17 November 2017

Concierto de Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo)

"Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez... commonly known as Joaquín Rodrigo, was a Spanish composer and a virtuoso pianist.

Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, Valencia, and completely lost his sight at the age of three after contracting diphtheria. He began to study solfège, piano and violin at the age of eight; harmony and composition from the age of 16. Although distinguished by having raised the Spanish guitar to dignity as a universal concert instrument and best known for his guitar music, he never mastered the instrument himself.  He wrote his compositions in Braille, which was transcribed for publication.

His most famous work, Concierto de Aranjuez, was composed in 1939 in Paris for the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza. In later life he and his wife declared that it was written as a response to the miscarriage of their first child. It is a concerto for guitar and orchestra. The central adagio movement is one of the most recognizable in 20th-century classical music, featuring the interplay of guitar with cor anglais. This movement was later adapted by the jazz arranger Gil Evans for Miles Davis' 1960 album "Sketches of Spain".
I first encountered this music in the 1960s on the Miles Davis album.  I'm pleased now to blog the entire concierto.

Posted for my cousin Karl in Barcelona.

"Hora staccato" (Grigoras Dinicu)

I've heard this piece many times, probably as background music, but can't cite any specific examples.

(and I'm always amazed that violinists don't poke each other in the eye...)

15 November 2017

Ummm....no. But good try.


"Midnight Train to Georgia" - Gladys Knight and the Pips

It started out as "The Midnight Plane to Houston," inspired by a chance comment by Farrah Fawcett, who was flying home to visit her parents. The song was first recorded by Cissy Houston, who changed the plane to a train and the destination to Georgia. It then went to Gladys Knight and the Pips, who took it to #1 on the charts in 1973. 

The video above is from a performance at Chicago's Regal Theater (I don't know the year). Personally I prefer this 1973 version, but it can't be embedded. Love those Pips. Lyrics here.

Addendum: A big hat tip to Piper, who knew of a version with the Pips singing their parts without Gladys Knight. This from a 1977 Richard Pryor television show. "Midnight Train to Georgia" is in the second half of the video.

(Originally posted in 2009)

Divertimento #139

This is how the 1% fly.

Why the names on movie posters don't match the pictures above them (video).

More treasures recovered from the antikythera shipwreck (bronze sculptures).  "The bronze recycling industry was huge in classical times and later in the medieval period, leading to the destruction of countless statues and other artefacts that would be priceless today. For this reason, many of the finest specimens of bronze statues that survive were once lost at sea."

Why Blade Runner is called "Blade Runner." (related to an old book about a health-care dystopia)

Here is the IMDb compilation of "movie mistakes" for Blade Runner.

"Twenty-four year old Catt Gallinger’s fun excursion into body art ended in horror when an eye tattoo left her partially blinded and oozing purple tears. The tattoo was meant to have tinted her sclera, the white part of her eye, but instead went terribly wrong, causing pain and possible permanent impairment." (photos at the link)

Laundry symbols explained.

Photo of a crocodile inside its amniotic sac.

Santa Claus's tomb discovered.

Brief video of the disposal of the carcass of an immense leatherback sea turtle.  (Football fans should scroll down to see the trick play for a touchdown in the Akron-Ohio game, for a reminder that defenses almost never assign anyone to cover the quarterback.)

"...the CEOs of the biggest US companies, whose average pension benefit is $253,088/month..."

A nomination for the most confusing person to sing "Happy Birthday" to.

Handy tip for the cold and flu season.

"The deadly tsunami that struck north-east Japan in 2011 has carried almost 300 species of sea life thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of the United States.  In what experts are calling the longest maritime migration ever recorded, an estimated one million creatures – including crustaceans, sea slugs and sea worms – made the 4,800-mile (7,725km) journey on a flotilla of tsunami debris."

A gift for the person who has everthing: a headless robotic cat.

An intersting NDR documentary film about the German tree-farming industry (auf Deutsch).

Showerthought: "If the media stopped saying "hacking" and instead said "figured out their password", people would probably take password security a lot more seriously."

The Swedes call it "deathcleaning."  (They actually call it "döstädning.") It's what I'm doing right now in my real life.  More on the topic in this longer article.

A proposed redesign for the Green Bay Packers logo.

"Republican Georgia state Sen. Michael Williams is holding a giveaway for a bump stock — the same type of device law enforcement officials say the Vegas shooter used to kill over 50 people during a concert in early October." (citing the claim that bump stocks save lives by introducing inaccuracy in the weapon)

Tantalizing tidbits from the Blue Planet II series.

A headline for our times: "Exclusive: Neo-Nazi and National Front organiser quits movement, opens up about Jewish heritage, comes out as gay." (true, apparently)

Do NOT try to vacuum up spilled printer ink.

