28 February 2010

Weekend smörgåsbord

We're having temperatures above freezing now, so by the end of the week it may be possible to see the ground.  I'd better hurry up and post this collection of 38 snowmen, most inspired by Calvin and Hobbes, and one of which was from our yard!

Clever title:  "Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo"

PingWire posts a continuous stream of (boring) photos as they are posted live at Twitter.

A domestic case of anthrax traced to animal hides used for drums.

Ukrainian student killed by exploding chewing gum.

Dung beetles have a remarkable ability to see in the dark.  This technology may be adaptable to automobiles, in a collaborative project with... Toyota. 

A mother sends pix of a child in a swimming pool with "part of her buttocks exposed" to a soldier in Afghanistan.  He is charged with possessing child pornography.

As time passes, more and more people are reporting complications from Lasix surgery.

"Poop dermatitis" is caused not by the poop per se but by the residuum of harsh cleaning agents applied to toilet seats.

Roger Ebert lists his "best films of the decade."  I just watched his #1 choice and thought it was awful. Several of the others are excellent, however.

Rouxbe has an online compilation of "how to cook" videos.  Basic information (how to heat a frying pan) - VERY well done.  More here at their YouTube channel.

Man tries to cut power cord with scissors.  Darwin Award candidate if he died.

Roman erotic tokens.

A recommendation to save your nickels because when inflation cranks up, people will be melting them down for bullion value, as happened with our silver coins.

A paean to Sir David Attenborough, in which he is described as "the Carl Sagan of nature."

Pictures of very deep snow.

The sport of curling succinctly explained.

In 1931 a popular song was "My Girl's Pussy."  The lyrics aren't subtle.

A viral disease affecting salmon is killing the fish and causing skyrocketing salmon prices.

In this child's note (?real), the key words are "Dr. Pepper" and "Coke" but for those with salacious minds that won't be your first impression.

Employees of the DMV in NYC made a million dollars creating fake IDs for convicted felons, sex offenders, and other malefactors.

The Canadian women's hockey team were photographed with beer and cigars after their victory.  Here's a lighthearted discussion thread.

Photo credit: Swedish Ancestors.

A rant by someone who expresses himself well

Could we start by passing a resolution ordering the Transportation Security Administration to immediately cease the PA announcements in airports warning people against accepting packages from persons unknown to carry aboard an aircraft?  This is an insult to the American traveler. It's like telling people to please not approach the security checkpoint at a fast trot while yelling "Allah is great." People know not to do this. If they are likely to accept a box from a stranger who wants them to carry it to Denver and mail it, then they should not be traveling around unescorted...

Our health-care system could be fixed by smart public-spirited people in a weekend, but in our current democracy it is very hard to budge the blockade, and things may need to get much worse and Republicans boosted back into power and they can propose the very same legislation they are adamantly opposed to now and the system will change a little bit...

When you've driven the car into the swamp -- up to our eyeballs in debt, fighting two wars in behalf of shaky regimes, trying to keep a lid on Iran, Congress in a frozen stupor -- and then you throw mudballs at the tow-truck driver, you are betting on the electorate having the memory of a guppy. You can parade up and down stark naked and pretend it's very fine silk and fool a lot of people, but eventually word will get around.

27 February 2010

Recent posts at Neatorama

A video by a staff member at the Walker Art Center explains how they distinguish art from trash. (They put labels on the art).

Booksellers who buy books find unusual - and sometimes valuable - things inside them.

A coffin that screws into the ground.  Theoretically.

The world's largest book is an atlas.  Surprisingly, it's 350 years old.

A pair of very unusual 18th century baby rattles/teething toys.

A color video of the streets of London -- in 1927!

An optical illusion.

An earthquake centered in Illinois last month demonstrates that not all fault lines are in California.

It is now theoretically possible to clone Neanderthals.  Genetic material is available, and technology can probably accomplish the task.  The question is... should it be done?

Links to galleries of the decorative art of Mehndi.

A video of kids diving at a rocky swimming hole in Duluth.

"The Sign of the Horns" and what it means.

Before there was Express Mail, there were "feather letters."

A young woman has just beaten the world's best male bowlers in the world's most prestigious bowling tournament.

