A roving bridge, changeline bridge, turnover bridge, or snake bridge is a bridge over a canal constructed to allow a horse towing a boat to cross the canal when the towpath changes sides. This often involved unhitching the tow line, but on some canals they were constructed so that there was no need to do this by placing the two ramps on the same side of the bridge, which turned the horse through 360 degrees. On the Macclesfield Canal this was achieved by building spiral ramps and on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and others by constructing roving bridges of iron in two cantilevered halves, leaving a slot in the middle for the tow rope. This was also called a split bridge. For cost reasons many ordinary Stratford bridges were also built in this way as they had no towpath.The ramps of the bridge are typically studded with alternating rows of protruding bricks to prevent the feet of the horse from sliding. The bridge may be constructed of cast iron (particularly in industrial areas) or of more conventional brick or stone.
31 May 2021
The sci-fi-like portals were designed to connect and unify people in different parts of the world amid the months of isolation caused by the pandemic, and the increasing "social polarization" of recent times.The devices look like circular doors into another world, as imagined in many fictional worlds of fantasy and sci-fi. In fact, the team behind the project said it chose the circle as it is a well-known sci-fi symbol for an interactive "bridge." The minimalist design with LED lighting, meanwhile, was chosen to portray the image of a future city.
The 11-day cold spell (10-20 February) in Texas was a disaster. Freezing temperatures covered the state and extended well into Northern Mexico. While many of the immediate effects of the freeze are clear, season long and multiple year effects may linger. The damage to the flora was extraordinary, and it is likely that nearly all above ground insects died over a wide area. Plants already in flower may have been so damaged as to not flower this year. We are seeking help to record that damage and the recovery of plants that flower in March along with the appearance of milkweed shoots and buds. Both are resources used by monarchs returning from Mexico in mid-March. We also need help recording the number of returning monarchs. ALL monarch observations are of value. How well the monarch population will develop in 2021 will be determined by the March conditions in Texas.
"... you and I will never again see La Lagunita as the Bruggers saw it. More consequentially, neither will the monarchs, because during these past 15 months of pandemic-induced deprivation and desperation, La Lagunita has been trashed. Last year, someone — likely impoverished young men from a nearby community — illegally cut down several dozen oyamel firs, hauling them away for lumber. In December, the arriving monarchs tried to form a colony at La Lagunita but failed, according to Ellen Sharp, who runs a monarch-centric hotel at the foot of the mountain.A few weeks later, the monarchs gave up and abandoned La Lagunita altogether, shifting to a different location on the mountain. These migrants had become refugees.Sharp and her husband, Joel Moreno Rojas, have gone to great lengths to try to protect Cerro Pelón from loggers, even forming a nonprofit organization that has hired local “forest guardians” to patrol the mountain and report what they see to the Mexican authorities. But their reports are usually ignored, Sharp says.Last month, the guardians found another six trees felled at La Lagunita. Eight more were cut down a few days later. These latest wounds make it even less likely that La Lagunita will ever again successfully host roosting monarchs...The motivation behind these destructive incursions is sadly obvious. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the struggling, tourist-dependent communities bordering the 52-square-mile core zone of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, where logging is nominally banned but is now on the rise, reversing years of progress. Reserve officials recently acknowledged that 33 acres in the core zone had been illegally logged last year, up from just one acre the year before. The toll this year will surely be worse.Violence is on the upswing, too, including the unsolved killings of two men who worked at the most heavily visited monarch colony, El Rosario. Now that the pandemic has driven away international tourists, gangs are filling the vacuum..."
28 May 2021
"Xuan paper or Shuen paper or rice paper, is a kind of paper originating in ancient China used for writing and painting. Xuan paper is renowned for being soft and fine textured, suitable for conveying the artistic expression of both Chinese calligraphy and painting. Xuan paper features great tensile strength, smooth surface, pure and clean texture and clean stroke, great resistance to crease, corrosion, moth and mold. The majority of ancient Chinese books and paintings by famous painters that survived until today are well preserved on Xuan paper. The way of make Xuan Paper are extremely complex and requires highly skilled a worker who able to doing this need practice for several years."