"British Airways has apologised to a Canadian family after they were bitten by bed bugs on a transatlantic flight between Vancouver and London.  Heather Szilagyi, her seven-year-old daughter, Molly, and her fiance, Eric Neilson, were left covered with painful insect bites while travelling from Canada to Slovakia this month... Szilagyi said she had first noticed the bed bugs on the seat in front of her, then spotted another crawling out from behind a TV monitor. “I wanted to grab it but they’re quick and it crawled back inside, behind the screen,” she told the Canadian broadcaster CTV."

"Nearly every country on Earth is named after one of these four things."

Lake Baikal now getting trashed (with pollution, poaching).

The story of Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope.

"A University of Minnesota graduate student who accused a colleague of sexual harassment was awarded just one dollar in March, but her lawyers will get... $305,000 in fees..."

Icelanders are attempting to reestablish their country's aboriginal forests.  "When Iceland was first settled at the end of the ninth century, much of the land on or near the coast was covered in birch woodlands... By most accounts, the island was largely deforested within three centuries."

Travelers should beware of cons involving "voluntourism." "Voluntourism is a form of tourism in which travellers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity: think building houses in Haiti; working in an orphanage in Thailand; or teaching English in India."

Solar power is transforming Mongolia: "Far more ubiquitous than mobile phones are solar LEDs. Every ger has its panels and batteries. The panel (usually one) is simple, tied to a pole, which can be rotated by hand every now and then to follow the sun. It will power a single LED light bulb, perhaps charge a phone and a shortwave radio. Less commonly it will power a TV with a satellite dish. Having a cheap, steady light all night makes a huge difference: It extends evenings, makes cooking more convenient, and reduces toxic smoke in the home. I did not see a ger without solar."

Clever replacement for a lazy susan cabinet.

If you are posting photographs of anything that is rare or protected - something that others might want to poach - ""Turn off anything that transmits location before you visit it," he said. "Make sure the GPS-embedding is off on your camera. And be careful."

Unity Valkyrie Freeman-Mitford (amazing name) was conceived in the town of Swastika and became BFF with Churchill and Hitler.

Here's something you can create to embarrass your child for the rest of their life.

Art made of only Q-tips.

"On October 27th, 2007, Trinity found themselves down 2 points with 2 seconds left on their own 40 yard line. And then they put together an miraculous set of laterals to score the winning touchdown against Millsaps." (15 laterals)

A wristband developed for blind and visually-impaired people can enhance echolocation abilities.

Raptors can perch safely on power polesm, but not if they are carrying a long snake.

"Stan" has become a verb.

Tongue in cheek: "the worst fire escape ever."

An extensive discussion of the theories about the unusual death of Edgar Allan Poe.  Also here.

Today's embedded images are selections from a large gallery of color photos of the 1939 World's Fair assembled at The Atlantic.  Credit: Peter Campbell / Corbis via Getty.

This is a terrible name for a product

Posted for the amusement of my cousin Kathy in SLC.


In the cheese shop...

Customer: Cheshire?

Wenslydale: No.

Customer: Dorset Bluveny?

Wenslydale: No.

Customer: Brie, Roquefort, Pol le Veq, Port Salut, Savoy Aire, Saint Paulin, Carrier de lest, Bres Bleu, Bruson?

Wenslydale: No.

Customer: Camenbert, perhaps?

Wenslydale: Ah! We have Camenbert, yessir.

Customer: (surprised) You do! Excellent.

Wenslydale: Yessir. It's..ah,.....it's a bit runny...

Customer: Oh, I like it runny.

Wenslydale: Well,.. It's very runny, actually, sir.

Customer: No matter. Fetch hither the fromage de la Belle France! Mmmwah!

Wenslydale: I...think it's a bit runnier than you'll like it, sir.

Customer: I don't care how fucking runny it is. Hand it over with all speed.

Wenslydale: Oooooooooohhh........!

Customer: What now?

Wenslydale: The cat's eaten it.

Recognizable to all Monty Python fans as an exchange from the Cheese Shop Sketch (first aired November 1972). You can access the text of Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches HERE and HERE. Never know when you might need to get an exact quote from the Spanish Inquisition, or the Argument Clinic, or Anne Elk's Theory of Brontosauruses...

Reposted from 2008 (! this blog is getting old) to add the complete video, which wasn't available to link to back in the old days:

iPhone in a 1937 painting - and in an 1860 painting

Image cropped for size from the original at Vice's Motherboard, where the painting is discussed.

Reposted to add this image (cropped for emphasis) from “The Expected One,” an 1860 work by Austrian painter Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller:

Discussed (and explained) at Vice's Motherboard.

Source image for the 1860 painting.

