31 December 2022

A collective New Year's greeting to and from the readers of TYWKIWDBI

I'll open with a photo of our calendar-cover eldercat Panda 
under a minimally-reassuring blankie at the veterinarian's office.  
We at TYWKIWDBI World Headquarters share his sentiments.

"Happy days to everyone and everywhere!!!" - Skeetmotis

"Happy Hannukah from me and my cat!" - Delagar

"My Grandfather's Grandfather Hardress of Gloster, King's County and this descendant hope you have somewhere dry and warm to sit this winter." - BobTheScientist

"To the TYWK community, Merry Christmas 
and Health, Wealth and Happiness for 2023." - The Slide Guy.

"Holiday greetings to all" - Crazy Ravens Studio

"Seasons Greetings" - Professor Batty

Health and Happiness in 2023! - Conner Bamboo

"Judged the best Christmas present this year. 
"Trust me there is a funny story behind it but too long to tell" - erin

"Best wishes to all for 2023 and beyond" - Tom

"I hope that 2023 gives you the chance to get out 
and do the things you wish to do." - Scouter573

On New Year's Eve, remember Jacqueline Saburido

Early on Sunday morning September 19, 1999, Jacqui - then 20 years old - and four friends were on their way home from a birthday party. Reggie Stephey, an 18-year-old high school student, was on his way home from drinking beer with some buddies. On a dark road on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Reggie's SUV veered into the Oldsmobile carrying Jacqui and the others. Two passengers in the car were killed at the scene and two were rescued.
Within minutes, the car caught fire. Jacqui was pinned in the front seat on the passenger side. She was burned over 60% of her body; no one thought she could survive. But Jacqui lived. Her hands were so badly burned that all of her fingers had to be amputated. She lost her hair, her ears, her nose, her left eyelid and much of her vision. She has had more than 50 operations* since the crash.
* Update - now more than 120 operations.


Update April 2019:
Jacqui Saburido, the woman whose disfigured face became a symbol of the dangers of drunk driving after she suffered horrific burns in a 1999 crash, has died, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. She died from cancer in Guatemala, according to CNN affiliate KXAN. She was 40...

After the crash, Saburido became an advocate for the Texas Department of Transportation's anti-drunk-driving campaign, making numerous school appearances and using her startling appearance to drive home the dangers of driving under the influence. She also appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show twice. 
"Even if it means sitting here in front of a camera with no ears, no nose, no eyebrows, no hair, I'll do this a thousand times if it will help someone make a wise decision," Saburido said during one of her many speaking engagements after the accident.
"This is part of my mission here on the Earth," she added in a video on the Faces of Drunk Driving site. "If this face and this body can help others, then why not?"
Recent photo, and news video, at CNN.

Reposted because the message is still relevant.  Do not drink and drive.  Ever. 

White light

There is some informed commentary at the IAF subreddit.

The millenial generation is NOT becoming more conservative as they age

It has been a truism since forever that young people are liberal/progressive, but they shift to conservative values as they age.  
The pattern has held remarkably firm. By my calculations, members of Britain’s “silent generation”, born between 1928 and 1945, were five percentage points less conservative than the national average at age 35, but around five points more conservative by age 70. The “baby boomer” generation traced the same path, and “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1980, are now following suit.

Millennials — born between 1981 and 1996 — started out on the same trajectory, but then something changed. The shift has striking implications for the UK’s Conservatives and US Republicans, who can no longer simply rely on their base being replenished as the years pass.
Discussion continues at the Financial Times.  And relevant commentary in this Guardian op-ed.

Bespoke globes

"...we have a small team of highly trained Globemakers, painters, woodworkers and cartographers, all leaders in their field. Together we create the hand made globes that Bellerby & Co. has come to be recognised for. It is born from a belief that we never compromise. From the wooden and metal bases, to the artwork, the painting and map-making, each piece is expertly crafted using traditional and modern globe-making techniques, and is lovingly produced in our North London studio; each piece is an individual model of style and grandeur and our globes are works of art in their own right."
The video is just a vignette.  Here's the story of Bellerby & Co Globemakers.  Explore the link for examples.

