06 December 2019

How to tease your dog

Very few videos on the web cause me to literally "laugh out loud."  This one did. With a hat tip for the via to Miss Cellania at Neatorama.

Addendum:  I just reviewed some of TYWKIWDBI's statistics and found that this video I posted back in 2011 has had the most views of all 16,000+ posts on the blog.  So I think it's worth a repost...

The "Up" series - updated

(2012 post):  I'm surprised I haven't blogged this subject before, because it's a truly remarkable series of movies, but today I happened across a comment that 56 Up will soon be released.  For those unfamiliar with the movies, here is the Wikipedia entry:
The Up Series is a series of documentary films produced by Granada Television that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. The documentary has had seven episodes spanning 49 years (one episode every seven years) and the documentary has been broadcast on both ITV and BBC... The children were selected to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time, with the explicit assumption that each child's social class predetermines their future...

The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man", which is based on a quotation by Ignatius Loyola...

The series has received extraordinary praise over the years, the epitome of which may be Roger Ebert's comments that it is "an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium", that the films "penetrate to the central mystery of life", and that the series is among his top ten films of all time. Attempts have been made to repeat the series with subjects in the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, and South Africa. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, 28 Up was placed 26th. The series has also been satirised; The Simpsons' 2007 episode "Springfield Up" is narrated by an Apted-like filmmaker who depicts the past and current lives of a group of Springfield residents he has revisited every eight years.
I have found the films individually to be of varying quality; when I first viewed Seven Up, I rated it 2+ (scale 0-4), but by the time I got to 49 Up, I rated it 3.5.  One difficulty with viewing the series in a short period of time is that they were designed to be viewed 7 years apart, so each one spends significant time reviewing the past history of each character, which makes viewing a bit tedious if you've just seen the other movies.

56 Up is expected to have its broadcast premier (presumably on BBC or ITV) in mid-May.  If you are a newbie and are interested, I would suggest getting Seven Up and perhaps one of the others (maybe 49 Up) from the library to view as background material.

If you've watched the series, feel free to offer your own thoughts in the Comments.

Update: Reposted from last month to add a link to a Telegraph photo gallery showing the participants in the movie series, as for example shown here:

1. Neil Hughes
District councillor
In 1964 he was an enchanting Liverpool boy who wanted to be an astronaut. Tragically, in 28 Up Neil was found homeless and in a bad mental state. Yet he surprised viewers when he reappeared as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Hackney in 42 Up. In a heart-rending twist, Bruce Balden, another Up participant, had helped Neil on his road to recovery. 
The others are at the link.

Reposted from 2012 to add the trailer for 63 Up:

Your tax money was spent on this

I'll close comments.  Res ipsa loquitur.

World's oldest extant basketball court (1893, Paris)

Via Reddit, where the discussion thread mentions one in New Brunswick of the same age.

Unrecognized esophageal intubations

I couldn't begin to count how many hundreds of intubations I performed in 30+ years.  Anyone who attempts tracheal intubation understands that inadvertent intubation of the esophagus can occur - but it should never remain unrecognized.  An article in ProPublica provides some distressing information in that regard:
In the summer of 2018, Dr. Nick Asselin was doing research on cardiac arrests in Rhode Island when he made a horrifying discovery.  Hospital records showed patients had been arriving by ambulance with misplaced breathing tubes, sending air into their stomachs instead of their lungs, essentially suffocating them. At first, he said, there were four cases, then seven. More trickled in.

By the time Asselin presented his findings to a state panel in mid-March, he’d identified 11 patients with so-called esophageal intubations that had gone unrecognized by EMS providers over the previous 2 ½ years. All 11 had died.

Jason M. Rhodes, the state Health Department’s EMS chief, recommended a way to tackle the problem that aligned with national standards: restricting the practice of placing those tubes to paramedics, the most highly trained EMS providers. To Asselin and his colleagues at Brown University’s Department of Emergency Medicine, that approach made sense. Rhode Island is the only state in New England, and among a minority nationally, that allows non-paramedics to intubate patients.

But a coalition of Rhode Island’s EMS practitioners, municipal fire chiefs and a city mayor pushed back. They said the “ET tube,” as it’s known, saves lives. Taking it away, as one fire chief put it, “would be a sin.” A lobbyist for the firefighters union lambasted the doctors for not consulting more of its members before proposing such changes, saying, “We’re the experts ... not the doctors!”
The article is a discouraging longread detailing how the arguments over deciding best practice deteriorated into a turf battle. 

Photo credit Kayana Szymczak for ProPublica.

