09 February 2019

Divertimento #160

I am so far, far behind.  The selections in this "linkfest" date back to August of 2018...

A Koch-funded think tank's study reports that under Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" proposal "overall health costs would go down, and wages would go up."  "...acknowledges that Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan would yield a $482 billion reduction in health care spending, and over $1.5 trillion in administrative savings, for a total of $2 trillion less in overall health care expenditures between 2022 and 2031, compared to current spending. In order to arrive at this number, Blahous looked at how “Medicare for All” could lower administrative costs and provide savings in areas like drug spending."

"All hail the VPL [visible panty line]" op-ed piece.

A man posted a video of a live worm wriggling out of a piece of cod served at a restaurant. “Anisakids are commonly called ‘cod worms’ because they are frequently found in cod,” though Pritt added that the worms can also be found in salmon, mackerel and other fish. “They are, unfortunately, a fact of life.” (video at the link)

Related to the above, I grew up eating fish that my mom used to remove worms from before serving to us (walleye, usually.  In the summer the perch would get so wormy that we wouldn't eat them).   For more information, see this Minnesota publication on parasites of freshwater fish.

More on LeBron James' new I Promise School.

A man who delivers ice cream accidentally asphyxiated his mother by leaving four coolers with dry ice in the back seat of a car she was in.

How Iranians made ice cream 2,000 years ago.

"After the couple died, a stolen Willem de Kooning painting with an estimated worth of $160 million was discovered in their bedroom."

"... the chief of the U.S. District Court in Kansas, Judge Julie A. Robinson... ruled, after a lengthy trial, that Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, produced no credible support for his theory that large numbers of noncitizens are illegally voting in American elections. Thus, the Kobach-inspired law requiring Kansas voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship is ­unconstitutional because it imposes the burden without a reasonable ­justification."

You can make a larger (though not watertight) Ziplock bag by turning one inside-out and connecting it to a second one.

"You'll be O.K." cartoon.

"Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says that political decisions about education "don't reflect" a desire to have better schools and teachers, saying that Americans "never vote on education." In his new book "How Schools Work" out on Tuesday, writes that the American education system "runs on lies." "As a nation, we're not top 10 in anything," he said.

"Using a radio telescope, scientists have detected what could be a huge planet nudging our solar system. About 12 times as massive as Jupiter, this rogue celestial body is floating through space without its own host star."

" Officers arrested a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old... following two separate alleged carjacking attempts... a few seconds later, they left the car and ran away. Police believe they didn't know how to use the victim’s manual transmission."

Creepy aspects of Facebook's "People You May Know" feature.

"The AMA has led the opposition to national healthcare since the 1930s, but by the end of the meeting the AMA had chartered a study group to consider its position. Polls of younger doctors show overwhelming support for the idea. They're entering a field dominated by huge corporate practices and don't see themselves as entrepreneurs striking out on their own and worried about government interference in "their business.""

The little-understood cruelties of ankle monitors for felons.

"The bizarre experiment was launched in 1946, when Argentina relocated 20 Canadian beavers to Tierra del Fuego, the windswept archipelago at South America’s tip, to “enrich” local wildlife and foster a fur trade. The pelt industry never took off, but the beavers, unchecked by North American predators like wolves and bears, flourished. They swam glacier-scoured fjords between islands, dispersing throughout both the Argentine and Chilean sides of Tierra del Fuego. Some decades after their arrival, a beaver clambered from an icy strait and established a beachhead on the Patagonian mainland. These days, their population numbers about 200,000.  And as beavers spread, they did what beavers are wont to do: They transformed their surroundings."

"... the NBA doesn’t allow its players to peacefully protest during the national anthem, because doing so would open the door to just as much controversy as the NFL is currently experiencing. The NBA certainly isn’t the complete shitshow that the NFL is, but that’s a low bar to clear."

"Six crows trained to pick up cigarette ends and rubbish will be put to work next week at a French historical theme park..."

