09 May 2017

Divertimento #126

Some hash brown potatoes have been recalled because they may have been "contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials, that despite our stringent supply standards may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes."

Did Greeks help sculpt the terra cotta warriors? "Chinese artists may have encountered examples of Greek art, which made its way into Asia after the reign of Alexander the Great..."

"In light of their most successful year ever, every single one of Porsche's 21,000 employees receives a bonus of 9111€ regardless of being an engineer, a cleaning lady or canteen staff."  "Better than working at Comcast, where all their employees got for Comcast making 5 billion last year was a candy bar."

"It took 12 hours and 2,750 shots for Tom Amberry, a 71-year-old retired California podiatrist, to set the world record for free throws consecutively shot and made... Amberry stopped at the 12-hour mark, but only because the gym janitors made him." (He has a cool device that returns the ball to him after each shot).  "He made 500 consecutive free throws on 473 separate occasions, according to notes he kept."

"From the literature, a consensus emerges that there are (only) two groups of mammalian non-swimmers..." (answer at the BBC)

Recycling plants use magnets to sort aluminum (even though aluminum isn't magnetic).   And it's not by process of elimination.  The magnets actually move the aluminum.  Explained at the link.

"Scientists have found a way to use spinach to build working human heart muscle..."

An explanation of why "lb" is used as an abbreviation for "pound."

Sexual subculture of the week: "feederism."

As a banana changes from green to yellow, which stage is the best time to eat it?

A longread at Golfworld gives details about the caddies on the LPGA circuit.

If airport runways were circular, "that would enable planes to take off in the direction most advantageous for them. Namely, the direction without any crosswinds."

Social Security cards (and numbers) explained.

"...the PSAT 8/9 answer sheet begins by asking many very personal questions of each student; though nowhere on the form or booklet does it say these questions are optional... The answer sheet had spaces for the student’s name, grade level, sex, date of birth, student ID number or Social Security number, race/ethnic group, military relation, home address, email address, mobile phone,  grade point average, courses taken, and parents’ highest level of education."

There have been 1500 attacks with acid in London since 2011.  Unlike the worldwide numbers, in the UK over 70% of the victims are men.

Alice Elizabeth Doherty was born in Minneapolis and is the only known person with hypertrichosis lanuginosa born in the United States of America.

The International Edible Book Festival is an annual event usually held on or around April 1, which is also known as Edible Book Day..  "edible books" are created, displayed, and small events are held. The creations are photographed and then consumed...

The original "Brexit" occurred 450,000 years ago.  "The scars of these events can be found on the seabed of the English Channel... huge, 100m-deep [holes] carved into the bedrock and hundreds of metres to several kilometres in diameter... we interpret these as giant plunge pools..."

How NOT to install slats in a door.

The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is now powered by solar energy.  "We believe that this project will help save at least $8,000 to $10,000 off the energy costs on this building alone.."

"When people think about traveling to the past, they worry about accidentally changing the present, but no one in the present really thinks they can radically change the future."  (and 20 other profound "showerthoughts") (there's a subreddit for that)

"A small-town Iowa newspaper with a staff of 10 people - most of whom are related to each other – has won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on powerful agricultural companies over farm pollution."

A scientific study of energy expenditure while playing golf.


Details about the Fatty Arbuckle scandal.

The Weather Channel offers a stunning indictment of the sugar industry and how it has destroyed Lake Okeechobee.  "It’s the culmination of 135 years of engineering missteps, hubris and a determination to turn Everglades sawgrass into cash crops."

Transillumination of a stick deodorant container.

Should the world "internet" be capitalized?  Not a simple answer (the proportion of usage is about 50:50).

A guide to medieval coins.

Information about Skrydstrup Woman (and Egtved Girl).

There is a new theory on the biologic cause of migraine. "Contrary to what has previously been believed, we found that the arteries on the outside of the skull did not expand during migraine attacks..."

Swiss chocolate companies are experiencing major problems.