Coppo fotovoltaico

"They look exactly like the terracotta tiles used by the Romans, but they produce the electricity that we need to light the frescoes," says Gabriel Zuchtriegel, Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. This solution is part of a more comprehensive strategy to turn costs into savings opportunities and to embrace sustainable development.

"Pompeii is an ancient city which in some spots is fully preserved. Since we needed an extensive lightning system, we could either keep consuming energy, leaving poles and cables around and disfiguring the landscape, or choose to respect it and save millions of euros."
The traditional PV tiles are made from a polymer compound, which allows the sun's rays to filter through. The photovoltaic cells are then integrated into it by hand and covered with a layer of the polymer compound. "We can also give it the look of stone, wood, concrete, and brick. As a result, such a solution can be installed not only on roofs but also on walls and floors," says Quagliato.

Dyaqua's clients are mainly local councils, owning assets that are subject to artistic or architectural constraints..."
The story continues at Techxplore.  Kudos to the developers.

27 December 2022

Driveway "up north"

Not just any driveway.  In the 1950s when our family lived in Minneapolis, my father wanted to have a cabin up north.  As a traveling salesman he knew the northwoods area well, and when a parcel of tax-forfeited property came up for sale at the Cass County courthouse, he was the successful bidder.  The land did not have road access, but he petitioned the Forestry service for an easement that would allow the driveway to curve around a wetland that needed preservation, and then the driveway was pushed through.  This photo was taken on that curve earlier this month by friends who currently live there.  The image brings back many happy memories for me of my non-wintertime walks and rides on this driveway.   Photo credit Nancy Eisinger (click to supersize).

25 December 2022

"Bomb cyclone, Naples"

Sent to me by my cousins, who are laughing in the photo.

For those who love puzzles

The 2022 King William's College (Christmas) Quiz.

The GCHQ Christmas Challenge.

The RSS Christmas Quiz

Readers are welcome to exchange ideas and thoughts in the Comments, but I'm personally done with all the quizzes, so I don't plan to do any significant moderating apart from approving comments to appear.  [but I would appreciate an answer or hint for KWC 6-1] 

23 December 2022

Santa Paws Day 2022

"The best day of the year is here! Santa Paws has visited our rehoming centre and all the dogs got to choose their very own toy for Christmas! There was too much joy to fit it all in one video, but we hope you enjoy watching 23 of our residents celebrate #SantaPawsDay 🎅🐾 Thank you so much to all our supporters who helped Santa Paws out by sending in a toy 💛 A very Merry Christmas to everyone watching, from all of the humans and dogs of Dogs Trust Ireland 🎄🎅"
This is the full-length video that was too briefly excerpted by the link in my recent gif-fest.

She's not the asshole

There is an interesting subreddit called AmITheAsshole, to which participants submit incidents or sketches from their life and ask others the question in the title. Redditors then vote.  The lady pictured above asked:
AITA for leaving significant facial scarring uncovered on a plane and being confrontational when a father asked me to cover it because it was scaring his son?
Here's her full story:
I sustained very bad injuries to my face this month. I'm in the stage of healing when the scar tissue has formed, but it's still very tender "new skin". I'm going to have very obvious facial scarring for the rest of my life. The injury starts about an inch above my hairline, goes down over my brow so that on part, hair will not grow. It continues down my cheek where it is deepest; I'll always probably have an indentation in the fullest part of my cheek. Then it continues to my jawline.

In some ways it's OK. I'm happy it's just cosmetic damage. My friends are super reassuring, telling me how badass and sick it's gonna look. They say I'm still as hot as ever, now a little more sexy and mysterious lol.

But in some ways it really sucks... I know that I'm always gonna be seen first as "the girl with the scar" and it feels especially bad when people look at me differently.

This week, I had to fly home for a family thing; it was a plan I'd made long before my injury. I wasn't really looking forward to the pity or people making a big deal of it; I'd rather it not be acknowledged.

I'd also met with my dermatologist who said that I was at the stage of scar tissue formation that I no longer should be dressing the wounds; the skin was healing and instead I needed to be applying topical cream and Vaseline to keep the site clean and moist.

It also looks a bit ugly; the building scar tissue is very red and tender, and with the Vaseline over it, looks slick and shiny.