As the Guardian and numerous Turkish news outlets have reported, high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Sea of Marmara, situated between the Black and Aegean Seas, are leading to an explosion of the phytoplankton populations that discharge “sea snot.” Though the mucus itself is not necessarily harmful, it can become a host to toxic microorganisms and dangerous bacteria such as E. coli. And when it forms a layer that covers the water’s surface, it can set off a harmful chain of events, preventing fish from being able to breathe, causing mass die-offs, which in turn leads to plummeting oxygen levels that choke other forms of marine life...Since phytoplankton thrive in warmer waters, scientists suspect that climate change may be a factor... Experts have also pointed out that untreated waste and agricultural runoff pour directly into the Sea of Marmara...Ismet Cigit, a columnist for the newspaper Ses Kocaeli, lamented that humans had “betrayed this world’s most beautiful sea” by allowing chemical storage facilities, fuel tanks, factories and other industrial sites to be built along the coast.In Izmit, workers have laboriously collected more than 110 tons of the mucus, which was sent to an incinerator for disposal.“Clearly, there are no deterrent penalties for those who pollute the sea,” he wrote in Turkish, adding, “Marmara is dying.”
The lure of truly big trout — and the thrill of encountering a fish that was once thought to be extinct — had me and a friend strapping house ladders to our car roof for the 11-hour ride from Portland, Ore., to Pyramid Lake [Nevada] in early April.Our ladders seemed pedestrian next to the local models — custom contraptions made by a Reno craftsman which included a platform and a padded seat.“When people first started fishing the lake, they used milk crates,” recalled Joe Contaldi, principal guide with Pyramid Lake Anglers. “This helped them cast far enough to reach the drop-offs where the fish cruise looking for food. And it also helped them get above the cold water.” The crates gave way to conventional ladders and then to chair ladders.
Place a platina crucible over a spirit lamp, and keep it a red heat; pour in some sulphuric acid, which, though the most volatile of bodies at a common temperature, will be found to become completely fixed in a hot crucible, and not a drop evaporates- being surrounded by an atmosphere of its own, it does not, in fact, touch the sides. A few drops of water are now introduced, when the acid, immediately coming in contact with the heated sides of the crucible, flies off in sulphurous acid vapor, and so rapid is its progress, that the caloric of the water passes off with it, which falls a lump of ice to the bottom; by taking advantage of the moment before it is allowed to remelt, it may be turned out a lump of ice from a red-hot vessel.
M. Boutigny, by means of sulphurous acid, first froze water in a red-hot crucible; and Mr. Faraday subsequently froze mercury, by means of solid carbonic acid...
What they were calling "sulphurous acid" back then is not what we would call an acid today. It was anhydrous sulphur dioxide which has a boiling point of −10∘C.When liquid sulphur dioxide was poured into the red-hot vessel, due to the Leidenfrost effect, it would form itself up into globules and float on a layer of its own vapour. In this state the temperature of the globules would be just below that of its boiling of −10∘C as it evaporates away at a now greatly reduced rate. Pouring in a small amount of water, which freezes at 0∘C, while the sulphur dioxide is in this state results in it freezing within a few seconds. Once all the sulphur dioxide has evaporated off, the ice will quickly melt again before being brought up to just below its boiling point of 100∘C as it assumes its spheroidal form due to the Leidenfrost effect. If one is quick, before all the liquid sulphur dioxide has disappeared one can throw out a small lump of ice from a red-hot crucible!
25 May 2021
In 2020, the world stood still… in the movies too. “The End” is an experimental narrative short film, in black & white and color, made only with movie gifs with a perfect loop, more than 500. “The End” is also a tribute to the cinema, from silent films to now.
Via Laughing Squid. I have not found a listing of the embedded movie sources.
