25 March 2023

A bee roosting for the night

... by clamping its mandibles onto the plant.
Epeolus sp. A brood parasite bee that roosts overnight that clamps itself to plants with its mandibles. This is apparently common among ‘cuckoo’ bees.
From an article about brood parasitism at The Prairie Ecologist.


New word for me.  I encountered it for the first time in last Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle.
21D. This is a debut entry, although its singular form appeared once before. “Words that form other words when read backward” are SEMORDNILAPS, which have a kinship to palindromes, which read the same forward and backward, of course. As you might have noticed, the singular form, “semordnilap,” is palindromes spelled backward. Martin Gardner, a prolific writer and magician, coined the term.
Examples of palindromes and semordnilaps at Big Dave's Crossword Blog.  See Wikipedia for a list of synonyms.

Name that animal - the end

The critter from round 14 (image above) had the coloration of a wasp and the clasping forearms of a mantis - but it wasn't either one. It is a wasp mantidfly - a relative of the lacewing but with the protective coloration and with "raptorial" forearms that are in fact capable of capturing prey.

Credit to Neatorama for the subject for that round, but frankly I'm running out of ideas for "name that animal" entries; those who want to see the previous 13 entries in the series can look here, but to come up with more I'd probably have to dig deeper into the realms of insects and microorganisms and deep sea teleosts. In the meantime there is so much else going on in the world. I may revisit this topic later, but for now we'll give it a rest.

Reposted from 2008 because I found another image at The Prairie Ecologist:

"Wasp mantidflies can be found throughout much of North America, but either they’re not super abundant on our prairies or I’ve fallen for their mimicry an awful lot."
Agreed.  I need to be more observant and see if I can spot one.

Olympic moment, 1992


A sports video for those who don't particularly like sports, reposted from 2017 because the original video had undergone linkrot.  

There are multiple videos about this event.  Here's the live television broadcast, and here's one with Derek Redmond discussing the injury and the outcome.

Gruesome injury

This pelvic xray shows a left femur fractured at the neck, but the more horrific injury is on the right, where the entire femur has been dislocated from the acetabulum and now protrudes through the medial leg to the pubic area.  

There is a conventional photograph of this same injury at the Eyeblech subreddit, which specializes in gore and notsafeforlife images.

The important lesson to be taken from these images is that the young lady who incurred the injury was riding in an automobile with her legs on the dashboard when the airbags deployed in a collision.

Image cropped for clarity from the original at the interestingasfuck subreddit, where there is no useful discussion.

An "Assassin's Teapot"

Detailed explanation in the video.  Apart from the supposed "assassination" use, this device (or similar ones) could be used to pour alcoholic/nonalcoholic drinks or normal and adulterated drinks.  Worth knowing.  Via Kottke.

21 March 2023

"Audacious Adi" dances

This was Adilyn Malcolm's YouTube debut; she now has a second video

Some reader more in tune with contemporary music and dance can tell us whether this is dubstep or some variant subgenre.

Reposted from 2014 because I encountered it again while browsing my old music videos category.  Worth sharing again because it lightens up the blog when other material gets a bit too heavy.

20 March 2023

Birdsmouth joints on a sailboat mast

More on birdsmouth cuts and joints.  You learn something every day.  Image via.

This would be somewhat lighter in weight than a solid wood mast, but perhaps there are other considerations re flexibility etc?  Someone out there will know.

More on modern high-tech sailboat masts.

Worst globe ever

Cropped for size from the image at the Crappy Design subreddit, where the comment thread is full of snarky comments, but with no link to the source of the image or the manufacturer of this reportedly $200 globe.  Can anyone track that down??

The symbolism of green Converse sneakers

As a synecdoche for the tragedy of our historical moment, consider a news item about the murder of nineteen schoolchildren in Uvalde, Texas. One victim, ten-year-old Maite Rodriguez, was identifiable only by the green Converse sneakers she wore. She had drawn a heart on her right shoe. After the actor Matthew McConaughey, for some reason delivering a press briefing at the White House, made this detail known to the public, the shoes sold out as appalled consumers ordered them online.

It is impossible to understand a society whose response to the slaughter of children is to purchase green Converse sneakers as anything other than psychotic. It is impossible, I believe, to wish for such a society to continue—a society that is also bent on murdering as many other forms of life as possible, driving entire species extinct, rendering the planet uninhabitable. 
Excerpted from Apocalypse Nowish in the December 2022 issue of Harper's.  Embedded image via NPR.

"This is everything I have left"

We were surrounded by a maze of folding tables, chairs, and couches draped in kente cloth. In the center of the room sat a four-by-four-foot metal cage that had been used by a search and rescue team to airlift people from the roofs of inundated houses after Katrina. Every inch of the wall space around us was occupied, covered with artwork depicting the storm’s ravages, and with Omar’s photos. On one wall hung a large tarp affixed with handwritten accounts by survivors and aid workers: Triaging a nursing home patient who handed me a wet plastic grocery store bag & said “This is everything I have left.”
An excerpt from "Book of the Living: The house museums of New Orleans" in the December 2022 issue of Harper's.

That last sentence is so unutterably sad that I wanted to preserve it here in the blog, because it is emblematic of so many crises happening around the world in the aftermath of floods, tidal waves, wildfires, earthquakes, and war zones. 

17 March 2023

The imagery of the James Webb Space Telescope

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope made the Pillars of Creation famous with its first image in 1995, but revisited the scene in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light, shown above at left.

A new, near-infrared-light view from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, at right, helps us peer through more of the dust in this star-forming region. The thick, dusty brown pillars are no longer as opaque and many more red stars that are still forming come into view.

While the pillars of gas and dust seem darker and less penetrable in Hubble’s view, they appear more diaphanous in Webb’s.

The background of this Hubble image is like a sunrise, beginning in yellows at the bottom, before transitioning to light green and deeper blues at the top. These colors highlight the thickness of the dust all around the pillars, which obscures many more stars in the overall region.

In contrast, the background light in Webb’s image appears in blue hues, which highlights the hydrogen atoms, and reveals an abundance of stars spread across the scene. By penetrating the dusty pillars, Webb also allows us to identify stars that have recently – or are about to – burst free. Near-infrared light can penetrate thick dust clouds, allowing us to learn so much more about this incredible scene...
Images and text from Webb Space Telescope.  Click the image to supersize, then click again to super-super-supersize.

No crabs were injured in the making of this video

Some relevant discussion at the interestingasfuck subreddit.

It's a wasp nest

Via the interestingasfuck subreddit, where all the commentary is trivial.

Rest in peace, Kiska

Sometimes known as “the world’s loneliest orca”, Kiska the killer whale spent more than four decades in captivity at MarineLand, a theme park in Niagara Falls, Canada.

For the last 12 of those years, despite wild orcas being social and intelligent animals that live in tight-knit family pods that hunt together and communicate through underwater clicks and calls, Kiska swam alone, in a featureless tank, with no calves, mate or mother by her side. She was the last captive orca in Canada...

Kiska’s death comes four years after Canada passed bill S-203, banning the captivity and breeding of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Although the new law was too late for Kiska – individuals already in captivity were excluded from protection – activists say her story was instrumental in drawing public attention to the plight of captive marine mammals.
More information at The Guardian.
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