31 October 2009

Happy Halloween to all

Neighborhood kids will begin arriving soon - need to stop blogging...

Photo: mummified monks.

Shaun of the Dead

I suppose if I'm going to post this movie trailer sometime, Halloween is as good a day as any. Warning for (humorous) gore.

Welcome to Heaven

Credit: Non Sequitur, by Wiley.

Opening soon - the famous Northwest Passage

The photos above are from 1979 and 2003. Generations of European navigators tried unsuccessfully to find the fabled passage to Asia above North America. It may well have been open to sailors in prehistory; it's open now to icebreakers, and perhaps transiently for cargo vessels in the summer. Soon it may be freely navigable.


Acrophobics should skip this post...

"At an altitude of over 2,000 metres... you will encounter the newest highlight of the Dachstein World Heritage – the “Five Fingers” viewing platform. A solid steel construction, which hangs 8 metres over the edge of the rock face [in Salzkammergut, Austria]...

The second jetty has a glass floor... The trampoline in the third jetty is only used for special events... the fourth jetty, which sports a round hole to look down through... the fifth jetty, which sports a telescope..."
Top photo credit.

30 October 2009

Cute kids

Selections from a collection of about 100 such pictures at Widelec.

How to eat a chicken wing

YouTube link. Via Metafilter.

Astaire and Rogers, dancing cheek-to-cheek

After posting the item below I did a search for "top hat," which of course leads to Fred Astaire. And I realized that for some inexplicable reason I have blogged for almost two years without including an Astaire dancing video. This corrects that oversight. (And I hadn't appreciated until just now the fact that Ginger Rogers does this entire number wearing high heels).

I think I should blog something about top hats - but should it be Astaire? or perhaps that Puttin' on the Ritz parody scene from Young Frankenstein???

Addendum per Mark: "In 2005, Byrne initiated his own internet radio station, Radio David Byrne. Each month, Byrne posts a playlist of music he likes, linked by themes or genres." The current selection list is shown at this link, where you can click for streaming MP3.

More photos from the National Library of Wales

"W. Thedwall Thomas and friends" (link)

"Old woman with hat and shawl" (link)

"Mary Parry" (link)

"Carreg Samson cromlech" (link)

"Dog with a pipe in his mouth" (link)

This past spring I posted four photos from their Flickr photostream; they seem to have added quite a few more since then. The full set of 260 photos is here, and this link goes to the library's home page.

I would be appreciative if anyone can offer insight into the role of those wonderful top hats. Were they a standard part of some ethnic dress, or donner as part of a festival or commemoration?

Addendum: A tip of the (top) hat to Alys, who found the answer to my query above: ""The Welsh hat worn by women as part of Welsh national costume is a tall stovepipe-style hat, similar to a top hat. It is still worn by women, and particularly schoolgirls, in Wales on St David's Day, but rarely on other occasions... It is a legacy of 18th century dress."

A pumpkin-carving suggestion (and question)

For perhaps 50 years I've always started carving a pumpkin by cutting a hole around the stem sort of in the shape of a star fort, and then scooping out the pulp and seeds through that hole. That access hole has been a hindrance in the past when installing electric lights on the pumpkin, and this year I wanted a larger hole in order to have long carrots coming out of the head, so I tried a different approach.

Instead of cutting a hole around the stem, I decided to cut off the bottom of the pumpkin. The first benefit was that I had easy access to the inside and was able to clean it out in about five minutes. The second advantage is that it now has a flat bottom, so won't need to be propped up in a planter; the flat bottom should also make candle placement easier. The one disadvantage might be if wind blows the candle(s) out and I need to tip the pumpkin to relight them - but I think that would still be better than the old method of reaching down from the top with a match.

I'm curious as to whether anyone else has ever done this, and whether I will encounter any unfortunate surprises tomorrow when I finish the carving and set it out.

Praying mantis vs. hummingbird. Mantis wins. Twice. Thrice.

Photo credit to FeVa Fotos, via Found Here.

I've seen one previous well-documented case of a mantis capturing and killing a hummingbird; the photo below (credit Richard L. Walkup) was posted at Bird Watcher's Digest in 2005.

Addendum: Anonymous tracked down another such capture at National Geographic (credit Sharon Fullingim), which was also featured at Neatorama.

