03 February 2023

Gate


Located in Vienna.

This is a parking spot for... ???


Found at the Funny subreddit.  Normal for comparison.

Why bears rub against trees


I had always understood that it was to scratch itches or to mark territory, but a New York Times article offers another possibility:
When bears wriggle against bark, the tree scratching posts leak out resins and saps. These substances stick to fur and skin , and are water-resistant, making them a strong contender for an effective tick repellent...

For years, biologists have observed that brown and black bears have an affinity for certain types of trees — especially conifers. They are also attracted to beech tar, which is a useful experimental proxy for substances leaked by trees. The appeal of the tar is so strong that scientists use its sticky, strong scents to attract bears for studies or to call them inside in zoos...

“Repelling parasites is probably not the primary function of tree rubbing, but it certainly could be an additional benefit.”

The nice way to call someone an idiot - updated

"Bless your heart" is not really a compliment. It sounds sweet as pie, and sometimes is said affectionately about pitiable situations, but it’s often acid-tongued because you’re pitiful and did something you shouldn’t’ve but were too dumb to know better, which is why it’s a perfect saying to export from a region that has hung on for dear life to its manners...

Remember when President Trump dinged former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley by saying she was an embarrassment to the state?
 
And she said:

“Bless her heart, she has no fashion sense at all” is a good example. There are other versions of this: “God love ’em” and “I’ll pray for you,” as is “How nice for you!”...

What it means is that the speaker thinks you’ve gotten yourself into a bad situation, but part or all of the reason is something your fault — either a choice you made, or the fact that you’re dumb. The sympathy is because you probably can’t help it. Or as we say in the South, you come by it honestly. As in, your parents are dumb, too...

It’s an expression that has a couple of different implications that go with it, a couple different meanings,” Kirk Hazen, a linguistics professor at Western Virginia University and expert on American dialects, tells MEL by phone.

“And it all is related to power,” he says. “The power of who’s talking and who’s listening. I know it’s gotten really popular. In linguistics we call that ‘enregistered.’”

“On the one hand, it can be a sincere form of endearment and concern where you actually feel empathetic for the person,” he says. “But that isn’t the expression everyone likes to talk about. The one everybody likes to talk about is when the speaker in, say, some perhaps condescending or perhaps biting way, notes that the person is in a bad state. And it’s mostly used, at least historically, by women.”
More at the link.

Reposted from 2019 to add an outstanding insult/compliment I recently read somewhere on Reddit:
"I hope the rest of your day is as pleasant as you are."
That apparent compliment was reportedly devised by a food service worker to use with ungrateful and disrespectful customers.  

30 minutes of classic comedy

The Music Box is a Laurel and Hardy short film comedy released in 1932. It was directed by James Parrott, produced by Hal Roach and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film, which depicts the pair attempting to move a piano up a large flight of steps, won the first Academy Award for Best Live Action Short (Comedy) in 1932. In 1997, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.'"
"The steps, 133 with multiple landings... still exist in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, near the Laurel and Hardy Park. The steps are a public staircase that connects Vendome Street (at the base of the hill) with Descanso Drive (at the top of the hill)... A plaque commemorating the film was set into one of the lower steps.

Why a whale died

"A sperm whale that washed ashore in Hawaii over the weekend probably died in part because it ate large volumes of fishing traps, fishing nets, plastic bags and other marine debris...
The whale’s stomach contained six hagfish traps, seven types of fishing net, two types of plastic bags, a light protector, fishing line and a float from a net. Researchers also found squid beaks, fish skeletons and remains of other prey in the whale’s stomach... Sperm whales are an endangered species found in deep oceans across the world."
Top image cropped for size/emphasis from the original at The Guardian.

Miracle cure for lung cancer


One of my big projects during my (ongoing) blogcation has been to digitize and then discard the thousands of Kodachrome slides I once used for lectures before the arrival of the digital projection age.  While doing so, I found the one above, copied from some rag paper at the grocery store checkout line.
"A noted physician has revealed that he completely cured the deadly cancer that was eating away his lungs - by reciting three "magic words" given him by an aged street beggar he had befriended!"
It's even more amazing when you look closely at the chest xrays:


In the space of just three months, those three magic words had removed not only the physician's cancer, but also most of his mediastinum, including his heart.

31 January 2023

King Charles will wear $4 BILLION in jewels for the coronation

"How could one man possibly wear that much jewelry?" you might ask. But the collection is comprised of the St. Edwards Crown, Sovereign's Ring, Imperial State Crown, Sovereign’s Sceptre with dove, Sovereign’s Sceptre with the cross, Sovereign’s Orb, Gold Ampulla, the Spurs, and the Sword of Offering, all littered with gem stones like diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and pearls.

In fact, the St. Edwards Crown hasn't been worn in 200 years, because of its sheer weight (clocking in at 4.9 pounds). Even more impressive is the Sovereign's Scepter with Cross, which holds the world's most expensive diamond, the Cullinan, believed to be approximately 530 carats and estimated to be worth $430 million.

More at In Style

Can an unborn fetus be a state employee?


The bizarre opinion is in response to a lawsuit over the November 2021 tragedy that killed two MoDOT employees, one of whom was pregnant.

“First of all, it’s illogical. How would somebody who hasn’t even been born yet work for you?” he said. “But if they were to get someone to buy that, then that means your case is dismissed out of St. Louis County, go to the comp system, where they’re going to take a different position, just like they did initially.”

