31 August 2020

Stained glass window

 By Neile Cooper.

Sleep paralysis in an Ernest Hemingway story

In "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," Ernest Hemingway describes the impending death of a hunter suffering from a gangrenous leg (boldface emphasis mine):
Because, just then, death had come and rested its head on the foot of the cot and he could smell its breath.

"Never believe any of that about a scythe and a skull," he told her. "It can be two bicycle policemen as easily, or be a bird. Or it can have a wide snout like a hyena."

It had moved up on him now, but it had no shape any more. It simply occupied space.

"Tell it to go away."

It did not go away but moved a little closer.

"You've got a hell of a breath," he told it. "You stinking bastard."

It moved up closer to him still and now he could not speak to it, and when it saw he could not speak it came a little closer, and now he tried to send it away without speaking, but it moved in on him so its weight was all upon his chest, and while it crouched there and he could not move or speak, he heard the woman say, "Bwana is asleep now. Take the cot up very gently and carry it into the tent."

He could not speak to tell her to make it go away and it crouched now, heavier, so he could not breathe. And then, while they lifted the cot, suddenly it was all right and the weight went from his chest.
This is a superb description of the phenomenon of sleep paralysis (the paralysis, the muteness, the chest pressure, the dyspnea, and the cessation when the victim is touched or moved), so vivid and precise that I have no doubt that Hemingway must have experienced it himself (his lifestyle would have been compatible with a high risk for the syndrome).

Back when I was active in academia, I developed a special interest and expertise in sleep paralysis, and had visions of someday publishing a book on its portrayal in literature and folklore.  That seems unlikely now, but since I have file boxes full of information, perhaps I can incorporate some of that material into posts for this blog.

Fulltext of Hemingway's story.

Reposted from 2013 (has it really been that long?) to add some new information about Hemingway.  In a recently-published book, a psychiatrist argues that Hemingway may have suffered from chronic traumatic enchephalopathy - the disorder that has been in the news because of its association with professional football and other contact sports.
The psychiatrist from High Point University in North Carolina wrote of nine serious blows to Hemingway's head — from explosions to a plane crash — that were a prelude to his decline into abusive rages, "paranoia with specific and elaborate delusions" and his suicide in 1961.

Hemingway's bizarre behavior in his latter years (he rehearsed his death by gunshot in front of dinner guests, for example) has been blamed on iron deficiency, bipolar disorder, attention-seeking and any number of other problems.

After researching the writer's letters, books and hospital visits, Farah said he is convinced that Hemingway had dementia — made worse by alcoholism and other maladies, but dominated by CTE, the improper treatment of which likely hastened his death. "He truly is a textbook case," Farah said.
Farah dates Hemingway's first known concussion to World War I, several years before he wrote his short story, "The Battler." A bomb exploded about three feet from his teenage frame.

Another likely concussion came in 1928, when Hemingway yanked what he thought was a toilet chain and brought a skylight crashing down on him.

Then came a car accident in London — then more injuries as a reporter during World War II, when an antitank gun blew Hemingway into a ditch.
The rest of the story is at the StarTribune.

Image harvested from the 1936 Esquire publication of the story.

Reposted form 2017 to add this photo of Dendrosenecio kilimanjari, a giant groundsel that grows atop Mt. Kilimanjaro:

"Modern monetary theory" - updated with explanatory video

This concept is counterintuitive, and totally new to me.
Modern Monetary Theory is an economic philosophy based on the idea that all state spending is "deficit" spending, since money comes into existence when the government spends it, and when the government raises taxes, it does so in order to take that money out of existence, both in order to control inflation and to limit the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy.
The corollaries of this are many, but the two standout ones are:
1. The government can create money to buy any good or service that the private sector isn't using without driving inflation (that is, if there's someone unemployed and the government gives them a job, that won't drive up wages because the private sector had already passed on using their labor, so the supply/demand ratio of labor to private jobs remains constant), offering full employment to everyone who wants to work; and
2. The government can create money to buy goods and services that the private sector is currently using without creating inflation, provided it can convince people not to spend that money -- for example, by creating "war bonds" that sequester the vast sums that get pumped into the economy during wartime, to prevent the workers who receive those sums from bidding against the materials that are being used in munitions factories.
These two facts are central to the Green New Deal, which proposes using a combination of a federal jobs guarantee and federal procurements of the materials needed for a sustainable energy conversion and climate change remediation to avert the climate crisis. 
The BoingBoing source for the excerpt above includes a nine-minute video of an academic lecture on the subject which is well worth watching [edited and condensed from probably a one-hour lecture].  The key concept is that the federal budget cannot be compared to a household budget; deficit spending and borrowing work differently when the entity issues the currency.

A Thorough Defense of Modern Monetary Theory
Economists worry that MMT is winning the Argument in Washington
Addendum:  For an outstanding longread on this subject, see Explain Like I'm Five: Functional Finance, written by TYWKIWDBI reader escapefromWisconsin.

Addendum:  This BBC video offers an excellent five-minute summary of the principles involved.

"Government spending is currently growing at an unprecedented rate to deal with the effects of the global pandemic. Many people worry that this could burden future generations with a crippling debt to repay. However, economist Stephanie Kelton, author of The Deficit Myth, argues that we need to rethink our attitudes towards government spending. Could the principles of Modern Monetary Theory help us not only navigate our way out of this crisis but also to build a fairer economy?"


"A rastrum (or raster) is a five-pointed writing implement used in music manuscripts to draw parallel staff lines when drawn horizontally across a blank piece of sheet music. The word "raster" is derived from the Latin for "rake". Rastra were used to draw lines on paper that had not been pre-ruled, and were widely used in Europe until printed staff paper became cheap and common in the nineteenth century. Some rastra are able to draw more than one staff at a time."

"Who by fire?"

YouTube link.

Last night I watched American Animals, a sort of true-crime docudrama about four inept students who try to steal rare books from a university library.  I'm not going to review the movie, but I did want to feature the bit of soundtrack in the clip embedded above.

