13 July 2018

Monument Valley

 
More photos - including panoramas.  Above via the EarthPorn subreddit.

The UK is phasing out coal

Britain has been powered for more than a thousand hours without coal this year, in a new milestone underscoring how the polluting fuel’s decline is accelerating... The pace of coal power’s demise is speeding up. Throughout the whole of 2017 there were 624 coal-free hours, up from 210 hours in 2016.

The fall of coal power has been swift. In 2012 it supplied two fifths of electricity – this year so far it has provided less than 6%... The decline will deepen in the second half of this year, with the planned closure in September of a Yorkshire coal plant and one in Northern Ireland...

Coal’s fortunes have been in contrast to a series of record highs for renewable sources of energy, including wind, solar and biomass. Renewables supplied 30.1% of electricity in the first three months of the year...
This kind of change is triggered by scientific advances, but implementation requires policy changes by an intelligent and progressive government.  Most countries with enlightened leaders are doing the same as the UK.

Tom Hanks supercut


Cheerful story for the day

Dulce Gonzalez was sure her beach wedding was ruined... Gonzalez, 24, watched from inside her parents’ car June 30 as thick raindrops tore at her fairy tale nuptial setup — drenching the rows of white folding chairs set up on the sand, the flower-crowned altar inscribed with her initials and those of her fiance and the petal-strewn white carpet down which she was supposed to walk.

“I was trying to hold my tears,” Gonzalez said in an interview with The Washington Post this week. “I’m about to have a panic attack, I’m asking my mom, ‘What am I gonna do?’ ”

Just then a woman walked up to Gonzalez’s car window, umbrella-less and soaking wet, and made an offer that Gonzalez could hardly believe.

Hold your wedding in my house, the woman told her...
The rest of the story is at The Washington Post

Image credit to the bride; cropped for composition from the original.

12 July 2018

The first four Sir Henry Merrivale novels

The first time I encountered John Dickson Carr's novels featuring Henry Merrivale, I read them in random order as I discovered them in used book stores.  For this final re-read, I'm going to progress through them in the order they were written.  The Merrivale novels were written under the pseudonym of "Carter Dickson," presumably because Carr was already writing several Gideon Fell mysteries each year under his own name. 

The Plague Court Murders (1934)
This is a classic "locked-room" mystery.  The victim is slain in a blood-spattered small outbuilding ("house") located in the center of an estate's courtyard.  Here's how the author describes the scene:
"First, the house.  The walls are solid stone; not a crack or rat-hole in 'em.  One of my men has been going over the ceiling inch by inch, and it's as solid and unbroken as the day it was put in... We've been over floor, ceiling, and walls.  Any idea of hinges or trap-doors or funny entrances you can get out of your mind... Next, the windows, and they're out.  Those gratings are solid in the stone; no question of that.  The gratings are so small that you can't even get the blade of that dagger through 'em, for instance; we tried it.  The chimney isn't big enough to admit anybody, even if you could drop down into a blazing fire; and finally, there's a heavy iron mesh across it only a little way up.  That's out... The door... bolted, and barred; and not one of those bolts you could do tricks with, either.  It's hard enough to pull back even when you're inside the place... Finally, here's the incredible thing... With the exception of the tracks you and I made... there isn't a footprint anywhere within twenty feet of that house.  And you and I know... that when we first walked out there we saw no footprints at all along the direction we went?"  That was unquestionably true...

In silence we walked all around the house, keeping to the margin of the yard.  The puzzle grew more monstrous and incredible as we stared at every blank side.  Yet I have not overlooked, omitted, or misstated anything, and all was exactly as it seemed to be: a stone box, with door and windows solidly inaccessible, no tricks of secret entrances, and no footprints near it anywhere before [Inspector] Masters and I had gone out.  That is literal truth."
For this book and the three below, I'll defer any discussion of the plot and focus instead on curiosities and uncommon language usage.
"The old man, Dean's father, had side-whiskers and a turkeycock nose."  A turkeycock is a male turkey; the term also refers to a pompous, conceited person.  Not sure if the usage here implies a shape to the nose, or a turned-up position (?).

"[They say] that this one mass of dead evil is always waiting for the opportunity to take possession of a living body... Do you think, then, that the clot could take possession...?"  ???

"... that's one of the oldest, stalest, childishest tricks in the whole bag.  Talk about whiskers... Lummy!"  I noted this in a review of an earlier book: "Madame doses herself with sleeping-tables on the same night that she burns with impatience to meet her lover?  Whiskers to you!  You make me laugh."  The sense is obvious, but it's a curious phrase.  Anyone seen it before? [answer in one of the Comments]

"The passage was narrow, but of great length, and reënforced by heavy beams..."  This placement of an (can we call it an umlaut?) over a doubled letter to guide the reader on the separation of syllables.  Less clumsy than "re-enforced" perhaps, but I think not standard modern usage.

"Staring at the dropsical walls, I wondered why they called it Plague Court."  Affected with dropsy (edematous).  ?? not sure of the applicability of the term to walls, unless in the sense of swollen if they are bowing outward.

"There were six of us present [including] a glucose old party named Lady Benning..."  In context she was definitely not a "sweet" lady.  I totally don't understand this usage.

"Inside were three things: a large folded sheet... a short newspaper-cutting... and a bundle of foolscap..."  A size of printing or drawing paper, 13.5x17".

"Beaton, waked and roused from the truckle-bed by a cry, found him clutching back the bed-curtains and grasping at his neck as though in dreadful pain..."  A low bed on casters, pushed under another bed when not in use.  Derived from ME trocle = roller, and thus related to trochlea (pulley/tendon).

"So none [of the plague victims] were suffered to go out into the air, save only within the enclosure of our wall; and these with myrrh and zedory in their mouths."  Also zedoary, an East Indian drug consisting of the rhizome of curcuma, whatever that is.

"... he grew to a thing shunned like the plague itself, nor would any tippling-house take him in."  Must refer to a tavern.

"... the noon editions broke their front pages open with a double column of leaded type." ?boldface

"... five minutes later we had swung left off the stolid, barrack-windowed dignity of the Be-British Street..."  Probably windows like an army barracks and therefore simple and repetitive?

