31 January 2018

Supercut of the 2018 Academy Award nominees

If you enjoyed that, here are the links for similar compilations for

High-school lockers are so... yesterday

It is a full five months into the school year, and Isabel Echavarria, a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, hasn’t used her locker once. She’s not even sure she has one...

Once the gravitational center of the high school day, lockers long ago lost their allure, and their usefulness seems a relic of an epoch of education that has slipped away... The trend has expanded so rapidly and widely that schools are now removing individual student lockers from their hallways, and builders and designers for many new high schools don’t even include them in their plans...

So, why the change? Anyone with a high schooler in their orbit knows that students now want everything they own with them all of the time. Books, phones, water bottles, headphones, laptops, tablets, snacks, coats, extra shoes...

Lockers are also being left in the dust because schools offer more classes that use online textbooks, or they keep textbooks in the classroom to be shared by students... At Rock Ridge High, also in Ashburn and home to 2,100 students, Principal John Duellman estimates that 90 percent of sophomores, juniors and seniors don’t use their lockers.
More at the Washington Post.

Inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa

It looks like a grain silo.

Via Boing Boing.

Passports may be necessary for some flights within the United States

If certain states do not upgrade their IDs to meet federal requirements.
The nine states are Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington. Each of these states does not currently issue a state ID that lives up to federal ID minimum security requirements, according to the REAL ID Act of 2005. That means these states have about three months to make changes to their state IDs or drivers licenses so that they meet federal government standards. Otherwise, you'll need to apply for or renew a passport—or at the very least, find yours, wherever you stashed it after the last trip—before passing TSA and getting on a commercial airplane to another U.S. city. Other forms of ID that will work are permanent resident cards (green cards) or military IDs.
This story was posted in October and the deadline was in January, which has already passed.  Does anyone know how it was resolved?

"Hereditary" trailer

 Laudatory reviews from Sundance.

28 January 2018


Art installation added to the old escalators at Au Bon Marché, Paris.

Test yourself on world geography

The test, developed by Ghent University, presents you with outlines of two countries.  Your task is to click the (+) and (-) until the bottom entity is the same proportional size to the upper one as they are in real life.

It's a bit challenging, in part because so many of our mental maps distort high-latitude regions.  My results were so-so:

Apparently the set of maps offered varies, so you may get the same pairs I did.  But feel free to post your results in the Comments.  The test is here.

Via Neatorama.

Recognize this mountain?

You've probably seen it a hundred times.

The cussedness of inanimate objects


"I guess my adrenaline took over..."

Kudos to Olson Vacuum in Madison - updated

"They don't make 'em like they used to."

That dictum is often applied to products like small appliances, and it was the mindset we had when our 35-year-old Hoover vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost.  We researched replacements, but this one had worked so well for so long that we agreed that if it could be repaired for less than $100 it would be worth it.

We took it in yesterday to a local company on Odana Road here in Madison.  The young fellow at the desk greeted us, asked a few questions, then put it on his counter and proceeded to take it apart.   That surprised me, since I was expecting to get an approximate cost and an estimated time for how long it would take to order replacement parts for a 35-year-old model.

He found the drive belt that had been totally worn out, had a replacement on hand which he inserted, cleaned a couple dirty parts, put it back together, and we were "good to go."

Elapsed time:  probably 15 minutes
Total cost (parts and labor):  less than $4.00

Awesome.  What a totally pleasant experience.  I'm delighted to use the power of this blog to give public "props" to a first-class business.  If you live within driving distance of Madison and need repairs (or a new vacuum), they are worth a visit.  Here is their website.

Addendum:  See also my comment and one by reader The Weaving One regarding Park Street Shoe Repair -

- at 609 S. Park St.  This is the go-to place for shoe and other leather repair.  They don't have a website.

And... while I'm at it.  On the same street (420 S. Park St.), Wayne's Barber Shop:

Also no cyberpresence - just excellent, inexpensive haircuts while you wait.  :-)

Addendum:  I'm very sorry to report that Park Street Shoe Repair is closing:
Eighty years after his father started the business, Fabian decided to hang up his cobbler’s tools after suffering a broken leg in October — and broken water pipes at the shop during the last cold stretch this winter...