This was the penultimate song, accompanying the apprehension of the students by teams of FBI agents.  As I watched the movie, this song sounded medieval, like a chant by monks or witches.  It was unfamiliar to me, and I had to search the lyrics online:
And who by fire, who by water
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial
Who in your merry merry month of May, who by very slow decay
And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt
And who by avalanche, who by powder
Who for his greed, who for his hunger
And who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident
Who in solitude, who in this mirror
Who by his lady's command, who by his own hand
Who in mortal chains, who in power
And who shall I say is calling?
The song is by Leonard Cohen, who explained it as follows:
"The melody on which this next song is based I first heard when I was four or five years old, in the synagogue, on the Day of Atonement, standing beside my tall uncles in their black suits. It¹s a liturgical prayer that talks about the way in which you can quit this vale of tears. It’s according to a tradition, an ancient tradition that on a certain day of the year, the Book of Life is opened, and in it is inscribed the names of all those who will live and all those who will die, who by fire, who by water…"

Reposted from 2019 to add salient information about current politics: 

Following the Trump campaign’s use of a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during the fireworks portion of the Republican National Convention Thursday night, the Cohen estate issued a statement criticizing the unauthorized use of the oft-covered classic. “We are exploring our legal options,” the estate warned on Friday.

“We are surprised and dismayed that the RNC would proceed knowing that the Cohen Estate had specifically declined the RNC’s use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah,’ one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue,” said Michelle L. Rice, legal representative of the Cohen Estate.

Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker,’ for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”

Egregiously bad, but typical, behavior.  And Mother Jones asks "Do Republicans know 'Hallelujah' is about sex?"

"Well there was a time when you let me know 
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
and the holy dove was moving too
and every breath we drew was hallelujah."

School supplies

Via Miss Cellania, where you can also see a kitchen miracle.

28 August 2020

Language in Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel"

A disappointing reread of a classic work that captivated me in my late teens, when I eagerly consumed this and You Can't Go Home Again and The Web and the Rock and Of Time and the River.  Coming back to this as an adult, I found Wolfe's mastery of the language to be overshadowed by the tedious storyline of an endlessly squabbling dysfunctional family.  But so many new words and new uses of words I pretty much quit listing them halfway through the book [I'll come back later when I have more time, to fill in the definitions and etymologies - just wanted to post this now and get the book returned to the library]:

"... the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock..."  A protective bodily substance, perhaps referring to the complement system.

"... the big angel with the carved stipe of lily stalk..."  The stem of a plant, trunk of a tree, from the Latin for a branch.

"... she liked to take her time, and came to the point after interminable divagations down all the lane ends of memory..."  From the Latin to stray off-course, incoherent wandering speech.

"... when he was drunk, her white pursed face, and all the slow octopal movements of her temper, stirred him to red madness."  Octopus-like.

"With her desperate sadness she encysted herself within her house and her family..."  Obvious in context, but the first time I've seen it used outside of parasitology.

"... as he heard the bell ringing itself to sleep, jerking the slatting rope about in its dying echoes."  Violent shaking of anything hanging loose in the wind, from the use of slat as a verb to mean strike.

"There were two beds; he exulted in his unaccustomed occupancy of an entire mattress, dreaming of the day of manlike privacy.  But Eliza did not allow this often: he was riven into her flesh."  I need help with this one, because to me riven means torn apart.  But I did find an archaic use of rive "to pierce."

"Lichenfels laughed gently, coughed - his wife was full of swart rich laughter."  Dark, swarthy.  From the Middle English and likely related to German schwartz.

"Will and Pett gave a heavy set of carving steels.  'I hope you always have something to use them on,' said Will, flensing his hand, and winking at Joe Gambell."  I have only ever seen this word used in reference to stripping blubber from a whale, a la Moby Dick.   Not sure what such a hand motion might be.

"... eating in vast halls upon an immense creamy table from vessels of old silver - eating strange fabulous foods - swelling unctuous paps of a fat pregnant sow, oiled mushrooms, calvered salmon, jugged hare, the beards of barbels dressed with an exquisite and poignant sauce, carps' tongues, dormice and camels' heels..."

"The prison walls of self had closed entirely round him; he was walled completely by the esemplastic power of his imagination..."

"... bringing him a plate of sandwiches and a tall glass full of clabber, which he had never tasted before."

"None of them looked Jewish: they all had a soft dark fluescence of appearance... Fluescent with smooth ripe curves, the drawling virgins of the South filled summer porches."

"... he would summons her by ringing out the number he had given her on the courthouse bell."

"His body as it sickened distilled a green bile of hatred against her crescent health."

"And all the wordy pinwheels of the clowns, which Margaret laughed at dutifully, and exhibited as specimens of the master's swingeing wit..."

"... with a grimace of itching nervousness while he scaled stubbily at the flaky tetter of his hand."

"Oh, boy, you are fine.  There is no atom in you that is not fine.  A glory and a chrism of bright genius rest upon you.  God bless you: the world is yours."

"Eugene spoke to her with timid hauteur."

"The wasting helve of the moon rode into heaven over the bulk of the hills."

"He lighted a cigarette, watching its red glowing suspiration in the mirror..."

"His association with Elk Duncan was one of the proud summits of his life: he weltered in the purple calcium which bathed that worthy..."

"The leaves were out in a tender green blur: the quilled jonquil spouted from the rich black earth..."

