31 December 2018

New Year's Greetings from TYWKIWDBI readers

Happy wintertime from Florida, where we don't winter very hard but occasionally do find these in our backyards...  -- Spiv, aka Wileecoyote

Life moves on so make the best of the New Year.- erin

Thank you for all that you do, congrats on surviving 2018, best wishes from our family. - Guy Byars

Many thanks for all you’ve done over the years… Professor Batty

Meeeeeeeee! Hats off and thanks for all the lepidoptera. - Bob the Scientist

Greetings from my 15-year-old tortie cat and a small dutch boy - Dave J.

Snorri the cat wishes y'all happy holidays! - Drabkikker

Happy Holiday and New Year to all readers and their families from
Jerry in and around Dallas (or variants thereof)

"First comment, but I have been following for a while. Cheers!" - tropicofkansas

"Knowledge is knowing that the Tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing to not to add it to a fruit salad."  -- The Slide Guy (aka Tepid Halibut)

Nolandda and son (at Glacier National Park) wish everyone a happy winter holiday of choice.

I am so glad we are all here! - Skeetmotis

"I don't comment, but do read religiously."  -- Susan Aprill (aka Notsu)

"Merry Christmas and thank you for all of the effort you put into the blog.  
I visit daily and always enjoy." (anonymous)

"Happy New Christmas Year" from Dutch  :-)

 Old pic [of meteorite hunters] in honor of those who, for country or for service to humanity, can't be at home this holiday season. Not quite minnesotastic myself, but grew up in northern Wisconsin and da UP so I speak the language. Merry everything, Peace and goodwill shared by all.   -- arphy

And from here at the World Headquarters of TYWKIWDBI, warm greetings to all readers of this blog - the innumerable silent "lurkers" and the invaluable commenters - from a blogger who is still trying to figure out how to make "selfies." - Stan

Too late...

Elizabeth Warren announced this morning.

Via The New Yorker.

Wedding cake

With interior lighting, apparently. 

Via the OddlySatisfying subreddit.

Hard to believe these clips are from 40 years ago

Hat tip to Neatorama.

Hospice care surging in Minnesota

(and probably elsewhere).  As reported by the Pioneer Press:
Hospice patients have tripled since 2000, and today they account for more than half of all deaths in Minnesota...

The remarkable rise of hospice care has been powered by grassroots promotions — books, plays and radio programs to review the various pathways to the grave. “Death Cafes” in public places are proliferating, as forums for topics that were once taboo.

Doctors, the gatekeepers of hospice entries, now accept hospice as a natural alternative to their expensive and often uncomfortable treatments...

Minnesota’s hospice population spiked to 19,253 in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available. This includes people getting care in their homes, as well as those living in hospice centers.  The main reason, say hospice experts, is that doctors have stopped fighting or ignoring hospices...

As medical costs soar, hospice care saves a soaring amount of money.  Hospice officials hate to talk about that. Repeatedly, they say hospices give patients what they want, which is not pinching pennies...

Roughly 7,000 Death Cafes have been sponsored globally, according to organizers. 

Death is natural, she said, and should be demystified with public conversations. “When did we medicalize death?” said Remke, a University of Minnesota professor and expert in palliative care.  “There are worse things than death.”
More on Death Cafes.

30 December 2018

And now we are eleven

Last week TYWKIWDBI quietly celebrated its eleventh "blogiversary."  I used this occasion to look at some of the metrics for the blog.  The map above is an enlargement of the one embedded in the right sidebar, showing the general distribution of the 815,000 visits in the past year.  The dots are not proportional to size (the Madrid dot is 500, the Barcelona one 5000).  For more detailed information I access Quantcast, which has pull-down menus like the one below, which shows for example that readers in Spain came from 203 locations, not the four or five dots on the little map.

The biggest "user" was in Mountain View, California (38,000 visits).  His name is Mr. Google.

When graphed on a monthly basis, there has been slight downward trend over the past two years, probably reflecting my gradually declining output.

The profile of readers of this blog is above.  Nothing surprising, really.

BoingBoing heads the list of the other websites you like to visit, followed by Digg and Neatorama (#4 Linkwithin places the little images at the bottom of each post that tempt you to visit my old posts).

So, as the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers once said, another year passes like nothing.

I'd like to close with something more profound than these frankly meaningless numbers.  The most thought-provoking video I've ever watched was one that explained the Hubble Deep Field.   That was followed by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field and the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field.  I'll let someone else explain:

Obviously best viewed in fullscreen mode.  I can't wrap my mind around the concept that what appear to be stars are actually galaxies, each composed of billions of stars.  And there are a hundred billion galaxies.