The shop had been an institution in Madison and the old Greenbush neighborhood. Its closing not only means customers will have to find a new place to have their shoes repaired. It also means the collection of longtime friends and neighborhood residents that met in the shop — or outside on a bench along Park Street in warmer months — have to find a new meeting spot to swap stories... “We don’t really have a spot,” he said. “There really aren’t any old neighborhood places left ... where you can drop in.”..

Although Fabian said not as many people get their shoes fixed today, he was able to put all three of his children through college with the money he made repairing footwear.

“I’m very proud that I put three kids through college in this shack,” he said.

This story is "important" only to Dane County residents, but the event is I believe emblematic of a larger problem of the retirement of a cadre of skilled workmen, solo practitioners in their trade who are being replaced by faceless corporations or by a public attitude that products that become faulty should be thrown out and a new one purchased.

I don't know what I'll do the next time the leather upper of one of my hiking boots gets torn.  I certainly have enough $ in my savings to get a new pair of boots, but I would much rather have taken it in to Mr. Fabian to be restitched.

Best wishes to a retiring Madison legend.

Bottom photo credit:

27 January 2018

You can now buy gluten-free water

The BBC offers a perspective on the abuse of the term "gluten-free":
The food labelling craze coupled with banner headlines about the dangers of gluten, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and hormones are leading to increasingly absurd results. For example, you can now buy “premium” water that’s not only free of GMOs and gluten but certified kosher and organic. Never mind that not a single drop of water anywhere contains either property or is altered in any way by those designations...

In my experience as a food economist, such “fake transparency” does nothing to inform consumers about the nature of their foods. Moreover, it can actually decrease well-being when accompanied by a higher price tag...

Since federal regulation requires that hormones not be used in pork or poultry, advertising a chicken breast as “hormone-free” doesn’t make sense – yet doing so allows a company to charge more or help its products stand out from the less-labelled competition.

"Magicum" is not just a Latin word

Of course, it is a Latin word that a few will recognize:


magicus (feminine magica, neuter magicum); first/second declension
  1. magic, magical
But apparently in this modern world it has taken on a new context.
Passion Dust is the first product of it's kind. It is a small sparkleized capsule that dissolves when inserted into the vagina and releases the sweet sparkle that is Passion Dust.  Passion Dust creates what we call "magicum" which is essentially a "flavored orgasm"... Women can use the capsule without intercourse just to experience the visual fun of it. Vaginal discharge is natural so if it has to come out what's wrong with having a pretty sparkly spot rather than a sticky white one?...
More at the link to company's website.  In the Q&A the company dismisses gynecological risks by insisting that it's not dangerous for everyone.  This will not come as pleasant news to those who feel there is already too much glitter in the world.

With a tip of the blogging cap to the elves at No Such Thing As A Fish.

Choir creates a thunderstorm

More about this Los Angeles choir here.

Foam on a river

Everyone is familiar with foam on an ocean beach when wave action is churning the water.  But foam on inland waters is less common, and large amounts of it raise questions about a possible industrial spill or other contamination of the river/lake.

There is another explanation, offered this past week by the meteorologist at our local news channel KWOW (photo credit Jonathan Hefty):
Heavy rain and warmer temps over the past few days are likely to blame for this foamy scene on the Pecatonica River in Blanchardville on Monday.

Because the ground is still frozen, much of Monday’s rain quickly turned into runoff and flowed towards area waterways. In the process, the ground water picked up dead plants, which have been decaying at a quicker rate due to this past weekend’s warm weather. As the plant matter breaks down, it releases fatty acids which, when mixed with water and air causing foam to form.
A quick search revealed a similar reassurance to the public for river foaming in South Bend, Indiana.

You learn something every day.

"Psst. Wanna buy a watch?"

Street art in Long Beach, California.

24 January 2018

Downhill skiing without snow

This past weekend I posted two skiing videos, one of which featured Candide Thovex.  Reader Ayoshe responded by kindly providing a link to this video .