And a couple longer passages that speak for themselves:
"Yes, and the exciting smell of chalk and varnished desks; the smell of heavy bread sandwiches of cold fried meat and butter; the smell of new leather in a saddler's shop, or of a worn leather chair; of honey and of unground coffee; of barrelled sweet pickles and cheese and all the fragrant compost of the grocer's; the smell of stored apples in the cellar, and of orchard-apple smells, of pressed cider pulp; of pears ripening on a sunny shelf, and of ripe cherries stewing with sugar on hot stoves before preserving ; the smell of whittled wood, of all young lumber, of sawdust and shavings; of peaches stuck with cloves and pickled in brandy; of pine sap, and green pine needles; of a horse's pared hoof; of chestnuts roasting, of bowls of nuts and raisins; of hot cracklin', and of young roast pork; of butter and cinnamon melting on hot candied yams..." [this continues for four similar paragraphs in Chapter 8]

"This rooting up of his life, this adventure into new lands, the effort to improve his fortune and his state, was his wedding gift to his wife - a bold one, but imperilled already by distrust, fear, and his peasant suspicion of new scenes, new faces, new departures, of any life that differed from that of his village.  "There's no place like Henderson," said he, with complacent and annoying fidelity, referring to that haven of enervation, red clay, ignorance, slander, and superstition, in whose effluent rays he had been reared." [chapter 12]

"I am, he thought, a part of all that I have touched and that has touched me, which, having for me no existence save that which I gave to it, became other than itself by being mixed with what I then was, and is now still otherwise, having fused with what I now am, which is itself a cumulation of what I have been becoming.  Why here?  Why there?  Why now?  Why then?" [one of my favorite passages, and a fair exposition of a sort of butterfly effect and the interdependence of all things]

"“Come up into the hills, O my young love. Return! O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again, as first I knew you in the timeless valley, where we shall feel ourselves anew, bedded on magic in the month of June. There was a place where all the sun went glistening in your hair, and from the hill we could have put a finger on a star. Where is the day that melted into one rich noise? Where the music of your flesh, the rhyme of your teeth, the dainty languor of your legs, your small firm arms, your slender fingers, to be bitten like an apple, and the little cherry-teats of your white breasts? And where are all the tiny wires of finespun maidenhair? Quick are the mouths of earth, and quick the teeth that fed upon this loveliness. You who were made for music, will hear music no more: in your dark house the winds are silent. Ghost, ghost, come back from that marriage that we did not foresee, return not into life, but into magic, where we have never died, into the enchanted wood, where we still lie, strewn on the grass. Come up into the hills, O my young love: return. O lost, and by the wind grieved ghost, come back again.” [perhaps the iconic quotation from this novel]

A moving performance

Most unusual video of the year so far.  Not dancers per se; these are professional acrobats.

p.s. - I'm not "back to blogging" officially yet.  It's more like when you take a staycation at home but make a quick run back to the office to see what's going on.

Climate change in Minnesota is altering the forests

Excerpts from an interesting longread at the Washington Post:
Birds from southern Minnesota are now popping up far north in Ely, on the edge of the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Splashes of red maple leaves are now visible each fall amid the pines and spruces of the iconic North Woods, where they once would have been harder to find.

Frelich, the director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Forest Ecology, thinks that if the state's warming trend remains unchecked, such subtle changes will become starker and more devastating in the decades ahead. He thinks the boreal forests that soak up huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could disappear entirely, taking with them a third of the state's native species of trees, flowers, birds and pollinators.

In an extreme scenario, he has warned, prairie land could expand across much of Minnesota by 2100, upending everything from the timber industry to tourism to the state’s very identity...

Minnesota is home to a landscape like none other in the United States. It has the boreal forests to the north, with their stately conifers and the moose and lynx that roam them; temperate forests in the middle, dominated by deciduous trees such as oak and maple; and prairie stretching to the south and west.

But rising temperatures are altering those boundaries...

Palik pointed out bitternut hickory from southern Minnesota and Illinois. Black cherry and white oak, whose historical range has been 100 miles or more to the south. Ponderosa pine from Nebraska and South Dakota.

What is becoming clearer over time is that the nonnative trees from warmer, drier climates are largely thriving here...
This resonates with me because the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota is my favorite stomping ground for summer vacations.  The article details studies being done by forestry professionals and interventions they are testing to ameliorate the anticipated changes in the climate.

Record high water temperatures in the Great Lakes

 It's not just the Caribbean that's getting hot.  The data above from July; I've not seen data for August, when the temps normally cycle to their annual peak.  Local residents are happy; so are the algae.  The fish, not so much.

Time lapse video of plants growing

The Kenosha shooter meets the police

I presume everyone has seen this by now but I'll post it for archival purposes.  The Kenosha police are responding to a civil disturbance with a report of shots fired.  A young (white) man walks toward them from the scene of the gunfire with a rifle dangling from his shoulder.  Bystanders yell at the police that he is the shooter or assassin.  He is not stopped/confronted/taken down by the police.

Comments closed.

26 August 2020

"Jet lightning"

While watching and photographing this year's Perseid Meteor Shower, something unexpected happened: a gigantic jet erupted from a nearby cloud. The whole thing was over in a flash -- it lasted less than a second -- but was fortunately captured by an already-recording digital camera. Gigantic jets are a rare form of lightning recognized formally only a few years ago. The featured high resolution color image, taken near the peak of Shikengkong mountain in China, may be the best image yet of this unusual phenomenon. The same event appears to have been captured simultaneously by another photographer, further away. The gigantic jet appears to start somewhere in a nearby thundercloud and extend upwards towards Earth's ionosphere. The nature of gigantic jets and their possible association with other types of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) such as blue jets and red sprites remains an active topic of research. 
I have never heard of this before.  You learn something every day.  With a hat tip to the Crazy Cat Lady.

Reposted from 2016 to add this photo of a red sprite:

"Rare red sprite lightning captured by Stephen Hummel from the McDonald Observatory in Texas. It's estimated to be 30 miles tall."
Some discussion at the via.

The downside of a tungsten wedding ring

The result of dropping it on the floor.  Tungsten carbide is difficult to cut, but brittle on impact.  (the distracting rust spots on the floor in the photo are irrelevant)

This is a "flow" beehive - updated

"It's the beekeepers dream, turn a tap right on your beehive and watch pure fresh honey flow right out of your Flow™ hive and into your Jar! No mess no fuss and the bees are hardly disturbed."
Very interesting.  