As CCL notes in the Comments, hummers are marvelous creatures. Many people assume they are only honey-eaters and don't realize that they are also opportunistic insectivores. In order to balance this thread, TYWKIWDBI will keep its collective eye out for photos of a hummingbird eating a praying mantis. One doubts that a hummer would attack a full-grown mantis, but remember than mantids also start small...

29 October 2009

Rush hour in Taipei

"Motorcycle riders crowded on a Taipei street during rush hour Thursday. There are around 8.8 million motorcycles and 4.8 million cars on Taiwan’s roads." (Nicky Loh/Reuters) Credit (click to enlarge).

Hay, look at these!

I don't know the source for the top photo, which I found years ago; it might have come from here. The others come from a collection of a couple dozen hay sculpture photos assembled at Planet Oddity, via Presurfer.

Arnold Schwarzegger's acrostic veto letter

The back story for this message is detailed in The Swamp, and at Language Log.

"Bonfire of the Profanities" this Halloween

A Baptist church in North Carolina that accepts only the first King James version of the Bible is planning to burn "satanical" works such as "the New Revised Version Bible, the American Standard Version Bible, and even the New King James Version."
As well as inappropriate translations from the original Hebrew and Aramaic, the pastor and his associates will be burning books by various Christian authors, as well as music of every genre.

[We will be burning] books by a lot of different authors who we consider heretics, such as Billy Graham, Rick Warren… the list goes on and on,” Pastor Grizzard told reporters. 
I'll defer any commentary.

After an elegant courtship dance, the male gets pregnant

Weedy sea dragons off the coast of Australia, in a video narrated by David Attenborough, from the BBC series Life. The video at this BBC link is worth a view - if you like beauty and nature.

"Hey Jude" flowchart

Some minor inaccuracies are discussed at the Reddit thread, but the chart does convey the general message of the song.


Blackface disguise fail

These are the mug shots of two Iowans who attempted a burglary. They had cleverly blackened their faces with a magic marker.

Story and photo credit, via Arbroath.

Dynamic patterns of granular solids

With nothing more than beads in a glass box, physicists have revealed yet another mysterious property of granular solids, now recognized by scientists as a unique state of matter, like solids or gases...

But when they filled the box nearly to the top — which, they expected, would cause the beads to clog — the beads instead moved in graceful, swirling currents.
Found at Wired Science, where there is more information and additional links.

28 October 2009

R.C.M.P. stumped by severed feet in B.C.

I should think TYWKIWDBI must be the only blog with a category of posts devoted to severed feet. A couple readers kindly notified me tonight that yet another foot has washed ashore in British Columbia - the seventh one in the past two years.

If the sneaker above (Nike, size 8.5) looks familiar to you - especially if you know that it belongs to a loved one - then the RCMP want to talk to you, because when it was found on the shore there was a (human) foot inside it.

The CBC has also updated its interactive map, on which you can click to view the stories of the other severed feet and see photos of the shoes (the image above is a screencap; the map is here).

A couple of the previous cases have been solved:
A possible connection between the detached feet found in B.C. and the Orcas Island footless body came to him just recently when he was reading a newspaper about the case in his kitchen. “There was a report of shoes with no bodies. And I thought, gee, I have a body with no shoes. I wonder if they could be related,” Mr. Gaylord recounted.
So far there is "no proof of foul play" in the current (or previous) cases, because it appears that the feet have become "detached by a natural process" (death, decay, predation). But why these natural processes seem to be more active in British Columbia remains unexplained.

Hat tip to Andrew in Ottawa for the notification and the ?inadvertent suggestion re the title for the post.

Update: National Geographic Explorer will be airing "Mystery of the Disembodied Feet" on Halloween.

Update #2 November 5 - The RCMP are no longer "stumped." They have identified a deceased 25-yo man from the "lower Mainland" as the owner of the foot. More details and link in the Comments.

Update #3 - More identifications made on additional feet, via DNA testing. Nothing suspicious here folks; move right along...

Children's cereals ranked for nutrition

"A food scoring 62 or greater is defined as a healthy product."

I discover my favorite cereal is listed as a "children's cereal," and scores only 48...

Found at The Consumerist, where there are links to additional articlees.

The World Series starts tonight

You won't be seeing Van Lingle Mungo (Brooklyn Dodgers, 1935), whose windup looks more like Joe Cocker than a professional baseball pitcher. Instead it will be C.C. Sabathia (former Cleveland Indians pitcher) vs. Cliff Lee (former Cleveland Indians pitcher). One wonders what the fans in Cleveland think about that...