As with the market for tiger bones, ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn, a flourishing illegal global trade exists for plants. “Just about every plant you can probably think of is trafficked in some way,” said Eric Jumper, a special agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Cactuses and other succulents are among the most sought after, along with orchids and, increasingly, carnivorous species.Trafficking can take a serious toll. Over 30 percent of the world’s nearly 1,500 cactus species are threatened with extinction. Unscrupulous collection is the primary driver of that decline, affecting almost half of imperiled species. Yet this realm of illegal trade is typically overlooked, a prime example of “plant blindness,” or the human tendency to broadly ignore this important branch on the tree of life...Cactuses and other succulents are hot business today. They have become the darlings of social media, promoted by indoor plant influencers for their outlandish looks and minimal care requirements. The pandemic only increased their popularity, with shops struggling to keep some species in stock...Many cactus species are highly localized, found, for example, only on certain steep limestone cliffs in Mexico, or a single sandy patch of less than one square mile on Peru’s coast. They also tend to be extremely slow-growing. Larger specimens, which are more highly sought after, can be decades or even hundreds of years old. These features make cactuses particularly sensitive to over-harvesting, but also particularly attractive to collectors interested in exclusivity...Once cactuses are poached from the wild, illicit trade often happens in the open. High-end plant shops in Japan display protected, wild-harvested species, while sellers around the world advertise them on eBay, Instagram, Etsy and Facebook. Online ads are often accompanied by disclaimers that the cactuses do not come with necessary permits for legal trade, and poachers sometimes livestream videos from the field, asking customers which plants they want...
"The Incas used a computer. We do not know how it worked or how the calculations were made, nor do we know what they were calculating. The device was a box with twenty compartments placed in four rows of five. Stones were placed in the various compartments, some black, some white. A compartment was filled when five stones were in it. Padre Jose de Acosta watched the Incas manipulate this abacuslike device and drew a sketch. But that was back in 1590. He was unable to follow the computing procedure. None of these 20-core memory banks have been found by archaeologists. Were they destroyed as worthless, pagan magic?"
22 May 2021
When it comes to language, splitters are almost always prescriptivists, who favor rules and standards (this is how people should talk) rather than descriptivists, who favor popular usage (this is how people actually talk)... Prescriptivists have been called (usually by descriptivists, but sometimes, as a preemptive strike, by themselves) elitists, killjoys, curmudgeons, cops, cranks, peevers, fussbudgets, intransigents, old farts, linguistic nitpickers, usage nerds, compulsive pedants, logobullies, syntax snobs, and grammar fascists. Descriptivists have been called style smashers, corrupters, miscreants, barbarians, vulgarians, vandals, Neanderthals...On the current prescriptivist/descriptivist battlefront, nothing has occasioned more bloodshed than the humble pronoun, in particular the singular they... in fact there are two usages, quite different from each other. The first is... an identifier for a person whose gender does not fall into the he/him or she/her binary... The second usage of they is as a generic pronoun for an individual whose gender isn’t specified or relevant, as in “Every reader of this essay undoubtedly thinks they are a grammar expert.”The experience of being misgendered is not some newfangled ultra-thin-skinned, special-snowflake conceit; it’s painful. Students have told me that being called by the wrong pronoun inspires responses that can range from “niggling unease” to “discomfort” to “incredible wrongness” to “rage” to the sensation of being “split in two.” The infraction is usually but not always deemed less serious when it’s accidental...As for the second kind of singular they—well, that’s a more difficult matter... there are twenty-one terms for gender-neutral pronouns, including “duo-personal,” “epicene,” “hermaphroditic,” and “masculor feminine.” He prefers “the missing word,” and concludes that in English, “It turns out that the missing word isn’t missing at all. It’s singular they.”College students are bellwethers—or, if you’re a prescriptivist, canaries in the coal mine. Once a new usage becomes widespread on campus, in a few years it’s widespread everywhere. No new usage has been advancing with greater speed than the singular they. Ten years ago, I might have heard