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.


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).

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."

21 December 2018

John Paul Sartre and his crabs

Jean Paul Sartre’s fame was still several years ahead of him; he was then in his late twenties and employed as an unpublished and unknown philosophy teacher. At the time Sartre was writing a book on the imagination and he hoped that [mescaline] would induce hallucinations that would give him a new insight into his research. However, his lifelong companion and fellow philosopher Simone de Beauvoir reported later that the plan may have succeeded all too well…
During the midst of his trip Sartre had received a phone call from de Beauvoir; a phone call that had apparently rescued him from a desperate battle with scrambled lobsters, octopuses and other grimacing sea-life. To Sartre ordinary objects had begun to change their shape grotesquely: umbrellas were deforming into vultures, shoes were turning into skeletons, and faces looked absolutely ‘monstrous’. All the while, behind him, just past the corner of his eye was the constant threat of the terrifying deep water dwellers. Yet, despite these horrible hallucinations (that seem rather uncharacteristic of the mescaline experience), by the following day Sartre had apparently recovered completely, referring to the experience with ‘cheerful detachment.’

However, in a later interview with John Gerassi, Sartre noted that in the days following his Mescaline trip he ended up having a nervous breakdown:
after I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time. They followed me in the streets, into class. I got used to them. I would wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, my little ones, how did you sleep?” I would talk to them all the time. I would say, “O.K., guys, we’re going into class now, so we have to be still and quiet,” and they would be there, around my desk, absolutely still, until the bell rang. 
The funny thing about Sartre’s crabs and lobsters was that there were generally only 3 or 4 of them, and he was always totally aware that they were merely figments of his imagination.
The rest of the story is at Blue Labyrinths.  With a tip of the hat to Anna and the other QI elves at No Such Thing As A Fish.

Image credit.

50-mile-wide lake of frozen water on Mars

Amazing photo.  I've been rewatching Carl Sagan's legendary Cosmos programs; last night by coincidence I watched his program about Mars, with his bubbling enthusiasm over the recently-acquired images of the surface of Mars taken by the Viking spacecraft.   Now, about 20 years after his death, this...
The stunning Korolev crater in the northern lowlands of Mars is filled with ice all year round owing to a trapped layer of cold Martian air that keeps the water frozen.

The 50-mile-wide crater contains 530 cubic miles of water ice, as much as Great Bear Lake in northern Canada, and in the centre of the crater the ice is more than a mile thick.

Images beamed back from the red planet show that the lip around the impact crater rises high above the surrounding plain. When thin Martian air then passes over the crater, it becomes trapped and cools to form an insulating layer that prevents the ice from melting.

Please remain calm...

In this brief video, a White House spokesman explains that people should not be concerned about the sudden resignation of Defense Secretary General Mattis following the departure of the Chief of Staff and the impending prolonged government shutdown and bear market for stocks.

20 December 2018

"The game with no aim"

But it does have a name:  Sandspiel.

At the link you can read the "info" if you want, or just start clicking.  Choose a dot to select the size of the elements you want to insert.  Then click on the element and then on the drawing space.  There is a "freeze-frame" in the upper left if the lava or exploding gas get out of hand.

With a tip of the blogging hat to Miss Cellania, who always finds and posts the best flash games at Neatorama.

Juul explained

This week I found a comprehensive review of Juul and vaping at Vox.  Herewith some excerpts:
E-cigarettes have quietly eclipsed cigarette smoking among adolescents. The possibility of another generation getting hooked on nicotine is a nightmare scenario health regulators are scrambling to avoid.

No device right now is as worrisome as the Juul — because of both its explosion in popularity and the unusually heavy dose of nicotine it delivers. In 2017, the e-cigarette market expanded by 40 percent, to $1.16 billion, with a lot of that growth driven by Juul...

While school administrators like Kenny are glad that cigarette smoke is disappearing from campuses, they’re concerned that students don’t understand the risks of using the Juul. What sets it apart from other e-cigarettes is that it hits the body with a tobacco cigarette-worthy dose of nicotine. We don’t know if Juul is more addictive than regular cigarettes, but it’s certainly possible that teens getting into
Juul now may be wading into a lifelong habit...