Bottles on the seashore: deathtraps for hermit crabs

It seems one can't browse the 'net these days without finding yet another way that humans are devastating the natural world.  When a hermit crab climbs into a bottle, the surface may be too slippery for it to climb back out.  This report from the Washington Post:
Many of the bottles, cans and containers were not empty. Scores of hermit crabs, mostly dead, were trapped inside... They estimate 570,000 of the crabs have been killed on Cocos, which is composed of 27 islands, and that 61,000 more have died in a similar fashion on Henderson Island, located more than 8,000 miles away...

When a hermit crab dies, it emits a chemical signal to let others know that a potential shell has become available, Bond explained. Thus, a crab that dies after trying to make a home out of plastic sets off an insidious chain reaction: The smell attracts another who dies, and so on, generating an ultra-strong signal that leads even more of the crabs to an almost-certain demise.

Your choice: train horns or rubber chickens

 Via Neatorama, where there are links to the source(s).

There is also a rubber chicken cover of Toto's Africa, and of course of BoRhap.

05 December 2019

"... here in the middle of this Olive Garden."

School shootings, impeachment news, environmental degradation... TYWKIWDBI doesn't want to bury its head in the sand, but there are days when after browsing the 'net one wants a good laugh.  Herewith, from an AskReddit thread, are some of the responses to the question "Which quotation is most improved by adding 'here in the middle of this Olive Garden' on the end?"

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them, here, in the middle of this Olive Garden.”

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti here, in the middle of this Olive Garden.”

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me here, in the middle of this Olive Garden.”

"Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side here, in the middle of this Olive Garden."

"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die here, in the middle of this Olive Garden!"

"You come to me here, and you ask me for a favor, on this; the day of my daughter's wedding here in the middle of this Olive Garden?"

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky..here, in the middle of this Olive Garden."

“As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry again here, in the middle of this Olive Garden.”

04 December 2019

A mashup of the movies of 2019

Enjoyable even when you haven't seen the movies, which are listed (with time citations) here.  As always, I recommend clicking the fullscreen icon for best viewing.

Word for the day: "chunter"

"In fact, it is perfectly possible to hold both views: Johnson did deliver numerous untruths, and they were allowed to lie there like fish out of their bowl, flapping on the floor until they died. Also, Marr was pretty rude; “You’re chuntering,” he said at one point, which he never would have said to Theresa May, who chuntered constantly. I suspect a bit of professional pride, Marr smarting that he is seen as softer than Neil (he is). I also think Marr did well – and maybe it is right to be rude to a prime minister who has done so much to corrode civility and trust in such a short time."
Totally new to me, and I couldn't even guess the meaning, so I turned to Wiktionary:


    (This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


    chunter (third-person singular simple present chunters, present participle chuntering, simple past and past participle chuntered)
      1. (Britain, dialectal) To speak in a soft, indistinct manner, mutter.
    1. (Britain, dialectal) To grumble, complain.
The citation for meaning #1 is to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ("Ron continued to chunter under his breath all the way down the street"), so I thought perhaps it was her neologism, but at the bottom of the page I found this reference: “D. H. Lawrence gave a new lease on life to the verb to chunter, ‘to mutter, complain’, labelled “Obs. exc. dial”, when he used it in Sea and Sardinia (1921)".

So I had to go to my OED, where there are citations back to the 1600s, and some slight variations on the meaning ("to express discontent about trifles" and "to be sulky with impertinence.")

Clever mashup of 150+ movie titles

Reposted from 2014 because it's so clever and deserves a second viewing.

03 December 2019

Immense bezoar

A juvenile sperm whale, found on a Scottish island beach, was found to have an immense bezoar in its stomach.
The young whale had ingested a large amount of refuse, including bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags and gloves. Examiners also found packing straps and tubing inside his stomach...
The bezoar may not have been the proximate cause of the whale's death, but it is still an indictment of humans' treatment of our marine resources.

Related: Immense trichobezoar and Hairball Awareness Day (April 27).

Berea College

When I lived in Lexington, Kentucky I sometimes stopped in Berea during weekend trips to hike in the Daniel Boone National Forest.   The college there had a variety of arts and crafts festivities that were worth visiting.  Today, Berea College got a nice writeup on BBC News:
Since its inception, Berea was meant for students who could not afford college - costs were nominal, and students worked on campus to help support themselves.

And, in 1892, it stopped charging tuition entirely.

"What's unusual about Berea is that for, I'll bet 70% to 80% of our students, this is their only shot at a high-quality educational experience," says Berea President Lyle Roelofs.

More than half of Berea's incoming 2018 class had an expected family contribution of $0. The mean family income of a first-year student is less than $30,000 (£23,000). Around 70% of students are from Appalachia, where around one in five people live below the poverty line...