So I get on this flight; I have the window seat and I put on my headphones and drift off to sleep when the plane is still boarding.

I wake up to this kid, maybe 4 years old, sat next to me, throwing a tantrum. I didn't catch the first part of it and I honestly couldn't understand what he was yelling about...

His father said to me, "Can you cover that injury?"

I said that my dermatologist recommends I don't, so no I don't think I will.

He started snapping at me saying "there is no need to be so rude. That injury is graphic and it's scaring my little one."

I said "this is my face. The only damn face I've got. It sucks being told I'm so ugly I can't show my goddamn face in public."

He started to backtrack saying "just until it's healed" and I said "it'll always be with me. Maybe teach some fucking compassion and respect instead of telling a girl half your damn age what you think about her face. That's rude.

He actually got up after that and I think went to a stewardess about a seat change because a young couple came to sit next to me on a few minutes instead. I've gotta admit I felt so low that I put on my sunglasses and had a quiet cry for a few minutes.

AITA for not covering my healing scar, and for being confrontational about it?
The Redditor community voted her "Not the A-hole."  

Via Bored Panda, which offers a selection of relevant comments from the rather long original thread.

The only place in the world where four countries meet... almost

A great pub quiz question.  Via.

If you have time, try taking the You Don't Know Africa quizzes. 

Addendum:  Apparently they don't exactly meet.  An unknown reader provided a link to Kazungula -
At Kazungula, the territories of four countries (Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia) come close to meeting at a quadripoint. It has now been agreed that the international boundaries contain two tripoints joined by a short line roughly 150 metres (490 ft) long forming a boundary between Zambia and Botswana, now crossed by the Kazungula Bridge. The ever-shifting river channels and the lack of any known agreements addressing the issue before 2000 led to some uncertainty in the past as to whether or not a quadripoint legally existed...
More on worldwide quadripoints.

A man and his dog

A painting by Antonio Rotta (1828 - 1903)
Antonio Rotta is notable for his mythological subjects and genre paintings. He was a student at the Accademia di Belli Arti in Venice and was one of the first classical genre painters. His disciplined training in academic schooling, and the use of commonplace subjects made his oeuvre very popular during his lifetime. His work was exhibited in Europe and the United States. He won a medal at the Paris Salon, 1878.
Via Miss Folly, where this is entitled The Old Man and his Best Friend? (I don't know if that's the artist's title for the piece).

Reposted from 2012 to incorporate a better image of the painting (via).

22 December 2022

Fifteen years old

Today TYWKIWDBI is fifteen years old.  On previous blogiversaries I've posted data about the posts (18,127 so far) and the comments (64,100), with trendlines and such, and commentary about blogging.  I had no energy for that this year, so I thought I'd browse my files to see what I was doing when I was personally fifteen years old.  

The location is Leech Lake in northern Minnesota late in the summer of 1961.  The graininess of the enlarged Minox photo makes it hard to discern details, but I suspect there was a paperback book on top of the pillow on my lap.  The plaster casts are the residua of surgery done at the Mayo Clinic in June of that year to correct bilateral flexion contractures resulting from a childhood battle with poliomyelitis.  Those are "walking casts" but my immobility meant that I spent most of my time indoors.  Fortunately for me one of the (I think three) local TV stations was presenting late-nite movies, which I avidly consumed:

Of perhaps greater interest to the general public is a copy of the hospital bill from the Mayo for that surgery:

$375 for the surgery, $50 for anesthesia, $10 to xray the ankle, $4 each for some blood tests, and $5 for the physical therapy consult.  Meds were apparently rolled into another category. 

I note that the prices had increased substantially since my first hospital bill in 1948 (four days in the hospital @ $6 per day).

Another Booth cartoon for English majors

I'll let some reader post the appropriate reference in the Comment section.  Full first verse, please, because it seems so relevant to our modern world.

Public schools as battlefields

"If you're an American schoolchild, you've probably spent much of your recent life alone at home in the mesmerizing glow of a screen, twitching between Google Classroom and innumerable online distractions. Perhaps you've been lucky enough to spend most days in an actual classroom with two-thirds of your face wrapped up, trying to make yourself heard and hear others, taking 30 seconds to shove your lunch down. Your schedule is often unpredictable; some days there's no one to teach you at all. During the pandemic, you've lost at least three months of instruction or nearly twice that, if your family is poor—as well as the steady company of people your own age. The grownups around you fret incessantly about your “mental-health issues” and "social-emotional learning," which only makes your anxiety and depression worse.