But the FDA, under Gottlieb, also delayed the compliance deadline for the regulation of e-cigarettes until 2022. This gave e-cigarette manufacturers who had products on the market before 2016, including Juul Labs, a free pass when it came to filing public health and marketing applications before selling in the US...

... they designed an e-cigarette that could easily be mistaken for a USB flash drive — and can fit in the palm of the hand. The Juul has two components: the e-cigarette, which holds the battery and temperature regulation system; and the “pod,” which contains e-liquid — made up of nicotine, glycerol and propylene glycol, benzoic acid, and flavorants — and is inserted into the end of the e-cigarette device. Pods come in a variety of colors and flavors, from cucumber to creme brûlée, mango, and tobacco. Juul’s “starter kit,” the e-cigarette, USB charger, and four flavor pods, sells for about $50. 

When you insert the pod into its cartridge and inhale through a mouthpiece on the end of the Juul, the device vaporizes the liquid. When the device runs out of power, you can connect it to your computer via a USB charger for a reboot...

But the biggest appeal for David is how discreet the device is. “You can essentially Juul wherever without drawing much attention.”  For Stewart, the student at Providence College, it’s also the flavors. “If they had bland flavors, then not as many people would [Juul].”

Each pod contains 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid. Juul claims one pod is equal to a pack of cigarettes in terms of nicotine, but tobacco experts told me the precise equivalency is difficult to determine because not all the nicotine released in cigarette smoke is inhaled, and some is trapped in the filter. Juul also contains three times the nicotine levels permitted in the European Union, which is why it can’t be sold there. 
There's more information at the Vox article.

Forced perspective

As used in the filming of the movie ElfVia.

19 December 2018

'Tis the season...

... for a lesson about money.
"From my experience, the people with the least give the most of what they have."

18 December 2018

Theo Jansen's Strandbeests (kinetic sculptures)

Via within the crainium.

Reposted from 2011 to add this remarkable new video:

And here's some good news for readers searching for gifts for children or spouses who have an engineering bent:  model strandbeests are available as kits, and can be propelled by a human breath.

Movies of 2018

A list of the movies used is available at the YouTube link, but I wish makers of mashups would consider just microprinting the source at the bottom corner.

Children starving to death by the thousands in Yemen

More than 85,000 children may have died of hunger since Saudi Arabia intervened in the war in Yemen three years ago, according to Save the Children, an international NGO. 

“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen.

With only a few hospitals still operational, the nongovernmental organization says that the human toll of the conflict cannot be fully captured by simply relying on official numbers. Instead, the charity used historical mortality rates and United Nations data on Yemeni malnutrition to estimate that more than 25,000, or 20 to 30 percent of all acutely malnourished children, have died every year since April 2015. The estimates, the NGO said, may still be lower than the actual number of deaths.
More at the Washington Post.

The 1963 Lincoln had "suicide doors" - updated

A "suicide door" is the slang term for an automobile door hinged at its rear rather than the front. Such doors were originally used on horse-drawn carriages, but are rarely found on modern vehicles, primarily because of safety concerns. 
Popularized in the custom car trade, the term is avoided by major automobile manufacturers in favor of alternatives such as "coach doors" (Rolls-Royce) [above], "FlexDoors" (Opel), "freestyle doors" (Mazda), "rear access doors" (Saturn), and "rear-hinged doors" (preferred technical term) Suicide doors were common on cars manufactured in the first half of the 20th century.
The nickname is mainly due to the design's propensity to seriously injure anyone exiting or entering the offside of the car if the door is hit by a passing vehicle. Also, in the era before seat belts, the accidental opening of such doors meant that there was a greater risk of falling out of the vehicle compared to front-hinged doors, where airflow pushed the doors closed rather than opening them further. Suicide doors were especially popular with mobsters in the gangster era of the 1930s, supposedly owing to the ease of pushing passengers out of moving vehicles, according to Dave Brownell, the former editor of Hemmings Motor News.
More at Wikipedia.   I've lost the source of the photos many years ago; I collected them after discovering the internet decades ago but before starting this blog, so didn't document the credits.  Just cleaning out some old "Lincoln" material today.