Reposted from 2015 to add this photo of an "indoor" beehive -

Via Reddit, where the snarky comments are headed by "break glass to cause emergency."

The first couple hours (EVER) of MTV

With ads.  And some very young musicians.

The playlist, courtesy of reader Mat:

The Buggles - "Video Killed the Radio Star"
Pat Benatar - "You Better Run"
Rod Stewart - "She Won't Dance with Me"
The Who - "You Better You Bet"
PH.D. - "Little Suzie's On the Up"
Cliff Richard - "We Don't Talk Anymore"
The Pretenders - "Brass in Pocket"
Todd Rundgren - "Time Heals"
REO Speedwagon - "Take It On the Run" (live version, interrupted with technical issues)
STYX - "Rockin' Paradise"
Robin Lane & The Chartbusters - "When Things Go Wrong"
Split Enz - "History Never Repeats"
38 Special - "Hold On Loosely"
April Wine - "Just Between You & Me"
Rod Stewart - "Sailing"
Iron Maiden - "Iron Maiden"
REO Speedwagon - "Keep On Loving You"
Michael Johnson - "Bluer than Blue"
The Pretenders - "Message of Love"
Lee Ritenour - "Mr. Briefcase"
The Cars - "Double Life"
Phil Collins - "In the Air Tonight"
Robert Palmer - "Looking for Clues"
Shoes - "Too Late"
Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty - "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
Rod Stewart - "Do You Think I'm Sexy" (interrupted by technical issues)
Rupert Hine - "Surface Tension"
Slip Enz - "One Step Ahead"
Gerry Rafferty - "Baker Street"
Pat Benatar - "I'm Gonna Follow You"
Tom Johnson - "Savannah Nights"
Various Artists featuring Paul McCartney - "Lucille"
Styx - "The Best of Times"
Carly Simon - "Vengeance" (cuts off early)
The Silencers - "Illegal" (partial)
Juice Newton - "Angel of the Morning"
Rock Pile featuring Robert Plant - "Little Sister"

How to play "Dots and Boxes"

"Two players take turns joining two horizontally or vertically adjacent dots by a line. The player who completes the fourth side of a square (i.e., a box) puts his or her initials inside and gets another turn. When all of the dots have been made into boxes, the player with the most boxes wins."

Amazon's problem with counterfeit products

From YouShouldKnow:
"Anecdotally, the problem is getting severe. I used to buy all my household basics on Amazon (shampoo, toothpaste, etc), and I've gotten a very high rate of fake products over the past 2 years or so, specifically. 
Most recently, I bought a bottle of shampoo that seemed really odd and gave me a pretty serious rash on my scalp. I contacted the manufacturer, and they confirmed it was a fake. Amazon will offer to give your money back if you send it back, but that's all the protection you have as a buyer
Since I started noticing this issue, I've gotten counterfeit batteries, counterfeit shampoo, and counterfeit guitar strings, and they were all sold by Amazon.com. It got so bad that I completely stopped using Amazon. 
The bigger question is "what the hell is going on?" This didn't seem to be a problem, say, 5 years ago. I started looking into why this was the case, and I found a pretty clear answer: commingled inventory.
Basically, it works like this:
  • As we know, Amazon has third-party sellers that have their products fulfilled by Amazon.
  • These sellers send in their products to be stored at an Amazon warehouse
  • When a buyer buys that item, Amazon will ship the products directly to buyers.
Sounds straight-forward enough, right? Here's the problem, though: Amazon treats all items with the same SKU as identical
So, let's say I am a third-party seller on Amazon, and I am selling Crest Toothpaste. I send 100 tubes of Crest Toothpaste to Amazon for Amazon fulfillment, and then 100 tubes are listed by me on Amazon. The problem is that my tubes of Crest aren't entered into the system as "SolitaryEgg's Storefront Crest Toothpaste," they are just entered as "Crest Toothpaste" and thrown into a bin with all the other crest toothpaste. Even the main "sold by Amazon.com" stock. 
You can see why this is not good. If you go and buy something from Amazon, you'll be sent a product that literally anyone could've sent in. It's basically become a big flea market with no accountability, and even Amazon themselves don't keep track of who sent in what. It doesn't matter if you buy it directly from Amazon, or a third party seller with 5 star reviews, or a third party seller with 1 star reviews. Regardless, someone (or a robot) at the warehouse is going to go to the Crest Toothpaste bin, grab a random one, and send it to you. And it could've come from anywhere. 
This is especially bad because it doesn't just allow for counterfeit items, it actively encourages it. If I'm a shady dude, I can send in a bunch of fake crest toothpaste. I get credit for those items and can sell them on Amazon. Then when someone buys it from me, my customer will probably get a legitimate tube that some other seller (or Amazon themselves) sent in. My fake tubes will just get lost in the mix, and if someone notices it's fake, some other poor seller will likely get the bad review/return. 
I started looking around Amazon's reviews, and almost every product has some % of people complaining about counterfeit products, or products where the safety seal was removed and re-added. It's not everyone of course, but it seems like some % of people get fake products pretty much across the board, from vitamins to lotions to toothpastes and everything else. Seriously, go check any household product right now and read the 1-star reviews, and I guarantee you you'll find photos of fake products, items with needle-punctures in the safety seals, etc etc. It's rampant. Now, sure, some of these people might be lying, but I doubt they all are. 
In the end, this "commingled inventory" has created a pretty serious counterfeit problem on amazon, and it can actually be a really really serious problem if you're buying vitamins, household cleaners, personal hygiene products, etc. And there is literally nothing you can do about it, because commingled inventory also means that "sold by amazon" and seller reviews are completely meaningless."
Discussion thread.


Not a hornet.  A moth.  A lunar hornet moth.  Endemic to the UK and preyed upon by magpies and great tits, suggesting that the attempt at Batesian mimicry might be backfiring if the birds have figured it out.

Image cropped for size from the one at the via.