12 November 2017


Fatwood, also known as "fat lighter,"... "pine knot," "lighter knot," "heart pine"... is derived from the heartwood of pine trees. This resin-impregnated heartwood becomes hard and rot-resistant. The stump (and tap root) left in the ground after a tree has fallen or has been cut is an excellent source of fatwood. Other locations, such as the joints where limbs intersect the trunk, can also be harvested...

Because of the flammability of terpene, fatwood is prized for use as kindling in starting fires. It lights quickly even when wet, is very wind resistant, and burns hot enough to light larger pieces of wood. A small piece of fatwood can be used many times to create tinder by shaving small curls and using them to light other larger tinder. The pitch-soaked wood produces an oily, sooty smoke, and it is recommended that one should not cook on a fire until all the fatwood has completely burned out.

Heartwood (or duramen) is wood that as a result of a naturally occurring chemical transformation has become more resistant to decay. Heartwood formation is a genetically programmed process that occurs spontaneously... Heartwood is often visually distinct from the living sapwood, and can be distinguished in a cross-section where the boundary will tend to follow the growth rings...

Sapwood (or alburnum) is the younger, outermost wood; in the growing tree it is living wood, and its principal functions are to conduct water from the roots to the leaves and to store up and give back according to the season the reserves prepared in the leaves. However, by the time they become competent to conduct water, all xylem tracheids and vessels have lost their cytoplasm and the cells are therefore functionally dead. All wood in a tree is first formed as sapwood. The more leaves a tree bears and the more vigorous its growth, the larger the volume of sapwood required.
One of the pleasant memories of my childhood in Minnesota is of searching through the woods with my mother looking for pine knots to put in the fireplace.  We used them to add a pleasant odor to the cabin, not for kindling per se.

Lots more things you wouldn't know at the heartwood link.

Photo (cropped for size) via the Mildly Interesting subreddit.

Trailer for "The Post"

"Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in The Post, a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light."
One wonders what impact the current Paradise Papers revelation will have compared to the Pentagon Papers.

Equifax sells your salary history

As reported by NBC News:
The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults.

Some of the information in the little-known database, created through an Equifax-owned company called The Work Number, is sold to debt collectors, financial service companies and other entities...

But salary information is also for sale by Equifax through The Work Number. Its database is so detailed that it contains week-by-week paystub information dating back years for many individuals, as well as other kinds of human resources-related information, such as health care provider, whether someone has dental insurance and if they’ve ever filed an unemployment claim...

How does Equifax obtain this sensitive and secret information? With the willing aid of thousands of U.S. businesses, including many of the Fortune 500. Government agencies -- representing 85 percent of the federal civilian population, including workers at the Department of Defense, according to Equifax -- and schools also work with The Work Number..
That was from an article published in 2013.  I naively assumed that the situation might have changed by now.   Nope.  CNN writes "Why Equifax will continue to profit by selling your personal information":
"But it's not in the interest of lenders to stop sharing information with the credit rating agencies, Horn said. It could hurt the accuracy of the credit reports they buy back."

Impressive "dead spot" on a tennis court

The original video of the televised 2011 tennis match is here.  The science was discussed on All Things Considered.

Carfentanil - "A dose as small as a grain of sand can kill you"

From a report in The Guardian:
Developed in the 1970s as a tranquilizer for large animals such as elephants and bears, the synthetic opioid has also been studied as a potential chemical weapon by countries including the US, China and Israel. It is thought to have been deployed with disastrous effects when Russian special forces attempted to rescue hundreds of hostages from a Moscow theatre in 2002.

But it only burst into public view last year after officials across North America began to warn that it was being cut with heroin and other illicit drugs, leaving a rash of overdoses and deaths in its wake.
“An amount as small as a grain of sand can kill you,” Dr Karen Grimsrud, Alberta’s chief medical officer, told reporters after traces of carfentanil were found in the bodies of two men who had overdosed. “Carfentanil is about 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and about 10,000 times more toxic than morphine.”..

The remarks came after Canadian police – protected by hazmat suits and oxygen containers – seized one kilogram of carfentanil hidden inside cartridges labelled as printer ink and which had been shipped to Vancouver from China.

Given the purity of the substance seized, police estimated that the package could contain as many as 50m lethal doses – enough to wipe out the entire population of the country.
Scary.  And I bet it's not hard to synthesize.  Could be aerosolized via drones in a city or at a stadium.

Adaptive glasses for colorblind people

There are several compilation videos of people receiving Enchroma glasses and seeing color for the first time (here, here, and in their sidebars).

If you know someone who is colorblind who doesn't have these glasses - what are you waiting for?

MIT Technology Review explains how the glasses work.  I didn't even know they existed.  You learn something every day. 

Addendum from reader Drabkikker: Being colorblind typically does not mean you see everything in black and white, but rather that certain colors appear the same to you. What these glasses do is reduce the overlap between those colors, allowing you to distinguish them better.