"Facilitated communication" is a bogus technique.

There are "Indians" in Russia who appear very similar to "American" Indians.

When Elizabethans went to the theater to watch plays by DeVere and Marlowe, the nobility ate crabs and the commoners ate oysters.

Braille is dying, replaced by electronic media, and some educators are worried about this turn of events.

The first movie of Alice in Wonderland was made in 1903.  Here it is - in its entirety.

Young chimpanzees do better on tests of short-term memory than college students.

"Alphabet Shoot" is another physics-based flash game.  I've solved all the levels except 24, 29, 30, and 3 of the custom levels.  Update - finally got 24 and one more of the customs.  Second update - FINALLY got 29; you have to load all three cannons first, then fire D, S, and F in succession.  And got 30 with the recommended combination shots.

As with all my smorgasbord-type posts, the photos above are unrelated.  These come from a National Geographic's International Photography Contest last year, and they all biggify quite nicely.

Economic smörgåsbord

I use the "smörgåsbord" format for items that I have neither time nor inclination to devote a full post to.  Articles about the economy tend to be sufficiently gloomy that I really don't want to spend time pondering them in depth.  But some have info that someone may want or which I may want to link to later.  Herewith some links that have been sequestered in a bookmark folder for several months.  Pick and choose, or just skip down to the more cheerful little girl in the blue dress.

Three articles about the bonuses on Wall Street.  This from TMV: "Currently, according to news reports, just 23 top investment banks, hedge funds and other Wall Street firms will get $140 billion in bonuses this year, a sum almost exactly equal to the estimated $142 billion in budget shortfalls for all 50 states in fiscal 2010." And echoes of the same from MSN and from The Guardian.

An interesting graphic showing where all those people went from the collapsed financial firms.  Out into the street?  Perhaps the clerks and secretaries.  The rest?  To other financial institutions.

Some people still have lotza money.  Stories about Sarkozy's shower and purchasers of impressionistic art.

Mother Jones thinks the first-time home-buyer tax credit is just an act of Congress that will create another housing bubble.

Peter Schiff and Nouriel Roubini were good at predicting the recent financial downturn.  In November Schiff opined that the future was good for gold, but not for U.S. stocks.

"Too big to fail" discussed at Swimming Freestyle and at TPM.

A thread at Reddit that I really should give a full post to, but for now just a note that local credit unions may offer signicant advantages over large banks.

The state of Minnesota, traditionally economically strong, is facing financial woes, including severe budget deficits, with many banks at risk not because of the housing crisis alone, but because of the ongoing weakness of the commercial banking sector.  The Financial Times discusses the latter problem in greater detail.

Several prestigious universities have reported precipitous falls in their endowments because in recent years they shifted their assets from low-return investments to more risky collateralized capital ventures.  The same crisis is less well known, but equally severe in many cultural institutions such as museums and operas.

How Congress creates loopholes in the banking regulations for some financial institutions such as General Electric.

Der Spiegel online is one of the sources I use to read about the health of the European economies (the other is the Financial Times).  Recent articles have discussed whether Greece will go bankruptwhether the EU should save Greece from bankruptcy, whether the EuroZone could cope with a nation's bankruptcy, and how a currency crisis could ripple through Europe.

An eye-opening graph at Swimming Freestyle about public long-term debt if current fiscal policies are maintained.

Yglesias shows an unemployment graph with cautions that it will not improve any time soon.

Nouriel Roubini sees any economic recovery as being "very dismal and poor."

Two graphs in Andrew Sullivan's column compare this economic downturn to previous ones and depict the ratio of jobless workers to job openings.

Enough already.

Pretty blue outfit

U.S. Army Private First Class Danny Comley of Camdenton Missouri, assigned to Delta Company 4th Brigade combat team,2-508, 82nd parachute infantry Regiment, receives flowers from an Afghan girl during a patrol in the Arghandab valley in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan February 24, 2010. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner).  
Via The Big Picture.