At the end there's a reveal that this was sponsored by Audi -
"In October 2016, ‘Candide Thovex – quattro’ filmed by Simon Favier and directed by Candide won two prizes at the Top/Com Grands Prix Consumer 2016 awards held at the Congrès de la Communication Consumer (Conference on Consumer Communication) in Paris. The competition rewards the best advertisements and advertising campaigns of the year in France in a variety of categories. The film won the best ‘Publicité On Line’ (On Line Advertisement) and the Prix Spécial de l’Expression (Special Prize for Expression)"
- but before that there are four minutes of absolute awesomeness. 

Readers are invited to use the comments to identify the locations used in the filming.  I saw the United States, Iceland, the Peoples Republic of China, Mongolia, Turkey, and I think Namibia.  Others?

And I shouldn't have to remind anyone that videos like this are the reason the fullscreen icon exists on YouTube videos.  Click it during playback.

23 January 2018

A reminder that ancient statuary was often painted

The painting is by Jean-Léon Gérôme - Painting Breathes Life into Sculpture, 1893. 
Although it was initially thought that Greek statues were mostly unadorned white marble, by the early 19th century the systematic excavation of ancient Greek sites brought forth a plethora of sculptures with traces of multicolored surfaces. Some of these traces are still visible to the naked eye even today, though in most examples the remaining color has faded or disappeared entirely once the statues were exposed to light and air. In spite of this overwhelming evidence for painted statues, influential art historians such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann so strongly opposed the idea of painted Greek sculpture that proponents of painted statues were dismissed as eccentrics and their views largely dismissed for several centuries. It wasn't until published findings by German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann in the late 20th century and early 21st century that painted Greek sculptures became an established undeniable fact. Using high intensity lamps, ultraviolet light, special cameras, plaster casts and certain powdered minerals, Brinkmann was able to scientifically prove that the entire Parthenon, including the actual structure as well as the statues, was in fact painted. He furthermore was able to reveal the pigments of the original paint and has created several painted replicas of Greek statues that are currently on tour throughout the world. Also in the collection, are replicas of works from other Greek and Roman sculptures showing that the practice of painting sculpture was wide spread and in fact the normative practice rather than the exception in Greek and Roman culture.
More at the Wikipedia entry.  Image found at Miss Folly, via.

Reposted from 2010 to some text and add two images from BBC Culture:
Even bronze statues would have been much brighter than their dark brown appearance suggests today: bronze acquires a patina over time. What we see as a uniform greenish-brown head would once have been gleaming bright, almost golden. Hair would have been painted dark and the flesh might well have been painted too. The eye sockets of ancient statues are often empty, because the eyes were made separately, and they have been lost over time. There is a magnificent pair of Greek eyes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York [above], made of bronze, marble, quartz and obsidian...

And the Greeks are not the only ones whose statues were painted: the Romans were similarly enthusiastic about brightening up their marble. Paolo Liverani, of the University of Florence, has worked on a project to recreate the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta [below]. The emperor’s statue was discovered in 1863, and showed traces of the paint which once decorated it. A cast of the statue, its polychromy restored (and, in part, imagined), now stands in the Vatican Museum.

And finally this interesting tywk:
Winckelmann was a particular fan of Roman marble copies of Greek bronze statues: the Romans often copied Greek originals in marble. You can tell it is a marble copy of a bronze if a figure is leaning on something: a tree trunk, or a staff, for example. Or perhaps there is a little chunk of marble joining the two legs together.  Marble lacks the tensile strength of bronze, so it requires extra support to keep the figures stable.

"I scream, you scream..."

Via the Funny subreddit.

LIke THIS !!

Via the Eyebleach subreddit (lots of soothing pix there).

Very challenging cryptic puzzle

This was the cryptic in this month's issue of Harper's.  Each of the numbered clues contains two cryptic clues, with no indication of where one ends and the other starts, and with no guidance as to whether the answer goes on the right or left side of the grid.

Trevally vs. tern. Trevally wins.