10 November 2017

Rope art

The artist is Janaina Mello Landini

WWII shipwrecks are disappearing

Reports of this have been appearing for several years, but The Guardian has just compiled a longread with excellent illustrations:
Dozens of warships believed to contain the remains of thousands of British, American, Australian, Dutch and Japanese servicemen from the second world war have been illegally ripped apart by salvage divers, the Guardian can reveal.

An analysis of ships discovered by wreck divers and naval historians has found that up to 40 second world war-era vessels have already been partially or completely destroyed. Their hulls might have contained the corpses of 4,500 crew...

The rusted 70-year-old wrecks are usually sold as scrap but the ships also contain valuable metals such as copper cables and phosphor bronze propellors.

Large “crane barges” have been photographed above wreck sites, often with huge amounts of rusted steel on their decks. At the seabed, divers have found ships cut in half. Many have been removed completely, leaving a ship-shaped indent.

Cambodian, Chinese and Malaysian-registered vessels have been spotted above shipwrecks. In some cases, their crews have been arrested. In one case, the looters had acquired a letter from a Malaysian university which said the work was authorised as “research”...

Archeologists believe the criminals might be turning a profit because the hulls are one of the world’s few remaining deposits of “low-background” metals. Having been made before atomic bomb explosions in 1945 and subsequent nuclear tests, the steel is free of radiation. This makes even small quantities that have survived the saltwater extremely useful for finely calibrated instruments such as Geiger counters, space sensors and medical imaging.
Some ancient ships, often centuries-old Roman vessels in European waters, have also been salvaged for their lead, which is also low-radiation and is used in nuclear power stations.

Why did my phone think I was in Mongolia ?

I took a rather poor panorama shot in the north woods of Minnesota.  Just before deleting it, I noticed the location information. 

It's possible I stepped through a wormhole, but I suspect there's a more rational explanation.

Buenos Aires bookstore

"...Buenos Aires has more bookshops per inhabitant than any other city in the world, according to a recent study by the World Cities Culture Forum.

With a population of around 2.8 million, Buenos Aires has at least 734 bookstores – roughly 25 bookshops for every 100,000 inhabitants. Worldwide, only Hong Kong comes close, with 22 bookshops per 100,000, followed by Madrid in a distant third with just 16 and compared to a mere 10 bookshops for every 100,000 for London...

...opened as a theatre in 1919 and converted into a giant bookstore 15 years ago, the Grand Splendid still boasts the beautiful ceiling frescoes painted by an Italian artist almost a century ago. Around 1 million customers visit it each year to browse through its gargantuan 21,000 square feet showroom, or withdraw into one of the old theatre boxes perched for a leisurely read."
More pix of the bookstore.

"History of art rewritten"

"The history of art has been rewritten after archeologists unearthed an astonishing 3,500 year old carving of an ancient Greek battle, depicting human bodies in anatomical detail which was thought way beyond the skill of Bronze Age artisans.

In 2015, the tomb of the so-called ‘Griffin Warrior’ was discovered near the ancient city of Pylos, southwest Greece, containing the remains of a powerful Myceneaen warrior and a treasure trove of burial riches...

The seal, named the ‘Pylos Combat Agate’ has been hailed as one of the finest works of prehistoric Greek art ever discovered and may depict the mythological war between the Trojans and Mycenaeans, which was told in Homer’s Iliad hundreds of years later.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later."..

Researchers are baffled as to how ancient craftsmen were able to create the minute scene without microscopes.

“Some of the details on this are only a half-millimeter big,” added Prof Davis. “They’re incomprehensibly small.
More details at The Telegraph.

"We’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science"

Actor Harrison Ford took a swipe at Washington on Thursday night, blasting lawmakers and leaders who deny climate change.

During a speech to the environmental group Conservation International in Culver City, Calif., where he was receiving an award, Ford said the biggest threat to the United States is leaders that don't understand or accept evidence that human activity is driving rapid climate change.

"We face an unprecedented moment in this country. Today’s greatest threat is not climate change, not pollution, not flood or fire," Ford said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s that we’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science."
 Ford, an outspoken and longtime advocate for environmental causes, cast the threat posed by climate change as a dire one in his speech, arguing that unless it is addressed quickly, "nothing else will matter."
More at The Hill.

School daze

From Real Life Adventures.

Maps of the world's forests

Found at EarthArtAustralia, which also has maps of waterways and other physical features.

Screencap from local news

Interesting juxtaposition of stories.  ("OWI" is "operating while intoxicated.")  Reports of people with 5 or 10 OWI offenses are not uncommon. 

Via the Madison, WI subreddit.

08 November 2017

Bookmobile, Jefferson County Texas, 1935

From the Foodporn, historyporn, earthporn tumblr, via Ego is a rat on the sinking ship of being.