13 million species

The biologist E.O. Wilson estimates there are about 13 million species, broken down as follows:

Insects 9 million
Bacteria 1 million
Fungi 1 million
Viruses 0.3 million
Algae 0.3 million
Worms 0.3 million
Plants 0.2 million
Protozoa 0.2 million
Echinoderms 0.2 million
Mollusks 0.2 million
Crustaceans 0.2 million
Fish 30 thousand
Reptiles 10 thousand
Birds 10 thousand
Amphibians 5 thousand
Mammals 5 thousand

Via The New Shelton wet/dry

Kite swallowtail

Papilio autocles, Jinotega, Nicaragua.  Longer "tails" than the North American counterparts, and almost translucent wingtips, reminiscent of the clearwing butterflies.

Credit to quest4tvl5a.

26 February 2010

Roomba Cat at the Winter Olympics

Credit, via.

Third world countries denoted by gray color

Via Swimming Freestyle and The Frustrated Teacher.

"All this money magically appears from nowhere"

The Washington Post is reporting today that millions of dollars are leaving Afghanistan, and American officials have no idea about the source of the money.
But at a time when the United States and its allies are spending billions of dollars to prop up the fragile government of President Hamid Karzai, the volume of the outflow has stirred concerns that funds have been diverted from aid. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, for its part, is trying to figure out whether some of the money comes from Afghanistan's thriving opium trade. And officials in neighboring Pakistan think that at least some of the cash leaving Kabul has been smuggled overland from Pakistan.

"All this money magically appears from nowhere," said a U.S. official...

The total volume of departing cash is almost certainly much higher than the declared amount. A Chinese man, for instance, was arrested recently at the Kabul airport carrying 800,000 undeclared euros (about $1.1 million).

Cash also can be moved easily through a VIP section at the airport, from which Afghan officials generally leave without being searched... One U.S. official said he had been told by a senior Dubai police officer that an Afghan diplomat flew into the emirate's airport last year with more than $2 million worth of euros in undeclared cash...

The cash flown out of Kabul includes a wide range of foreign currencies. Most is in U.S. dollars, euros and -- to the bafflement of officials -- Saudi Arabian riyals, a currency not widely used in Afghanistan.

Last month, a well-dressed Afghan man en route to Dubai was found carrying three briefcases stuffed with $3 million in U.S. currency and $2 million in Saudi currency, according to an American official who was present when the notes were counted. A few days later, the same man was back at the Kabul airport, en route to Dubai again, with about $5 million in U.S. and Saudi bank notes.
General Smedley Darlington Butler would not be surprised.

Photo credit William Richardson.

Isaac Newton really WAS inspired by a falling apple

I've always thought the story was apocryphal, but this document says not:
Newton recounted the story that inspired his theory of gravitation to scholar William Stukeley.  It then appeared in Stukeley's 1752 biography, Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life.

The UK's Royal Society converted the fragile manuscript into an electronic book, which anybody with internet access will now be able to read.

In the story, Newton claimed to have been inspired by a falling apple in his garden to investigate the theory of gravitation.

Bumper sticker


"Are You Going With Me?" - Pat Metheny Group

Reposted because I love the piece.  If you're unfamiliar with this jazz/rock fusion group, you can start learning about them here.

25 February 2010

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare"

-Sun Tzu, 6th century B.C., who also said:

"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." 

(More quotes at the link)

MIssisauga, Ontario is a debt-free major city. Meet the mayor!

Sixth largest city in Canada, no debt, C$700 million in reserves.  The mayor is an 88-year-old former professional hockey player.

Too bad the interviewer has to be the clown at the center of attention.

Spring horse + bike = awesome

Created by carriepie for Burning Man.

Via Found Here.

Advertisement for an optometrist

"To book an eye exam, call..."

Advertising Agency: Canvas, Cape Town, South Africa.  Creative Director: Michael Ipp.  Art Director: Tim Church.  Copywriter: Jacques Laubscher.  Retoucher: Still images, Cape Town.

Found at Ads of the World, via Sloth Unleashed.

Mathematics can be beautiful

A partir d'un carré central de côté 1, on construit un nouveau carré qui s'appuie sur le précédent. Puis on répète la construction, chaque nouveau carré appuie son côté sur l'ensemble des carrés déjà construits. Dans chaque carré, on trace un quart de cercle joignant un sommet au sommet opposé, de sorte que les quarts de cercle soient consécutifs. La courbe obtenue s'appelle la spirale de Fibonacci. 
Photo credit Contra Natura and Labregonet , via Titam.