29 December 2018

Lemon dalmatian

Via the rarepuppers subreddit.  Info on Dalmatian colors.

Aftermath of the Battle of Passchendaele

The State Library of New South Wales has created a Flickr album of 150+ photos of Australians in the First World War.  More about the Battle of Passchendaele.

Format: Gelatin silver photographic print
Notes: Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918 (no.13)
From the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales www.sl.nsw.gov.au

The new "American aristocracy": the 9.9 percent

The wealth of the "1%" (and the 0.1%) has been discussed to death.  An article in The Atlantic notes the even bigger problem of "the 9.9%" - which may include you and me.
So what kind of characters are we, the 9.9 percent? We are mostly not like those flamboyant political manipulators from the 0.1 percent. We’re a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner. In fact, we’re so self-effacing, we deny our own existence. We keep insisting that we’re “middle class.”

As of 2016, it took $1.2 million in net worth to make it into the 9.9 percent... We have left the 90 percent in the dust—and we’ve been quietly tossing down roadblocks behind us to make sure that they never catch up... Contrary to popular myth, economic mobility in the land of opportunity is not high, and it’s going down... In America, the game is half over once you’ve selected your parents...

... the process of speciation begins with a love story—or, if you prefer, sexual selection. The polite term for the process is assortative mating...

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease are all two to three times more common in individuals who have a family income of less than $35,000 than in those who have a family income greater than $100,000. Among low-educated, middle-aged whites, the death rate in the United States—alone in the developed world—increased in the first decade and a half of the 21st century...

The wealthy can also draw on a variety of affirmative-action programs designed just for them. As Daniel Golden points out in The Price of Admission, legacy-admissions policies reward those applicants with the foresight to choose parents who attended the university in question. Athletic recruiting, on balance and contrary to the popular wisdom, also favors the wealthy, whose children pursue lacrosse, squash, fencing, and the other cost-intensive sports at which private schools and elite public schools excel...

Through their influence on the number of slots at medical schools, the availability of residencies, the licensing of foreign-trained doctors, and the role of nurse practitioners, physicians’ organizations can effectively limit the competition their own members face—and that is exactly what they do... Dentists’ offices, for example, have a glass ceiling that limits what dental hygienists can do without supervision, keeping their bosses in the 9.9 percent...

Americans now turn over $1 of every $12 in GDP to the financial sector; in the 1950s, the bankers were content to keep only $1 out of $40. The game is more sophisticated than a two-fisted money grab, but its essence was made obvious during the 2008 financial crisis. The public underwrites the risks; the financial gurus take a seat at the casino; and it’s heads they win, tails we lose. The financial system we now have is not a product of nature. It has been engineered, over decades, by powerful bankers, for their own benefit and for that of their posterity...

Who is not in on the game? Auto workers, for example. Caregivers. Retail workers. Furniture makers. Food workers. The wages of American manufacturing and service workers consistently hover in the middle of international rankings. The exceptionalism of American compensation rates comes to an end in the kinds of work that do not require a college degree...

Let us count our blessings: Every year, the federal government doles out tax expenditures through deductions for retirement savings (worth $137 billion in 2013); employer-sponsored health plans ($250 billion); mortgage-interest payments ($70 billion); and, sweetest of all, income from watching the value of your home, stock portfolio, and private-equity partnerships grow ($161 billion)...

Human beings are very good at keeping track of their own struggles; they are less likely to know that individuals on the other side of town are working two minimum-wage jobs to stay afloat, not watching Simpsons reruns all day. Human beings have a simple explanation for their victories: I did it. They easily forget the people who handed them the crayon and set them up for success.
Way more at the link.


28 December 2018

Dan's bookcase

"This a photo of one of my bookcases which also serves as sort of a cabinet of curiosities. This one is filled with books about mountaineering, exploration, and adventure. I also have three bookcases of engineering books and one that is fiction plus military. I've been thinking about the bookcase in the photo because I need to get rid of all these books.

In the image going clockwise around the bookcase you see on the left some boxes of seldom used engineering books. On top is a tortoise shell dad picked up in the Mojave Desert in the 1950's (He was a field topographer for the USGS). A 1956 California license plate that my brother gave me (I was born in Idaho in 1956) and various family photos. There is a globe and on the far right a bookcase of engineering books.

At the top of the left glass door is a couple of pictures from climbing trips with my son and below that a photo of dad with a transit in Antarctica. In the bottom you can see the flag from dad's service (WW2 USAAF) and a model of the Tiwanaku Gate of the Sun that my daughter and I made - also a pink elephant she made.