First, there is Berea's endowment which, as of this year, has ballooned to $1.2bn (£930m), a product of nearly 165 years of growth... The endowment is effectively safeguarded by the school's commitment to free tuition. A renovation or campus upgrade will only be approved once every student's tuition is assured.,,

The second unique feature at Berea is the labour programme, which requires each student to work on campus for at least 10 hours every week, similar to a federal work-study programme at other US universities...

And there's an obvious payoff - in 2019, 49% of Berea students graduated with zero debt, even after food, housing and other living expenses. For those that did, they held an average of $6,693 - around one quarter of the national average.

Berea is small, about 1,600 undergraduate students and - for obvious reasons - it doesn't boast many shiny amenities that could be used to sell itself at college fairs. "We don't add those kinds of appealing features that are just there to attract wealthy students to come," Roelofs says. "You know, a lazy river or a climbing wall contributes almost nothing to the educational experience"...

The campus is archetypically collegiate. Student life is narrated by church bells, the grounds punctuated by tree-lined quads. It is ensconced within 9,000 acres of the college's own green space, which drifts into hundreds of miles of forest in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky...

Many of the students mention Berea's academic rigour, a surprise for some who assumed that "tuition-free" is code for cheapened education.  
More at the link, and at Wikipedia:
Founded in 1855 by the abolitionist John Gregg Fee (1816–1901), Berea College admitted both black and white students in a fully integrated curriculum, making it the first non-segregated, coeducational college in the South and one of a handful of institutions of higher learning to admit both male and female students in the mid-19th century.

Newspaper tries to help this poor man

I suspect this news blurb (found at Bad Newspaper) is from several decades ago.  Blogged because I remember when the public was encouraged to borrow an engraving pen and use it to mark valuables with social security numbers or driver's licence numbers.   About 40 years ago I traveled to the Pacific Northwest and didn't realize until I returned home that I had left my nice Minolta camera somewhere.  At the time I was disappointed to have lost some great photos of lupine in bloom at Mount St. Helens, but as the years go by I am more concerned because that camera had my identifying data scratched onto it.

TYWKIWDBI supports Wikipedia

With dollars.  Wikipedia supports TYWKIWDBI with information.

If Wikipedia is not the best source for information, it is certainly the easiest for an aging, time-constrained blogger.  TYWKIWDBI does not maintain a "tip jar."  In lieu of such, consider contributing to Wikipedia or The Guardian.

02 December 2019

I wonder if I've missed anything

New acquaintances are sometimes startled if they learn that I've never seen a single episode of Seinfeld.  Or The Sopranos.  Or Game of Thrones.

The images embedded in this post are screencaps from an interesting 8-minute-long video graphically depicting the most popular TV series from 1986 to 2019.  I've not seen any episodes of any of the series depicted in these screencaps.

I did watch some Cheers in the 1980s and Mad Men in 2007 and House of Cards in 2013, plus Westworld and Chernobyl and some PBS series, but I seem to have missed out on the vast majority of the popular ones.  Recently, after reading some favorable reviews, I've started binge-watching Breaking Bad (way better than watching as originally broadcast because the DVDs have no commercial breaks).

Not sure whether to undertake any of the others.  Open to suggestions.  Here's the video FYI:

"Democracy depends on the consent of the losers"

I don't know where the thought-provoking title sentence originated; I found it as the lead sentence in a recent Atlantic article.
"Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed...

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party...

What has caused such rancor? The stresses of a globalizing, postindustrial economy. Growing economic inequality. The hyperbolizing force of social media. Geographic sorting. The demagogic provocations of the president himself. As in Murder on the Orient Express, every suspect has had a hand in the crime.

But the biggest driver might be demographic change. The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority—and its minority groups are asserting their co-equal rights and interests... 
Posted because I recently was invited to a neighbor's home for Thanksgiving, and during the post-dinner conversations I overheard a lady saying "I hope we're not heading toward a civil war."

Images from the Atlantic source.

When a cat plays"Dungeons and Dragons"

DM: ‘You come to large wooden door.’

Cat: ‘I knock at the door.’

DM: ‘An orc opens it and asks you to come in.’

Cat: ‘I do nothing.’

DM ‘He asks you to come inside again.’

Cat: ‘I do nothing.’

DM: ‘Eventually the orc tires and closes the door.’

Cat: ‘I knock at the door.’
Classic.  Other examples here, via Neatorama.

Surprising translation skills of Queen Elizabeth I

The BBC reports that Queen Elizabeth I translated Tacitus from Latin to English:
A manuscript written by Queen Elizabeth I has been discovered after lying unnoticed for more than a century.The work is a translation of a book in which the Roman historian Tacitus wrote of the benefits of monarchical rule...