examples in the classroom but rarely in the statements of interest my department requires in applications for its creative-writing courses. These tend to be stiffly correct, because students don’t know whether the instructors are prescriptivists or descriptivists but fear the worst since, after all, we’re English teachers. Here are some sentences from the applications I received last fall:If I’m asking a person to read something, it’s because I want to hear what they have to say.It’s rare to get to ask an author questions about what they’ve written.I don’t want to be that student who can’t stop talking about how their summer abroad changed them.It’s an intimate experience to look someone in the eye and tell them how you’re struggling.These applicants were neither more careless nor less deferential than their predecessors. They had undoubtedly proofread their applications with meticulous attention... The students’ sentences, of course, all contained the second kind of singular they, the all-purpose generic pronoun. And they all made me wince...I said, “But you’ll never say ‘they is.’ You’ll always say ‘they are.’ So won’t ‘they’ always sound plural?” And then two words floated into my mind: “You are.”I’d spent my whole life saying “you are,” whether I was talking to one person or fifty. When I was talking to one person, the plural verb didn’t sound wrong. It just was.Had you once been exclusively plural? And had it evolved to be singular as well, though retaining its original plural verb? Might you, in fact, be a lot like they? The answers turned out to be yes, yes, and yes. [explained in detail - re the history of "thee"and "thou" and the Quakers - in the source article]..."You are” made me feel entirely different about the singular they as a generic gender-neutral pronoun. I could see that they was undergoing exactly the same evolution as you had, from exclusively plural to both singular and plural—an evolution that in both instances was driven by social change.But I’ve been considerably swayed by the many reasonable arguments in favor of the singular they. Here are a few.It’s been used by writers from Chaucer (“And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame, / They wol come up and offre in Goddes name”) to Shakespeare (“God send everyone their heart’s desire!”) to Fielding (“Every body fell a laughing, as how could they help it”) to Shaw (“It’s enough to drive anyone out of their senses”). A friend of mine mentioned that Jane Austen used it routinely. She did? She did. I found an Austen website that lists thirty-six instances in Mansfield Park alone.It was used in the King James Bible (Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing bee done through strife, or vaine glory, but in lowlinesse of minde let each esteeme other better then themselues”).Many languages—including Turkish, Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Basque, Armenian, Bengali, and Tagalog—have no gendered pronouns.English needs a gender-neutral singular pronoun...It’s generational. The young are more likely to use they than the old... It’s political, but in a good way. My students endorse the singular they not because they’re snowflakes but because they’re activists. The nonbinary they appeals to them because even if they’re not nonbinary themselves, they wish to support those who are...I already say plenty of things that aren’t grammatical just because everybody does and I’m used to them. I wouldn’t say “I aren’t,” but I say “Aren’t I?” I wouldn’t say “Me is it,” but I say “It’s me” even though—as per Easy English Exercises, Lesson 60, “Case Forms of Pronouns”—“me” should be “I” because it’s a predicate nominative, not a direct object.Sometimes they just sounds better. If, instead of “If you love someone, set them free,” Sting had sung, “If you love someone, set him or her free” or (following the suggestion in my grammar handout to make the whole sentence plural) “If you love people, set them free,” fans worldwide would have torn up their concert tickets...The most powerful foes of the singular they aren’t prescriptive grammarians, who, like me, have a hard time with the generic gender-neutral pronoun, but leaders of the Christian right, who have a hard time with its use by nonbinary people because they believe that God made human beings either male or female. For them, it’s not a grammatical issue; it’s a religious issue...So I’m in favor of changes that take gender off the table, or at least make it less central. I welcomed my university’s adoption of “first-year” instead of “freshman.” I used to think the point of the change was to make the term less male; I now think it’s to make it less anything. Similarly, I approve of “chair” instead of “chairman” (even the Fed made the switch last year), “ancestors” instead of “forefathers,” “workforce” instead of “manpower,” “actor” and “host” and “server” for everybody. I’m partway there with they.