"... if that girl hasn't tumbled off the apple-tree years before this, then somebody's been damned unenterprising."  In context clearly a reference to losing one's virginity, presumably an idiom of the era.

"How long has Joseph Dennis lived here?" "I believe it will be three years this quarter-day..."  In England, one of the four days marking the quarters of the year (Lady Day, Midsummer Day, Michaelmas, Christmas) (in Scotland Candlemas, Whitsunday, Lammas, or Martinmas).

"She backed away and sat down in a horsehair chair behind the table."  I had assumed it referred to the stuffing in a comfy chair, but I found a reference from the 1760s comparing horsehair to a silk textile: "The chairs are plain horsehair and look as well as Paduasoy."  Next stop Wikipedia: "Horsehair fabrics are woven with wefts of tail hair from live horses and cotton or silk warps. Horsehair fabrics are sought for their lustre, durability and care properties and mainly used for upholstery and interiors."  So, perhaps a traditional way to "extend" a supply of silk, but maybe adds to the durability of a chair arm or bottom.  Probably worthy of a separate blog post.  You learn something every day.

"Well, I thought, they're pretty happy, those two.  They've been through hell and blight for some time..."  Blight - etymology Old Norse blikna (to become pale) - is a category of diseases familiar to gardeners.  Unusual usage here.

"... that she and Darworth should set up in this line of mulcting the gullible..."  To punish by fine or forfeiture, or by fraud/extortion.  From Latin mulct = a fine. 

The White Priory Murders (1934)
A variant of the "locked room."  The corpse (beaten to death) is found in a marble pavilion located on a small island in a lake on a historic estate.  It's winter - "A hundred straight feet of unmarked snow on every side of the 'ouse.  Not a tree, not a shrub.  And sixty feet of it thin ice on every side..."  The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway containing only one set of footprints in the newly-fallen snow, leading to the pavilion.  There is nobody hidden in the building, and no secret tunnels etc.
"Bennett remembered him craning and peering over the heads of smaller men: very lean, with one corded hand jabbing his umbrella at the concrete floor."  Stringy or ribbed, from the prominence of veins, muscles, etc.

"Bennett wondered whether he would see any of them again.  Ship's coteries break up immediately, and are forgotten."  A group of people who associate because of common social purposes, a clique.  From MF term for association of tenant-farmers.

"In the course of a starched evening, he had fallen in with a group of Young England who also felt restive."  Stiff, formal.

"In a square about it, extending out about sixty feet with the pavilion in the center, ran a low marble coping..."  A finishing course on an exterior masonry wall.  Related to cope as a long cloak or mantle of silk worn by ecclesiastics, and thus related to "cap" (and probably cape).

"I met your ostler or groom or somebody."  Hostler, one who takes care of horses at an inn.  Related to hosteler, hostel, and hospital.

"He lay back in an overstuffed chair and stared at the groined roof with the red firelight flickering on it."  In architecture, a groin is a curved line or edge where two vaults intersect.  From OE grynde = abyss.  Obvious relation to the human groin.

"... Masters' face had assumed a blank and tolerant sadness as of a teacher in an idiot-school, touched now by a satiric grimness."  Self-evident meaning for a word unlikely to resurface in public usage in modern society, except maybe by Donald Trump.

"There was an ancient topheavy geyser-bath in the dingy oilcloth [bath]room."  British instantaneous heated-water bath contraption.

"Maurice was in very high feather tonight; he had even issued orders that some special sherry was to be served, in place of cocktails..."  Idiom meaning to be in excellent form, health, or humor.  From a 15th-century referring to a healthy bird's plumage

"Well, we are to act our parts as of last night; we are to reënact the attempted murder of poor Marcia on the staircase in King Charles's Room."  See reënforced above.

The Red Widow Murders (1935)
"Red widow" in French history ("veuve rouge") was apparently a term applied to the guillotine, and this novel has an entire 20-page chapter devoted to a backstory involving the Terror, but the book has a contemporary setting in the 1930s, which involves the inevitable locked room:
The whole subject of this game to-night is a room in this house - a room at the end of a passage off the dining-room - a room whose door has been locked and sealed up with six-inch screws through the jamb since 1876, the year my grandfather died... The window is covered with locked steel shutters, and the door was watched by five people..."
And now on to the language:
"(the houses) were uniformly tall, with heavy bay-windows, areaways, and high steps."  Outdoor passage leading to a basement, typically under an arch (also archway).

"Tairlaine could see the link-brackets beside the door."  A link is a torch made of tar or pitch.  Ultimately derived from proto-Indo-European "leuk-" meaning light/brightness, whence also leukocyte for white blood cell.

"... I'm head of the house, and I'll open the ball." [in context: start the conversation, give the history].  I've not heard this phrase before.


"... coolest hand in an emergency, with or without express-rifle, I ever saw."  High-velocity rifle, especially used for big game hunts.

"All I've got to say is, it ought to have been scragged, anyhow.  I hate parrots."  To kill, especially by wringing the neck, strangling.  Danish skrog is a carcass.

(in the dining room) "Covers were set for nine on the long table..."  Here I beg ignorance of table settings for a formal dinner.  The Etiquette Scholar webpage on "table setting terms" says cover is "the space allotted the diner on which tableware is placed."  You learn something (useless) every day.

"He consciously interposed himself as a buckler."  A shield.  From Latin buccula = boss (of a shield).  Swashbuckler is related.

"Especially loony-doctors, as you put it.  I myself am on sufferance.  I am permitted to speak only of sport."  "a person who was not a member or official of the House of Commons was officially a stranger, who was allowed to be present at debates on sufferance. "

"By the light of the lamp on the desk, Ravelle and Carstairs were bending over a bagatelle board."  A table game of bar-billiards, played with cues and balls and obstacles.

"She sat propped up under the bed-canopy, the rush-light beside her shining greenish on a face without paint..."  A rushlight is a type of candle or miniature torch formed by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease. For several centuries rushlights were a common source of artificial light for poor people throughout the British Isles. They were extremely inexpensive to make. English essayist William Cobbett wrote, "This rushlight cost almost nothing to produce and was believed to give a better light than some poorly dipped candles.

