25 June 2017

Divertimento #130

A young man with Proteus syndrome discovers that his birth defect gives him a biologic advantage as a baseball pitcher.

"The Trust for Public Land named the city’s parks and recreation facilities tops in the nation among 100 large city park systems in rankings released Wednesday. It’s Minneapolis’ fifth year at No. 1."

This video explains the use of a dolly zoom in cinematography.

Urine is NOT efficacious in neutralizing the toxins in a jellyfish sting.

"...a search of available marriage license data by a group called Unchained at Last... turned up cases of 12-year-old girls married in Alaska, Louisiana and South Carolina, while other states simply had categories of “14 and younger.”.. Among the states with the highest rates of child marriages were Arkansas, Idaho and Kentucky. The number of child marriages has been falling, but every state in America still allows underage girls to marry..."

"Sallekhana is a supplementary vow to the ethical code of conduct of Jainism. It is the religious practice of voluntarily fasting to death by gradually reducing the intake of food and liquids."

"Placing books on shelves with the spines facing outwards is a relatively recent phenomenon, according to Mark Purcell, former libraries curator for the National Trust and now overseeing the research collections at Cambridge University Library.  Until fashions changed in the 18th century, book titles and authors were not printed on the spine but written in ink on the edge of pages."

"What has 4 letters, sometimes 9 letters, but never has 5 letters."

Awesome balloon art.

King John lost the crown jewels:
When the tide turned and the water began pouring back in, they were still navigating the treacherous bogs and sinking sands. The crown jewels—and many of the men and horses—drowned in the flood... It is also believed that this lost treasure included a good amount of gold, precious items like bejeweled utensils and chalices, and a significant amount of the loot that he had acquired over the course of his recent conquests. But, to this day, none of this bounty has been found. It’s a predicament that has puzzled treasure hunters for decades..."
All you need to know More than you need to know about monkey selfies.

The concept of "universal basic income" ("give everyone enough money to live on") will be field-tested ("studying the effects of a 12-year income guarantee delivered by the NGO GiveDirectly to 26,000 individuals in East Africa using random assignment of villages."}

A man died of Vibrio septicemia after he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after getting a tattoo (but he may have been immunocompromised by alcoholic liver disease).

A Minnesota family is restoring a white pine forest; they've planted 3,500 trees in the past decade ("Ted spends an extraordinary amount of time attempting to protect the trees from deer...")

Here is the box score of a baseball game in which the two pitching staffs combined for 42 strikeouts (16+26) in 12 innings.

Those who enjoy following the activities of the Supreme Court probably already know "Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer God-damn." (answer at the very end of the Radiolab podcast.)

The Guardian explores the rise of neo-Nazis in modern America.  "Neo-Nazi activism in America has been undermined for decades by what both extremist leaders and hate group monitors describe as incredibly childish infighting."  The current political climate has changed that.

When did the United States achieve independence?  We celebrate the Fourth of July, because that is when America declared independence.  Some historians argue that independence isn't achieved until it is recognized by the world community (and that would be the Treaty of Paris in 1783).

You're not the only person who sometimes forgets what they are doing when they enter a room.

"For Christians looking for a way to opt out of an expensive health insurance market that they see as profit-driven, intruding on their personal freedom, and indifferent (at best) to issues of abortion and the sanctity of life, health care sharing ministries may seem like the perfect, providential solution."

Impressive bird wings trapped in amber. "...plumage types associated with modern birds were present within single individuals of Enantiornithes by the Cenomanian (99 million years ago)."  [if you are like me, you have to look up Cenomanian.]

One person's opinion that Bernie Sanders could have won the presidency.

A subreddit dedicated to "Room Porn."  Try browsing some pix of remarkable interior design and decorating.

The most numerous undomesticated bird in the world is the.... what?   I'll give you five guesses and you won't get it.  Ten.  And there are at least a billion of them.  Maybe ten billion.

A map of ships buried beneath San Francisco.

A judge has ruled that a neo-Nazi with explosives and a framed picture of Timothy McVeigh is not a threat.

Filmed on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia.  Discussion thread here.

A poster by PETA.

Condor visits the man who saved his life.  If you've never seen the size of an Andean condor, be prepared to be impressed.

Sports videos:
There is a rule in baseball governing detached equipment.
A compilation of outstanding baseball errors.
Baseball 9-3 putouts.  
Louis Oosthuizen's 500-yard drive.

A list of all 213 Beatles' songs, rated and ranked by someone.

I highly recommend this photoessay about Siberian mammoth tusk hunters.

Why modern planes have ashtrays.

About those big blue exit signs on interstate highways ("who decides which businesses make it on the signs, and how much it all costs.")

This Napoleonic general lost three legs in battle (hat tip to the elves at No Such Things As A Fish).

An argument against Little Free Libraries ("examples of performative community enhancement, driven more so by the desire to showcase one’s passion for books and education than a genuine desire to help the community in a meaningful way.")

Drones used to locate and rescue lost hikers.