"Hitchens's razor is an epistemological razor asserting that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim, and if this burden is not met, the claim is unfounded, and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.  ("What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.") Hitchens's razor is actually an English translation of the Latin proverb quod grātīs asseritur, grātīs negātur ("What is asserted gratuitously may be denied gratuitously"), which was commonly used in the 19th century. It takes a stronger stance than the Sagan standard ("Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"), instead applying to even non-extraordinary claims."

"A Florida couple was arrested last week after they were caught allegedly selling drugs out of a drive-thru window they constructed out of the side of their mobile home."

A longread about the potential for a North American megadrought and its consequences.

"In most corn fields it is not unusual to find a few scattered plants with a combination tassel and ear in the same structure - a "tassel ear". The ear portion of this tassel ear structure usually contains only a limited number of kernels.  Tassel ears often appear on tillers (suckers) arising from plants with normal ears and tassels.  Tassel ears are often produced by tillers that result when the plant’s growing point is destroyed or injured by hail, wind (green snap), animal feeding, frost, flooding, herbicides, and mechanical injury."

Don't add your boss on Facebook.

A Republican candidate for the Florida House lied about having a college degree and posed with a fake diploma after a news outlet questioned her credentials... According to the photographed diploma, Howard graduated with a degree that doesn't exist at Miami University in Ohio. The school offers a bachelor of science degree in business, not a bachelor of science degree in marketing. The photographed diploma also includes a signature of Robert Johnson, the then-dean of the graduate school, not of the school of business.

An actuarial life table for the population reflected in the U.S. Social Security roles.  Find your age, see your expected remaining lifespan.

"When scammers get inside of the networks of financial institutions, they sometimes stage "cashouts" where they recruit confederates around the world to all hit ATMs at the same time with cards tied to hacked accounts and withdraw the maximum the ATMs will allow; but the wilier criminals first disable the anti-fraud and withdrawal maximum features in the banks' systems, enabling confederates to drain ATMs of all the cash they contain. This is called an "unlimited cashout.""

A collection of little-known facts about various animals.

"Imagine going to the eye doctor because your upper eyelid is swollen and painful. The doctor tells you it's a cyst and operates. Inside the blister, the surgeon finds a contact lens: a rigid gas-permeable one. But you haven't worn that type of contact in 28 years! That's what happened to a 42-year-old British woman." (MRIs at the link)

"One night, while preparing one of his favorite meals with supercomputer pioneer Danny Hillis, Feynman noticed something strange about spaghetti. If a dry noodle is taken and broken in half, it will almost always break into three or more pieces, tiny bits spraying in every direction."  Now two MIT students have studied the problem and come up with a technique for breaking a dry noodle into only two pieces.

John McCain's mother at his funeral.  She was born before Arizona became a state.

"This year, if you’re sending your kids off to college, pack fentanyl testing kits and naloxone. I promise you’re not enabling or encouraging them to use drugs; you’re just telling them to use drugs more safely if they do."

The Morandi Bridge, considered an engineering jewel when it was inaugurated in 1967, was the 12th bridge to have collapsed in Italy since 2004. Five of those were in the last five years. Many of the problems can be traced back to the construction boom of the 1960s, when bridges, roads, buildings and schools were being built, often with weak or cheap material to increase profits, and ending up in the hands of the mafia.

Four-minute video mapping world arms sales, 1950-2017.

"In 17th Century Europe, when Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens painted their famous masterworks, ultramarine blue pigment made from the semi-precious lapis lazuli stone was mined far away in Afghanistan and cost more than its weight in gold. Only the most illustrious painters were allowed to use the costly material, while lesser artists were forced to use duller colours that faded under the sun. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution in the 19th Century that a synthetic alternative was invented, and true ultramarine blue finally became widely available.  Across the Atlantic Ocean, colonial Baroque works created by artists like José Juárez, Baltasar de Echave Ibia and Cristóbal de Villalpando in early 17th Century Mexico – New Spain – were full of this beautiful blue. How could this be? Lapis lazuli was even rarer in the New World. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th Century that archaeologists discovered the Maya had invented a resilient and brilliant blue, centuries before their land was colonised and their resources exploited. 