"She sat in a big fat chair with cretonne on it..."  A fabric noted for its strength, made with hemp warf and linen weft.  The word derived either from a French village or a Frenchman in the textile business.

"And also he probably had a very long steel bodkin almost as thin as a needle..."  A dagger or a sewing needle with a large eyehole.  So I had to look up odds bodkins, and found the best answer at The Phrase Finder: This term borrows the early bodikin version of that word, not for its meaning but just because of the alliteration with body, to make a euphemistic version of the oath God's body. This would otherwise have been unacceptable to a pious audience. That is, odds bodkins is a minced oath.

"Then I'd see how Mr. Brave Hero felt when he wasn't swanking it, and thought he'd really been poisoned!"  Fashionably elegant, not rare as the swank adjective, but a bit odd as a verb "to swagger/ show off."

"... he found H.M. blinking at the menu and Masters warming his hands before the fire in a private room with a sanded floor."  When I lived in Dallas, some local (cheap) bars had floors sprinkled with sawdust, probably to sop up spilled beer or vomit, but I doubt sand would serve the same purpose.  And not likely for traction in a dining room.  I guess this refers to the boards being sanded smooth rather than left rough.  Apparently a chic feature of the 1930s.

"I'll give you five to one he's out of quod by tomorrow at the latest..."  British slang for prison - not sure why.

"Guy had threatened to split, and was in gay feather."  Maybe similar to high feather  above.

The Unicorn Murders (1935)
A variant of the locked room concept.  The victim dies on a stairway; neither the people on the floor at the base of the stairs, or the people on the floor at the head of the stairs, are able to see an attacker or the weapon (which makes a unicorn-horn-shaped hole in the front of the victim's skull).  The plot was too complicated for my simple mind (the penultimate chapter is entitled "The Triple Impersonation.")
"This girl - who has always struck you as rather a starched proposition, by the way..."  Like "starched evening" above.

"... and slid like a man on skiis." The OED gives the plural as skis (or ski), but not with a doubled i.  Probably a simple missppellinng by the printers.

"... there really had been two policemen waiting at that red car, and now they were on the view-halloo bellow after me."  Google search yields three usages - all by John Dickson Carr.  I'm guessing it refers to police instructions if you see the malefactor, yell out for others to join you in the chase. [Answered in the Comments, with a Mary Poppins video]

"We saw a lean man of probably sixty-odd, whose walk was saved from a dodder only by the humor in his eyes..."  The verb means to shake/tremble/totter while walking as in old age or infancy.  Straight from the Middle English.

"Ramsden, whose boiled eye had been wandering about the hall gave an almost guilty jump."  I have no clue.  Maybe a shortening of "hard-boiled" (callous, unsentimental).

"Without pity or bowels I described Harvey Drummond..."  Compassion, sympathy.  Apparently, just as the interior of a ship is its bowels, the innermost feelings are the "bowels" - the source of the gentlest emotions.  Bowelless means "without pity."  In The Devil in Velvet, Carr describes a character as "loud-mouthed, without pity or bowels, the dread of all sober men."  And again in Most Secret: "Towering, formidable, his every movement betraying the expert swordsman without pity or bowels, he circled catlike..."

"Would he, for instance, growl and retire beaten when Gasquet [cop] snaffled off Flamande [criminal] first?" A snaffle is a "broad-mouthed, loose-ringed bit (metal in a horse's mouth). It brings pressure to bear on the tongue and bars and corners of the mouth. Often used as a training bit."  From Dutch (snavel), German, and OE words referring to the nose.

"Ken, I don't like all this.  It's creepy, and it's muggy, and there's something wrong with it."  The humidity-related meaning doesn't fit.  Probably old English slang.

"Then all of a sudden she let out a skelloch that scared me half to death."  Scream (Scottish).

"H.M. seemed distrait."  (French) Absent-minded, distracted, troubled.  The third meaning might connect to distraught

"You agreed to coöperate." Third time on this post - see reënact and reënforced above. Somebody must know what the two dots are called (umlaut for German, what for English?).  [A tip of the blogging cap top reader Kniffler, who provided a link to the relevant info in Wikipedia]:
The diaeresis mark is sometimes used in English personal first and last names to indicate that two adjacent vowels should be pronounced separately, rather than as a diphthong. Examples include the given names Chloë and Zoë, which otherwise might be pronounced with a silent e. To discourage a similar mispronunciation, the mark is also used in the surname Brontë. It may be used optionally for words that do not have a morphological break at the diaeresis point, such as naïve, Boötes, and Noël. However, it is far less commonly used in words such as coöperate and reënter except in a very few publications—notably The New Yorker
"As for me, to say that I was getting the breeze up is to put it mildly."  I found a minor definition: "An excited or ruffled state of feeling; a flurry of excitement."  Maybe related to "getting the wind up" but I don't have time to look all this stuff up.

"Listen, Gasquet: this fellow's either innocent or bughouse..."  Crazy, insane from the use of the term for an asylum.

"Auguste whoomed, getting up out of his chair with indignant snortings and shakings of his head."  I couldn't find this.

Today I listed all four of these books on eBay, as a single lot.

I'm not going to tell him. You go ahead...


Via the Iamverybadass subreddit.

11 July 2018

Laughter is contagious


This is the famous "Dad at Comedy Barn" video.  24 million views on YouTube, just to hear a man laugh.  If this is your first time viewing it, don't give up in the first two minutes (and the red advertising box closes via the small "x" in its corner).  And note it even ends with a refrain of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Reposted from 2009.  And again from 2013 because I needed a laugh tonight.

09 July 2018

Churches closing in Minnesota


Excerpts from an article in the StarTribune:
When La Salle Lutheran locks its doors in August, it will become the latest casualty among fragile Minnesota churches either closing, merging or praying for a miracle. Steep drops in church attendance, aging congregations, and cultural shifts away from organized religion have left most of Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations facing unprecedented declines.

“Sunday used to be set aside for church: that’s what families did,” said Donna Schultz, 74, a church member since grade school at La Salle, in southwest Minnesota. “Now our children have moved away. The grandkids have volleyball, dance on weekends. People are busy with other things... 