The Oxford English Dictionary traces singular they back to 1375, where it appears in the medieval romance William and the Werewolf. Except for the old-style language of that poem, its use of singular they to refer to an unnamed person seems very modern. Here’s the Middle English version: ‘Hastely hiȝed eche . . . þei neyȝþed so neiȝh . . . þere william & his worþi lef were liand i-fere.’ In modern English, that’s: ‘Each man hurried . . . till they drew near . . . where William and his darling were lying together.’..Singular you has become normal and unremarkable. Also unremarkable are the royal we and, in countries without a monarchy, the editorial we: first-person plurals used regularly as singulars and nobody calling anyone an idiot and a fool. And singular they is well on its way to being normal and unremarkable as well. Toward the end of the twentieth century, language authorities began to approve the form. The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) not only accepts singular they, they also use the form in their definitions. And the New Oxford American Dictionary (Third Edition, 2010), calls singular they ‘generally accepted’ with indefinites, and ‘now common but less widely accepted’ with definite nouns, especially in formal contexts...Former Chief Editor of the OED Robert Burchfield, in The New Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1996), dismisses objections to singular they as unsupported by the historical record. Burchfield observes that the construction is ‘passing unnoticed’ by speakers of standard English as well as by copy editors, and he concludes that this trend is ‘irreversible’. People who want to be inclusive, or respectful of other people’s preferences, use singular they. And people who don’t want to be inclusive, or who don’t respect other people’s pronoun choices, use singular they as well. Even people who object to singular they as a grammatical error use it themselves when they’re not looking, a sure sign that anyone who objects to singular they is, if not a fool or an idiot, at least hopelessly out of date.
20 May 2021
Top row: eastern box turtle, pancake tortoise and Bell’s hingeback tortoise.Middle row: radiated tortoise, Florida box turtle and Burmese star tortoise.Bottom row: spotted turtle, Bourret’s box turtle and European pond turtle.
The cyber attack that shutdown the Colonial pipeline causing a gas panic and stoking fears of gasoline shortages, didn’t actually shut down the pipeline. It impacted the billing system at the Colonial Pipeline Co., which shut it down because they were worried about how they’d collect payments.Yes, the fuel-carrying pipeline was shut down last week in order to prevent a company that is entrusted with what should be a public utility from enduring an accounting headache...The company halted operations because its billing system was compromised, three people briefed on the matter told CNN, and they were concerned they wouldn’t be able to figure out how much to bill customers for fuel they received.
According to the United States Drought Monitor, 84 percent of the West is now in drought, with 47 percent rated as “severe” or “extreme.”The situation in some states is particularly dire. In Utah, 90 percent of the state is in the two most severe categories; in Arizona, 87 percent; North Dakota, 85 percent; New Mexico, 80 percent; and California, 73 percent.Experts do not see much prospect for improvement, as another hot and dry summer is forecast. Rather, they expect conditions to worsen.
My part of Wisconsin is experiencing a moderate drought:
"Straight-Curve, Oriental-Western, Decomposition-Conjunction, Masculine-Feminine, Subculture-Luxury, etc. The brand demonstrates the charming “disparities” between these elements and the harmony hidden within the contrast. The essential elements and sources of inspiration for LEJE are the coexistence of diversity and unity and the tension between irregularity and regularity, which are noticed in the unusual cuts, creative details, and sensual materials."