Via Suddenly.

24 February 2010

Sequel to "Titanic" - coming this summer

Watch the video first, then see my note in the Comments.

Via Miss Cellania.

A case of the shingles - Wisconsin, 1850

In 1850, 10-year-old Stephen Bentley arrived with his family at the river town of Cassell, in Sauk County. Wisconsin’s lumber industry was just beginning to flourish, and every day its products floated past the town on their way to the Mississippi.

“Raftsmen often stopped at our house to get something to eat,” he recalled, “and sometimes hired my father or myself to boat them across the slough or to their stuck rafts.” Young Bentley would listen intently to the colorful stories of people such as raft pilot Buckskin Brown, who related a unique experience his crew had one night in Sauk City.

After a hard day’s work, Brown’s men had tied up on the riverbank and made their way up to a tavern. Possessing a powerful thirst but no money with which to relieve it, “they carried a bunch of shingles up to the saloon and offered it in lieu of cash.” This sat well with the saloon keeper, who asked them to stack the shingles in the backyard. A little while later, still parched, they decided to sneak the same batch of shingles around to the front, where they sold them a second time for another round of drinks.

Over the course of the evening, they repeated the trick so often that the exact number of trades got lost in an alcoholic haze. Brown estimated that same bunch of shingles was resold 11 times. And wanting to leave the tavern tidy, the lumberjacks even carried it back to the raft when they silently pushed offshore in the dark.
Found in today's Wisconsin State Journal.

Antelope leaves "a wake like a skipped rock..."

Credit to National Geographic Society.  Click to macrosize.

Some mothers can educate their offspring in the egg stage

Insect and plant mothers, to be specific, but one wonders if this is possible in other species, including mammals:
Compared to youngsters born to naive mothers, those born to females with experiences of spiders were 27% more likely to freeze when surrounded by their silk or droppings... This small difference in behaviour often meant the difference between life and death. Storm and Lima placed the young crickets in naturalistic environments, complete with hiding places. When spiders were introduced, the forewarned youngsters spent about twice as long in their refuges and they survived for much longer...

For now, we don't know how the mother crickets manage to tip off their young. Their behaviour could be changed through "epigenetic" means, by adding molecular tags onto their DNA that change the way specific genes are used and controlled. A mother could also convey information to her unborn young with hormones. By placing the right balance of hormones into her eggs, she could influence the development of her offspring's defensive behaviour...
More at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Baby stingray

(Original source unknown)

"Republican intolerance of secularism"

Selections from an interesting an no-holds-barred op-ed column in yesterday's Guardian (U.K.):
If you're part of secular America – that is, if you're an atheist, an agnostic, a religious liberal or even a mainstream believer who thinks religion should be kept out of politics and vice-versa – then you should be very afraid of what the Republican party has in store for you in 2012... there's something new, something more intolerant, something truly ugly in the works. And if you don't believe me, let's start with Tim Pawlenty, unassuming governor of Minnesota in his day job, fire-breathing Christian warrior and aspiring presidential candidate in his spare time...
"The first one is this: God's in charge. God is in charge ... In the Declaration of Independence it says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. It doesn't say we're endowed by Washington, DC, or endowed by the bureaucrats or endowed by state government. It's by our creator that we are given these rights."
Pawlenty trashed anyone who attended "Ivy League schools" or who go to "chablis-drinking, brie-eating parties in San Francisco"... It sounded like a parody of Pat Buchanan's famous 1992 "culture war" speech. Except that Pawlenty is one of the Republicans' two most plausible candidates for president in 2012...

[In 2007 the other plausible candidate Mitt] Romney called for tolerance only among believers, explicitly omitting non-believers. "Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me," Romney said. "And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith."
"Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious."
Romney and Pawlenty are the early front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination, and it's a good thing: the most frequently mentioned potential fringe candidates [Palin, Huckabee] are even worse...

In contrast to [founding father President James] Madison, the Republicans propose a theocracy of believers. It is an assault not just on anyone who isn't one of them, but on the American idea, and on liberal democracies everywhere.
More at the link.

Riley's birthday

The expression on the dog's face is priceless.  Click pic for full enjoyment.

