14 September 2021

Divertimento #188

Editorial note:  For the past year and a half, the last dozen of my linkfests have been populated only with gifs, because they are so easy to do.  Meanwhile the links for a proper compilation of "meatier" articles has continued to accumulate; I now have over 2000 links that have interesting (to me) material, many of which are now undergoing linkrot because they are getting old.  So this is the first in a series of linkfests that will feature material that I don't have time/energy to work into a proper longform post, but that I want to share or store for future reference.

How to choose, store and serve blue cheese. "...if you think all blue cheese smells bad, you haven’t given it a fair shake. “People tend to think of blue cheese as something that exists unilaterally, when it has many expressions...”

The odor of ladybugs may be an effective aphid repellant.

In Lincolnshire, a crew doing work on a golf course pond retrieved a "log coffin, which measures about 3 metres long by 1 metre, thought to be 4,000 years old. Inside are the remains of a man, who was buried with an axe."

"This study is the first report revealing... the bacterial composition of wasted chewing gum... The relative stability of the oral microbiome in a sun-irradiated outdoor space even after several weeks of outdoor and solar exposition raises concerns on the possible role of wasted chewing gums as long-term carriers of pathogenic microorganisms.

"...ran a Twitter poll asking how LATINX is pronounced, and it turns out that I was among the 6 percent who believed the correct pronunciation was “Lah-TINKS.” The vast majority of people answered either “Latin-x” or “La-TEEN-x.”

A two-year-old girl with autism drowned in a neighborhood retention pond.  "Authorities said she was drawn to water, which can often lead to elopement — a term used to describe autistic children and youth wandering or running away."

When you travel by air, you should never touch the flush button with your bare hands.

"... a new, nationwide study of [Covid] hospitalization records, released as a preprint today (and not yet formally peer reviewed), suggests that the meaning of this gauge can easily be misinterpreted—and that it has been shifting over time."

"Back in October 2020, [Dolly Parton] pledged to pose for Playboy again when she turned 75. And now that she’s met the milestone, the magazine no longer has a print edition. So she improvised."

Taco Bell is "rolling out a nationwide pilot program for customers to send used sauce packets back through the mail."  Sounds like virtue-signalling with eco-theater.

"Federal safety regulators are investigating at least 11 accidents involving Tesla cars using Autopilot or other self-driving features that crashed into emergency vehicles when coming upon the scene of an earlier crash."

Drought is devastating farmers in North Dakota.  "North Dakotans can’t grow enough feed for their cattle, so they’re selling off the animals before they starve."

"According to the most recent data from the AARP, an estimated 41.8 million people, or 16.8 percent of the population, currently provides care for an adult over 50... A lot of these caregivers are really, really struggling. What’s required of them is more complex and time-consuming than just 10 years ago, as caregivers deal with overlapping diagnoses related to physical health, mental health, and memory loss as the elderly live longer. The work is much more than just clearing out the guest room or setting another place at the dinner table. Depending on the health of the care recipient, it’s monitoring medication, preparing special meals, changing diapers, and bathing, plus figuring out finances, providing transportation to and from medical appointments, and more."

"If you’re using iOS 11 or later, you may have noticed that photos taken with your iPhone camera are saved as HEIC files instead of the previous format, JPG. This new file format was introduced to offer better compression while still preserving image quality. The problem with HEIC is that it’s not widely compatible with other apps or devices, and you may not be able to open a HEIC photo after moving it to your computer. This article will explain how you can convert an HEIC to a JPG or even how to stop taking pictures in HEIC format altogether."

"Previously a niche, expensive product, period knickers are now readily available on the UK high street. Women explain why they are turning their backs on single-use pads and tampons."

"Here’s the story of a cybercrime group that compromises up to 100,000 email inboxes per day, and apparently does little else with this access except siphon gift card and customer loyalty program data that can be resold online."

"Underboob" swimwear explained (and extensively illustrated).

The anatomy of a horse's hoof: "This horse is dead, and extremely likely purposefully dissected as an anatomy specimen. What you're seeing (the red hairbrush like stuff) is called the sensitive lamellae, and it's packed with blood vessels and innervation. It is connected to the first bone of the foot (the first phalanx, P1 aka coffin bone). What's missing here is the hoof wall. The hoof wall has little interdigitating structures like this called the insensitive lamellae that fit into these ones, and hold the hoof wall to the rest of the foot. The hoof wall is homologous (evolutionarily the same as) to our fingernail..."

"This is ambergris, one of the world’s unlikeliest commodities. The waxy substance formed in the gut of around one in 100 sperm whales is frequently described as vomit, but is almost certainly expelled from the other end of the animal. Fresh ambergris has a strong fecal odor and is much less valuable than aged specimens. Despite its origins, ambergris, with its unique scent, fixative properties, and perceived ability to elevate other olfactory notes, has been prized by the perfume industry for hundreds of years. It has also been consumed as a delicacy and administered as medicine. At times, it has fetched prices more than twice that of gold. Today, it still changes hands for up to US $25 per gram, a price approaching that of platinum and many times that of silver and can mean a payday of thousands of dollars for a tennis ball–sized chunk."