You're also the nonvoting, perhaps unwitting, subject of adults' latest pedagogical experiments: either relentless test prep or test abolition; quasi-religious instruction in identity-based virtue and sin; a flood of state laws to keep various books out of your hands and ideas out of your head. Your parents, looking over your shoulder at your education and not liking what they see, have started showing up at school-board meetings in a mortifying state of rage. If you live in Virginia, your governor has set up a hotline where they can rat out your teachers to the government. If you live in Florida, your governor wants your parents to sue your school if it ever makes feel “discomfort" about who you are. Adults keep telling you the pandemic will never end, your education is being destroyed by ideologues, digital technology is poisoning your soul, democracy is collapsing, and the planet is dying-but they're counting on you to fix everything when you grow up.

It isn't clear how the American public school system will survive the COVID years. Teachers, whose relative pay and status have been in decline for decades, are fleeing the field. In 2021, buckling under the stresses of the pandemic, nearly 1 million people quit jobs in public education, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. The shortage is so dire that New Mexico has resorted to encouraging members of the National Guard to volunteer as substitute teachers.

Students are leaving as well. Since 2020, nearly 1.5 million children have been removed from public schools to attend private or charter schools or be homeschooled. Families are deserting the public system out of frustration with unending closures and quarantines, stubborn teachers' unions, inadequate resources, and the low standards exposed by remote learning. It's not just rich families, either, David Steiner, the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, told me. “COVID has encouraged poor parents to question the quality of public education. We are seeing diminished numbers of children in our public schools, particularly our urban public schools." In New York, more than 80,000 children have disappeared from city schools; in Los Angeles, more than 26,000; in Chicago, more than 24,000.

These kids, and the investments that come with them, may never return—the beginning of a cycle of attrition that could continue long after the pandemic ends and leave public schools even more underfunded and dilapidated than before. “It's an open question whether the public-school system will recover," Steiner said. "That is a real concern for democratic education.""
This essay by George Packer continues in The Atlantic.

Santa vs. the Yeti

A little-known and underappreciated Christmas story.

And speaking of the holidays, I'm a little late in setting up a collective greeting card for readers of TYWKIWDBI.   Here are the updated instructions from last year:
I first tried this in December of 2009 as a Christmas card, then revived the concept in 2017 and again in 2018 as a New Year's endeavor.  This was the season's greeting card in December of last year.

Here are the instructions on how to participate:

1) In the comment section of THIS post, give me a LINK to a photo (or a bit of artwork or other image) that you have in your blog, or in your Flickr photostream or in some other online storage site that I can access. I'd prefer that you not email me the photo - just give the link and I'll go there and copy/paste it.* (but see addendum)

The picture can be of you, or your family, or your computer, or your cat, or whatever - it doesn't matter.  It should belong to you (not a commercial image with copyright issues).  See the previous years' greetings cards re the style and content of the photos.

2) With the photo link send a brief (~25 words) greeting, directed to the other readers and visitors.  This is to be a greeting to other readers, not a comment to me or about TYWKIWDBI.

3) Sign with the avatar name you use in commenting here, or in your blog, or your real name if you wish. This is not a venue to be used to say "Hi from anon."  I recognize that a number of readers here prefer to leave comments anonymously - which is fine - but this greeting card is for identifiable people.  If you are a regular Anon or Unknown and wish to participate, you can still send a greeting and image, but you will need to sign your name (or make one up for the occasion).

Note - as various trolls have realized, for TYWKIWDBI I am the "autocrat at the breakfast table" and reserve absolute right to control the content.  For this venture I may edit comments for length and trim pictures if they are too big.  I may limit the number of entries if there are too many, and I will absolutely vaporize anything that hints of spam or might be offensive to other readers.  However I will include a link to your blog if that's where the image is stored.