22 February 2010

"Once in a Lifetime" - Talking Heads

It's hard to believe this song was released 30 years ago.  It seems like only... 20.   It was named one of the top 100 American musical works of the 20th century by NPR;  I don't know that I would agree with that, but it was also the 59th video ever aired on MTV.  Here's a link to that list, which I didn't know existed until I found it two minutes ago.
The verses of the song consist of David Byrne speaking rather than singing... it is usually interpreted to be a song dealing with the midlife crisis and the inevitable sacrifice of youthful ideals and dreams for conventional success:
You may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself
Where does that highway lead to?
You may ask yourself
Am I right?... Am I wrong?
You may say to yourself
My God!... what have I done?

Full lyrics here.  And the original MTV video is here.

Vintage comic panel

Found at the appropriately named Comically Vintage, which has about a thousand of these.

Removing botfly larvae

Wikipedia suggests that these pests have been documented in "copious art dating back to the Pleistocene" (?).   Snopes has photos showing the removal of a larva from a child's eye.

Explanation here re relationship of the fly and the mosquito as vector.

Via Darker Me

Addendum: Please view the captcha in M. Titam's comment.  LOL.

Generation gap

From the weekly collection of cartoons at the New Yorker.

21 February 2010

Wisconsin cave art - pregnant deer and bow hunter

It will surprise some people to learn that there are rock art sites in Wisconsin, a state not noted for prehistoric sites.  But there are caves and rockshelters, some of which are decorated with incised or painted figures.  UW Lacrosse has a webpage listing eight such sites with illustrations.  The images above are from a ninth site - Tainter Cave.
The walls and ceiling contain nearly 100 charcoal drawings of birds, humans, and deer. Many are beyond natural light in the dark zone of the cave, and birch bark torches were found on the floor along with a hide moccasin.”

The paintings portray a whole new style of art. Some panels depict recognizable actions such as a group of bow hunters taking several deer, including pregnant does, in the late winter. This panel is directly beneath a group of birds, bird feet, and feathers representing a classic example of Native American separation of earth and sky. Another appears to represent an infant bound within a cradle board.
These drawings are not as artistic (to the modern eye) as the ones at Lascaux, or the spectacular ones at Chauvet, and will never be as famous as the ones in the Cave of Swimmers, but they served an important ritual or instructional purpose in their time.  It's sad that sites like these have to be sealed with iron gates to prevent modern cretins from vandalizing them.


Crimethinc describes itself as a "decentralized anarchist collective" for "shoplifters, rioters, dropouts, deserters, adulterers, vandals, daydreamers."  Until today I didn't know the organization existed.  One presumes they are active in the street protests against The New World Order at political conventions, world trade and finance meetings, etc.

The information on their poster above may or may not be valid.  I would welcome comments and any corrections to its content.

Via Darker Me.

Addendum:  I just remember that I posted a related video several months ago:  "Why You Shouldn't Talk to the Police."  It was mostly about traffic violations etc., but was quite informative.

Second addendum:  "The 10 legal commandments of photography" - advice re when and where photography of the public/in public places/of buildings etc. is permitted/forbidden.  Somewhat abbreviated, but with links to other relevant sites.


Some activists for disabled people use an acronym - "TAB" - to refer to normal people.  The letters stand for "Temporarily Able-Bodied," as a reminder that any normal healthy person is only an illness or accident away from disability.  The term has been around for years, but the current Olympics has offered some striking reminders of the validity of the acronym.

Photo: Britain's Chemmy Alcott crashes after crossing the finish line in the women's Alpine Skiing Downhill race on February 17, 2010. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach) #

20 February 2010



"...the Japanese Spider Crab has a body the size of a basketball and its legs can straddle a car. They will eventually measure a massive 15ft...  The crab, called Macrocheira kaempferi in Latin, was caught by fishermen in the Pacific Ocean and has now been imported to Britain where it has gone on display at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham.
Via The Conservation Report.

19 February 2010

Hearst Castle indoor pool

"Here’s a cool fact about this pool. Nearby, there is a huge room that was intended for a gymnasium that Hearst never constructed. The State then made it useable for IT and Archive area, so the water cools the computers… wild, eh?"
Photo credit Trey Ratcliffe at Stuck in Customs.