Yesterday evening I watched the first episode of Blue Planet II.  You read about nature and watch movies and videos for a lifetime and think you've seen it all, and then... wow.

Hey! No problem!

source: an old file folder in my desk, with clippings from 30 years ago.

22 January 2018

"Kanyon" and the North American "Pole of Inaccessibility"

A "pole of inaccessibility" is a location that is most remote from access points.  For continents those poles are at the furthest point from any ocean or sea.  The map above shows the location for North America.
The location of the North American POI was determined to be at the northern section of Bennett County of South Dakota, about 6 km SW from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and 25 km SE from the Badlands National Park.
For the other poles (Eurasia, South America etc) visit the Wikipedia link or this excellent article (whence the map).

The reason I looked this up is that today I learned that the Russians are developing a "doomsday torpedo," dubbed "Kanyon."
Kanyon is reportedly a very long range autonomous underwater vehicle that has a range 6,200 miles, a maximum depth of 3,280 feet, and a speed of 100 knots according to claims in leaked Russian documents.

But what really makes Kanyon nightmare fuel is the drone torpedo's payload: a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon. By way of comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons, or the equivalent of 16,000 tons of TNT. Kanyon’s nuke would be the equivalent of 100,000,000 tons of TNT...

Kanyon is designed to attack coastal areas, destroying cities, naval bases, and ports. The mega-bomb would also generate an artificial tsunami that would surge inland, spreading radioactive contamination with the advancing water. To make matters worse there are reports the warhead is “salted” with the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years...

Kanyon is designed to get around American ballistic missile defenses, primarily the Ground-Based Interceptor missiles based in Alaska and California.
You have to admit this is a fiendishly clever way to bypass the missile defenses.

And since the Kanyon wouldn't be deployed to impact southern Hudson Bay, the pole of inaccessibility would shift more toward Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Hexagonal paper

Via the DesignPorn subreddit.

20 January 2018

Billy Joel - "She's Got a Way"

Two skiing videos

The top one features Candide Thovex.
Candide Thovex (born 22 May 1982) is a French professional skier, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is notable for his creative movies to the sport of freestyle skiing, and professionally has won numerous contests and accolades... He is widely considered to be one of the best freeskiers in the history of the sport.
It's artificial in the sense that several downhill runs have been stitched into one sequence, but my  understanding is that all of the tricks are real, not CGI.

The second is more conventional and arguably more enticing.  Kudos re the choice of Claire de Lune for the musical background.

via Boing Boing.

I recommend clicking the fullscreen icon to view both videos.

Texas judge says God told him defendant not guilty

"A state district judge in Comal County said God told him to intervene in jury deliberations to sway jurors to return a not guilty verdict in the trial of a Buda woman accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex.

Judge Jack Robison apologized to jurors for the interruption, but defended his actions by telling them “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” according to the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels.
The jury went against the judge’s wishes, finding Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person and later sentenced her to 25 years in prison. They found her not guilty of a separate charge of sale or purchase of a child.
Best comment at the Reddit discussion thread:
"Wouldn't it make more sense for God to tell this to the jurors?"

Nice car

It's a Bugatti.  "The Type 57SC Atlantic... 1 of 4 produced and 1 of 3 still known to exist."  Belongs to Ralph Lauren.  Valued at $40 million.  Via the CarPorn subreddit.

More fancy cars at Jalopnik.

A Biblical reference to Minnesota

It's in John 21:3: -

"Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going fishing." They told him, "We are also coming with you." They went out, and entered into the boat.

That night, they caught nothing."

18 January 2018


Photo credit Adrian Pingstone.

(Belongs to a Rhinoceros iguana):

Via Reddit.

Vikings defeat Saints on final play of game

Brief backstory:  In a playoff game to determine which team will continue on to the conference championship game, Minnesota led New Orleans 17-0 at halftime, then fell behind 21-20.  The lead changed hands twice more.  With only 10 seconds left in the game Minnesota trailed 24-23 and were on their own 39-yard-line.

Then this happened...