Reposted from about a year ago because Lincoln is "bringing back" suicide doors:
Lincoln brought back the Continental name two years ago and now it's resurrecting a feature that’s commonly known by a name it would prefer you don’t use.  To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the model, Lincoln is offering a limited run of 80 Coach Door Edition Continentals for 2019 equipped with what are colloquially known as “suicide doors.”

16 December 2018


Most reports of bleeding in the eyes refer to cases of subconjunctival hemorrhage.  This report, from the archives of the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first I've seen with frank external bleeding.
A 52-year-old man presented to the emergency department with painless, bloody tears from both eyes. The bleeding had begun spontaneously approximately 2 hours earlier, had lasted a few minutes, and had recurred just before presentation. He reported no orbital, ocular, or nasal trauma and no history of bloody tears, epistaxis, gingival bleeding, or easy bruising. He was taking captopril for mild hypertension, and his blood pressure at examination was normal. The clinical examination revealed slight conjunctival hyperemia without periorbital or palpebral edema. The patient had normal vision and extraocular movements. The bloody appearance of the tears stopped spontaneously within 1 hour after presentation. Slit-lamp examination revealed hemangiomas on the inside of both eyelids. Hemolacria is a rare condition that is characterized by the presence of blood in the tears. Bleeding associated with tears can occur in the context of infection, inflammation, or trauma to the eye or surrounding structures, vascular tumors of the eye or surrounding structures, or retrograde epistaxis. For the eyelid hemangiomas, the patient began using timolol ophthalmic drops. At 1 year of follow-up, the patient had had no further episodes of bloody tears.
Other cases have been reported to be factitious disorders or Munchausen by proxy episodes.

The year in pornography

Pornhub, a Canadian website, is the largest pornography site on the internet.  For the past six years they have been publishing an annual summary of the data at the website (visitors, search terms etc).  Their 2018 Year In Review includes about 40-50 graphs and tables (all safe for work)


A backdraft can occur when a compartment fire has little or no ventilation, leading to slowing of gas-phase combustion (due to the lack of oxygen); however, the combustible fuel gases (unburnt fuel vapor and gas-phase combustion intermediates such as hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide) and smoke (primarily particulate matter) remain at a temperature hotter than the auto-ignition temperature of the fuel mixture. If oxygen is then re-introduced to the compartment, e.g. by opening a door or window to a closed room, combustion will restart, often rapidly, as the gases are heated by the combustion and expand rapidly because of the rapidly increasing temperature. 
Nobody was killed during this incident.

15 December 2018

Award-winning travel photography

The Guardian has posted a gallery of about a dozen winning entries in their annual travel photography competition.  This was the winner in the "single image, faces, people, or culture" category.

Wolves fishing at Voyageurs National Park

In another stunning revelation of wolf behavior from northern Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, researchers Thursday announced they have confirmed park wolves hunting for and eating fish out of streams as a regular part of their diet.

The researchers released the first-ever video of wolves eating freshwater fish, and said GPS data shows one pack spent about half their time during several weeks in April and May “hunting” in creeks for spawning suckers and northern pike...

Wolves are known to eat spawning salmon in coastal British Columbia and Alaska, but wolves hunting freshwater fish has not been described in detail before. 

Peachtree, Georgia runs on golf carts

Stick with the story at least until you see the parking lot at the local high school.

13 December 2018

Canada is sparsely populated

This visualization may be slightly distorted by the projection for the map, but the point would still be valid.  Canada has about the same area as the United States, but only 1/10 the population.  And "Toronto is not a particularly dense city. A study released earlier this year ranked Toronto 19th out of 30 major cities in high-income countries in terms of density. It's not even the densest city in Canada, with Vancouver and Montreal both packing more people in per square mile."

Map via the dataisbeautiful subreddit.

Not as robust as you might think

This photo of "a dog who just had a cast removed" was posted to start a" Photoshop battle."  There were some clever creations, but I'm posting the photo as a reminder to myself and others that animals are not always as sturdy as they might appear.  Anyone who has seen a sheep sheared (or a wet cat or bird) knows that underneath all that fur or feathers or fat are some remarkably gracile bones.
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