Responding to "austerity measures"

With the global economic slowdown, many political entities are facing the need to cut spending, from countries to small towns.  Here's the BBC's report of what happened in Greece last week:
Flights have been grounded, many schools are closed and hospitals are operating an emergency-only service...

The unions regard the austerity programme as a declaration of war against the working and middle classes, the BBC's Malcolm Brabant reports from the capital.  He says their resolve is strengthened by their belief that this crisis has been engineered by external forces, such as international speculators and European central bankers.

"It's a war against workers and we will answer with war, with constant struggles until this policy is overturned," said Christos Katsiotis, a union member affiliated to the Communist Party, at the Athens rally...
And this report from NPR:
Like many cities across the nation, Colorado Springs, Colo., is trying to close a big budget gap. The town is shutting off lights and slashing budgets for parks, police and firefighters...

Perhaps the most noticeable change for Colorado Springs' 400,000 residents will be in parks, where budgets have been slashed by nearly 75 percent.

"We've taken all the trash cans out. We're not going to be doing any litter collections in the parks... We're hoping the citizens will pack it out themselves."  All the restrooms have been closed. There'll be very little watering, and crews will mow just once a month instead of weekly...

The city even trimmed its police and fire budgets and is auctioning three of its police helicopters on the Internet. Still, that's not enough... The city sold nine buses and will use the proceeds to pay operating costs this year... Colorado Springs is now considering wholesale changes to the way it operates. City leaders are thinking about selling the local utilities and a hospital...
Addendum: See Fletcher's note in the Comments thread re a contrasting situation in Oregon.

CCTV footage relating to the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

The video itself is safe for work; it contains a collection of CCTV camera footage from the hotel depicting the preparations for the killling at about the 23:00 mark.  This is a long video and would be frankly tedious without the associated importance of the event.  It's revealing re the activities of real-life hit squads and the amazing surveillance capabilities of modern hotels.

Those unfamiliar with the assassination can read the Wikipedia summary (or a hundred other commentaries and analyses on the web).

Samurai vodka

Via a website that doesn't credit its sources.

The cost of "throwing stones at houses"

The Wisconsin State Journal has an article today about the Olympics-related boom in business for a curling supplies store in Madison:
Brown, who runs Steve's Curling Supplies out of his Far East Side home, gets calls from guys in bars who see the sport of curling on TV. They think it doesn't look too tough, that maybe they and their buddies could be like the Jamaican bobsled team and head from oblivion into the Olympics.

"So they'll get on a cell phone and say, ‘How much are those puck things? We want to go to the next Olympics,'" Brown said. "You tell them they cost about $500 and — boom — they hang up the phone."

Those delivering the stone need special Teflon-soled shoes to slide on the ice, and a pair of those range from $75 to the $236 shoes most Olympians are wearing. Grippers, for $16 a pair, go over the shoes to help competitors maneuver on the ice.

The top-selling brush is a $67 fiberglass model; carbon fiber ones used by Olympians cost $159...

Want to lick pimples?

No thank you.

Vintage ad via Feasting on Roadkill.


I'll be adding them to the butterfly garden this spring if/when the snow ever melts here; I remember them from my childhood, but haven't seen them in people's gardens for decades.  Hollyhocks are reported to be a good host plant for Gray Hairstreaks, Skippers, and Painted Ladies, none of which I've ever raised.

Image credit: hand-tinted photo from ~1915, found by lovedaylemon.  Via (exclamation mark).


TYWKIWDBI tries to avoid promoting celebrities and "personalities," so as much as we enjoy the movies of this  world-famous actress, we will ignore her identity and will focus instead only on the medical/surgical aspects of the photo, one of several taken this week in Venice that show an unusual appearance at the angle of her jaw, apparently as a result of having undergone a "thread lift."
"Thread lifts emerged because many people... would like a facelift, but can't afford it or don't want the long recovery time of the standard facelift... It is perhaps better considered as a lesser, or preliminary procedure. Thread lifts cost less and require less downtime for many people. Some plastic surgeons promote the thread lift as a "lunchtime lift" or "weekend facelift." Usually it can be performed in about one hour.