A new acronym for "Men Going Their Own Way."
The views of MGTOW are indeed unorthodox, even within the sprawling web of groups, lifestyles and cults known as the “manosphere”, where women-haters mobilise against a supposed gynocratic conspiracy. While incels plot violent revenge on women, and pickup artists (PUAs) deploy predatory tactics to “game” women into having sex with them, the men of the MGTOW attempt to eschew relationships with women altogether. They are, literally, going their own way. Far, far away from any women. At all... 
But this isn’t an obscure internet cul-de-sac; mgtow.com alone has almost 33,000 members. Its forums (“for men only”) contain conversations on more than 50,000 topics, with more than 790,000 replies, which range from advice on divorcing as cheaply as possible to lurid stories about women who have found particularly inventive ways to murder their husbands. The site also lists 25 video channels; between them, these have more than 730,000 followers, and their videos have been viewed a total of 130m times. 
Women are essentially portrayed as parasites riding on the coattails of men, who have, throughout history, been responsible for “far greater miracles of science, discovery and human endeavour”. By shaking women off, it is explained, men will be free to pursue ever higher achievements... 
MGTOW (pronounced “mig-tau” by adherents) are unlikely to meet in person, instead sharing their techniques, successes and failures online. Throughout the manosphere, it is common to see members expressing paranoia about “normies” who could be out to expose them, often leading to forum users accusing each other of being moles or spies. Nowhere is this fear more prevalent than among MGTOW, with any suggestion of meeting in real life usually receiving a swift and scornful rebuttal... 
MGTOW resemble men’s rights activists (MRAs) more than incels or PUAs. Both groups believe that women pose an immediate threat to all men. MRAs believe that women are so unfaithful and untruthful that they often force men to raise other men’s children, thus financially “cuckolding” them. MGTOW believe that women are extremely likely to make false accusations of sexual or domestic violence, in order to damage men socially, steal their money or even have them jailed... 
It is easy to write off MGTOW as a weird group of goofy celibates. Yet it has, in some ways, quietly penetrated mainstream culture more successfully than any other segment of the manosphere. 
The woman-shunning has even penetrated as far as the White House, where the vice-president, Mike Pence, spawned what is now known as the Pence Rule after he remarked that he would never eat a meal alone with a woman who is not his wife
Reporting on such an idea might have once been seen as inflammatory or biased, requiring careful and robust presentation of opposing arguments. But, as soon as it was attached to Pence, it became respectable fodder for widespread coverage.
More at The Guardian article, which is an extract from a book on this subject.

It even rang the doorbell !!

A message from the Republicans

19 August 2020

18 August 2020


A prolonged dry spell in August, and the front yard has turned brown except for a portion that has been shaded by this crabapple tree on one side and the pines on the other.

When I was younger, a similar course of events would result in my father sending me out with a tangle of garden hoses and sprinklers that had to be moved every which way every hour or two to get the lawn green again (except for one sprinkler that was designed to creep along its own hose).

Now as an adult I realize that it's o.k. to let a lawn enter a dormant state during prolonged dry spells.  It will revive with the application of water after several weeks of seeming death.  It's unattractive in some people's eyes, and I note a somewhat checkerboard pattern in our subdivision, with alternating brownish and greenish lawns.

All of which is a roundabout way of explaining that TYWKIWDBI is also going to enter a dormant state for a week or two.  The blog will revive with the application of some enthusiasm after that time period.  In previous years I've used these summer doldrums to travel, but in this alternate reality we currently occupy, I'm planning to tend to other home and personal matters. 

I might get up enough enthusiasm for a few linkdumps to clean out old bookmarks.  Otherwise, it's siesta time.  Bye for now.

Blasian parents at their daughter's wedding

The word was new to me; I was misreading it as "bi-asian" rather than the portmanteau "black-asian" term it is.  Perhaps a common term in Australia, where the wedding took place.

Closeup of the parents in their traditional dress.  More photos at NextShark.

This.........is worth.........................listening.........to

A brief segment from last week's episode of This American Life.  I can't seem to find an embed for the blog (the sharing seems to be for social media only).

The segment entitled "Time Bandit" is 24 minutes in length; if you don't have that much time, try the first seven or eight minutes.  It's worth a listen.  Trust me.


That doesn't seem to work.  Try this link(Image cropped for size)

The subject matter of the video gains increased relevance in view of a recent article describing Joe Biden's stutter -
Detroit was Biden’s chance to regain control of the narrative. And then something else happened. The candidates were talking about health care. At first, Biden sounded strong, confident, presidential: “My plan makes a limit of co-pay to be One. Thousand. Dollars. Because we—”
He stopped. He pinched his eyes closed. He lifted his hands and thrust them forward, as if trying to pull the missing sound from his mouth. “We f-f-f-f-further support—” He opened his eyes. “The uh-uh-uh-uh—” His chin dipped toward his chest. “The-uh, the ability to buy into the Obamacare plan.” Biden also stumbled when trying to say immune system. 
Fox News edited these moments into a mini montage. Stifling laughter, the host Steve Hilton narrated: “As the right words struggled to make that perilous journey from Joe Biden’s brain to Joe Biden’s mouth, half the time he just seemed to give up with this somewhat tragic and limp admission of defeat. 
Several days later, Biden’s team got back in touch with me. One of his aides gingerly asked whether I’d noticed the former vice president stutter during the debate. .. 
In Biden’s office, the first time I bring up his current stuttering, he asks me whether I’ve seen The King’s Speech. He speaks almost mystically about the award-winning 2010 film. “When King George VI, when he stood up in 1939, everyone knew he stuttered, and they knew what courage it took for him to stand up at that stadium and try to speak—and it gave them courage … I could feel that. It was that sinking feeling, like—oh my God, I remember how you felt. You feel like, I don’t know … almost like you’re being sucked into a black hole.”.. 
In addition to periodically stuttering or blocking on certain sounds, he appears to intentionally not stutter by switching to an alternative word—a technique called “circumlocution”—­which can yield mangled syntax. I’ve been following practically everything he’s said for months now, and sometimes what is quickly characterized as a memory lapse is indeed a stutter. As Eric Jackson, the speech pathologist, pointed out to me, during a town hall in August Biden briefly blocked on Obama, before quickly subbing in my boss. The headlines after the event? “Biden Forgets Obama’s Name.” Other times when Biden fudges a detail or loses his train of thought, it seems unrelated to stuttering, like he’s just making a mistake. The kind of mistake other candidates make too, though less frequently than he does.
I admit to having misunderstood some of Biden's known speaking errors as signs of possible dementia.  I stand corrected.