(o.k. to click on the "Watch on YouTube" link that appears in order to view)

I actually didn't see this live.  I have not watched any sports live since acquiring a DVR (time is too precious to waste on commercial breaks).  Also I share the attitude of Etta in the Butch Cassidy movie ("I love you, but I won't watch you die"). 

For this game I left my desk after halftime to speed-watch the first half, then was back at my desk getting stuff done and occasionally changing tabs to peek at the ESPN summary, when this unexpectedly appeared:

Finally, after half a lifetime, something to replace the memory of the 1975 Roger Staubach-to-Drew Pearson "Hail Mary" pass and the four Super Bowl defeats.

Every picture tells a story

Via the Well That Sucks subreddit.

When you only have a few minutes to live...

... your priorities change.  The graph shows viewership at Pornhub at the time of the (false) nuclear
bomb warning.  Via Boing Boing.

"Blade Runner 2049" compared to the original

17 January 2018

Trump clump #3

(For a background on this type of linkdump, see my introductory paragraphs on Trump clump #1 back in August.  Trump clump #2 was in November.  Here's what I've bookmarked since then.)

As of November: "Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Secret Service reportedly spent $7,470 on golf cart rentals for its agents and the president while at Trump's private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, according to federal purchase orders reviewed by USA Today. In total, the publication reports that the Secret Service has spent $144,975 on golf carts in the 11 months since Trump assumed office. Golfing is such an integral part of Trump’s routine — he's been on 81 trips to golf properties while in office — that the Secret Service had to sign a ongoing contract with Golf Cart & Utility Distributors, a Florida cart rental company, which now amounts to $69,430."

Op-ed from early December: "Donald Trump’s Jerusalem statement is an act of diplomatic arson."

Are you old enough to remember the Talking Heads' video Once in a Lifetime ?  Here it is reconfigured to incorporate Donald Trump:

"On Thursday morning, Melania Trump followed the annual ritual done by all first ladies in the modern era. The @flotus Twitter account posted a photo of herself with President Donald Trump at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii. But the tweet listed the date of the Pearl Harbor Attack as “11/7/1941,” which was a month off."

In December, the editorial board of USA Today took the gloves off:
With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low...

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.  

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.
Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed...

The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.
Trump tweets plotted by time of day as of November:

"In a speech to graduates of the FBI Academy, Trump talked about calling on Congress to end "chain migration" and "visa lottery," and compared legal immigrants to trash."  Informed discussion thread at Boing Boing.

"The glittering 72-story tower on Panama City’s oceanfront is a standout. Shaped like a sail, it was the tallest building in Latin America when it opened in 2011. It also marked the Trump Organization’s first international licensing venture. And, according to a new report from TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch and her colleagues at Global Witness, this particular building, known as the Trump Ocean Club, is a textbook example of how money gleaned through crime and corruption can enter global markets through what look like legitimate deals. Global Witness’ year-long investigation revealed how members of drug cartels and the Russian mafia used real estate in the building to launder money."

“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion,” Trump told the newspaper. “And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.” “There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime,” he continued. “But there’s no collusion.”

Trump tweet: "We are the highest taxed nation in the world."  Krugman rebuttal tweet: "We are, as pointed out many times, lowest-taxed major advanced nation.  Repetition of this lie shows contempt for the intelligence of the public." 

Trump often cites the rise in the stock market as validation of his presidency.  The Washington Post provides some perspective:

Harper's "Weekly Review" for the end of December offered a scathing summary of recent events.

In January, some reminders re accusations that the Mueller investigation is a Democratic "witch-hunt":  Robert Mueller is a registered Republican, first appointed to a federal position by Ronald Reagan, recently appointed as a Special Counsel by a Republican Deputy Attorney General nominated by a Republican president.

The Atlantic considered this "the most irresponsible tweet in history"
"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
"Stand back, everyone.  Stable genius at work":

An article in The Atlantic in January asked "Is there something neurologically wrong with Donald Trump?" - "Viewers of Trump’s recent speeches have begun noticing minor abnormalities in his movements. In November, he used his free hand to steady a small Fiji bottle as he brought it to his mouth [pix at the link]... Then there was an incident of slurred speech [video at the link].. Trump has exhibited a “clear reduction in linguistic sophistication over time” with “simpler word choices and sentence structure.”