Ideal candidates for thread lifts include people with minimal signs of aging who need just a small lift. Most people who undergo thread lifts are women between 35 and 45. They choose a thread lift because they have begun to see more prominence of the jaw, a relaxed (or minimally sagging) midfacial appearance or slight bags under the eyes or on the neck."
Movie buffs will be excused if they are immediately reminded of Sam Lowry's mother in Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

Link, via Reddit.  Photo via Just Jared.

18 February 2010

Blue dog optical illusion

Based on principles we've seen in other optical illusions.

Via Arbroath.


Apparently it's a word.  I encountered it in a book by O. E. Rolvaag and wondered if it was an inept translation of the Norwegian phrase "in a friendly manner."  But it's in the OED with that meaning, and even in Random House, not as a separate entry but as an adverb sublisting under the adjective friendly

"Sign Language" - worth three minutes of your time

A brief but touching film produced for a "Workplace Short Film Competition."  This man's workplace is the streets of London, and this is his final day...

Via Neatorama's Upcoming Queue.


The term means variation in coloration, and is perhaps most striking when it involves coloration of the iris.  Wikipedia has the details re the mechanism and corollary conditions, and Environmental Graffiti has collected an assemblage of photos of cats and dogs.

People can also have heterochromia - Dan Aykroyd, David Bowie, Kiefer Sutherland and Christopher Walken are listed as examples.

Cat photo credit Keith Kissel, dog photo  credit Jeffrey Beall.

12th-century hairstyles

From the Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l’époque carlovingienne à la Renaissance (Reasoned dictionary of French furniture from the Carolingian era to the Renaissance), vol. 3 by E. Viollet-Le-Duc. Paris, 1874, which can be browsed at the Internet Archive, and which appears to have lots more neat stuff in it.

Via Old Book Illustrations.

Wow. After posting the above, I went back and clicked through 350 pages of this book.  It's an incredible repository of period information (wish I could read French).  Here are some additional illustrations of ladies hairstyles, but the book also covers other fashion from sandals to codpiecees to crowns.  And it's just volume three of a set.

Feather-star swimming

This video needs to be viewed muted to block the irrelevant and distracting television or video dialogue in the background.

The creature is a feather-star (not a starfish as the YouTube title suggests), and unfortunately as noted in the Reddit discussion, will probably not do well in the aquarium because it is a filter feeder.  But it is beautiful and awesome to watch.

The gatehouse for Tjolöholm Castle in Sweden

Click to enlarge photo. Original source of photo (and location of house) unknown.  I think the design would look great overlooking a lake in northern Minnesota.

Reposted from August 2009 with this addendum:  Continuing the tradition that someone visiting this board will have an answer to every question I pose, "anonymous" has offered not only an identification, but reports that he has slept in the house!

This is the gatehouse ("grindstugan") for Tjolöholm Castle in Sweden.  Photos of the front of the house here and here

More pix (and apparently rental information) here.

17 February 2010

A belated Valentine photo

Via Snuh.

"I am become Death"

Video from an interview in 1965.
Since Oppenheimer was proficient in sanskrit he read the original text, and the translation is his own; I haven't found any other translation with "am become". It certainly gives a certain something to the line, however, and it might had been at least somewhat less well known had it been "I am death" or "I have become death".

Here's the verse in question with a little context (translated by Ramanand Prasad). Prince Arjuna hesitates to attack the enemy with his army; Vishnu, in the incarnation of Krishna, encourages him, and motivates him by explaining how the world works, with reincarnations, Brahman, Maya etc. Arjuna asks to see Vishnu in his "cosmic", i.e. real, form, a wish that is granted. The overwhelmed Arjuna asks:
Tell me who are You in such a fierce form? My salutations to You, O best of gods, be merciful! I wish to understand You, the primal Being, because I do not know Your mission.

The Supreme Lord said: I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world, out to destroy. Even without your participation all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exist.

Therefore, get up and attain glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a prosperous kingdom. All these (warriors) have already been destroyed by Me. You are only an instrument, O Arjuna.
Bhagavad Gita, chapter 11, verses 31-33
Further explanation at Factoids, via Could it be Madness - this?

Calling all zombies...