"What's a short, clean joke that gets a laugh every time?" [dozens - maybe hundreds - at the link]

Foreskin activists use "a giant truck featuring a half-naked woman ripping the tighty-whities off a helpless dude. At the top are the words “foreskin… a girl can hope.” To the right, there’s a big ad sending onlookers to a site called foreskin.life, which promises a list called “4 Powers of Foreskin” and shows the intertwined legs of a couple in bed. The group behind the truck is an anti-circumcision group called Intaction — like the words “intact” and “action.”"

Why you shouldn't visit a psychic.

"... countless whelks. They started to climb onto the newcomers, sticking to their legs. “I didn’t know then, but they’d started to suck them alive, basically. It was like a horror movie,” Barkai said. “It actually was a bit frightening to watch.” The lobsters simply didn’t know how to respond. They were outnumbered and overwhelmed."

"I had not realised that T.S. Eliot was a Sherlock Holmes fan until I thought to look up the word grimpen, which occurs in ‘East Coker’, in the Four Quartets: ‘On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold.’ We take grimpen to mean ‘a bog’. The OED undogmatically gives the meaning as ‘marshy area’, and the etymology as ‘uncertain’. This is no surprise since the word, it appears, was made up by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for The Hound of the Baskervilles."  Eliot also borrowed from Doyle's "The Musgrave Ritual" for his "Murder in the Cathedral." (details at the link)

Two ostriches = one camel

Paper car wheels were composite wheels of railway carriages, made from a wrought iron or steel rim bolted to an iron hub with an interlayer of laminated paper. The center was made of compressed paper held between two plate-iron disks. Their ability to damp rail/wheel noise resulted in a quiet and smooth ride for the passengers of North American Pullman dining and sleeping cars.

I should have posted this on Groundhog Day:  "This list of films featuring time loops where characters experience the same period of time repeatedly. The list provides the names and brief synopses of films in which time loops are a prominent plot device."  46 films in the list.

If your last name is "Long," you could adapt this signature.

Burgle vs. Burglarize: "In American English, the verb burgle, meaning to rob, is regarded as a humorous backformation from burglar, and burglarize is the preferred term in serious contexts. In British English, it’s the other way around. Burgle is a legitimate verb, used even in sober news reports, and burglarize (or burglarise, as it would probably be spelled if it were an accepted word in British English) is virtually nonexistent in serious contexts. Some Britons view burglarize as an American barbarism. Irish, Australian, New Zealand, and South African writers tend to go along with British writers on this. Canadians prefer burglarize."

In English, every odd number has the letter "E" in it.

Examples of bad kerning.

A polite discussion thread about whether Obama was a bad president: "Obama expanded the surveillance powers of the state, invaded 7 countries, ordered the extrajudicial execution of an American citizen, prosecuted more journalists under the espionage act than all other presidents in history COMBINED, deported more immigrants than any other president and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I don't understand how anyone who calls themselves "liberal" can think he's a good president." (over a thousand comments in the thread)

Discussion thread has some funny comments about this touching pair of photos.

A "team of thieves hit the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion over four days in late August. They made off with those critters and nearly 7,000 other insects, spiders and lizards — more than 80 percent of the institution’s collection. Who would want 7,000 very creepy crawlies? Plenty of people, it turns out. Cambridge said the exotic pet industry is “absolutely bursting with buyers right now” — and not just for furry foxes or lemurs, but for insects, too. Some of the stolen animals are known to fetch a pretty penny. A healthy adult Gooty sapphire tarantula can cost more than $350, while Mexican fireleg tarantulas go for $250. Rhinoceros cockroaches are worth $500 per mating pair. According to a police report, the entire theft is estimated to be worth between $30,000 and $50,000."

The embedded photos are "Martian, lunar, and other rare meteorites" up for auction this week at Christie's.

And now we're caught up through September.  *sigh*


  1. One movie not mentioned on the time loop page is Primer, possibly one of the best of the genre! If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

    1. DVD requested from our library. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Okay, I admit it - I like watching a VPL in motion.

  3. Buns of Steel, from SPAAAAAACCCCEEEEE!

  4. "And now we're caught up through September. *sigh*"

    Thanks Minnesota Stan. Your wonderful curating is always something to look forward to.


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