Unread books

"Knowing a book’s relationship to other books often means you know more about it than you do on actually reading it... we also forget a very large percentage of the books we have actually read, and indeed we build a sort of virtual picture of them that consists not so much of what they say but what they have conjured up in our mind. So that if someone who hasn’t read a book cites nonexistent passages or situations from it, we are ready to believe that they are in the book..."
Excerpted from an essay by Umberto Eco at The Paris Review (in turn excerpted from Chronicles of a Liquid Society).

Photo: The Oberlausitzische Library Of Science (Gorlitz, Germany).

"You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary."
From Brain Pickings, again citing Umberto Eco.

 Image from Lost in Translation, via Brain Pickings.

4.5 megabytes of data

Stored on 62,500 punched cards (1955).

"War... what is it good for?"

"Ruins of the Benedictine monastery, during the Battle of Monte Cassino; Italian Campaign, May 1944"
From Historium.  Re the title of the post.

"We just wanna talk"

From Facebook, via Replaces and cancels the previous Johnnythehorse.

"Three Billboards"

Trigger warning: violence, profanity.

Discussed at The Guardian.

06 November 2017

"No way to prevent this"

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens 
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX—In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed 27 individuals and seriously injured several others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.
“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Kansas resident Britt Mulvanos, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.” 
Reposted in its entirety from The Onion, which has been reposting this same story repeatedly after mass killings since 2014, changing only names and dates.

Donald Trump's opinion:  "“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation … we could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.

I'll close the comments here.  If you have comments, please forward them to your congressman.

In February, just weeks into his presidency, Trump signed a bill eliminating an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. The rule, which had been finalized in December 2016, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background gun-check database. Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to the database.

The National Rifle Association applauded Trump for signing the bill. Chris Cox, the group's chief lobbyist, said at the time that it marked "a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.”

04 November 2017

The Adventures of Pinocchio

My only prior knowledge of Pinocchio came through the 1940 Disney movie.  The book on which that movie was based is The Adventures of Pinocchio, written in the 1880s by Italian author Carlo Collodi.
According to extensive research done by the Fondazione Nazionale Carlo Collodi in late 1990s and based on UNESCO sources, it has been adapted in over 260 languages worldwide. That makes it the most translated non-religious book in the world, and one of the best-selling books ever published. According to Francelia Butler, it remains "the most widely read book in the world after the Bible". 
I was delighted recently to locate a 2005 edition published by The Creative Company.  Nobody will be surprised to learn that the 19th century text differs from the Disney version.  Collodi's Pinocchio encounters assassins who hang him (top image) when they are unable to stab his wooden body with their "long, horrid" knives (he's rescued by a blue fairy who lives in the distant house).

And he does meet a talking cricket, but after being reprimanded for his behavior, he grabs a wooden mallet and squishes the cricket:

After one rebellious episode, Pinocchio returns home exhausted and rests his muddy feet on the cookstove. 
"Then he fell asleep.  And while he slept, his feet, which were wooden, caught fire, and little by little they burned away."

That's probably not in Disney, nor is the fact that Geppetto is hauled off to prison for child abuse for reprimanding Pinocchio.  And I don't remember in the Disney version Pinocchio biting off the hand of one of the assassins who attack him.

The book is an easy read for an adult - you can finish it in one sitting, but if you're going to read it to a child at bedtime or rainy-day storytime, it would need to be spread out over several sessions.

There are of course countless printings of this original story, many of which are available fulltext online.  The strength of this particular edition is the artwork of illustrator Roberto Innocenti.

I've embedded several sample images, but there are also multiple two-page spreads depicting Italian village scenes and the engulfment by the whale/shark.  This Creative Company version is a visual treat.  I'm now looking for several other publication of theirs featuring the same illustrator (Cinderella, Rose Blanche, and four others).

(And I've written to them to inquire about the unusual typography on the front cover)

03 November 2017

Divertimento #138

Cleft lip dog ("Clefford") rescued and repaired.

Man arrested and put in jail for spending $2 bills.

"...giant salvinia, an aquatic fern capable of doubling its biomass in mere days. Scientists call it the world’s worst weed."

Scott Adams is reportedly a climate change skeptic.  This Dilbert cartoon expresses that view. 

"A Staffordshire bull terrier that killed its owner by crushing his larynx in its jaws in front of a BBC documentary crew had probably taken crack cocaine."

"...during the past 106 years, over 800 feature films received support from the Department of Defense."

"The study, published in JAMA Dermatology this week, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,316 women, 84 percent of whom reported engaging in some form of pubic hair removal by scissor, razor, wax, tweezer, depilatory cream, laser, or electrolysis."

The history of corduroy begins in Egypt with the creation of fustian.

Wired offers a requiem to the iPhone's home button.