Mainline Protestant churches have been hit the hardest. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Minnesota has lost almost 200,000 members since 2000 and about 150 churches. A third of the remaining 1,050 churches have fewer than 50 members. The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in Minnesota, has shuttered 65 churches since 2000.

Catholic membership statewide has held steady, but the number of churches fell from 720 in 2000 to 639 last year, according to official Catholic directories. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which closed 21 churches in 2010 and merged several dozen others, is again looking at ways to consolidate church staffing and programs...

And it seems likely to get worse. Most Americans still report that they are Christian, but the worshipers in the pews on Sunday increasingly have gray or white hair. The median age is older than 50 for nearly all mainline Protestant denominations, according to the Pew Research Center, a national polling and research group in Washington, D.C. For Catholics, it’s age 49...

Churches in every rural area are merging and sharing services in an effort to keep their doors open, bishops said. The ELCA now offers advisers who specialize in counseling closing and fragile churches, and finance experts to help churches survive with ever-shrinking budgets...

Along with declining attendance, many Twin Cities churches facing closings and mergers have something else in common — old boilers or furnaces, leaky roofs, deferred maintenance...

Even so, Minnesota religious leaders insist church life is not becoming a relic. It will just look different. Christian churches will need to be more creative, financially leaner, and more in tune with their communities if they are to survive the 21st century, they said.
More at the link.  The article mentions some prominent urban churches, but I suspect the majority of the closings are in rural communities, which suffer from the double whammy of the changing attitudes of young people plus the progressive depopulation of rural towns, as large corporate farms displace the traditional small family enterprises.

Whatever your sentiments are regarding religion - even if you are frankly agnostic or aggressively atheist, you have to recognize the loss going on here in terms of the social structure of these small towns.  In communities of a few thousand residents, churches have traditionally provided the backbone of support for the elderly, the impoverished, and the troubled youth.   This aspect of community mutual support is emphasized in the brief but touching video at the bottom of the article, which I'm unable to embed. It's worth 3 minutes of viewing.

Photo credit Leila Navidi - Star Tribune.

July 5


Details at the Evening Standard.

The Trump administration publicly opposes breastfeeding

This is not something I can relegate to the q-3-monthly Trump clumps.  This is such unmitigated crap that it deserves the spotlight of a main post.  From CBS News:
U.S. officials threatened Ecuador with punitive trade measures after the country introduced an international resolution that encouraged breastfeeding during a global health conference, according to The New York Times. The threats reportedly occurred in May at the U.N.-affiliated World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The Times says the U.S. delegation opposed the measure, which was widely expected to be adopted. The U.S. officials, according to the Times, first tried to remove language from the resolution that called on nations to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding." Another section called on countries to restrict promotion of food products that could have harmful effects on children.

When U.S. efforts to water down the measure failed, the delegates reportedly threatened Ecuadorian delegates with retaliatory trade measures and said the U.S. would withdraw military aid unless the country withdrew the measure. The strong-arm tactics worked, and Ecuador dropped its support of the resolution. 

But the Russian delegation eventually stepped in and introduced the measure without any threats from the American officials, the Times reports. However, U.S. officials tried for two more days to use procedural methods to stymie its ultimate adoption.

The Times says it spoke with more than a dozen participants at the assembly from several countries. Most of the sources requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from U.S. officials. At least a dozen countries in Africa and Latin America reportedly declined to support the measure over fears of retaliation.  

The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations. The Department of Health and Human Services, however, defended its decision to reword the resolution.

"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children," an HHS spokesperson told the Times.

The Times says baby food industry lobbyists attended the meetings but health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they influenced the Americans' threats. 
So who in their right mind opposes breastfeeding (except for individual patients with medical contraindications etc)?  Only people who have sold their soul to industries that profit from the sale of baby formulas.  So "baby food industry lobbyists attended the meetings" in Geneva, but there is "no direct evidence that they influenced the Americans' threats." ???  They were just passing through Geneva at the time and happened to be innocent bystanders when some rogue American diplomat decided to strongarm the conference participants because breastfeeding is harmful and dangerous?  Fucking bullshit.
The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding. Over all, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations...

During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the W.H.O., several negotiators said. Washington is the single largest contributor to the health organization, providing $845 million, or roughly 15 percent of its budget, last year...

Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.

A 2016 study in The Lancet found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.
I titled this post "Trump administration" because they are the ones who are sucking up to the industry.  It is not the American people who oppose breastfeeding, and not even the American congress - and not even the red-state voters who wear MAGA hats.  This is policy work perpetrated by an out-of-control administration.  They need to be called out on this.  I'm sick of this shit.

A brilliant and remarkable man


Excerpts from his Wikipedia page:
George Washington Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove... Missouri, some time in the early-mid 1860s... His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George's parents... After slavery was abolished, Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised George and his older brother James as their own children...

He homesteaded a claim near Beeler, where he maintained a small conservatory of plants and flowers and a geological collection. He manually plowed 17 acres (69,000 m2) of the claim, planting rice, corn, Indian corn and garden produce, as well as various fruit trees, forest trees, and shrubbery. He also earned money by odd jobs in town and worked as a ranch hand... His art teacher, Etta Budd, recognized Carver's talent for painting flowers and plants; she encouraged him to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames. When he began there in 1891, he was the first black student...

In 1896, Booker T. Washington, the first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), invited Carver to head its Agriculture Department. Carver taught there for 47 years, developing the department into a strong research center and working with two additional college presidents during his tenure. He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton, initiated research into crop products (chemurgy), and taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen to their soils by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans and cowpeas)... In addition, he founded an industrial research laboratory, where he and assistants worked to popularize the new crops by developing hundreds of applications for them...
Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications resulting from a fall.
I first read about him in one of the classic Landmark books back in the 1950s.   He seemed to be part of such a remote history that I was surprised recently to find this colorized photograph of him from 1942.

Colorization credit (many other impressive photos there).  Via.

Minnesota bears outside their primary range


The Minnesota DNR has set up an interactive public database for reporting sightings of black bears outside their primary range.  On the map the area in black is the expected normal range; the diagonal line across the state represents approximately the boundary between the "north woods" ecosystems and the historical prairie and (further west) the Great Plains.  (You can see the continuation of the forested areas into Wisconsin and Canada from the green background of the original topo map.)