A sample Trump day goes like this: "On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11 a.m. He then has "Executive Time" for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it's another 1 hour 15 minutes of "Executive Time" followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of "Executive Time" before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45 p.m. meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15 p.m."

One suggestion on how to pay for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.

Donald Trump tried to sue Macmillan, publishers of the new Fire and Fury book.  The CEO ("We cannot stand silent. We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court") and the company's outside counsel responded: "...your attempt to use private contracts to act as a blanket restriction on members of the government speaking to the press is a perversion of contract law and a gross violation of the First Amendment. No court would support such an attempt to silence public servants and the press."  With an interesting comment thread at Boing Boing.

Trump's new ambassador the the Netherlands discovered that he couldn't bullshit Dutch reporters:
“If you are truly an honest and wise man,” another journalist asked, “would you please take back the remark about burned politicians — or name a politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” When Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands but raised in Michigan as a staunch social conservative, called for another question, two reporters asked him, “Why don’t you answer the question?” Another told the former member of U.S. Congress, “This is the Netherlands; you have to answer questions.”

Meanwhile" John Feeley, the U.S. ambassador to Panama, has written and submitted a letter of resignation, saying he is leaving the office on principle and no longer feels comfortable serving in the Trump administration."

In response to Donald Trump's comments demeaning some foreign nations, the San Francisco Federal Building was recently illuminated at night.

And finally, last night a special election for the Wisconsin state legislature yielded some surprising results with possible implications for the mid-term elections coming this November:
A month after deep-red Alabama voted for a Democratic senator, a deep-red Wisconsin district rejected a Republican candidate for a state Senate seat.

Patty Schachtner picked up 55 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow. She credited the win to her message: "Be kind, be considerate and we need to help people when they're down," she told the Associated Press. She said that "negative mailings" against her from third-party groups likely influenced voters to rally around her.  Schachtner's win is sending alarm bells off in Republican circles, as the district has traditionally been a Republican stronghold. It was carried by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election — even though he lost Wisconsin overall, as well as by Donald Trump (by a 55-38 margin) during the 2016 presidential election...
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called the loss "a wake-up call for Republicans.

Top photo via Reddit Pics.  "Stable genius" here. Bottom one also via Reddit

I frankly don't enjoy writing these posts, but they seem to be cathartic.  I'll minimize Trump mentions in the blog for the next three months or so, and then do another purge.

The comments are closed for this post, because the comment thread would not be a forum for rational discussion, so lets move on to more interesting matters. 

14 January 2018

Divertimento #144

Bet you can't guess what kind of creature this is in the first ten seconds.  (pine trees in foreground the best clue).

In ten seconds this gentleman illustrates all you need to know about black ice.

Recreation in Rotorua (click the fullscreen icon)

Spinning triple-kick.

Sibling prank.

Illustrating a lack of situational awareness.

Graphic illustration of Pythagorean theorem.

Sandbag-filling machine.

Flying with your family.

Gaussian distribution.

That thing on your leg is called a jumping cactus.  I'll get it off for you.

Office velociraptor.

Tiled access panel.

Trampoline fun.

Incorporating a shadow into graphic design.

Failure to factor in backward movement of the chair.

I wouldn't be eager to eat this pizza, but he's fun to watch.

Australian driver pulls to the side of the road?


Child discovers antigravity.

Child loves his Christmas present.

Hearing-impaired girl learns she's going to become a big sister.

The pure joy of stacking blocks.

Shoveling snow on the deck :-)

Toddler and kitten.

Cats, dogs and other animals.

Nope.  Nope.

Lovin' the beach.

Likes the view.

Making a snow angel.

Carpet snake!!!

Get a cat, they said.  It'll be fun, they said.

Group snuggle.

Shower for a pet bird.

Ski dog totally loves his job.

Rooster hurries to meet his little girl.

If this is a quick brown fox, what does that make her?