Via Uncertain Times.

Apollo 11 conspiracy theory

Conspiracy theories are often fun to explore and sometimes more interesting than "real life." I have never found the Apollo 11 "fake moon landing" very interesting, but for those interested in the subject, Wired has a good summary of some of the arguments and counterarguments.

Photo credit: LIFE magazine archives.

"Balloon boy" gets more interest (and coverage) than the war in Afghanistan

"The public expresses a range of feelings about the news concerning the war in Afghanistan: a majority (56%) often feels that "it seems like the same news about the war in Afghanistan all the time, nothing ever really changes"; 42% say they do not often feel this way. Nearly as many (53%) say they do not always have enough background information to follow the news about Afghanistan. By contrast, far fewer Americans (26%) say the news about the war is so depressing they would prefer not to follow it. Only 20% say they feel guilty about not following news from the war in Afghanistan more closely."
Additional data crunching at the Pew Research Center, via Talking Points Memo.

For another viewpoint on the situation in Afghanistan, see the video at The Guardian, which I can't embed here. The 7-minute report comes from a British reported embedded with troops there. The report - "These People Just Want to be Left Alone" - has some notable comments starting at about the 4:30 mark from an American who can't figure out why the Afghan people can't be more like Clint Eastwood in a Sergio Leone spaghetti Western:
"These people are so fickle, man, and full of s***. They say, like, Taliban comes down and, like, f****** aggravates their towns and, like, harasses them and s***. It's like three dudes, two dudes, at a time. How many people are there in their village. Couple hundred, whatever. O.K., why don't you f****** kill those motherf******? All of you have AKs, or some type of weapon. "But, but, they come down and they kill us." Well, kill them! I mean, if someone's going into MY home town, I know my f****** town wouldn't stand for that s*** - they'd be like "F*** you, you're dead.""
The video goes on to demonstrate the frustrations of the soldiers with inadequate vehicles designed for the roads of Iraq and unsuitable for the wilds of Afghanistan.

The War in Afghanistan has now gone on longer than the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Iraq War. It's been over 8 years since October 7, 2001. Next milestones to surpass - American Revolution (8 years 4 months, 16 days) and the Vietnam War (8 years, 5 months, 21 days).

Adam and Eve work on their relationship

Found at John Farrier's The Zeray Gazette.

The Weblog Awards begin Monday

"The Weblog Awards are the world's largest blog competition, with over 900,000 votes cast in the 2008 edition for finalists in 48 categories."

Here is their tentative schedule -

Nominations November 2, 2009 - Nov. 13, 2009
Finalists Announced December 28, 2009
Voting January 4, 2010 - January 11, 2010

They will need to modify last year's categories, because blog "sizes" were determined by Technorati Authority numbers, which have changed dramatically (and which are still incompletely compiled).

27 October 2009

The bog boardwalk and gazebo in my back yard

Those of us who live in the Upper Midwest relish "Indian Summer" days - the occasional days of sunny, unusually warm weather after the first frost. We had a killing frost several weeks ago - losing a lot of our colorful foliage in the process. But today it's mid-50s, cloudless deep blue sky, refreshing light breezes. These are the times for final outdoor chores putting gardens to sleep, cleaning leaves from gutters, and for taking long walks. I'll be blogging a bit less than usual for the next several days if this weather holds.

I took the photo at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. Not technically my own personal back yard, but since it's less than 10 minutes from home, it amounts to the same thing...

Coping with toilet snakes

I believe this was photographed in India. The second of the four photos in the set shows a cobra's head coiled just below the seat.

Found at Reddit (where all the Samuel Jackson snakes-on-a-plane jokes have already been expressed).

The fourth photo shows how the situation was resolved...

Recent posts at Neatorama

Video of an optical illusion demonstrating the eye's inability to distinguish shades of colors.

The presto movement of the "Summer" concerto from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Performed on an accordion! This is a seriously excellent performance. I know you probably think accordions are for polka, but watch this video. You WILL be impressed.

A 9-year-old child gets marijuana brownies from his mom in order to help control his behavior. Don't pass judgment until you read the cited article.

In the 1920s, horses dove into tanks of water at Atlantic City.

The coral reefs of Fiji have been damaged (bleached). Some people are trying (successfully) to restore them by gardening coral.