Why a car may have three tailpipes (in this case a Honda Civic).

Aussie video dissing anti-vaxxers.

"Whisker fatigue" is one explanation for fussy feline feeders. (Don't put the food in a deep dish)

In 1964 the United States orchestrated a coup that overthrew the democratically-elected leader of Guatemala and installed a military dictatorship there.  Not something that any of us were taught in school.

Interesting sign on a unisex bathroom door.

Is this a real product? (NSFW language).  If so, some Americans would buy it.

Jalopnik explains why you shouldn't run your car low on gas.

"Moth Eyes Inspire Glare-Resistant Coating For Cellphone Screens."

A clever pair of t-shirts.

I think this woman made a mistake.  Just my opinion.

Oops.  Not to be used for navigational purposes

Then years ago when I wrote the home page paragraph that introduces this blog, I stated that "We try to be the cyberequivalent of a Victorian cabinet of curiosities."  The embedded photos today are examples of cabinets of curiosity, via The Appendix and Wikipedia.


  1. FYI, the Basic Income link doesn't work, it requires a log into linked in.

    It was instituted as an experiment in a northern town in Saskatchewan, Ontario years ago with much success. There is also currently a current trial in Hamilton(?), Ontario and an attempt proposed with the British Columbia Green-NDP coalition.

    1. Works for me this morning without a login (and I'm not "linked in.") But it's not the primary source for the info, so there are probably better links out there for those interested who choose to Google the keywords.

  2. When I tree-planted as a summer job in University the goal was a minimum of 2,000 trees per day. This was easily attainable on scarified land. Our pay was piece-meal and our contract pushed legal boundaries. I find the care taken by this family of particular interest in contrast to what was no doubt no post-care with summer reforestation contracts.

  3. Up here in Southern Ontario Little Free Libraries are a common occurrence. Our favourite local is at a nearby cemetery where all the books are themed to the location (Last Chance to Sea and Dark Tea Time of the Soul, have been two of our recent finds / re-reads).

    Unlike Toronto, our LFL's show up in non-affluent neighborhoods and usually part of a community outreach (church, institution, community center, but yes, also homes). My only concern has always been with book bugs. Another observation with the authors data is that the LFL's in Toronto also sprout where people are shown to like books, but yes also can afford books... Perhaps these people should sponsor LFL's in other neighborhoods (without visible sponsorship)!

    Their arguments are of course valid ones. Through critique comes improvement.

    Our local library, and by extension it's associated affiliated network of libraries, is indispensable.

    Our primary concern with our local library is that it is not always safe as a destination (bed bugs, sex workers, soft drug dealers come to immediate mind). And, even with inter-library loan, finding books were interested in is, more often than not, impossible through the library system. Research and reference libraries are located in cities and have no inter-library loan policies and finding idiosyncratic books off the best-sellers lists are often a futile exercise.

    Remember, you can purchase/gift books for your local!

  4. Reddit links/pics

    Replacing reddit.com with imgur.com will show just the images that are hosted on imgur servers.


    This works with any subreddit.

    1. Excellent. Especially good for the visually oriented subreddits.

  5. "We try to be the cyberequivalent of a Victorian cabinet of curiosities."
    Well you're doing pretty good so far. Keep up the nice work.

  6. Yes and no... Reddit provides their own image hosting service now, so using this shortcut you'll likely be missing out on images.

    Instead, check out the Reddit Enhancement Suite and use the "show all images" feature on a Reddit page.

    You can try Imagoid as well: http://www.imagoid.com/


  7. The only charitable explanation I can come up with for those pillows is that they are meant to read "sewn", as in, they are sewn pillows. That's... a stretch. :-)

  8. "What has 4 letters, sometimes 9 letters, but never has 5 letters."

    I give up.

    1. The statement is correct and complete as written (it's not a question).

      If it were written with "what", "sometimes", and "never" in italics it would be trivial (and less funny).

    2. Ha! :) In Dutch we have a similar quip Hoe lang is een Chinees; literally "How tall is a Chinese", the joke being that Hoe Lang (pronounced roughly Hoo Long) is his name. Building on this, De Speld (the Dutch version of The Onion) ran an article a while ago where Hoe Lang is interviewed and complains that he is actually Vietnamese.

    3. Good one, Stan! I'll have to use that.

  9. I missed this, because with two Divertimentos in a row I didn't notice they were distinct.

    Re Cenomanian, I'd have to look it up too, but I am very familiar with fine-tuned geological timezones in general. Comes with having a geologist for a dad.

    I view with a grain of salt the Daily Beast's claim that King John was particularly hard on the poor. From what I've read elsewhere, his main failing was a paranoid need to betray others before they could betray him, and the targets of his worst impulses were the Barons and other people powerful enough to be perceived as a threat. According to my sources, "he preferred the company of commoners and mercenaries to his peers" and "he loved the law and was an educated and fair jurist". However, "certainly John committed some atrocities".

  10. re: Sallekhana - See also the related Buddhist practice Sokushinbutsu.


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