Not much time to blog today (very important football game this afternoon); perhaps I'll add pix later.  Gotta go.


Superb example of countershading on a Southern right whale dolphin

Photo source.

13 January 2018

Optimal car routes

Not of any practical use, but quite interesting in and of itself.

Via the Data Is Beautiful subreddit.

The rivers of Wales

Via the Map Porn subreddit.

"Water transfer painting"

TMI (14 minutes), so you'll need to skip through the video.  The technique facilitates the transfer of detailed images onto complex surfaces.  Interesting.

Computer-generated waterfall images

In case you were curious what an "arm vagina" is

From an op-ed in The Guardian:
It’s hard for women to keep track of which specific body part is currently being shamed to death, when it seems to be open season on all of them. But even by the demented standards of female self-flagellation, the emergence of “arm vagina” – aka the slight fold of flesh created where the average arm meets the average body – is a low point.

If you’re reading this in a public place and unable immediately to check whether you have arm vagina, then let me help; you almost certainly do. Everyone does. It’s basically a normal human armpit, which tends to involve some spare capacity in the flesh department, what with it being difficult to raise your arm otherwise.

But in Hollywood, having a freakishly fat-free underarm, as taut and smooth as a plastic Barbie doll’s, is apparently the new goal...

From size zero to the “thigh gap”, or having legs so stick thin they don’t touch in the middle, today’s freaky A-list neurosis so easily becomes tomorrow’s fitness blogger’s goal, and next week’s impossible aspiration for your daughter. This stuff is infectious, and it stops being a frivolous issue when over half of British teenage girls say they’re unhappy with their looks, and when a smaller but still heartbreaking number feel driven to starve and punish the flesh that they have begun to see as repulsive.

Somehow we need to get across to girls that this is bonkers, unreal, insane: twisted norms that have nothing to do with their own lives or with the boys they will encounter...
Sample pic here.

Fifteen children age 17 or under

 And what's truly remarkable is that none of them were multiples -

The New York Times story said the father won a prize.  Seems the prize should have been awarded to the mother.

Reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch.

Via BoingBoing.

12 January 2018

I wish Earth had rings

Stay with the video past the 1 minute mark to see how the rings would look from the surface.

Reposted from 2012 because it's still a cool video (I hadn't thought about the rings lighting up the nighttime sky).  It's low-res but still looks pretty good in the fullscreen mode.

Dramatic ice deposits on Mars

The slope rises as high as London's Big Ben tower. Beneath its ruddy layer of dirt is a sheet of ice 300 feet thick that gives the landscape a blue-black hue... Planetary scientists located eight of these geological features, called scarps, on the Red Planet...

Open University's Matt Balme, a planetary scientist in Britain who did not participate in this study, said the key findings were the color images of a bluish tint. That indicates a sub-layer that is “somehow compositionally different” than the red dirt. It is unlikely that the frozen sheets are a mix of water and soil. “If the conclusions of the paper are correct,” he said, “you’re looking at something that's almost pure ice.”

The scarps exist along the planet's middle latitudes, ruling out glaciers that migrated from the poles. The study authors propose that these ice sheets formed when thick snows blanketed Mars.
More at The Washington Post.

Pigs vs. dogs as truffle-hunters

"According to the few truffle hunters I’ve talked to, sows are actually better truffle hunters than dogs, but dogs can be more easily trained not to eat the truffle they find. Prodan told me the reason for porcine superiority is that the truffle contains the steroidal pheromone androstenone, which also happens to be produced in the saliva of male pigs. Thus, female pigs, particularly when they’re in heat, go hog-wild when they pick up the scent of a truffle."
More at the BBC.

Introducing the "pelican spider"

As explained by Smithsonian:
Formally known as Archaeids, the creatures are perhaps best described by their common name: “pelican spiders.” Each spider in this group boasts an extended, arching carapace and two extra-long mouthparts (called chelicerae), creating the illusion of a “neck” and “beak.” The resemblance to pelicans is uncanny.
They live in Madagascar and eat other spiders.  And as the "Archaeid" family name suggests, this is an ancient lineage, probably dating back 180 million years to before Madagascar was an island.  More at the link.

