25 March 2018

Divertimento #150

A complete (and complicated) Harry Potter universe family tree.

"Pakistani police have arrested four people accused of stealing spinal fluid from women. The suspects told women they had to provide blood samples to qualify for financial assistance from the Punjab government, police told BBC Urdu. However, they extracted spinal fluid instead, and attempted to sell it on the black market, police added.

A history of ice skating wardrobe malfunctions.

"Trenton Lewis' legs ached from the 11-mile walk he made every morning to get to his 4 a.m. shift. And yet the 21-year-old dutifully did it for seven long months..."

A compilation of clips from movies that won cinematography Oscars.

More than 100,000 critically endangered orangutans have been killed in Borneo since 1999.

"An Irish drugmaker has jacked up the price of a painkiller to nearly $3,000 a bottle. The drug is 22 times more expensive than when the company acquired it in late 2013."

Kangaroo hunter vs. kangaroo.  Kangaroo wins.

"... the first known instance of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers mounting human skulls on stakes."

"How Creedence Clearwater Revival Became the Soundtrack to Every Vietnam Movie."

An excellent longread about the archaeology of ancient Nubia.

"Beneath Congo’s soil lies an estimated (at 2011 prices) $24 trillion in natural resources, including rich supplies of oil, gold, diamonds, the coltan used in computer chips, the cobalt and nickel used in jet engines and car batteries, the copper for bathroom pipes, the uranium for bombs and power plants, the iron for nearly everything. This wealth is the source of untold suffering."

An impressive example from the Power Washing Porn subreddit.  Professional advice re powerwashing.

"Florida lawmakers on Tuesday passed a resolution declaring pornography a public health risk, less than an hour after they rejected a motion to consider a bill that would ban assault rifles."

The symbol for plutonium is PU. “The obvious choice for the symbol would have been Pl,” wrote chemists David Clark and David Hobart in 2000, “but facetiously, Seaborg suggested Pu, like the words a child would exclaim, Pee-yoo!” when smelling something bad... “he just thought it would be fun” to treat this element as if it were stinky.

"Sweden’s latest fitness craze — plogging — is making its way to U.S. shores. The term is a mash-up of jogging and the Swedish “plocka upp,” meaning pick up. In this case, litter."

Bird photobombs meteorologist.

Candles that smell like a bookstore (mix of leather, wood, and coffee).

The danger of working in a steel factory.

"Blanke was no anomaly, but was one of hundreds of West and Northern Africans living freely and working in England during the Tudor dynasty. Many came via Portuguese trading vessels that had enslaved Africans onboard, others came with merchants or from captured Spanish vessels. However once in England, Africans worked and lived like other English citizens, were able to testify in court, and climbed the social hierarchy of their time. A few of their stories are now captured in the book, Black Tudors by author and historian Miranda Kaufmann."

A discussion of mass mortality events.  Here's an example ("Starfish Armageddon").

All the lyrics for The Dark Side of the Moon.

Handy reference site to listen to owl calls.

"The emperor had suffered from this same ailment, on-and-off, his whole life. In response, he poured money into research on the illness. It was a matter of survival: for the emperor, his family, and Japan’s ruling class. While most diseases ravage the poor and vulnerable, kakke afflicted the wealthy and powerful, especially city dwellers. This curious fact gave kakke its other name: Edo wazurai, the affliction of Edo (Edo being the old name for Tokyo). But for centuries, the culprit of kakke went unnoticed: fine, polished, white rice." [beriberi]

A trenchant reply to his question.

Awesome technology recovers lost movie footage

If you enjoy my linkdumps, you should visit Things Magazine every week.

Video shows how to dig a snowhole for protection during a blizzard.

A man and his wife hacked the lottery (legally). "Right there, in the numbers on the page, he noticed a flaw—a strange and surprising pattern, like the cereal-box code, written into the fundamental machinery of the game. A loophole that would eventually make Jerry and Marge millionaires, spark an investigation by a Boston Globe Spotlight reporter, unleash a statewide political scandal and expose more than a few hypocrisies at the heart of America’s favorite form of legalized gambling."

Nice portrait of Elvis and Priscilla.

Cheerful story from a Waffle House (and others in the discussion thread).  Followup.

"Work and life lessons from a former dominatrix."

Re stolen and missing Oscars.

"Gratuitous cruelty" by Homeland Security.  "There is no allegation that the little girl, known in court filings only as S.S., is a terrorist, nor is there any suggestion her mother is one. Neither was involved with smuggling, nor contraband, nor lawbreaking of any other variety... officials decided that the right thing to do was to wrench S.S. from her mother, whereupon the mother “could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother..."

Advertisement for a camera shows where photographer's eye has to be.

"Trapped in the rigid structure of diamonds formed deep in the Earth's crust, scientists have discovered a form of water ice that was not previously known to occur naturally on our planet."

You do not have a mousepad as cool as this one.

Humorous name for salt water taffy.

A bear with a bucket.

The images embedded in this linkfest come from an interesting article in Public Domain Review. "Allison C. Meier looks at the wonderfully ornate float and costume designs from Carnival’s “Golden Age” and the group of New Orleans artists who created them."


  1. How wonderful. I clicked on the link to the mousepad more cool than mine, and saw... a photo of the pad under the mouse I had just clicked.

  2. This is my mousepad. I think it's pretty cool.

    Also, I like the photobomb video, and I'm bookmarking three of the longer articles for now; perhaps more later.

  3. I can't remember if I came across Jerry Coyne's blog through you, but I thought you would be interested in his post today: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/readers-wildlife-photos-599/

  4. the owl calls are all linked to the cornell lab of ornithology https://www.allaboutbirds.org/ they are probably the 'primo numero uno' site for birdological information on north american 'boids'.



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