Via Retrogasm.

Could Greece pull out of the euro?

An interesting article in a business blog at The Guardian yesterday.  Here are some excerpts:
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day with the question of what might happen to Greece's membership of the euro should its financial woes continue...

The honest answer is that no one knows what would happen if a country tried to pull out of the single currency because it hasn't happened before... EU sources point out that the financial crisis could have been much worse without the single currency, with competitive devaluations rippling throughout the continent by now...

But if Greece decided to devalue, it would need to do more than simply start printing new drachmas and walk away from its sovereign debt. It would also need to do something about the euro-denominated debt of its own citizens and companies. Larger companies and banks might choose to default too, but as Dubai found, this cure can be worse than the disease...
More at the link.

What the internet knows about me (and you...)

Hat tip to J-Walk for posting the link to What The Internet Knows About You.  When you go to the link, it will check your browser history and display what websites you have recently visited.  Also bank websites, social networks, dating sties, XXX websites.  If this site can do it, then anyone else can get the same information about your browsing.

It also offers solutions, some of them much simpler than the usual recommendation to use a proxy.  For example - " If you configure your browser to not keep any browsing history, no-one will be able to detect which sites you visited. You can do so in Firefox by..."

Smallest. Carnival. Costume. Ever.

I'll leave this photo "below the fold" for the sake of the more sensitive visitors.
Rio carnival’s smallest g-string has cost its wearer and samba team vital points.

Sao Clemente group were deducted points at the Rio de Janeiro carnival yesterday, for breaking a rule “preventing the presentation of people displaying their genitalia, decorated and/or painted.”

Model Viviane Castro was entirely naked except for a 4cm (1.6inch) patch covering her modesty believed to be the smallest in Rio history.

The carnival queen danced with the miniscule ‘sex cover’ glued to her rather than being held by a string during her group’s 80 minute parade.
If/when you view the photo, note that the maracas have been superimposed on the original photo (which can be located with a Google Image search, btw...)

There is also an uncensored video, which is NSFW (unless you work in a strip club).

Addendum:  There is a fantastic photoset of pictures of Carnival at The Big Picture.  I'd like to embed a half-dozen here, but you might as well enjoy them at the original site.  (These are all SFW).

TSA = Totally Stupid Administration

I have blogged on numerous occasions about the utterly inane and incompetent Transportation Security Administration.  Here are two more horror stories:
They asked him to empty his pockets, and he had some English-Arabic flashcards in them, as he’d been learning Arabic for three years and was a Middle-Eastern Studies major. After discovering the flashcards, the TSA agents kept him in the screening area for a half hour...

TSA supervisor: “You know who did 9/11?”

George: “Osama bin Laden.”

TSA supervisor: “Do you know what language he spoke?”

George: “Arabic.”

TSA supervisor: “Do you see why these cards are suspicious?”
Via BoingBoing, whence the image credit.  And this "security" travesty comes via J-Walk:
This happened to Bob Thomas, a 53-year-old officer in Camden's emergency crime suppression team, who was flying to Orlando in March with his wife, Leona, and their son, Ryan.

Ryan was taking his first flight, to Walt Disney World, for his fourth birthday.

The boy is developmentally delayed, one of the effects of being born 16 weeks prematurely. His ankles are malformed and his legs have low muscle tone. In March he was just starting to walk [with leg braces]...

The alarm went off.

The screener told them to take off the boy's braces.

The Thomases were dumbfounded. "I told them he can't walk without them on his own," Bob Thomas said.

"He said, 'He'll need to take them off.' "

Ryan's mother offered to walk him through the detector after they removed the braces, which are custom-made of metal and hardened plastic.

No, the screener replied. The boy had to walk on his own...

Addendum:  Nathan offered this additional example of utter crass insensitivity by a TSA employee.

The carnivorous plants of Mount Roraima

This tepui has fascinated primeval indigenous humans, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Disney/Pixar animation team.  It has to be one of the most spectacularly isolated sites on earth.  Several thousand feet of vertical walls have until recent years limited human access.

Sir David Attenborough explains about the unique flora:

The slow-motion footage of the bladderwort and sundew are particularly striking. 

Upper photo credit National Geographic.
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