The King's Speech, btw, is a superb movie.

17 August 2020

Impressive "eyes"

The Himalayan griffon vulture has false "eyes" created by its plumage.  Via.

Some butterflies also sport false eyes, like this Buckeye (although his pattern did not deter several bird strikes).

A thousand years old and still standing

Not the tower.  The Saxon church.  The Roman tower next to it is 2,000 years old.   (I'm an American, so this degree of antiquity never ceases to amaze me.)

Iota carrageenan depletes alveolar macrophages in vivo

I'm just going to leave this here for now.  It's a board from my poster presentation at the ATS meeting in 1983.  It will be of no interest or relevance to any readers here, but I do use this blog to store some personal memorabilia, and this will allow me to toss out the old posterboard as part of my downsizing.

Lifehack for chairs rolling on carpet

"Instead of buying those cheap plastic chair mats, I bought a box of laminate flooring planks and put them together. Took less than 10 minutes and feels sturdy. Chair rolls so smooth."

Image cropped for size from the original.

Perhaps "Shakespeare" was a woman

There are lots of reasons to doubt that "the Stratford man" was the poet and author of the Shakespeare canon.   Old-time readers here know that I favor Edward deVere, the sixteenth Earl of Oxford, as the "true author," but this week I read a very interesting article in The Atlantic presenting evidence in favor of a woman.  Herewith some excerpts:
“One would think that he had been Metamorphosed from a Man to a Woman,” wrote Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century philosopher and playwright. The critic John Ruskin said, “Shakespeare has no heroes—he has only heroines.” A striking number of those heroines refuse to obey rules. At least 10 defy their fathers, bucking betrothals they don’t like to find their own paths to love. Eight disguise themselves as men, outwitting patriarchal controls—more gender-swapping than can be found in the work of any previous English playwright. Six lead armies...

A tantalizing nudge lies buried in the writings of Gabriel Harvey, a well-known Elizabethan literary critic. In 1593, he referred cryptically to an “excellent Gentlewoman” who had written three sonnets and a comedy. “I dare not Particularise her Description,” he wrote, even as he heaped praise on her.
All her conceits are illuminate with the light of Reason; all her speeches beautified with the grace of Affability … In her mind there appeareth a certain heavenly Logic; in her tongue & pen a divine Rhetoric … I dare undertake with warrant, whatsoever she writeth must needs remain an immortal work, and will leave, in the activest world, an eternal memory of the silliest vermin that she should vouchsafe to grace with her beautiful and allective style, as ingenious as elegant.
Who was this woman writing “immortal work” in the same year that Shakespeare’s name first appeared in print, on the poem “Venus and Adonis,” a scandalous parody of masculine seduction tales (in which the woman forces herself on the man)? Harvey’s tribute is extraordinary, yet orthodox Shakespeareans and anti-Stratfordians alike have almost entirely ignored it...

Their doubt is rooted in an empirical conundrum. Shakespeare’s life is remarkably well documented, by the standards of the period—yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer. The more than 70 documents that exist show him as an actor, a shareholder in a theater company, a moneylender, and a property investor. They show that he dodged taxes, was fined for hoarding grain during a shortage, pursued petty lawsuits, and was subject to a restraining order. The profile is remarkably coherent, adding up to a mercenary impresario of the Renaissance entertainment industry. What’s missing is any sign that he wrote.  No such void exists for other major writers of the period...

By contrast, more than a few of Shakespeare’s contemporaries are on record suggesting that his name got affixed to work that wasn’t his...

The authorship puzzles don’t end there. How did the man born in Stratford acquire the wide-ranging knowledge on display in the plays—of the Elizabethan court, as well as of multiple languages, the law, astronomy, music, the military, and foreign lands, especially northern Italian cities? The author’s linguistic brilliance shines in words and sayings imported from foreign vocabularies, but Shakespeare wasn’t educated past the age of 13. Perhaps he traveled, joined the army, worked as a tutor, or all three, scholars have proposed. Yet no proof exists of any of those experiences, despite, as the Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper pointed out in an essay, “the greatest battery of organized research that has ever been directed upon a single person.”..

Hudson first learned of Bassano from A. L. Rowse, who discovered mention of her in the notebooks of an Elizabethan physician and astrologer named Simon Forman. In her teens, she became the mistress of Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the master of court entertainment and patron of Shakespeare’s acting company. And that is only the start. Whether or not Bassano was Shakespeare’s lover (scholars now dismiss Rowse’s claim), the discernible contours of her biography supply what the available material about Shakespeare’s life doesn’t: circumstantial evidence of opportunities to acquire an impressive expanse of knowledge.

Bassano lived, Hudson points out, “an existence on the boundaries of many different social worlds,” encompassing the breadth of the Shakespeare canon: its coarse, low-class references and its intimate knowledge of the court; its Italian sources and its Jewish allusions; its music and its feminism. And her imprint, as Hudson reads the plays, extends over a long period. He notes the many uses of her name, citing several early on—for instance, an Emilia in The Comedy of Errors. (Emilia, the most common female name in the plays alongside Katherine, wasn’t used in the 16th century by any other English playwright in an original work.***) Titus Andronicus features a character named Bassianus, which was the original Roman name of Bassano del Grappa, her family’s hometown before their move to Venice. Later, in The Merchant of Venice, the romantic hero is a Venetian named Bassanio, an indication that the author perhaps knew of the Bassanos’ connection to Venice. (Bassanio is a spelling of their name in some records.)