"A mom and her eight-year-old son came into the restaurant I waited tables at for lunch. The mom asked her son what he wanted to eat, and he replied 'ranch.' I politely asked if he meant a salad with ranch? Or French fries with a side of ranch? The woman looked at me and clarified he wanted a soup bowl full of ranch dressing.  I walked into the kitchen and discussed with my manager because I had no idea how to charge them for a bowl of ranch dressing. We came to the conclusion that we should charge them for an entire bottle of ranch, so she paid $10.99 for a soup bowl full of ranch dressing. Yuck."

"Rather than a centuries-long building project inspiring the transition to farming, Clare and others now think Gobekli Tepe was an attempt by hunter-gatherers clinging to their vanishing lifestyle as the world changed around them."

"A “memory palace” sounds as enticing as it does intimidating, but building your own is easier than you might think. Also known as the Method of Loci, this memorization technique taps into your brain’s ability to store lots of location-based information and applies it to new data you hope to file away for later."

"I Love Throwing My Kids’ Artwork in the Garbage While They’re Sleeping.  Like a particularly aggressive strain of kudzu, your children's artistic output will invade every room of your home if you don’t battle it back."

"But there's a cost to dieting while training for a sport. Nutritionist Christel Dunshea-Mooij became concerned about New Zealand women's rowing team after the 2016 Olympics. They were in danger of RED-S, or Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport... RED-S can cause issues with bone density, fertility, immunity, and metabolic and cardiovascular function. (Most of the rowers had "excellent bone density", also measured by the DEXA scan.)... As a lightweight athlete, the change in fuelling was a big shift, she says. “It used to be you ate less to stay a lightweight. But to be able to see I could eat a lot more and then train harder - and stay at the same weight - was eye-opening. It made a huge difference to the way I trained, because I could work harder.”"

"The most poignant sign of the failure of the cannabis business, however, might be sitting in warehouses across [Canada]. At its peak, last October, following the 2020 growing season, there was about 1.1 billion grams of harvested or processed cannabis held in storage: 95 percent of inventory has not been purchased by retailers or wholesalers, and much of it is “assumed to be largely unsaleable,” writes MJBizDaily’s Matt Lamers, whether because of degradation or excess supply. We have more pot in this country than we can possibly sell. Producers today are sitting on a massive, and predictable, oversupply that is slowly becoming worthless—and that’s going to cost a lot of companies a lot of money."

Slavery is still legal in the United States.  Until this phrase is amended in the Constitution: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

"While radon is commonly known as a hazardous gas removed from basements, people in pain travel to Montana and pay to breathe, drink and bathe in its radio­active particles. The travelers view the radon exposure as low-dose radiation therapy for a long list of health problems."

"Two men were mourning the loss of their brother, who had been struck by a light-rail train, when they were also struck and killed by a train in North Carolina."

"In warning that Iran could turn the Middle East nuclear, American politicians imply that the region is nuclear-free now. But it’s not. Israel already has nuclear weapons. You’d just never know it from America’s leaders, who have spent the last half-century feigning ignorance. This deceit undercuts America’s supposed commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, and it distorts the American debate over Iran. It’s time for the Biden administration to tell the truth."

A buyer's guide to metal detectors.

"There is an Easter egg in Christopher Nolan's "Memento" that gives away the entire plot twist way before the actual plot twist occurs. However, it is to brief for most people to notice it."

"The 9.9 percent [the top 10%, less the 0.1% billionaires] is the new American aristocracy...  I belonged to a new generation that believed in getting ahead through merit, and we defined merit in a straightforward way: test scores, grades, competitive résumé-stuffing, supremacy in board games and pickup basketball, and, of course, working for our keep. For me that meant taking on chores for the neighbors, punching the clock at a local fast-food restaurant, and collecting scholarships to get through college and graduate school. I came into many advantages by birth, but money was not among them.  I’ve joined a new aristocracy now, even if we still call ourselves meritocratic winners... The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children. We are not innocent bystanders to the growing concentration of wealth in our time. We are the principal accomplices in a process that is slowly strangling the economy, destabilizing American politics, and eroding democracy..."

The embedded photos come from a gallery posted in The Guardian. "For his photo series The Hidden Beauty of Seeds and Fruits, Biss immersed himself in the collections housed at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden , sifting through its 3,500 historical specimens. “I was stunned by the variety of designs that exist to disperse seeds."


  1. I store blue cheese in the trash can.

    1. So ... you spend somewhere around $5.95 for 100 grams ... nearly $60 a kilo ... and then you store it in the trash can ?
      I'm much the same with champagne, I pay around $25 for an acceptable one, drink it, and then store it in the re-cycling bin.
      We are almost brothers.

      All dollar amounts in NZ dollars.

  2. The night before the first day of school, I memorized all of my students' birthdays using the palace method. I had to match them with names in instead of faces, since I had not met them yet. However, I only have 88 students, so who knows how I would've done if I worked at a school with larger class sizes.

  3. the last one - Electric Shock plant (Blumebachia insignia) - that swirl could very well be used for piping a cookie, perhaps an almond cookie?


  4. I find the plural presentation of "wasted chewing gums" really interesting. I say suppose it works like fishes.

    1. I agree, and I think they've expressed it correctly.


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