06 July 2018

Can you walk? Do you appreciate it as much as this little girl does?

Young woman, Luzon (Philippines}, 1875

"At the Musee De L'Homme in Paris the picture is only identified as Sangley Filipina meaning Chinese Filipina. The photo was taken by Francisco Van Kamp who was a European that had a photo studio in Manila. The shine in her hair is from coconut oil and her half open fan means she is single."
Via the OldSchoolCool subreddit.

How you can inherit genetic material from your older brother or sister

An article in this month's issue of The Atlantic - Your DNA Is Weirder Than You Think - includes this startling observation:
In pregnant women, fetal stem cells can cross the placenta to enter the mother’s bloodstream, where they may persist for years. If Mom gets pregnant again, the stem cells of her firstborn, still circulating in her blood, can cross the placenta in the other direction, commingling with those of the younger sibling. Heredity can thus flow “upstream,” from child to parent—and then over and down to future siblings.
I'm familiar with conventional, mitochondrial DNA, and epigenetics, but the stem cell double transfer caught me by surprise.

You learn something every day.

"Dad, what's a sycophant? I need to know for class tomorrow."

"That's an interesting word, son.  Let's start with the etymology, from Wiktionary...
First attested in 1537. From Latin sȳcophanta (informer, trickster), from Ancient Greek συκοφάντης (sukophántēs), itself from σῦκον (sûkon, fig) + φαίνω (phaínō, I show, demonstrate). The gesture of "showing the fig" was a vulgar one, which was made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, which is itself symbolic of a σῦκον (sûkon), which also meant vulva. The story behind this etymology is that politicians in ancient Greece steered clear of displaying that vulgar gesture, but urged their followers sub rosa to taunt their opponents by using it. 
But that's TMI for your fifth-grade class, and the standard definition would involve also explaining "obsequious" and "servile." So instead let's define it by example.  Do you remember the Bible passage in Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 15-20?"

"Sure - that would be the "by their fruits you will know them" lesson about recognizing false prophets."

"Exactly.  Now here's some "fruit" in the form of a letter written by a man to his employer.  I've redacted parts of it because we're not talking politics here - just defining a word by example:
... it has been an honor to serve you... Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated... Your courage, steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results... is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you... in helping achieve those ends. 

... It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring...

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions... I believe you are serving... today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead... Thank you again... for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.
Your Faithful Friend, 
[redacted]
"So, what do you think?"

"Ewww.  Gross.  And still TMI for my class.  I think I'll just give them a synonym: ass-kisser, brown-nose, or suck-up should do it.  Thanks, dad."

A period should signify a full stop

YouTube link

The news as it was written for the newscaster:
“Good evening, I’m Ken Bastida; Dana is off tonight.

He was murdered and then set on fire while celebrating his birthday. The body of Jimmy Frezshi was found by firefighters on Monroe Street…"
The result when read off the teleprompter:
“Good evening, I’m Ken Bastida. Dana is off tonight; he was murdered and then set on fire while celebrating his birthday.

The body of Jimmy Frezshi was found by firefighters on Monroe Street…"
Reposted from 2009 to add this example from the BBC:


Listen again... "This is BBC World News.  I'm Jonathan Charles, kept hidden for almost two decades and forced to bear children."

Reposted from 2012 because I needed a laugh today.

05 July 2018

This looks like a movie for our times - updated


YouTube link

The subtitles are in Spanish, but the movie was thoroughly American - and thoroughly controversial, as explained at Den of Geek:
In 1933’s Gabriel Over the White House, President Judson Hammond (played by Walter Huston), having been possessed by the Angel Gabriel, brings the Depression to an end by dissolving the Legislative and judicial branches of the federal government, concentrating all political power within himself. He then declares martial law, single-handedly battles the mob, puts the Army of the Unemployed to work on a public works project, and uses the threat of military force to strong arm the other nations of the world into signing a peace treaty. Made in the depths of the Great Depression and confronting many of the problems facing Americans at the time, it’s all portrayed as a very good thing.
Upon seeing it, an historian I know noted that it was the only film he could think of in which fascism, was presented not only as a cure for America’s troubles, but as a force of goodness and light working to protect the common man. 

The film’s message was a popular one upon its initial release, but then that damn Hitler had to come along and ruin everybody’s dream. Warner Brothers pulled the film out of circulation for the next 70 years.
Listen to Walter Huston's rhetoric in the closing minutes of the clip.  This is a film that would really whip up the fervor of this country's red and blue factions - as if that needed doing.

I've been unable to find a (free) version to view.  It's not listed on Netflix, and I found only excerpts on YouTube.   Amazon offers a DVD for purchase, but I couldn't locate a free streaming option on Prime.

Found at the incomparable Neatorama.

Addendum:  A tip of the blogging hat to reader KOWilhelm, who emailed this to me:

I see that on July 7, 2018, TCM will be showing this movie:

The TCM article at the link provides this additional information:
Filmed before Roosevelt took office as President of the United States, Gabriel Over the White House was a collaboration between producer Walter Wanger and publisher William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan Studios, whose films were distributed by MGM. Hearst's political views were well known through the editorials he published in his own papers and when he read Rinehard, a novel by British novelist Thomas F. Tweed, Hearst knew he had found the perfect vehicle to express his views on the state of the nation. President Judson Hammond (played by Walter Huston in the film) is the total autocrat: he storms into the House of Representatives and declares a state of national emergency, convincing the lawmakers to grant him absolute power. Freely adapting Jefferson's concept of democracy, which was based on "the greatest good for the greatest number," President Hammond is able to smash through bureaucratic roadblocks, gun down gangsters without a trial, and bully the world into meeting his demands. By the end, he has solved the unemployment problem and enforced a worldwide disarmament but dies a martyr for his efforts. It's easy to see the appeal President Hammond had for an all-powerful newspaper tycoon like Hearst.