"Steve Wilhite created the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, while working for Compuserve in 1987. On Tuesday, he received a Webby Award for it and delivered his five-word acceptance speech... "It's pronounced JIF, not GIF.""

Things you didn't know about papercuts.

The CEO of Dunkin' Donuts says a $15 minimum wage is "outrageous."  He makes $4,889 per hour.

"In the depths of the ocean, life can extend far beyond its usual limits. Take the tube worm Escarpia laminata: living in an environment with a year-round abundance of food and no predators, individuals seem to live for over 300 years. And some may be 1000 years old or more – meaning they would have been around when William the Conqueror invaded England..."

California has reinstituted a ban on foie gras.

Photograph an "empty" city (or tourist destination) by stacking and compositing multiple images.

"The men are among the thousands of detectorists across eastern Europe hunting for relics of the Red Army, the Third Reich and Imperial Russia. Beneath ploughed field and remote woodland is buried treasure from a turbulent, vanishing past. Even today, the war dead lie in these lands. Sometimes bodies are found."

Common mistakes people make when charging their iPhones.

Carcass of an elk pinned to a tree by an avalanche (a discussion thread suggested that the skull was replaced manually or digitally for the photo, but still impressive).

The second Blade Runner 2048 prequel short.

A man caught on video (and subsequently jailed) for dumping his dog.  Here's the rescue video.

A functional fishwheel on the Yukon river.

Railroad worker does not get squished.

Bounty hunters captured the wrong woman.  A jury awarded her $950,000.

Whether or not modern teenagers are having less sex depends on how you phrase the question.

T shirt demonstrates that "intelligence is the ability to adapt to change."

Amazing carved hobo nickel.

Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins bunted, resulting in a "Little League Home Run."

The difference between a "Broadway show" and an "off-Broadway show" does not depend on the location where it is performed.

"Octlantis" is an octopus "city" - never before documented.

Consumer Reports advice re the Equifax breach.  Also here.

Fake demonizing of liberals documented.

"Protesters banned at Jeff Sessions' lecture on free speech."

Showerthought:  "Charging $99 for a $15 case of water is considered price gauging, but charging $800 for an $8 bag of saline is considered “Healthcare.”"

Today's embedded photos depict child labor in the U.S. at the turn of the last century.  From a gallery of over 30 images by Lewis Hine, assembled at Flashbak, where captions explain the content.

Northern pike encounters plastic pollution

An image reminiscent of ones of sea turtles in the oceans, but this pike was caught in a river in Canada.

Via The Telegraph.

Social unrest November 4 ???

From a report in The Guardian:
If you are inside the “alt-right” information bubble, you might be preparing yourself for a civil war to commence this Saturday.

Since late September, the idea has been circulating on Facebook groups, subreddit message boards, Twitter, and leading conspiracy media outlets that on 4 November, anti-fascist groups will begin a violent insurrection.

Some websites are telling their readers that antifa groups are “planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner” this weekend. Hundreds of Facebook posts show how seriously consumers of such media are taking the news, and comments like “One more threat against white people and I swear to God I’m going to take a goddamn car and run over every fucking one of them” are not unrepresentative of the response.

But antifa groups have no plans to protest that day, and the small leftist groups who are planning protests have only dubious connections to the antifa movement. So what gives?
It always amazes me how social media and internet sites serve as accelerants for social unrest.  There must be people who benefit from these conditions.

Comments for this post are closed.  I want to move on to other things and not curate possible replies.  Just FYI.

01 November 2017

Why the "Cc" ?

I have just begun reading The Creative Company's 2005 publication of the original "Adventures of Pinocchio," but before I could get started, my attention was drawn to the unusual typography on the cover (cropped screencap above).  In the word "Pinocchio," the double-c is presented as cap-C/lower case c, and the final "chio" letters are in a different color.

The book cover flap describes the author Carlo Collodi (pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini (1826-1890)) and "an accomplished Italian journalist" and the illustrator was born in Florence, so the "cc" could be a convention of the Italian language.

IIRC, I have seen this same Cc construction on old Italian stamps, but I might be wrong.  Why not write it as "cc" ?  Mr. Google might yield an answer, but I thought it might be more informative to appeal to the immense knowledge base of the readership of the blog.

Thanks in advance for your comments.

The best lecture I've heard in many years

Absolutely the best.

I stumbled across this at 0600 this morning when I couldn't sleep and was surfing randomly, watched for a couple minutes, and then was hooked for the entire 40-minute presentation.

This is the video equivalent of a "longread."  Forty minutes is a significant chunk of your time, but I think this is worth viewing for any reader of TYWKIWDBI who shares my general worldview.

The topic is the future of global energy - basically the rise of solar and wind and the imminent plunge of coal and oil.  The numbers are staggering (and largely unappreciated by the general public).  The implications are for major disruptions in energy markets - and the geopolitical balance - within our lifetimes (within yours moreso than for old guys like me).  The presentation is at a South African symposium, so some of the focus is there, but the implications are worldwide - especially for the Middle East and for Russia.