19 May 2021
From a 2017 complaint filed by David and Gretchen Jessen against Fresno County and the city of Clovis, California, for damages incurred during a police raid on their home. In June 2016, construction workers called the police after they witnessed a homeless man break into the Jessens’ house. The Jessens returned to find their home surrounded by law enforcement. The Jessens argue that damage to their home was “unreasonable and unjustified.” In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Fresno County and the city of Clovis.The Clovis Police Department and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office deployed the following:Fifty-five vehiclesA K-9 unitTwo helicoptersTwo ambulancesA fire truckA crisis negotiation team in a motor homeA SWAT teamA backup SWAT teamA robotLaw enforcement officers did the following to the Jessens’ home:Broke six windowsRipped out the front door and an interior doorPulled an office wall off the foundationUsed a flash bomb in the officeRipped off the door to the laundry roomUsed a flash bomb in the laundry roomTeargassed the laundry roomTeargassed the kitchenTeargassed the master bathroomTeargassed the guest bedroomTeargassed the office bathroomTeargassed the sewing roomDestroyed more than ninety feet of fencing with a SWAT vehicleShattered a sliding glass door for robot entryThe homeless man did the following:Broke a windowStole milk, an ice cream bar, and half a tomato
18 May 2021
Recently, Texas took a pretty harsh stance against owners of electric vehicles by proposing Senate Bill 1728, which would punish EV owners for simply owning an EV. That sounds cliche, but in essence, this is exactly what the bill is doing while being disguised as “fairness.” The claim was that EV owners need to pay their fair share and make up for fuel taxes that they don’t pay... The proposed fee was previously an additional $200 EV tax. That fee has now gone up... Added together, those numbers total $250 to $400+ in annual fees.Currently, EV owners in Texas are not allowed to take delivery of their vehicles from Tesla in the state — they have to either travel out of state or arrange a third party to ship their vehicles to them. For those who will be purchasing made-in-Texas Teslas, this also applies. Tesla will have to ship the made-in-Texas Teslas out of state, where either a third party will deliver to the customer at the customer’s expense or the customer has to travel to pick up their vehicle. Unfortunately, Texas isn’t the only state that is seemingly anti-EV. Many states have this problem.
I couldn't find any information about this apparently popular sport, other than this image at The Guardian.
15 May 2021
He had taken him out on his shoulders and when he was chest deep in the water, had lifted him off, swung the delighted child high in the air and then plunged him swiftly below the surface on his back and held him there, not looking down at what he was doing but up, at an imperturbable witnessing sky, not quite blue, not quite white.
A fierce surging pressure had begun upward beneath his hands and grimly he had exerted more and more force downward. In a second, he felt he was trying to hold a giant under. Astonished, he let himself look. The face under the water was wrathfully contorted, twisted by some primeval rage to save itself. Automatically he released his pressure. Then when he realized what he had done, he pushed down again angrily with all his force until the struggle ceased under his hands... Then as he looked at it, he had a moment of complete terror in which he envisioned his life without the child. He began to shout frantically. He plowed his way out of the water with the limp body... The [next day's newspaper] caption said, OVERJOYED FATHER SEES SON REVIVED.
With no one to hear but the boy, he would flail his arms and roar, "Ignore the Lord Jesus as long as you can! Spit out the bread of life and sicken on honey. Whom work beckons, to work! Whom blood to blood! Whom lust to lust! Make haste, make haste. Fly faster and faster. Spin yourselves in a frenzy, the time is short! The Lord is preparing a prophet. The Lord is preparing a prophet with fire in his hand and eye and the prophet is moving toward the city with his warning. The prophet is coming with the Lord's message. 'Go warn the children of God,' saith the Lord, 'of the terrible speed of justice.' Who will be left? Who will be left when the Lord's mercy strikes?"
"Listen you people," she said and flung her arms wide, "God told the world He was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock's tail will do for His sash. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She'll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening."
To Rayber she was like one of those birds blinded to make it sing more sweetly. Her voice had the tone of a glass bell. His pity encompassed all exploited children - himself when he was a child, Tarwater exploited by the old man, this child exploited by parents, Bishop exploited by the very fact he was alive.
"Sometimes at night when she couldn't go to sleep, Mrs. Turpin would occupy herself with the question of who she would have chosen to be if she couldn't have been herself. If Jesus had said to her before he made her "There's only two places available for you. You can either be a nigger or white-trash," what would she have said?... She would have wiggled and squirmed and begged and pleaded but it would have been no use and finally she would have said, "All right, make me a nigger then - but that don't mean a trashy one" And he would have made her a neat clean respectable Negro woman, herself but black."...