Louis B. Mayer, on the other hand, was a staunch Republican and was appalled by Gabriel Over the White House. "Put that picture in its can. Take it back and lock it up!" was the directive he reportedly gave Eddie Mannix, his top executive, after screening it for the first time. Mayer considered it an attack on President Hoover and demanded extensive retakes on the film before he would release it; the theory being that Hoover would be out of the White House by the time Mayer allowed the film to open theatrically...
[Fascinating that in that era, William Randolph Hearst, a Democrat (elected to Congress) loved the movie, while a Republican found the movie's concept to be appalling"Lock it up! no less !!]
Ironically, Gabriel Over the White House turned out to be one of the biggest box office hits of 1933; its topical subject matter obviously spoke to audiences who felt the need for strong leadership after the economic chaos of the Great Depression... One thing almost every critic agreed on, however, was Walter Huston's mesmerizing performance as President Hammond; his metamorphosis from a party stooge who enjoys detective magazines to a messianic leader is completely credible, despite its outlandish conception... Within three years, he would be named Best Actor of the year by the New York Film Critics for Dodsworth (1936) and go on to win Oscar nominations for his work in Dodsworth, All That Money Can Buy (1941), and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Still, Huston was always partial to Gabriel Over the White House since it ended up securing him an invitation to the White House for drinks with President Roosevelt, who was a big fan of the film
I've got my DVR set for Saturday.

Addendum #2:  Even better - an anonymous reader found the movie online and not behind a paywall. 

04 July 2018

Onychomadesis - shedding of the toenails - triggered by a fish pedicure


The fish didn't chew the nails off; they just damaged the nail plate, probably near its root.  I found the story at Gizmodo:
According to a case report published by her doctor in JAMA Dermatology, the woman’s toenails stopped growing and started falling off soon after she received a so-called fish pedicure... Six months into her nail troubles, she visited a dermatologist, who ruled out any known causes of onychomadesis, such as major illness or a side effect of certain medications...

“I do not recommend fish pedicures for any medical or aesthetic purpose,” Lipner said. “In addition to onychomadesis, there are also serious infections associated with fish pedicures.”
Photo via The Soul is Bone

addendum for the wordsmiths:  That's a new word for me.  Etymology onycho (nail) + madáō, I fall off”(Greek).  Is there any other English usage of the madáō/madesis term???

Awesome floodwall in Austria


The photo isn't photoshopped, but the perspective is a bit misleading.  Still, it's a remarkable construction that allows floodwalls to the raised or removed as needed:


Via the Interestingasfuck subreddit, where there are links to other photos and some relevant discussion.

Today (July 4) is NOT the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence

Despite the annual proclamations that the fourth of July is the XXXth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the actual day of "declaration" and signing was July 2:
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare that the 13 American colonies were independent states and no longer part of the British Empire. The next day, John Adams predicted in a letter to his wife, Abigail,
The second day of July, 1776, will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
He was mostly right about the celebration, but wrong by two days. After the vote, Congress spent the 3rd and 4th day of July fine-tuning and nitpicking the formal document that explained the reasons for declaring independence. Adams was also correct in that the vote was usually considered the significant event, and the post-vote follow-up was little more than paperwork. But for several after-the-fact reasons, that's not what happened.
Details at Neatorama.

Now that you know this, I suggest you remain quiet and don't tell anyone.  Be satisfied to be smug in your superior knowledge of American history, and don't go spreading this information to others at today's parties and celebrations, because people will just call you a smart-ass dick.  Just sayin'.

Impressive tree shaping


Tree shaping is the process of modifying living trees into forms they would not normally achieve (LOTS of interesting stuff at that link, btw).

The embedded image is of the Sheraden House in Pittsburgh; the front entry is framed by twin sycamores (pix 1952 to 2017).

03 July 2018

Atlas moth

Atlas moths are one of the largest lepidopterans in the world with a wingspan measuring between 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in) and a wing surface area of about 400 cm2 (62 in2). It is only surpassed in wingspan by the white witch (Thysania agrippina) and in wing surface area by the Hercules moth (Coscinocera hercules).

Their habitat is primarily dry rainforests, secondary forests, and shrublands across South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia, including the Malay Archipelago.

The adults lack fully formed mouthparts and cannot eat, subsisting entirely on fat reserves accumulated during the larval stage. As a result, they live for only a few days during which their sole objective is seeking out a mate.

Anti-vaxxer gets owned

Travel complaints

"These complaints are all taken from a survey from Thomas Cook and ABTA, revealing 20 of the most ridiculous complaints holidaymakers made to their travel agent."
2: "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels."

3: "The beach was too sandy."

4: "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all."

6: "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned."

12: "No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled."

13: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It only took the Americans three hours to get home."

14: "I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller."

19: "We had to queue outside with no air conditioning."

20: "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."
More at the link. I suspect some of the respondents are trolling Thomas Cook.

Why he needs an AR-15


Via.

"All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it."


The quotation by Samuel Butler fits nicely with this video of an elk calf frolicking in a puddle.

Via Joanne Casey's I Have Seen The Whole of the Internet.

Addendum: Originally posted two years ago; now updated to add this video of interspecies play:

"Every evening a river otter comes to play with our daughter's dog Rio. What was once an acquaintance on the other side of the fence has now become a friend who comes to play through the fence.It has been interesting to watch as their trust of each other has developed over the past several months."
Addendum #2:  Time for another biennial update, this time to add a video of goats playing "King of the Mountain" on one of their sun shelters:


Addendum #3:  More interspecies play in this video of a pitbull and a young deer:


YouTube link.  Via I Love Dogs.

See also this video of dogs playing with water from a garden hose.

And this elephant with a plastic ribbon.

I do enjoy updating this post.  Here's a dog and deer at play.  And a horse with a squeaky toy.

Reposted from 2015 to add yet another dog and deer, joyfully racing along a fence.

Couture


I've been advised by a knowledgeable reader not to make fun of haute couture because I don't understand it.  So be it.  Res ipsa loquitur.

Image cropped for size from the original at The Guardian.

Hundreds of cryptocurrencies are now dead

Why does this not surprise me?
Cryptocurrency projects have been popping up left, right and center in the past 18 months, but over 800 of those are now dead...

There has been an explosion in ICOs. Companies raised $3.8 billion via ICOs in 2017, but in 2018 so far, this number has already shot up to $11.9 billion, according to CoinSchedule, a website that tracks the market.