And best of all this is a first-class presentation.  I spent the best hours of my professional life on stages and behind podiums giving lectures.  This guy - Ramez Naam - is superb as a speaker.  Pacing, diction, gestures, and the composition of his visual aids are all outstanding.  And I drool with envy looking at the setup in this auditorium with huge screens that I would have killed to have when I was lecturing.

Give it a try for at least 5 minutes to let him get past the introductory remarks; I think you'll want to hear it all.  Awesome.

31 October 2017

Conspiracy theory: there was no shooting in Las Vegas

Braden Matejka survived a bullet to the head in the Las Vegas massacre. Then, the death threats started coming.

“You are a lying piece of shit and I hope someone truly shoots you in the head,” a commenter wrote to Matejka on Facebook, one week after a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more. “Your soul is disgusting and dark! You will pay for the consequences!” said another. A Facebook meme quickly spread with a photo of him after the shooting, captioned: “I’m a lying cunt!”...

Conspiracy theorists – some of whom claim that the government staged the shooting on 1 October or that the tragedy was a hoax – have targeted survivors and victims’ loved ones, spamming every social media platform with misinformation and abuse. On Facebook and YouTube in particular, users have published viral posts and videos calling people like Braden “crisis actors”, alleging they were hired to pose as victims...

Friends and relatives posted messages of love and support in response. But soon, the nasty messages began to arrive, with strangers sending comments at such a rapid rate that it was hard for the family to keep up.

“Obviously a TERRIBLE CRISIS ACTOR,” wrote a Facebook user named Samantha. “HE’S SCAMMING THE PUBLIC … This was a government set up.”


“You’ll pay on the other side,” said a user named Mach. Others called Braden a “LYING BASTARD”, “scumbag govt actor” and “fuckin FRAUD”, while one user named Josh wrote: “I hope someone comes after you and literally beats the living fuck outa you.” 
More details at The Guardian.   This is the world we live in.

Copy editor needed

Several other examples in the original Twitter thread.  The title of the article was amended for the online version.

Meet Chris Rosati

For those who liked the above video, the one below offers more details on his remarkable life:

30 October 2017

Wyatt Earp, 1923

For some reason it's hard for me to think of Wyatt Earp living in the "modern era," but in fact he was quite active in the 1920s, even serving as an unpaid consultant in silent cowboy movies.

His face in the portrait does have the appearance of someone who has seen some shit in his time. (Image cropped for size from the original; source misplaced).

A closer look at the "Disabled Veterans National Foundation" - Updated x3

This elaborate "desk set" (calculator, pen, note pad) arrived unsolicited in the mail this week, from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation.  Because our family does donate money to charities, and because I know they exchange (or sell) names of donors to one another, I'm never surprised when new appeals arrive in the mail.

But this one was fancier by a couple log powers than anything I had ever seen before.   Even more elaborate than the made-in-China pseudo-Native-American-craft dreamcatcher I blogged two years ago.  Most charities simply send return-address labels.

So I decided to investigate.  My first stop was Charity Navigator, an unbiased resource for those who wish to give to charities.  Unfortunately, this was their response: "We don't evaluate Disabled Veterans National Foundation. Why not? We require 4 years of Forms 990 to complete an evaluation."

So I looked at the evaluation at Charity Watch:
Claims made about the percentage of donations going to charity are not the only contradictions AIP found when investigating DVNF. "For 35 years we have been putting service to others before ourselves," says one DVNF solicitation. This is an interesting statement considering the charity was not incorporated until November 2007, according to its 2008 tax form...

According to that AIP member, DVNF first sent a large plastic envelope containing a calculator and planner which she had not requested, along with a contribution form. They later sent her a follow-up solicitation asking "Did you receive the Patriotic Calculator and Planner Set I sent you?" This statement was printed in red letters above her name and address on the envelope next to a photo of an injured soldier being carried into a helicopter on a stretcher. Charities that mail unrequested gifts while at the same time requesting contributions are trying to guilt you into giving, in AIP's opinion. Donors should be aware that they are under no legal or, for that matter, moral obligation to send contributions in response to gifts they have not requested...

The language in this solicitation could lead potential donors to believe that the charity seeks funds primarily for direct assistance to veterans, which is not the case. According to DVNF's 2008 audit, only $127,421 or less than 1% of DVNF's $16.3 million budget could have been spent on grants or aid to individuals. Except for this amount and a $40,000 unrestricted grant to a related party, all the rest of DVNF's reported program expenses of $4.5 million were direct mail related.
In fairness, I'll note this evaluation was posted in August of 2010, so there may be newer data.  But I'll give this one a pass.

