30 October 2011

Sunday smörgåsbord

I use linkdumps occasionally to thin out the bookmarks.  Here are the items that I don't have the time or energy to work into full posts.

A gif of a turtle coming out of the water to eat a pigeon.

And photos of a heron eating a rabbit.

All of the polar bears in the world today appear to be descendants of a single female brown bear that lived in Ireland.

A new book about milk has information about human mothers suckling various animals, and human babies being suckled by animals.  Goats reportedly would seek out a specific human baby to give suck to.  And one modern study suggests babies prefer the milk of a mother who has recently eaten garlic.

Snails can survive passage through a bird's digestive tract.

A striking graphic shows the size of the United States' debt.

A graphic article in the Guardian details the startling extent and brutality of the rape of men.

An article at Scientific American suggests that salt has been unfairly demonized as a health risk.

"My cat is a jerk" is a blog whose title is self-explanatory.

Medicare will pay for Provenge, "an expensive and newly approved therapeutic prostate cancer vaccine... for men with metastatic prostate cancer... [it] costs $93,000 per patient and extends survival by about four months on average..."

Nothing is ever actually thrown "away."  As arctic ice melts, it is releasing toxins from previous eras, including pesticides such as DDT.

Hungary is trying to get rid of all of Monsanto's GMO products.

The economic downturn has hit the Shriners, who will no longer provide free health care; they will now be billing insurance companies and charging copays.

A nicely-done detailed listing of "the essential Cary Grant movies."

Winning entries from the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

An interesting video documentary about the bricks of St. Louis, and why some people are stealing them.

Some gravel roads in North Dakota are covered with the mineral erionite.  It is fibrous, and behaves like asbestos when inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.  Villages in Turkey where the mineral is common have experienced epidemics of cancer.

Jon Stewart lacerates those who "play the victim card."

A teacher wonders why wars tend to be the focal point of most history courses: "To millions of students, U.S. history ends up being — to modify the oft-repeated dictum — the story of one damned war after another. Even in my own classroom, the major events on the U.S. history timeline required for the final exam emphasize wars as highly significant for marking out and framing the study of the American story. Everything else, it seems, just falls less consequentially between."

Katie Couric conflated "castrate" with "castigate" and was roundly lampooned because she used the term in reference to a female.  This was unfair, because ovary removal is a perfectly valid second definition for the word.

Read this link only if you want to know how wicked Uday Hussein was.

Most people would never guess that part of Norway is further east than Istanbul. 

An intereseting article at Wired Science discusses the surprisingly sophisticated physics of a crumpled ball of paper.

A list of the ten funniest jokes at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (none of which are particularly funny...)

The Fibonacci Series has been over-hyped.

The staggering cost of owning a parking space in some urban areas ("The parking spot they purchased [two years ago] for $100,000 today sells for $125,000.)

Jimmy Carter reflects on his years as president.

An Alfred Hitchcock movie, lost for 80 years, has been discovered, restored, and is being shown to the public.

Excellent skull makeup for Halloween.

An argument against the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient god.

A man's severed thumb has been replaced by transplanting his toe.  Video at the link.

In an effort to cope with falling revenues, golf course managers in Minneapolis have opened their courses to dual use by Frisbee golfers and regular golfers.  The result has been unexpectedly well received.

Draw a stickman.  See what happens.  Go ahead -- do it....

The photo is of my paternal grandfather and grandmother - Harry and Myrtle - who tragically died at a young age as a result of a faulty gas heater.


  1. One minor quibble: that's a pigeon, not a duck. :)

  2. And that cat - it's not a jerk, it's a cat!

  3. Venice is farther north than Toronto and there are palm tree on the south-west coast of the UK.

    Gulf Stream...

    (Yes, the mediterranean does not have a huge connection to the Atlantic, but all of Europe is being heated thanks to the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks, guys!)

  4. Such cruelty.... "Here! Would you mind suckling this puppy for a while?" Yikes!

  5. hmm. not sure its an argument against an "omnipotent, omniscient god" After all, a god could be omnipotent and omniscient and yet evil, right? So, it's more an argument against an infinitely GOOD god, right?

    Besides, it's actually a simplistic argument similar to others which have been debated by philosophers and theologians for millennia. (see Epicurus of ancient Greece for an early formulation of this argument)

    For responses to the argument, you can read "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" for one Jewish Rabbi's take on the matter, or the Book of Job for another. For one Christian view, "How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?" is an interesting, if hard book. C.S. Lewis gives a good, intellectual argument on the matter of evil.

  6. Natt, as a sometime-grammar-Nazi, we appreciate quibbles. Fixed. Thanks.

  7. Have you seen this, Minnesotastan? http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2011/10/20/white-trash-repairs-historical-thursday-sokushinbutsu-the-art-of-self-mummification/#more-27772

  8. Just out of morbid curiosity did the faulty gas heater result in fire or carbon monoxide?

  9. Way before my time, of course, and dad never spoke at length about it, but from what I understand it was an asphyxia - either CO or perhaps hydrocarbons excluding O2 - that happened in a motel room.

    Not rare in that era, I think.

  10. It is pretty useless, but something I found on my own:

    Re the Fibonacci series, the sequence always shown is not unique in its ratios approaching phi (1.618033988...).

    Start with ANY TWO numbers, and then follow the same rules, and in just about the same number of consecutive pairs, their ratio approaches 1.619033988... as a limit.

    Try it. It even works with decimal numbers.

    So, there is every reason for this ratio to appear, wherever it does. The article seems to blow off much of the phi ratio in art, and the claims are certainly overblown (I've known that for some time), but the ratio does appear in some places.

  11. As to Toronto being further south than Venice, and part of Norway being farther east than Istanbul, those are very cool.

    But when Minneapolis (more frigid than Toronto, IMHO) is further south than Venice, THAT blows my mind.


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