09 January 2018

Divertimento #143

I let my boyfriend choose a shower curtain and now we have this.

A list of the longest plays in NFL history.  In 2016 the longest was 141 yards run by Odell Beckham on a 4-yard punt return.   There is also a list of the fastest ball carriers.  And the longest tackles and fastest sacks.

A lake trout caught in Lake Superior is at least 46 years old.  "... the fish has been tagged eight times in the past four decades."  It was tagged again and released.

"Mikayla Holmgren made history this weekend when she became the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, and as far as pageant officials know, the first in the country."

A brief anecdote about interacting with small children.

"Police say two people were accidentally shot at a church in Tellico Plains Thursday afternoon during a discussion about the recent church shooting in Texas."

Airless bicycle tires.

"A pair of Queensland paramedics made a detour to the beach for a palliative care patient who wanted to see the ocean again. The unidentified patient was being transported to the palliative care unit of a local hospital when she mentioned her desire to see the beach. The paramedics decided to take a detour to the hospital, propping the patient up in the stretcher so she could see the ocean stretching out from  Hervey Bay."

Fire pit made from an old clothes washing machine.

"Between 1,200 to 1,400 calls are made every year to the [Mackinac] bridge's Drivers Assistance Program that provides motorists with a crew member to drive them across if they're too afraid to drive themselves."

Coyote climbs a tree to eat the fruit.

Mind-boggling photos of landfills.

"Calculated destruction" as a police tactic.

"A pair of amateur explorers in Canada have found a vast underground passage stretching hundreds of metres underneath the bustling streets of Montreal whose formation dates back more than 15,000 years ago to the Earth’s last ice age."

A dog and an orphaned fawn grooming each other.

Extremely well-camouflaged snow leopard.

How Scott Walker and the Republican party are dismantling environmental regulations in Wisconsin for the sake of an industrial development by Foxconn.  "Foxconn can fill in wetlands that are regulated by the state, change the course of streams, even build in a stream running through the property if it wants to. In addition, the plant will use potentially polluting chemicals to manufacture an array of super-high-definition display panels. Yet no environmental impact statement will be required by state officials for one of the largest economic development projects in U.S. history."

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (Japanese "fail-video" game program) overdubbed a la MST3K. 

"The US Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid program requires any student applying for federal aid for college or university to turn over an enormous amount of compromising personal information, including current and previous addresses, driver's license numbers, Green Card numbers, marital details, drug convictions, educational history, tax return details, total cash/savings/checking balances, net worth of all investments, child support received, veterans' benefits, children's details, homelessness status, parents details including SSNs, and much, much more. If you have the Social Security Number, data of birth, and full name of anyone who's applied for college grants or loans, you can then feed it into the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website and it will show you all this data."

Lake Chad is "The World's Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster" (a longread to spoil your day).

Most people by now have heard about the conundrum posed by the "Do Not Resuscitate" tattoo,

Rex Tillerson "was a debacle, pure and simple, the worst Secretary of State in living memory (and there has been serious competition) not because of ineptitude, but because of the semi-intentional demolition job he was doing on his own department even as he fell out of presidential favor."

It is now possible to transplant vascularized lymph nodes to treat lymphedema.

"Enough Is Enough. We Need to Elect More Scientists to Congress."

"Yet perhaps the greatest thing in this scene [the singing of La Marseillaise in Casablanca] is that most of the people in it weren’t actors at all; rather, director Michael Curtiz filled the scene with actual French refugees. Keep in mind, this movie came out in 1942 and was filmed at the height of World War II, at a time when Germany looked nearly unbeatable and Nazi occupation of France was indefinite. And here was a group of refugees from that occupation, given the chance to sing their anthem with defiant pride. For one brief moment, this wasn’t a movie. It was real life, and it was tragic, and it was brave. Reports have said that extras were crying on set during filming, and the passion is evident any time you look past the main actors to the background singers."

The images in today's linkdump come from a review at Collector's Weekly of match holders and match safes (see also here).
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