio stations. The company now owns about 850 radio stations -- about two-thirds off its peak, but it's still the largest radio station owner in the world. (3) iHeartMedia isn't able to eat substantially into its huge debt, now around $21 billion; the company is likely to be chopped up and/or go bankrupt, perhaps even this year. More info at : http://diymedia.net/iheartmedias-debt-dance-intensifies/8207


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