Albatrosses are killed when they ingest indigestible plastic debris. Some people don't believe it. The link goes to a gallery of photos of plastic-engorged carcasses on a Pacific island.

The North Koreans excel at mass games.

Don't leave your teeth in a glass of white wine overnight.

How two guys made $100K in a week by selling software for "whatever anyone wanted to pay for it."

The year's best wildlife photograph.

The Hitler/Untergang meme applied to the balloon boy hoax. If you're tired of these derivative videos, skip this one (but it's pretty funny).

A language map of Europe which both Wikipedia writers and Neatorama readers have found lots of faults with. It's useful for appreciating broad patterns as long as you don't agonize over the details.

The colors of the flags of the world - organized into pie charts. Cool or silly, depending on your point of view.

How to repair a railroad track. It involved thermite and some big tools and a lot of skill. Some people don't think it's neat, but I find it oddly fascinating. If I were walking along a railroad track, I'd stop and watch...

For Halloween a drink that looks like brains (and probably tastes dreadful).

The world's smallest model train. Maybe technically not exactly a "train" but you've got to give the guy credit for innovation.

A self-educated young man in Malawi takes local junk and builds working windmills. The world needs more young people like this.

"Not your conventional macaroni salad."

A link where you can look up 50 years' worth of football helmets.

What happens if you put golf ball dimples on the surface of an automobile?

Why teapots dribble - and how to correct the problem. Lotus leaves come to mind...

If you have Blue Cross, but prefer a "public option"

Blue Cross has apparently been sending out postage-prepaid postcards to its members. The postcards are addressed to senators, and the preprinted text asks the senator to oppose the public option.

One enterprising young man figured out that he could just make a few adjustments and mail the card at Blue Cross' expense.

"Not that we're encouraging that sort of thing..."

A German tourist was visiting Alice Springs, Australia on her way to Uluru. Her assailant didn't know that she had been practicing karate for ten years...

The 20-year-old hit back hard when the unknown assailant punched her for not handing over a cigarette, forcing him to flee...

"She punched him three times in the face with a karate punch and kicked him with a karate kick. She did pretty well ... not that we're encouraging that sort of thing."

Story, via.

"Compared to this, T. rex was a kitten"

Impressive video at the BBC this morning showing the fossilized skull of a pliosaur. Since it was an aquatic creature, it's body size was much larger than land-based dinosaurs. ""It could have taken a human in one gulp; in fact, something like a T. Rex would have been breakfast for a beast like this."

26 October 2009

Autumn foliage - sort of...

This is another photo that I had originally stored in the sidebar for its color. I used the TinEye reverse image search to locate the source - and discovered (to my disappointment) that it is either 'shopped or is completely a computer graphics creation. The clue (not apparent on the old thumbnail) is the perfect L/R mirror symmetry of the non-sky elements...

Photo removed from sidebar. The process begins.

This image of tulips near Amsterdam is not spectacular per se; there are thousand of photos of Dutch tulip fields. The reason I had it in the sidebar was to remind me of the work of Yann Arthus Bertrand.

This is his website. Those who enjoy fine photography should explore the link.

Ron "typewriter" Mingo

Typing teacher featured in a segment of the old television series "Real People." 160 wpm - on a manual machine! The video is kind of "corny," but his words to his students constitute sound advice: a) hard work, and b) be the best at whatever you decide to do in your life.

via b3ta.

Two famous actors

TYWKIWDBI doesn't like to do "celebrity" news posts. But I encountered this photo today and the two guys look so young (college age?).

Found at Nerd Boyfriend (which has lots of other interesting pix).

Addendum: found the photo elsewhere, dated 1977.

Seeking input from my readers...

When I started TYWKIWDBI almost two years ago, I was a total noob to blogging, so I used one of the convenient pre-set templates. This template basically has a header, a main column, a right sidebar, and a footer.

When I started the right sidebar was empty. It looked forlorn, so I started to add in some of the better pictures I encountered while surfing, although I did have some problems locating and/or inserting proper photo credits.

As the years have passed, the right sidebar has accumulated more items. It always had an intro, an archive, and categories, but now I've added an award badge, a search function, avatars of followers, feed links, and a couple blogrolls.

