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.

"Submitted for your approval..."

Miles grinned sleepily, puddled down in his uniform. “Welcome to the beginning,” he said quietly. “We have a long way to go.”

“But I can’t speak Swedish,” I said.

“You’ll learn,” he said. “You’ll learn, you’ll learn.”

He threw on some more brush and watched the dark smoke spiral up under the sun, a warm and now comforting sun. “Let’s sail till we come to the edge.”

“Not until we can deliver our secret to our respective worlds. And acquire an intact ship.”

“Let’s go talk to Folimum and see what he says.” He turned back to his Master. He was ready to go.

“I think that could be arranged,” I said. I turned away from the bridge and Diane offered me her arm. I hesitated a moment, then took her arm.

Miles smiled. “Let the blind man show the way.”

He did.

We gladly followed. We walked hand in hand down the street. Somewhere on that road was Gerrith, and at its end, the starships waited. And high in the sky, an intact ship ascended until it was a mere speck, an enormous dim comet, with tail pointing along its path rather than away from the sun—and like comets of old, an omen of change. Amerie blinked, and the speck became invisible against the bright vault of the heavens.

We turned our backs on the comet and went into the house, hand in hand. Rogi closed the door and got on with it: “To the everlasting glory of the Infantry?”

“To the everlasting glory of the Infantry!”

“To the brave, ingenious, and honored survivors of this planet? Including the dinosaurs?”

“To the brave, ingenious, and honored survivors of this planet! Including the dinosaurs!”

I handed the bartender my empty glass. “I just found out where we’re going: Unto the end of the world … Unto the end of the world.”

“Yes, the end is not yet! Let us go!” he said. “ … someday soon. When I have time.”

“We’ll take a quick bite at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe … ” 
If the science fiction text excerpt above seems odd (or oddly familiar), you might enjoy reading the explanation at Wired (where it continues). And here's a snippet re the title of this post.

Bad pie

I wasn't blogging on "pi day" this year, so I'll belatedly repost this old item from 2020.  Image cropped for emphasis from the one at the via.


The Western New York Book Arts Collaborative held an Edible Book contest.  This was the entry by Chuk and Cara Matteliano.
“I’m an engineer by training, and my wife has her PhD in speech communication,” said Matteliano...

He ran some trials with notoriously delicate phyllo, finally learning how to attach uncooked phyllo sheets to paper before passing them through an inkjet printer loaded with nontoxic ink. The Mattelianos printed pages from Homer’s Odyssey on phyllo, mounted them with more phyllo baked into a flaky, many-layered dessert, and there it was: “Booklava: An Edible Odyssey.”

The printed phyllo turned yellow and started to crack, so it looked even more like an old book,” said Matteliano, whose creation won first place. “I don’t know that we’ll be able to top it this year.”
Found at Edible Geography in 2010.  Image credit Caesandra Seawell.

"Forget it Jake. It's Florida"

Rep. Stan McClain’s (R) proposed legislation, House Bill 1069, seeks to restrict the educational materials used in state schools, which critics have likened to book banning. The bill requires course material and instruction on sexually transmitted diseases, health education or material on human sexuality to “only occur in grades 6 through 12,” according to the legislation.

During a Wednesday House Education Quality Subcommittee, Rep. Ashley Viola Gantt (D) asked McClain if this bill would prohibit girls younger than 6th grade from discussing their periods in school.

“Does this bill prohibit conversations about menstrual cycles ― because we know that typically the ages is between 10 and 15 ― so if little girls experience their menstrual cycle in fifth grade or fourth grade, will that prohibit conversations from them since they are in the grade lower than sixth grade?” Gantt asked McClain during the committee hearing.

“It would,” McClain responded.
More details at The Huffington Post.  Image cropped for size from the original at the WhitePeopleTwitter subreddit.  

Adaptation to open prairies

"Outside the ranch fence, pronghorn sometimes pass in the light. Pronghorn are the world’s fastest mammals over long distances. They can sustain a speed of sixty miles per hour for hours on end; their eyes can see three hundred degrees; they can detect movement four miles away. Pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, are the only surviving species of the Antilocapridae family—and barely. Pronghorn, of which there were roughly thirty-five million in the early nineteenth century, were largely hunted out of existence to feed the European settlers and construction crews that facilitated the westward takeover of the continent. Their habitats were ransacked, their migration routes disarranged, truncated, cut off. By the late twentieth century, only twelve thousand remained: those that outran the extinction, or outsaw it. I believe them to be a miracle."
-- from No Guarantees, an essay in Harper's magazine.

I seem to remember reading that pronghorn are so superbly adapted for distance vision on open prairies that they could look skyward at night and see the moons of Jupiter.  

But Snopes says their 8X vision would not detect the rings of Saturn.

Addendum:  A tip of the blogging cap to reader Vince who provided a link to Astronomy that demonstrates that 8X magnification is sufficient to see the moons of Jupiter.

Women with monkeys as prostitutes - updated

We'll begin with the photograph above (credit here, via BoingBoing 2006):
"...the community of Beloit, Wisconsin came together on the banks of the Rock River to recreate George Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte."
They are performing a tableaux vivant to reproduce the famous pointillist painting shown here:

One difference between the photograph and the painting is that in the photograph, the woman in the foreground does not have a monkey at her feet.  This apparently reflected unavailability of one in Beloit, Wisconsin - or it may have been intentional, since the monkey symbolically represents that the woman may be a prostitute:
Furthermore, the inclusion of symbols, most obviously a monkey on a leash and a woman fishing, is indicative of the painting’s satirical nature. In nineteenth century slang, ‘singesse’ (female monkey in French) meant prostitute. The wordplay of ‘pêche’ (fishing) and ‘péché’ (sin) was a pun often made in French cartoons with reference to prostitution.  Such symbols speak to the ability of “the proletarian woman [to] become superficially bourgeois through prostitution.”  Through this subtle imagery, Seurat adds another dimension to the comparison of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, noting the superficiality and immorality within high class society.
That was all new to me, so I searched the web for pictures of women with monkeys, and after discarding those with Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, Fay Wray, and Jessica Lange, I found this one by Aubrey Beardsley (source):

The Lady and the Monkey. c. 1897

and this one by Picasso:

- both of which presumably incorporate the monkey with woman = prostitute symbolism, as may this this depiction mocking an early American suffragette:

- both found at Infinite Thought, where there are other photos of women with monkeys (linkrot since 2010).

I got started on this topic because of a Reddit thread last month, where the best comment comparing the Beloit photograph and the Seurat painting came from UserNumber42:
"Oddly enough, both were created with very small dots, one just has better resolution than the other."
And finally, since I won't have another chance to blog tableaux vivant again, I'll close with this old but quite remarkable music video by Hold Your Horses:

The art works recreated in the video are listed at Blog of an Art Admirer and History Lover.

Addendum:  Reposted from 2010 to add this example from the 1920s:

Found at La balsa de la Nostromo.  Perhaps some Francophile can translate for us the title and captions.  (Hat tip to an anonymous reader: "Title: "With monkeys being in fashion this winter, we'll leave the antics to them." Caption: "C'mon, hurry up, lady, you're putting me in an awkward position." The text at the bottom is number/pricing info for the magazine issue.)

Reposted from 2014 to add this relevant video I found today at Kottke:

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