Further on, in Othello, another Emilia appears—Iago’s wife. Her famous speech against abusive husbands, Hudson notes, doesn’t show up until 1623, in the First Folio, included among lines that hadn’t appeared in an earlier version (lines that Stratfordians assume—without any proof—were written before Shakespeare’s death). Bassano was still alive, and by then had known her share of hardship at the hands of men. More to the point, she had already spoken out, in her 1611 book of poetry, against men who “do like vipers deface the wombs wherein they were bred.”..

Prodded by Hudson, you can discern traces of Bassano’s own life trajectory in particular works across the canon. In All’s Well That Ends Well, a lowborn girl lives with a dowager countess and a general named Bertram. When Bassano’s father, Baptista, died in 1576, Emilia, then 7, was taken in by Susan Bertie, the dowager countess of Kent. The countess’s brother, Peregrine Bertie, was—like the fictional Bertram—a celebrated general. In the play, the countess tells how a father “famous … in his profession” left “his sole child … bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that her education promises.” Bassano received a remarkable humanist education with the countess. In her book of poetry, she praised her guardian as “the Mistris of my youth, / The noble guide of my ungovern’d dayes.”

As for the celebrated general, Hudson seizes on the possibility that Bassano’s ears, and perhaps eyes, were opened by Peregrine Bertie as well. In 1582, Bertie was named ambassador to Denmark by the queen and sent to the court at Elsinore—the setting of Hamlet. Records show that the trip included state dinners with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, whose names appear in the play. Because emissaries from the same two families later visited the English court, the trip isn’t decisive, but another encounter is telling: Bertie met with the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose astronomical theories influenced the play. Was Bassano (then just entering her teens) on the trip? Bertie was accompanied by a “whole traine,” but only the names of important gentlemen are recorded. In any case, Hudson argues, she would have heard tales on his return.

Later, as the mistress of Henry Carey (43 years her senior), Bassano gained access to more than the theater world. Carey, the queen’s cousin, held various legal and military positions. Bassano was “favoured much of her Majesty and of many noblemen,” the physician Forman noted, indicating the kind of extensive aristocratic associations that only vague guesswork can accord to Shakespeare. His company didn’t perform at court until Christmas of 1594, after several of the plays informed by courtly life had already been written. Shakespeare’s history plays, concerned as they are with the interactions of the governing class, presume an insider perspective on aristocratic life. Yet mere court performances wouldn’t have enabled such familiarity, and no trace exists of Shakespeare’s presence in any upper-class household.
I'm always reluctant to copy too much from primary sources, but my intention is to prompt you to read more at the original.

Shark brain vs. dolphin brain

Via - and to answer your question, dolphin brain vs. human brain.

16 August 2020

Summarize your life in six words

That is the premise of a book published by the editors of Smith magazine. I had heard the book discussed on the BBC one morning and had to wait months to get it from our library, but it was worth the wait - a delightful read. The editors/authors asked famous and ordinary people to sum up their lives in exactly six words. The results range from humorous to clever to sardonic to frankly poignant. Herewith some of my favorites:

Followed yellow brick road. Disappointment ensued.
I thought I was someone else.
Wanted world, got world plus lupus.
Tragical childhood can lead to wisdom.
I recognize red flags faster, now.
Nothing profound, I just sat around.
Found true love, married someone else.
Macular degeneration. Didn’t see that coming.
As a child, nomadic. Now static.
No words can describe my life.
Afraid of becoming like my mother.
Two boys, my life, conquering autism.
Lost and found, rescued by dog.
Can’t tonight, watching Law and Order.
My life’s a bunch of almosts.
Thought I would have more impact.
At the end of normal street.
Found great happiness in insignificant details.
Still lost on road less traveled.
Everyone who loved me is dead.
The car accident changed my life.
No wife, No kids. No problem.
Boys liked her. She preferred books.
Never really finished anything, except cake.
Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.
I fell far from the tree.
Alone at home, cat on lap.
Educated too much, lived too little.
Full life; impossible to summarize in…
My second grade teacher was right.
Became my mother. Please shoot me.
Can’t read all the time. Bummer.
I wrote a poem. Nobody cared.
Working with what God gave me.
Same mistakes. Over and over again.
Still trying to impress my dad.
So devastated, no babies for me.
Thank God the suicide attempt failed.
Made labor-saving software: thousands unemployed.
Unfortunately, there was no other way.
Expected prime rib. Ended with hamburger.
Father, son, both hit by cars.
Veni, Vidi, but haven’t vici yet.
I came, I saw, I concurred.
Dead mom watching. I’ll be good.
Type A personality. Type B capability.
Carries flask for unsociable social events.
Polio gave me my happy life.
Loved home. Left to make sure.
There will be no beautiful corpse.

The book is “Not Quite What I Was Planning; Six-word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.” From Smith magazine (edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith).

Addendum:  Found this 2008 post while searching for something else; decided it was worth a bump to the front page.

Reposted from 2011 for the same reason.  Readers feel free to summarize you life in six words in a comment.

Dorothea Lange's foot

I had forgotten that Dorothea Lange was a polio survivor.
I think [polio] was the most important thing that happened to me, and formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me, and humiliated me. All those things at once —Dorothea Lange
Photo found in the Dorothea Lange Digital Archive, which appears to be selective rather than comprehensive.

15 August 2020

"The Hectics" (Indian band, 1959)

You know the lead singer.

Ain't it the truth...

College freshman exam (1964)

God only knows why I ever saved this.  Now it goes into the wastebasket.  But first it gets shared on TYWKIWDBI.  I think this was printed with a mimeograph.  [hat tip to reader Smurfswacker for pointing out that this was printed on a "ditto" machine]

Feel free to comment (but... "brief and to the point.")