A Good Man Is Hard to Find is the most American book I know. By this I mean that it speaks of the hypocrisies of the American soul in microcosm; it is an eruption of the particular half-buried traumas of the Jim Crow South as seen by a brave, blazingly angry, and mordantly funny observer...Although O’Connor was herself a southerner, A Good Man Is Hard to Find could not be nearly as good as it is if the writer weren’t also an outsider, made all her life to stand in the chilly shadows because she was a highly educated (and highly critical) woman at a time when the gender roles of a soft and amiable southern femininity were rigidly enforced; and, more importantly, because of her devout Catholicism in the largely Fundamentalist Protestant South...If a book is to live for decades, as A Good Man Is Hard to Find has done, it must be flexible; it must bend and shift under the various pressures of the changing world, which the author at the time of writing couldn’t possibly foresee. Since the book was published, we in the culture at large have become aware of the tremendous violence that a single word can contain, and a modern audience has to address the fact that O’Connor frequently uses the N-word, one of the most hurtful and hideous epithets in the English language, meant to degrade and dehumanize black people. It’s worse to see that the writer uses it with seeming relish, even titling a story The Artificial Nigger. Some people may try to defend O’Connor by saying that the word didn’t fully hold the freight when she was alive as it holds now—that the word was commonly used in the South at the time and the use of it was in service of verisimilitude—but these are explanations that go only so far, because surely O’Connor, with her subtle understanding of cruelty and pain, knew how hideous the appellation was, how much violence it carries...No one can decide on behalf of any individual reader whether O’Connor’s use of the word is justified or not, and whether it can be explained away by historical context; I’m personally on the fence, and the fence feels pretty wobbly. In the end, though, I do believe that it’s not all that useful to avoid reading an influential and important author because of her problematic writing, nor is it helpful to run away from a thorough and respectful discussion of racism, both structural and tacit, because of queasiness or guilt or a lack of tools to understand foundational racism and its reverberations.
14 May 2021
That group of islands in the center of the picture - Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou, Lihou, et al - belong to what country?
B) The U.K.
C) The European Union
E) They don't belong to any country
Answer in the Comments section. Some of you will be surprised - as I was.
Everyone who watched the Belmont 40 years ago will never forget Secretariat's race that day. He had already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness; this was his bid for the Triple Crown, and he was so good that few owners wanted to enter their horses against him in the Belmont - that's why there were only four racing that day. The track didn't even take "show" bets, and it's an interesting (?unique) anomaly that Secretariat was so favored by bettors that he would have paid more to show ($2.40) than he did to win ($2.20).
And to this day his speed for 1.5 miles has never been equaled. Even if you have no interest in thoroughbred racing per se, you owe it to yourself to watch this 3-minute clip to see one of the iconic moments in the history of sport.
Some enterprising horse bettors are selling their tickets on eBay, where such tickets are selling for $20 to $30. Other sellers bought up many of the cheapest Belmont Stakes gambling tickets. One seller is selling a lot of 500 such tickets. Another is selling 150 tickets in a lot.Tickets for the Triple Crown wins of Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1977) sold for big money on the collectors market.Rovell said that the tickets are simply worth more to collectors than the cash-in price. He said, “Whether you want to keep it for your memory or resell it, it’s worth ten times more than if you cash it in. So people are making good bets.”
09 May 2021
You might wonder what Steve means. At first it didn't mean anything. It was just a name. Steve comes from the animated movie Over The Hedge. In the movie, the main characters were watching bushes rustle. Out came an animal that they didn't know. So they named it Steve.NASA scientists have now created a "backronym" - Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
That's how Steve, the new type of northern lights, got its name. Citizen scientists took a few photos of Steve and showed the photos to NASA scientists. NASA scientists initially couldn't explain the newly discovered aurora type, so they all decided on naming it Steve for now.
NASA has set up a project called Aurorasaurus. At Aurorasaurus, you can see where the northern lights are predicted to be located in the near future, and actual reports of the northern lights from people around the world.
This is arguably the role she is best known for. The novel it is based on was a controversial best seller in Germany. To prepare for this role, Juri wore the clothes of her character, Helen, for several weeks and spent a lot of this time in Berlin, where her character lives. She even went undercover as a student in a highschool where only the director of the school knew she was an actress.