He established it was written on a very specific kind of paper, which had "gained special prominence" in the Tudor Court in the 1590s." There was, however, only one translator at the Tudor court to whom a translation of Tacitus was ascribed by a contemporary, and who was using the same paper in her translations and private correspondence - the queen herself," added Dr Philo. 

A further clue was the presence of three watermarks - a rampant lion and the initials G.B with a crossbow countermark - which are also found on the paper Elizabeth I used in her personal correspondence.

But the clinching argument was the handwriting. The translation was copied by one of her secretaries but it is covered in corrections and additions which match the queen's highly distinctive, indeed rather messy, hand.
Unrelated:  Queen Elizabeth does not lay 2,000 eggs a day.

A reminder of why some people choose to be vegan

A factory farm.  Image source not provided (probably PETA), via.

Word for the day: quotidian

"... I venture to suggest that egotistical little creatures like us could perhaps love our enemies and turn the other cheek—if we received some kind of divine experience. But under what circumstances might that happen? How would we improve the odds of receiving a divine pat? Let me read you what Sogyal Rinpoche says in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying:
If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so-called responsibilities accumulate to fill them up. . . . We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the important things of life, but there never is any time.
Even simply to get up in the morning, there is so much to do: open the window, make the bed, take a shower, brush your teeth, feed the dog or cat, do last night’s washing up, discover that you are out of sugar or coffee, go and buy them, make breakfast—the list is endless. Then, there are clothes to sort out, choose, iron, and fold up again. And what about your hair and makeup? Helpless, we watch our days fill up with telephone calls and petty projects with so many responsibilities—or shouldn’t we call them “irresponsibilities”?
It’s clear to me that we’re unlikely to have an experience of the divine while we’re dashing around, ticking things off lists, caught up in quotidian details, and pretty much unaware of our own existence. We’re not going to have the sort of attention we need for a subtler experience while it’s all being wasted on ordinary life.

So we need to be quiet..."
Above text from the writings of John Cleese, cited in Harper's (longread essay at the link).

Some details about quotidian:

Etymology: From Anglo-Norman cotidian... Latin cottīdiānus (“happening every day”)... derived from quot (“how many”) + locative form of diēs (“day”).

Definitions (adjective):
1. (medicine) Recurring every twenty-four hours...  (of symptoms, etc). [from 14th c.]
2. Happening every day; daily. [from 15th c.]
3. Having the characteristics of something which can be seen, experienced, etc, every day or very commonly; commonplace, ordinary, mundane. [from 15th c.]

 Definitions (noun):
1.  (medicine, now rare, historical) A fever which recurs every day; quotidian malaria. [from 14th c.] 2.  (Anglicanism) A daily allowance formerly paid to certain members of the clergy. [from 16th c.]
3.  (usually with definite article) Commonplace or mundane things regarded as a class. [from 20th c.]

For those interested in American history

I first purchased Margaret Leech's Reveille in Washington 1860-1865 in the 1960s, when I subscribed to the Time Reading Program.  Enjoyed it then and put it aside to reread.  First reread in 2002, then saved for a final reread "someday."  Someday arrived this past week, but I had to settle for a couple evenings of browsing, because this is a large (500+ pages) and dense book filled with information.

The editor's preface offers this tidbit:
"Of books about the Civil War there is no foreseeable end.  Since the last shot was fired, it is estimated that there has been published, on an average, one a day."
This book is different from most Civil War histories in that it does not focus on the battles per se.  Instead of the usual profusion of maps with little arrows and the endless litany of body counts, Margaret Leech wrote about the nation's capital, Washington D.C. - the life center of the endangered Union but located in essentially a southern state.  And instead of focusing intensely on General Robert E. Lee and General Grant and the other famous military leaders, she looks at the lives and contributions of noncombatants like Dorothea Dix, Louisa May Alcott, Clara Barton, Walt Whitman.  There are chapters, or large parts of chapters, detailing Washington fashion and dancing and parties, and the city as a hotbed of prostitution, tourists scavenging local battlefields for souvenirs...

... and at the White House itself as victory got near...

... and the complexities of provisioning both the Army of the Potomac and the city itself, the ravages of alcoholism, the treatment of escaped slaves as "contraband of war," the inadequacies of medical care and public health, the profligacy and odd behavior (purchasing 300 pairs of gloves in 4 months) of First Lady Mary Lincoln, and of course the theater life (especially Ford's Theater) and a profile of Booth and his abduction plot.

The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1942.  It's probably TMI for the casual reader, but for history enthusiasts it's a real treat.
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