14 August 2020

Let's visit a farmers' market

Direct-to-customer sales are as old as farms.  My earliest relevant memories go back to the 1960s, when my family would take a different route home from church in the summer in order to visit a roadside stand and buy corn-on-the-cob for 60c/dozen, plus little baskets of tomatoes and cucumbers.

Nowadays local governments facilitate the process by setting up locations, typically in the parking lots of large urban or suburban malls. 

The one closest to me is set up under a pavilion that provides shade.  Local farmers back their trucks up and sell off the tailgate or provided tables.

As you enter, a sign provides guidelines for optimizing personal and community health.  Interestingly, although our governor's mandatory mask order only applies to indoor venues, and although this pavilion is wide open to fresh air, I was pleased to note that everyone I saw (vendors and customers alike) were masked.

The traditional offerings are fresh veggies, but it is typical to find vendors with fresh baked goods, cheeses, honeys, canned goods, eggs... even goat meat.

The veggies will be the star of the show - hand-picked, washed, inspected, and stacked neatly.  The difference from a standard large-chain grocery store is striking.

And finally, some non-food items, such as gourmet dog biscuits, soaps, handicrafts, and of course flowers.

If you don't know where your local ones are, just type "farmers market" into Google Maps.  Doing so yields 17 hits within a 15-minute drive from my home.  Try it for yourself.

"Senza di te"

An Italian cover of Badfinger's classic "Without You," featured in a movie I enjoyed watching yesterday evening.  The Farewell is adapted from a story I first heard in a segment of This American Life; the movie has a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is well worth an evening's viewing.

13 August 2020

Phyllotactic defect in corn kernels - updated

Kernels on a cob of corn, showing an interesting phyllotactic defect where regular columns of kernels suddenly make a checkerboard pattern and then revert to columns again.
Yesterday we got our first fresh sweet corn from the local farmers' market, and like the one illustrated above, it was the bicolor variety, which we favor.

As soon as corn is picked from the stalk, the natural sugars begin to convert to starch, so people who buy days-old corn from grocery store bins never learn how great it can taste. You should buy it from a farmer who has picked it that morning; even better is to pick it yourself in the field and run (don't walk) with it to the kitchen where you have the water already boiling or the microwave already preset.

In 1965 my second paid summer job (after a disastrous effort to sell woolen clothes door-to-door in July) was at the Green Giant packing plant in Le Sueur, Minnesota, where I lubricated the cookers and watched the line for dented cans coming out of the canning machine. We worked 12-hour shifts at minimum wage (and no work/no pay on rainy days if the trucks couldn't get into the field), but once a week they would bring a truckload of corn, dump it into garbage cans into which steam was fed, and provided tubs of butter...

Photo credit: Stephen W. Morris' Flickr photostream, via Suddenly.

Reposted from 2009 (!) to add some information about the above-mentioned summer job, because yesterday I found some stuff while sorting through old memorabilia. 

My prior summer job had been an effort to sell woolen clothing door-to-door in June.  It was commission-only, and I had earned $5 the first week but had spent $5.50 parking my car downtown.  My dad was a traveling salesman, so I couldn't work for him.  My mother opined that when she was growing up (1920s), her older brothers worked seasonally for Green Giant, so she called the factory and scheduled an interview for me, then drove me down.

The personnel office apparently took one look at me and realized I was not going to do well on a field crew, but they offered me a job in the processing plant.  I had zero relevant skills, so they offered me an entry-level position in the room with the cooker machines, which I thought was better than nothing.

The processing plant (now demolished) was in the heart of the town, so mom drove me around and found a house with a "room for rent" sign within walking distance, at a reasonable price ($6 per week), with IIRC a hot plate provided in the room.  She told me she'd be back when the summer was over.

The plant ran two 12-hour shifts, so I rotated each week from one to the other.  But the length of the shift varied according to the availability of material (corn or peas) to be processed.  If rain precluded getting equipment into the field, you didn't work - and didn't get paid.  This was my work schedule for the month of July:

Some rainout days, some short-shift (4-5 hour) days, some long ones (10-12).  For the months of July and August I worked 427 hours in 50 days, so it actually averaged 8 hours/day.

The work was not physically demanding, but it was mind-numbingly tedious.  I was paired with an elderly man, and we were responsible for the cooker machines - huge cylinders into which a conveyor belt brought a steady stream of filled cans, the contents of which got cooked as the can moved through the machine.

The first part of the job was to grease the equipment.  I learned how to fill a grease gun and where all the nipples were on all the cookers; that was simple but sweaty work in the summertime leaning over and reaching under hot steel.

The other part of the job was to watch the conveyor belt for defective cans.  Corn and peas arrived at the plant and went by conveyor to the upper floor where they were husked or shelled and distributed into cans.  The last step involved stamping a lid onto the can.  If something went wrong, the can (or a series of them) would wrinkle or crumple.  If one of those cans entered the cooking machine, it could jam. 

So the old man and I spent 4-12 hours per day looking at the conveyor belt.  If a bent can appeared, you had to run across the plant floor and up a ladder and grab the can and throw it out onto the floor.  I was impressed by how agile this elderly (tho probably younger than I am now) man was in that regard.

But if there were no problems, you stared at that line of moving cans constantly.  I used that time to compose a Broadway musical in my head broadly based on the recently-popular "Oliver."  And the endless tedium was a not-really-necessary stimulus to me to apply myself in my college courses to seek a different career.

In the years that followed I occasionally looked back at my pay stubs from that summer job ($583 for two months = $1.36 per hour) as a pittance, but yesterday I punched the numbers into an inflation calculator: $1.36 per hour in 1965 was equivalent to $11.13 per hour in 2020.  So... not inappropriate for an entry-level nonskilled job.

Curiously, 50 years later I was at a neighborhood party here in Madison and met a neighbor who told me that she had also worked at the LeSueur Green Giant plant in the summer.  Readers with equivalent experiences are welcome to offer comments.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...