"Workers found large number of ancient coins at a construction site in Baishui county of Weinan, Northwest China's Shaanxi province which, according to archaeologists, mostly belong to the Song Dynasty (960-1279)...Archaeologists later arrived at the site and collected about 100,000 coins, weighing 460 kilograms... initial analysis showed that the coins belong to the old-style Chinese private bank that buried the coins during wars."
As reported by NBC News:
A Missouri woman was out gardening in her yard last week when she discovered something unexpected in her grapevines — a World War II era Japanese bomb.Lovett was using the Google Lens tool to try to identify the strange object, which Coffey initially thought was a deep sea diving weight. The online search led them both to realize it was likely a bomb... It was determined that the bomb, even in its old age, was live and still had a 500-ft. blast range. "It wasn't just the shell. This thing was live. They confirmed it," said Coffey.There is still no reasonable explanation as to how this bomb could have wound up buried on their property...
A tip of the blogging cap to a reader for finding an NPR article about Japanese balloon bombs.
It's not carved. These are likely iron and manganese concretions that develop similar to the way a pearl develops, but in a swamp. When soil undergoes constant wetting and drying it forms super concentrations of certain minerals; iron, manganese, and calcium being some of the most common. As it formed, gaps were filled in with silt and eventually it became encased in a mudstone. It has since eroded to reveal the layers of build up.
Long before next week's fishing opener, a few Minnesota anglers were avidly casting lines into the water and hauling in hefty catches. But they weren't hooking walleye, bass or northern pike. They were hoping to reel in an antique metal sign, a safe full of money, maybe even a gun.It's part of a new, and admittedly niche, sport of magnet fishing, where you "fish" with a super-powerful magnet tied to a strong line. Most of the time, magnet fishers pull in mundane scrap metal: old nails and bolts, a length of rebar, fish hooks, beer bottle caps...Even if it's just scrap metal, local magnet fishers don't catch and release, but rather dispose or recycle their finds and consider themselves to be helping the environment by hauling hundreds of pounds of metal out of local rivers and lakes...The hobby is also growing in parts of Europe, where there's a lot of metal in canals and other bodies of water thanks to centuries of warfare."England is very, very big for magnet fishing," Shoemaker said.
"A seventeenth-century Flemish scientist by the name of Van Helmont... planted a willow sapling in a container that held 200 pounds of soil and, for five years, gave it nothing but water. At the end of that time, the tree was found to weigh 169 pounds, and the soil 199 pounds, 14 ounces - from just two ounces of soil had come 169 pounds of tree."
04 May 2021
The oldest door still in use in Rome, Pantheon. Cast in bronze for emperor Hadrian's rebuilding, they date from about 115 AD. Each door is solid bronze seven and a half feet wide & twenty-five feet high, yet so well balanced they can be pushed or pulled open easily by one person.
And below this humble ceiling is the only door in the rotunda, the great double bronze door which was long thought to be a later replacement for the original, mainly because of the frame on either side and the grille above, which caused archaeologists to comment that it was too small for the opening. In fact, when at last the bronze was carefully studied, these were found to be original Roman doors, one of the rare survivals of monumental bronze. They had been cleaned in the course of the centuries, Christian motifs applied, but analysis of the fusion technique left no doubt that they date from the empire.
Each half of the double door weighs 8.5 tonnes, and rotates on pins set into the floor and the architrave above. An ingenious but laborious and little understood system allowed removal of the wooden architrave and replacement of the pins which tend to wear. In 1757, during an attempt to keep the door working, the whole thing fell, killing the foreman trying to remount it.
The right door was left totally blocked and the left door would open only partially. Two centuries later, after much careful study, using just soap (!) and specially-made plates to slightly lift the doors, the pins were replaced, the doors put back into their seats, and finally both could be opened and shut. It was 1998; the doors had not been fully opened for 241 years.
The etymology of "French letter" is unclear. Condoms are also colloquially referred to as raincoats, rubbers, etc. The one illustrated above is made from sheep intestine and dates to about 1800, but the Wikipedia article on the history of the condom provides documentation back to the Renaissance.
Image from a BBC article on The search to make a perfect condom.