The center door has a photo of dad in Antarctica, a death Ride sticker (did that with my son), an old photo of my son, an old photo of my daughter, and a photo of the Sno-Cat dad lived in in Antarctica. The skull is a racoon.

The right door has two photos of some kids I met in Bolivia. Regina Mamane, her little brother Masianseno and their baby sister.

The little dog is Sadie and she has a Lamb Chop toy.

The bookcase came from San Jose State University were I studied and taught engineering from 1975 until 2013. They were throwing the case away so I took it. It was likely built in the woodshop at San Quentin. There were a lot of oak desks and chairs made at San Quinton but they weren't popular with the faculty and staff who seemed to prefer cheap new furniture."

Mistress Harley's bookshelves

"So obviously I'm an adult content producer, not that you'll find anything having to do with my business in my bookshelves. I'm an avid reader of everything from comedic fiction, to comic books, to sociology, history, and religion to name a few.

What I love about my shelves is that they combine everything I love- antique volumes sit next to signed copies of the funniest things I've read, the Histories of Studs Terkel nuzzle up to the Tin Tin comic books of the late 80s.

What most people would never assume about me is that I have a Masters in Library Science, I think my shelves say "Librarian" way more than they say anything else..."

Lois' bookshelves

"Here's a picture of my “bookcase” in my basement office, which is a little unusual. The shelves are on wall brackets and many books are in boxes, because I had a flood in my basement 10 years ago and vowed never to put a book on the floor again. The boxes are because in an emergency they can be easily carried. The shelves were a little long, so I arranged them this way to make them fit. Note that nothing touches the floor!

As far as content, I am a Christian author who writes about the Jewish context of Jesus and the Bible. Some books on that wall are commentaries, some are on Judaism in general, some are Christian authors."

Kay in Tampa's bookcases - updated

"These are actually the bookcases combining my books and my husband's. The left end is (more or less) his non-fiction area, the rest of the non-fiction is pretty much mine. On the right end, almost 100% of the science fiction is his, and the rest of the fiction is mine. I read science fiction, too, but he reads it almost exclusively. Other shelves in the den hold decades worth of paperbacks."
Addendum: updated from 2013...

"We moved house a little over three years ago, and while we still have the white bookcases shown in the photo you reposted recently, they are configured differently and in different areas.
The attached photo is of half the bookcases in our "studio", and the ones on the left represent all the science fiction paperbacks my husband has purchased and read since he switched from comic books at age 14. They are double-depth, and roughly in alpha order by author. This year he decided to re-read his way through Heinlein and we had all but two titles on hand. Thank goodness he switched a few years ago to borrowing from the library.
I started using an app and website called Libib. I've catalogued our entire library with it, so when I'm at a bookstore I can quickly check to make sure an attractive title was not equally attractive in the past and already on our bookshelf."

A "crèche" of Penguins

A portion of the 2000-volume personal library of Karyn Reeves, who writes "A Penguin a Week."  She has an excellent blog; if you share her enthusiasm, there is a Penguin Collectors Society.

And I can't resist contrasting her bookshelves with this stack on a wall (original credit unknown) posted at Book Porn:

These two remarkable walls of books ended my original series of posts about readers' bookshelves. Karyn was not a reader of TYWKIWDBI, but I wanted to pay tribute to her collection [sadly, her blog seems not to be accruing any new posts, though the old ones remain up].

Next I'll post a few new additions to the bookcase series, then move back to the usual non-holiday formatting of the blog.

26 December 2018

Stilt-walking shepherds

As it turns out in the Landes region of France, “not far from Bordeaux”, the use of stilts is a traditional tactic for shepherds, helping them extend “their field of vision to watch their sheep and also to walk on the moor ground in this region,” Anna tells It’s Nice That. “In France, they call the stilts ‘tchangues’, which means ‘big legs’.”

Anna’s chance coming across the postcard led her into researching all the way back to two centuries ago when stilt walking died out “as the planting of forests and draining of marshland changed the terrain,” she explains “but, it is still practised in local folk clubs like the Lous Esquirous”.

Photoessay at It's Nice That.

Does anyone else remember "Fractured Fairy Tales"?

You have to be of a certain age.  YouTube has dozens of them.   (They also have Peabody and Sherman.)

With a tip of the blogging hat to Neatorama.

You can get scientific publications for free

I can vouch for this one.  I used to send out dozens of postcards every week requesting reprints of useful publications, and publishers used to give me a hundred reprints of my journal articles to distribute.  I still have lots of them in my file cabinet; perhaps not surprisingly there was not a huge demand for Early Bacterial Clearance from Murine Lungs: Species-dependent Phagocytic Response (J. Clin. Invest. 66:194-199, 1980).