However, hundreds of these projects are now dead because they were scams, a joke or the product hasn't materialized. Dead Coins is a website that lists all the cryptocurrencies that fall into those categories. So far, it has identified just over 800 digital tokens that it considers dead. These coins are worthless and trade at less than 1 cent.

Bitcoin, which is the biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization or value, has also had a tough year. The price of bitcoin has fallen roughly 70 percent since its record high near $20,000 last year... 

Acronym, anacronym, and anachronym

Re acronyms and anacronyms:
The most common capitalization scheme seen with acronyms is all-uppercase (all-caps), except for those few that have linguistically taken on an identity as regular words, with the acronymous etymology of the words fading into the background of common knowledge, such as has occurred with the words scuba, laser, and radar—these are known as anacronyms. Anacronyms (note well -acro-) should not be homophonously confused with anachronyms (note well -chron-), which are a type of misnomer.
Re anachronyms ("misnomers"):
  • The "lead" in pencils is made of graphite and clay, not lead; graphite was originally believed to be lead ore, but this is now known not to be the case. The graphite and clay mix is known as plumbago, meaning "lead ore" in Latin, and is still known as "black lead" in Keswick, Cumbria and elsewhere.
  • Blackboards can be black, green, red, blue, or brown. And the sticks of chalk are no longer made of chalk, but of gypsum.
  • Tin foil is almost always aluminium, whereas "tin cans" made for the storage of food products are made from steel with a thin tin plating. In both cases, tin was the original metal.
  • Telephone numbers are usually referred to as being "dialed" although rotary phones are now rare.
  • In golf, the clubs commonly referred to as woods are usually made of metal. The club heads for "woods" were formerly made predominantly of wood.
The term anachronym (note well -chron-) as defined in Garner's Modern English Usage refers to this type of misnomer...  Anachronyms should not be homophonously confused with anacronyms (note well -acro-), which are words such as laser and sonar that have acronymic origin but are generally no longer treated like conventional acronyms (that is, they are used syntactically like any other words, without obligate reference to their original expansions).
You learn something every day.  More at the links for the wordsmiths on this blog.

01 July 2018

Divertimento #153


I haven't posted a proper linkfest since April, and a lot has happened since then.  Here goes...

Decapitated wasp grabs its head and flies away.

"Finnish security researchers Tomi Tuominen and Timo Hirvonen can clone many master hotel keys very quickly using their clever cryptography, an expired keycard from the hotel trash, and a $300 Proxmark RFID card reading and writing device. It takes them about one minute to create a master hotel key..."

The most popular dog in the United States should come as no surprise, but the extent and duration of that popularity is quite impressive (brief video).

Television reporter talks to a mushroom (40 second video).

"The subprime car-lending industry -- charging exorbitant rates for car-loans to people least suited to afford them, enforced through orwellian technologies, obscuring the risk by spinning the debt into high-risk/high-yield bonds -- is collapsing.. Meanwhile, the borrowers -- lent money that everyone understood they couldn't afford, backed by assets that depreciated by 50% the day they were acquired -- are defaulting and missing payments like crazy, at a rate that puts the subprime housing bubble in the shade."

 "When a young sperm whale washed up on a beach in southern Spain, scientists wanted to know what killed it. They now know: waste -- 64 pounds of it. Most of it plastic, but also ropes, pieces of net and other debris lodged in its stomach..."

How to throw a punch.


Beware of rent-to-own homes: "It was not until a few years after he moved in that Zachary Anderson realized that he was not, in fact, the owner of the house he thought he’d purchased. Anderson had already spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing a hole in the roof, replacing a cracked sidewalk, and fixing the ceilings... “They get free work out of a lot of people.” Anderson had entered into a contract for deed, a type of transaction that was rampant in the 1950s and 1960s... The contracts are designed to fail, Tullos, the Legal Aid lawyer, said, because they require tenants to do so many repairs so rapidly."

"...a global team of researchers analyzed the salt content in 2,000 breads sold in 32 countries and regions... Some of the products analyzed in the report — like the rosemary focaccia from Ace Bakery in Canada — were “saltier than seawater.”"

"Member states have voted in favour of an almost complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU."

"Entitled deadbeat finally breaks out of 20-year cycle of government dependency."

(related) “There are many qualified conservatives who would be effective representatives for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, and Paul Nehlen isn’t one of them,” said Kevin Seifert, the head of [Paul] Ryan’s political operation. “His bigoted rhetoric and his reprehensible statements should disqualify him from holding any public office..."

Why concrete needs rebar.  8-minute video - very good.

"Recent research and clinical psychologists now suggest that some adolescents are engaging in a newer form of self-aggression — digital self-harm. They're anonymously posting mean and derogatory comments about themselves on social media."

"You should not pay for TurboTax. If you want to use a free version of TurboTax or H&R Block at Home or Credit Karma Tax or TaxAct, go nuts. But for the love of God, don't give Intuit money. TurboTax is an evil, parasitic product that exists entirely because taxes are confusing and hard to file. Worse than that, Intuit is one of the loudest voices on Capitol Hill arguing against measures that make it easier to pay taxes."


How to trap mice using a bowl of peanut oilNonlethal.

"A fishing ship carrying 600 illegal nets stretching up to 18 miles has been seized after it escaped Chinese authorities, while using the flags of eight different countries to evade capture... Gillnetting has been banned in Antarctic waters since 2006 and is described by Australia as posing a “huge risk to almost all marine life, including marine mammals.. Navy deputy chief of staff Achmad Taufiqoerrochman was quoted in the statement as saying the Indonesian crew lacked travel documents and had been at sea for a long time without pay, indicating they may have been victims of trafficking."

"Temperatures reported to have cracked 50.2 degrees Celsius (122.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday in Nawabshah, located about 127 miles northeast of Karachi. If confirmed, that could make the measurement not just the hottest ever recorded for April in Pakistan, but the hottest ever reliably recorded for April anywhere on Earth."

A longread on income inequality worldwide.