"Discovered in the mud of a shallow lagoon in the Philippines, a living creature of [shipworm] has never been described before – even though its existence has been known for more than 200 years thanks to fossils of the baseball bat-sized tubes that encase the creature." (video at the link)

Dehydration may contribute to chronic renal disease, not just acute renal failure.

"Few people ever saw the images of China girls, although for decades they were ubiquitous in movie theaters. At the beginning of a reel of film, there would be a few frames of a woman’s head. She might be dressed up; she might be scowling at the camera. She might blink or move her head.
But if audiences saw her, it was only because there had been a mistake. These frames weren’t for public consumption. The China girl was there to assist the lab technicians processing the film..."

Googie architecture [not "google"] is a form of modern architecture, a subdivision of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.

Queen Elizabeth II spent more time in the armed forces than the entire Donald Trump family and their in-laws combined.

In April Britain experienced its first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution.  "A National Grid spokesman said the record low was a sign of things to come, with coal-free days becoming increasingly common as the polluting fuel is phased out."

A woman "missed a $10,000 dream cruise of the Galapagos Islands because she was bumped from an overbooked Air Canada flight."

Remembering Pat Tillman.

"The incidence of angiostrongyliasis, nicknamed “rat lungworm” illness because of its origins (it comes from a parasite in the lungs of rats via rat feces to snails and slugs and then through contaminated food or drink to humans) is on the rise in Hawaii."

A nightmare scenario for Florida:  "If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still. Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide the services that make it such a desirable place to live, causing more sales and another drop in revenue. And all of that could happen before the rising sea consumes a single home."

The ultimate "steadicam."

Showerthought: "University is great because you're effectively an unemployed alcoholic, but your parents are really proud of you."

Indian "pundits" were spies who mapped huge swathes of South Asia.  "Singh took detailed records of his trips, taken on foot through forbidden lands, often under cover of darkness. At the end of each years-long adventure, he returned his hard-won intel to his employer, the British Crown."  They recorded their results on using a rosary and a prayer wheel.

Suggestions for overcoming "Ad-block walls."

How to open an apparently impossible puzzle box.  (very clever mechanism)

"According to legend, pirate treasure reportedly worth £100 million is buried on an Indian Ocean island. Although the region is thought to be littered with hidden treasure, this one is said to be the Holy Grail, the world’s biggest booty haul. The story, which reads like a Hollywood script, has been passed down through generations on the islands of the Seychelles and La RĂ©union."

"Belphegor's prime is the palindromic prime number 1000000000000066600000000000001, a number which reads the same both backwards and forwards and is only divisible by itself and one."
Easy to remember: 13 zeros followed by "666" followed by 13 zeros.

Updated information on Otzi.

"Melissophilia might just be the weirdest, most awkward and most cringeworthy sexual fetish ever..."

The images today are of stinging caterpillars, from a gallery at ThoughtCo (identification and photo credits at the link.)


  1. I love reading your Divertimento, but find it very frustrating that so many of the links won't allow me to return to your website. Almost every time I click on a link, there is no "back" arrow, and I have to close the tab and return to Tywikiwdbi. Might just be me (or Chrome) but if it's not, is it possible to select "open in new tab" when you post the links?

    1. Instead of clicking on the link as you have been doing, please try "RIGHT-clicking" on the link. That should generate a menu which includes "save link as" and "bookmark link" and "open in new window" and... "open link in new tab."

      Works for me on a Mac using Firefox. Give it a try.

    2. Holding the Cmd⌘ key while left-clicking should do the trick as well.

    3. Thanks for the suggestion, right click does work, and I'll use going forward.

  2. Very pleasant to see the caterpillars! Thanks, MinnesotaStan!

  3. In response to 5the BBC article that giraffes cannot swim:

  4. Poor Fatty! Won... and lost all the same.

  5. The bit about the pundits--among other questions, how do you record anything on a rosary?

    1. Oops. Apparently I forgot to insert the link. Fixed. Now you can read the rest of the story...

      (Tx, Marlys for the heads-up)

    2. If I understand the article correctly, they didn't "record" their results on the rosary though: They used the beads for counting distances, while secret notes were hidden inside the prayer wheel.


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