Alphonsine's bookcases

"I like books and I have always dreamt of having a library. My husband fixed ours up in an attic. Obviously, our books are arranged by topic : detective novels, novels, textbooks, children's books, DIY, etc..." 
Alphonsine blogs at Des noeuds dans mon fil.

Shane's bookcases

This photo shows three of the six book cases in my anti-library. The first is primarily fiction, the second primarily philosophy, and the last being business.

I spend between $200-700 a month on books and donate the ones I don't think I'll need anymore to the local elementary school.

The last book I bought was Why Societies Need Dissent
Shane blogs at Farnam Street.

How to do Christmas

“When I opened that door, one of the kids asked me, ‘Are you Santa?’” school bus driver Curtis Jenkins told KXAS. “Seeing those faces on the kids was more than anything I could ever do with the money.”

According to the outlet, Jenkins has worked for Richardson ISD for seven years and saved money from his paychecks this year in order to buy presents for the [70] students on his daily route. His initial idea was to host a gift exchange, but when his wife Shaneqia pointed out that the kids’s families might not all be able to afford gifts, Jenkins decided to buy each of them what they asked Santa for instead."

President Reagan and "the wall"

The above is bullshit.  Reagan (in 1980 at a presidential primary debate in Houston):

 “There was not any discussion at the senior policy levels during the Reagan administration about fencing or a wall that I can recall,” Doris Meissner, who was executive associate commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Reagan administration, wrote in an email...

In fact, Reagan signed a sweeping immigration reform bill into law in 1986, which made any immigrant who entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty. “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here, even though some time back, they may have entered illegally,” Reagan said during a 1984 presidential debate...

“The memorable thing about Reagan is that he was a Californian,” Meissner said. “He was not anti-immigration.”

Reagan was an advocate of legal migration, and of creating legislation that increased border security by air and land through more agents, surveillance and resources. But a wall or fence was never on the table, at least not in the same way erecting a physical barrier has been proposed by the Trump administration.
Reagan's most frequent mention of any wall was the one in Berlin, and we all know what he said about that one.   I think it's time for me to assemble another "Trump clump."

24 December 2018

Grace in Canada's bookcase

"Though more "assorted stacks" than organized library, the bookshelf closet in my childhood-bedroom-come-study came to mind. Predominately reference books and assorted curiosities it is but one of the many book nooks located around our house."
"Barely visible in the upper left is my favourite in the stash and the only on this shelf that are not reference. Three miniature books of prayer rest under a kitsch figurine of a monkey who sits thoughtfully on a ceramic book with DARWIN inscribed on the spine. The occupied japanese take on Affe mit Schadel by Hugo Rheinhold perhaps?"

Mike and Rayne's bookcases

"My wife and I have wanted a bookcase in our house since we got married, and with the purchase of an old house several years ago, we finally had a place to put one - in, of all places, the kitchen.

We designed the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and they were built by a local Mennonite cabinetmaker who does excellent work. Now we finally have a place to put many (most) of the books we have accumulated through the years.

The bookcase is L-shaped, with a window (and window-seat) in the middle. On the short side are my science fiction (top shelf), fantasy (2nd shelf), non-fiction, textbooks, biographies, and history (3rd-5th shelves), and below that childrens books and toys. On the other side are our "books to read", classics and 2 shelves of cookbooks. 
On the right side of the window are my construction and house repair books (top shelf). The red-covered books on the 2nd shelf are the 11 volumes of The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. Probably the best history books I've ever read.

Most of the rest of those shelves are books of a self-help or religious nature, along with some audio books (including the history series Story of the World - History for the Classical Child) and foreign language courses. Below are my daughters drawing and coloring markers and papers. More craft stuff is in the cabinet."

Kevin's bookcase

"I've got a nice comfy library with 7 built-in bookcases made of maple, a lot of art, and a secret door in a photo niche that leads into a theater. Most of the shelves have modern books. There's a science fiction section, medical/biology, text books, etc. The one above has a lot of 19th century science and engineering books. That's kind of my thing. Another case has other 19th century things like history and literature sets."

23 December 2018

The bookcases of Frenchfarmer & The Shepherdess

"Brown bookcase is really old stuff.

The big brown book lying down is a bible from 1640 something, the row of five at the top is a 1902 dictionary of the bible and three books to the left is a set of the Ordnance Gazeteer of Scotland dated 1883. 
Yellow one is more modern.

Velikovsky, Berlitz (Not too sure about him.), Rennes le Chateau and lots of stuff written in old french and la Langue des Oiseaux (Bit like Cockney rhyming slang but using French puns etc.).

The attic ( Not shown) has loads more from our childhoods etc."
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