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has declined in strength by 15 percent since the mid-20th century to a “new record low,” the scientists conclude in a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature. That’s a decrease of 3 million cubic meters of water per second, the equivalent of nearly 15 Amazon rivers... The AMOC brings warm water from the equator up toward the Atlantic’s northern reaches and cold water back down through the deep ocean... The circulation is also critical for fisheries off the U.S. Atlantic coast, a key part of New England’s economy... It’s not just fisheries: If the slowdown trend continues, it is expected to drive strong sea-level rise against the Eastern Seaboard... because the northward flow of the Gulf Stream pushes waters to its right — which means that the ocean piles up against the coast of Europe. But as the current weakens, some of the water flows back toward the United States’ East Coast instead..."

The newly-appointed head of NASA has no professional science background.

"The outback was, and is, home to an extraordinary number of wild camels. The government-supported website Feral Scan, which monitors invasive species, puts the current number at between 1 and 1.2 million, with this amount reportedly doubling every eight or nine years... They carried wool and water, telegraph poles and railway sleepers, tea and tobacco. Aboriginals began to incorporate camel hair into their artefacts."

"Prisoners are so unhappy with the quality and quantity of prison food that they receive that they have begun relying on ramen noodles -- a cheap, durable food product -- as a form of money in the underground economy. Because it is cheap, tasty, and rich in calories, ramen has become so valuable that it is used to exchange for other goods." This is in the United States.

Photo of a boy with two lobsters.  Big lobsters.


"Shrinking reservoirs in Morocco, India, Iraq and Spain could spark the next “day zero” water crisis... The starkest decline is that of Morocco’s second-largest reservoir, Al Massira, which has shrunk by 60% in three years due to recurring drought, expanding irrigation and the increasing thirst of neighbouring cities such as Casablanca... In Iraq, the Mosul Dam has seen a more protracted decline but it is also now down 60% from its peak in the 1990s as a result of low rainfall and competing demand from Turkish hydropower projects upstream..."

Frozen river in Montana starts to break up.  Five-minute video.

Yet another discourse about how many spaces to put after a period.
 
"In China and India, men outnumber women by 70 million. Both nations are belatedly trying to come to grips with the policies that created this male-heavy generation... Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labor markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations. Those consequences are not confined to China and India, but reach deep into their Asian neighbors and distort the economies of Europe and the Americas, as well. Barely recognized, the ramifications of too many men are only starting to come into sight..."

Queensland's green-haired turtle breathes through its genitals.

Remembering Karl Kasell of NPR. "Mr. Kasell’s voice, resonant and reassuring, with a lilting trace of his North Carolina tobacco country heritage, helped define NPR as an emerging force in news broadcasting. He joined the public radio network in 1975 and, four years later, helped inaugurate “Morning Edition,” writing and reading five-minute news updates from pre-dawn to the lunch hour... He parlayed that stolid reputation into unexpected laughs when he signed on for “Wait Wait” in 1998..."

For fox ache: "A group of cancer doctors focused on bringing down the cost of treatments by testing whether lower — and cheaper — doses are effective thought they had found a prime candidate in a blood cancer drug called Imbruvica that typically costs $148,000 a year... early clinical evidence indicated that patients with [CLL] might do just as well on one or two pills a day after completing an initial round of treatment at three pills per day."  So - the company is going to reformulate the medication and charge a flat price of about $400, or triple the original cost of the pill.

"A Canadian naturopath claims she treated a 4-year-old boy's behavioral problems with a controversial homeopathic remedy — this is, saliva from a rabid dog."

"A 13-year-old boy and an amateur archaeologist have unearthed a “significant” trove in Germany which may have belonged to the Danish king Harald Bluetooth who brought Christianity to Denmark... Braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, rings and up to 600 chipped coins were found, including more than 100 that date back to Bluetooth’s era..."

How to make a fiberoptic "star ceiling" in a child's bedroom.  (or your own)

"Turks have reacted with undisguised glee to what many have described as an official – and certainly long overdue – confession from Stockholm that Sweden’s signature national dish [Swedish meatballs] is, in fact, Turkish."

The modern counterpart of pirate radio stations is the streaming of music nonstop on YouTube channels.

LifeProTip:LPT: "If you ever visit somewhere beautiful, stop and have a snack. Take a moment to really focus on the taste and smell of the food, then focus on your surroundings. Anytime you have that food or drink again you can close your eyes and it will take you back there."

Have you noticed something missing? Ever since OS X Lion, your Mac has been hiding the Library folder... The user's Library has long been a go-to location for troubleshooting issues with individual applications or components shared by multiple applications. If you haven't heard the refrain "Delete the application's plist," you either haven't been using a Mac for very long, or you've been lucky enough not to experience an application behaving badly. It's not clear why Apple decided to hide the user's Library folder, but there are multiple ways to get it back; two provided by Apple (depending on the version of OS X you are using) and one by the underlying file system. The method to use depends on whether you want permanent access to the Library folder, or only when you need to go there.

An extended obituary for Dr. Donald Seldin - one of the most remarkable teachers I ever encountered.


Facial distortion by "selfies" is causing people to seek unnecessary nose jobs.

When your downstairs neighbor installs a new chandelier.


The embedded images today come from Rennert's Gallery of vintage posters (21 pages of them at the link!)

30 June 2018

T rex info. And a new word: "spandrel"



Spandrel in architecture, and spandrel in biologyShort version.

You learn something every day.  Via BoingBoing.

Gregor Samsa consults a famous doctor



Gregor Samsa awakens one morning to find himself transformed into a cockroach.  Desperate for help, he writes to a doctor.  From the doctor's reply:
If you ooze like a slug or you prick like a cactus, 
   every ill-feeling bug finds his way to my practice. 
Whether dozens of styes mar your 100-eyed face, 
   whatever your ailment, you're in the right place. 
Not to brag, but I've never yet failed to determine 
   whatever root causes were vexing a vermin.
Rest assured, I'll endeavor to glean and deduce. 
   You'll be better than ever or my name isn't..... Seuss.
The rest of the transcript is available at This American Life, but it's much more enjoyable as an audio experience.

Background for the befuddled. And here, for those few not familiar with the doctor.

Reposted from 2013 to replace the podcast with the video adaptation and insert a link to the transcript.  And again in 2018 because of the appearance of a useful comment.
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