Workers’ comp already denied Anderson’s family claim because Kaitlyn was not married and had no dependents. Mundwiller says workers’ comp will certainly deny an unborn baby.

“What they’re hoping is they don’t pay anything,” he said.

MoDOT did not have a protective truck in place that day, even though it’s a department policy. That’s the focus of a lawsuit that, Kaitlyn’s mom says, MoDOT keeps avoiding."

How to be a profitable company

"Union Pacific, one of the major freight railroads that successfully fought off union demands for paid sick days for workers during contentious labor negotiations in 2022, reported another year of record earnings Tuesday.

The company, along with CSX, Norfolk Southern and Burlington Northern Sante Fe, narrowly avoided a strike by its unionized workers when Congress imposed new contracts on about half of its union members in December.

For the year, the company’s employee pay and benefits rose by about $500 million, or 12%, to $4.6 billion, far less than the $6.3 billion that Union Pacific spent repurchasing shares of stock. "

A "flyover" of Mars

"The anaglyph images of Mars taken by the HiRISE camera holds information about the topography of Mars surface. There are hundreds of high-resolution images of this type. This gives the opportunity to create different studies in 3D. In this film I have chosen some locations and processed the images into panning video clips. There is a feeling that you are flying above Mars looking down...

The colors in this film are false because the anaglyph images are based on grayscale images. I have therefore color graded the clips. But I have tried to be moderate doing this. The light regions in the clips are yellowish and the dark regions bluish. The clips from the polar regions (the last clips in the film) have a white-blue tone.There are a lot of opinions and studies of what the natural colors on Mars might be. But the dark regions of dust often seems to have a bluish tone. 
This is the type of video that begs you to click the "fullscreen" icon.  More information at Vimeo.

Crypto billionaires

Paycheck-to-paycheck


It has been reported for years that most Americans could not afford an unexpected $400 cost without borrowing or neglecting other payments, thus living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Motley Fool said the percentage was about 50% this past year.

What surprised me was to see a report in Bloomberg indicating that this lack of financial flexibility also extends to upper-income earners (chart at top).
The share of Americans who say they live paycheck-to-paycheck climbed 3% last year, a likely reflection of the growing strain on household budgets. But it’s not just the lowest earners feeling the squeeze. Most of the newcomers were people earning more than $100,000 a year, according to a Pymnts.com and LendingClub survey. It all points to weaker consumer spending in the months ahead.
As a life-long compulsive saver, it's hard for me to comprehend the mindset that spends to the max to own the biggest possible house/car, newest phone, latest fashion, trendiest vacation.

Disinformation from the pulpit

Before i turn to the Word,” the preacher announces, “I’m gonna do another diatribe.”

“Go on!” one man yells. “Amen!” shouts a woman several pews in front of me.

Between 40 minutes of praise music and 40 minutes of preaching is the strangest ritual I’ve ever witnessed inside a house of worship. Pastor Bill Bolin calls it his “diatribe.” The congregants at FloodGate Church, in Brighton, Michigan, call it something else: “Headline News.”

Bolin, in his mid-60s, is a gregarious man with thick jowls and a thinning wave of dyed hair. His floral shirt is untucked over dark-blue jeans. “On the vaccines …” he begins.

For the next 15 minutes, Bolin does not mention the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, or the life everlasting. Instead, he spouts misinformation and conspiratorial nonsense, much of it related to the “radically dangerous” COVID-19 vaccines. “A local nurse who attends FloodGate, who is anonymous at this time—she reported to my wife the other day that at her hospital, they have two COVID patients that are hospitalized. Two.” Bolin pauses dramatically. “They have 103 vaccine-complication patients.” The crowd gasps.

“How about this one?” Bolin says. He tells of a doctor who claims to know that “between 100 and 200 United States Congress members, plus many of their staffers and family members with COVID, were treated by a colleague of his over the past 15 months … with …” Bolin stops and puts a hand to his ear. A chorus of people responds: “Ivermectin.” Bolin pretends not to hear. “What was that?” he says, leaning over the lectern. This time, they shout: “Ivermectin!” Bolin nods.

This isn’t my first time at FloodGate, so none of what Bolin says shocks me. Yet I’m still struggling to make sense of the place.
Those are the opening paragraphs in a story in The Atlantic entitled "How Politics Poisoned the Church."

The best "Black Mirror" episodes, IMHO


One of my activities during my blogcation was a viewing of all five seasons of Charlie Brooker's "Black Mirror" episodes.  Mr. Google can offer you numerous lists ranking the episodes; here are my favorite ones (three of which are included in the Season 4 trailer above):
"Hated in the Nation" stars the incomparable Kelly McDonald.  Clever plot - with a final twist or two.

"Crocodile" is unsettling and dark.

"White Bear" is a disturbing depiction of a dystopic future.

"Metalhead" is an extrapolation of standard sci-fi fare and frankly scary.

"U.S.S. Callister" presents Jesse Plemons portraying a sociopath.
I won't rank them all, but will mention that the interactive "Bandersnatch" was too cute by half and became tedious.  I will echo the common refrain that most of the episodes in the series are designed to be disturbing, offering alternative outcomes of present-day scientific and social trends.

Readers are invited to share their views in the Comments section.
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