Perhaps the sidebar is too busy now. I've taken note of one comment (not posted here but rather on a graphic design-related blog) that cited TYWKIWDBI as having a garish presentation (re the old header and the pix in the sidebar, I think). The pictures are still sort of interesting when you see them for a first time, but I suppose they get old for repeat visitors. And the technology doesn't allow them to be magnified to fullscreen.

So I'm seeking advice from readers/visitors here. I've embedded a poll at the upper right in the sidebar with these choices:
a) Keep the pix because they will be interesting for newbies and they don't bother me
b) Gradually move the best ones to the main blog where they can be supersized, and then delete from the sidebar.
c) Just delete them as annoying and unnecessary to the purpose of the blog.
d) I don't really care. I'm an old timer; they don't bother me, and I frankly don't even notice them.

Update: After receiving almost 300 votes, about half of the respondents favored leaving the photos as they are, about a quarter wanted the best ones moved to the center column, and the rest couldn't care less. I'll be cutting some of the photos and moving others to the center where they can be supersized. Thanks to all who responded, and thanks for the other comments re the blog format, several of which I have already implemented.

The Crab Nebula

Its first appearance was witnessed in 1054 A.D. -
On July 4, 1054 A.D., Chinese astronomers noted a "guest star" in the constellation Taurus; Simon Mitton lists 5 independent preserved Far-East records of this event (one of 75 authentic guest stars - novae and supernovae, excluding comets - systematically recorded by Chinese astronomers between 532 B.C. and 1064 A.D., according to Simon Mitton). This star became about 4 times brighter than Venus in its brightest light, or about mag -6, and was visible in daylight for 23 days...

It was probably also recorded by Anasazi Indian artists (in present-day Arizona and New Mexico), as findings in Navaho Canyon and White Mesa (both AZ, found 1953-54 by William C. Miller) as well as in the Chaco Canyon National Park (NM) indicate... [note the pictograph]

Strangely enough, it seems that at least almost no records of European or Arab observations of the supernova have survived to modern times...
Much more discussion at the link. Photo from APOD, where it is noted that at the very center of the nebula is a pulsar - a neutron star as massive as our Sun, but only as big as a small town.

How to make deep-fried butter

Here are the ingredients:
1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons cream cheese

3 tablespoons berry jam (flavor of choice)

Cream butter, sugar, cream cheese and jam together with an electric mixer until smooth. Using a melon baller, form 1-inch balls of butter mixture and arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Freeze until solid, at least two hours.

Then you need to make batter (see the link), after which -

Working with frozen butter balls, skewer frozen balls one at a time and dip in batter. Place battered butter ball in hot oil and remove skewer, using a second skewer to dislodge. Fry for 30 to 45 seconds and turn with slotted spoon. Allow battered butter to fry for an additional 30 to 45 seconds or until lightly browned.

Remove fried butter balls from oil with slotted spoon and cool on a rack for at least 1 minute. (I know it will be hard to wait.) Skewer and eat, State-Fair style. Careful, contents of fried butter will remain hot.

Full details at the Dallas Morning News (note this is a newspaper link and will probably be ephemeral, so if you want the info, read the link rather than bookmark for future reference).

No one misplaces this television remote

What is it secured to? Looks like a segment of railroad track with a handle?

Photo found at Izismile without credit to source.

Sarah Palin's Going Rogue is on clearance - 70% off

The above is a screenshot I took moments ago at Amazon.com. Note the book is not scheduled to be released until mid-November.

Hat tip to Newsweek.

Warren Buffett on financiers and derivatives traders

"If 50 of us were on a ship and there was a shipwreck, we all swam to an island, we knew we'd never be rescued - and fortunately it was a fertile island so we could all plant rice and grow enough to take care of ourselves. We would not take the five smartest people out of the 50 and tell them "why don't you start trading rice futures and speculate among yourselves", and by the way we think that's so valuable we're going to give you the most money and probably a favourable tax rate on top of it. Hell no, we'd get everybody producing rice."
More excerpts from his BBC interview at The Guardian.

25 October 2009

Dante's Fourth Circle of Hell

Gustave Dore's 1857 illustration shows hoarders and wasters moving giant bags of gold.


Ophthalmic surgery, 1932

A teaching film from the National Library of Medicine. The procedure appears to be a shortening of the lateral rectus muscle of the left eye, presumably to correct a disconjugate gaze.


Gahan Wilson's Playboy cartoons

Three selections from an collection of about 75, assembled at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.
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