Update:  I wrote the above on April 30.  Yesterday, as predicted, the followup request arrives, not as an "invoice," but as a "receipt verification form." The reply form reads "YES! I received the calculator and 14 month planner.  I want to honor the disabled American heroies whokeep our nation safe!  To help these courageous men and women get the respect & benefits their military service earned, here's my gift of..."

Also, a tip of the hat to reader Corey, who notes that on May 8 CNN addressed this issue:
A national charity that vows to help disabled veterans and their families has spent tens of millions on marketing services, all the while doling out massive amounts of candy, hand sanitizer bottles and many other unnecessary items to veteran aid groups, according to a CNN investigation.

The Disabled Veterans National Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., and founded in 2007, received about $55.9 million in donations since it began operations in 2007, according to publicly available IRS 990 forms.

Yet according to the DVNF's tax filings with the IRS, almost none of that money has wound up in the hands of American veterans.

Instead, the charity made significant payments to Quadriga Art LLC, which owns two direct-mail fundraising companies hired by the DVNF to help garner donations, according to publicly available IRS 990 forms...

DVNF specifically cited a small veterans charity called St. Benedict's. But the charity's executive director said most of the donations from DVNF could hardly be classified as "badly needed."

"They sent us 2,600 bags of cough drops and 2,200 little bottles of sanitizer," J.D. Simpson told CNN. "And the great thing was, they sent us 11,520 bags of coconut M&M's. And we didn't have a lot of use for 11,520 bags of coconut M&M's... "

In one instance, the DVNF claimed more than $838,000 in fair market value donations to a small charity called US Vets in Prescott, Arizona. CNN obtained the bill of lading for that shipment, which showed that, among other things, hundreds of chefs coats and aprons were included in the delivery, along with a needlepoint design pillowcase and cans of acrylic paint. The goods listed in the two-page shipping document were things "we don't need," a US Vets spokesman said. 
More at the link. Many "charities" that ask for your money use a similar ploy.  They request free items from corporations - "gifts in kind" - then declare an inflated "market value" of those gifts when they give them away, which they use to offset the cash contributions they get from you.  The corporations in turn, of course, declare some value for these "gifts in kind" to deduct on their state and federal tax statements as charitable contributions to lower their taxes.

In May, Anderson Cooper posted this video report: [has undergone linkrot since 2012]

I spent the better part of 20 years of my working life serving U.S. veterans, so I have a personal interest in seeing that this particular story gets the attention it needs.

Addendum:  As Dan F. notes, the group is now going to be the subject of a Senate investigation.

Addendum #2:  Reposted from 2012 because the most recent comment from a reader indicates that this group is still in business.  The Senate inquiry apparently resulted in a monetary fine (and a promise to reform).

Addendeum #3:  Re-reposted from 2014 because comments continue to be added to the thread, so the DVNF is apparently still active.  This post is one of the most often-visited pages in TYWKIWDBI, which is kind of sad, really.

Here's one reason your drywall may be cracking

Quite interesting.  My father used to explain such cracks as resulting from the house "settling."  This 8-minute presentation is much more informative.  You learn something every day.

Martin Luther's antisemitism

I've seen numerous articles this week celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of the Ninety-Five Theses, and thereby launching the Reformation.  I thought I'd post something a bit different.

The modern Lutheran Church places a high value on ecumenism and tolerance of religious diversity.
Such could not be said for the church's namesake, as exemplified by this excerpt from Martin Luther's On The Jews and Their Lies:
"...aside from the Devil, you have no enemy more venomous, more desperate, more bitter, than a true Jew... What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming.... First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians.... Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.... Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.... Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb."
Via MetaFilter, where there is an extensive discussion thread.   See also the Wikipedia entry.

I don't remember hearing any of this in Luther League.

26 October 2017

Creatonotos gangis shows off his coremata

This otherwise unremarkable Australian moth is capable of everting four pheromone-releasing organs (coremata)("hair-pencils"), each of which is longer than the moth's abdomen.

You learn something every day.

Photo credit Buck Richardson, Kuranda, Queensland.


As reported by The Telegraph:
The trend of breeding animals to make them more attractive even when it damages their health has spread to horses, vets are warning, after a stable released images showing a ‘cartoon-like’ colt.

Extreme breeding practices have already left animals like French bulldogs and pugs struggling to breathe as their faces have become squashed over time to suit human demands.

But vets believe that the worrying practice is now happening in horses after a US stud farm offered an Arabian Colt for sale with an strange concave, or ‘dished’ profile.
More details at the link.  Photo credit: Orrion Farms.

Mandatory cat cartoons

I don't remember the details, but when I signed up for blogging, there was some rule about a minimum number of cat cartoons per year.  In case I've become delinquent, I'll post these for 2017.

Via The New Yorker Book of All-New Cat Cartoons
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