And it doesn't need to be "Christmas-y" - this will be posted after Christmas as a New Year's greeting, so it can celebrate the end of the past year or express hope about the one to come.  But mostly it's just to say "hi" to other readers whose names you have seen in the comments.

*Addendum: I realize that not everyone has online places to store photos, so once again I will let you email me a photo/text/name if you have no other option.  You can send it to the blog's address: retag4726(at)mypacks.net.  But please send smallish pix of a couple MB (compress them with JPEG if needed).  I don't want to have ten people send 5 MB photos and thus have my emailbox overfull so that I can't conduct my regular life.  Thanks.  
I'm looking forward to seeing what arrives.

"Please pass the hallucinogenic spinach..."

Strange times in Australia this week:
Australians are being urged not to seek out contaminated baby spinach products for a recreational high after more than 130 people who ate a range of fresh food items suffered symptoms including hallucinations and delirium.

Symptoms can be severe and include delirium or confusion, hallucinations, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, flushed face, blurred vision, dry mouth and skin, and fever.
Classic symptoms of poisoning by an anticholinergic agent.  
The weed responsible for contaminating baby spinach at a Victorian farm has been identified as thornapple – a type of nightshade.

The scientific name is Datura stramonium. It is also known as jimsonweed.
More details here.

20 December 2022

Good boy !!!

Yvonne Faulkner-Grant and her husband, David Grant, noticed something unusual about their dog Scruff last year while they were out walking in their town of Nuneaton in central England...

Border collies are natural working dogs and love to play fetch, she said, so she and David were happy when Scruff started picking up discarded plastic bottles in fields, parks and streets around town...

In February, Scruff upped his game and found 61 plastic bottles, followed in March by 110 bottles and one plastic cup. In August, he found a whopping 143 bottles, David said... “There are definitely more than 1,000 right now,” David said. “There are very few days when Scruff doesn’t find one.”
More of the story and more pix at The Washington Post.

"It depends..."

Don't knee-jerk your response to this puzzle.  I thought the answer was mind-numbingly obvious - until I read the discussion thread at the CountOnceADay subreddit.  And that discussion doesn't even mention the concept of the Reynolds number...

New all-time record set at this year's World Cup

"There were no arrests among fans of England or Wales at the World Cup in Qatar, according to the UK's football policing lead.  Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police has said it's the first time that no fans from the UK were arrested at a World Cup.

The first World Cup with no British arrests is also the first World Cup without free-flowing alcohol.  Alcohol is typically only available in Qatar at licensed hotel bars and restaurants... Roberts wouldn't fully concede the lack of arrests was due to the lack of alcohol, but he was at least willing to suggest that there may, in fact, be a connection."

Sleep paralysis in the Connecticut witchcraft trials

Three excerpts:
"After this Thomas Bracy giuing out some words, that he suspected Katherin Gooddy Harrison of witchcraft, Katherin Harrison mett Thomas Bracy and threatned Thomas telling him that shee would be euen with him. After that Thomas Bracy aforesaide, being well in his sences & health and perfectly awake, his brothers in bed with him, Thomas aforesaid saw the saide James Wakely and the saide Katherin Harrison stand by his bed side, consultinge to kill him the said Thomas, James Wakely said he would cut his throate, but Katherin counselled to strangle him, presently the said Katherin seised on Thomas striuinge to strangle him, and pulled or pinched him so as if his flesh had been pulled from his bones, theirefore Thomas groaned. At length his father Marten heard and spake, then Thomas left groninge and lay quiet a little, and then Katherin fell againe to afflictinge and pinching, Thomas againe groninge Mr. Marten heard and arose and came to Thomas whoe could not speake till Mr. Marten laid his hands on Thomas, then James and Katherin aforesaid went to the beds feete, his father Marten and his mother stayed watchinge by Thomas all that night after, and the next day Mr. Marten and his wife saw the mark of the saide afflictinge and pinchinge." 
"Dated 13th of August one thousand six hundred sixtie and eight. Hadley. Taken upon oath before us. HENRY CLARKE. SAMUELL SMITH."

"That about the latter end of November, being the 29th day, 1668, the said Mary Hale lying in her bed, a good fire giving such light that one might see all over that room where the said Mary then was, the said Mary heard a noise, & presently something fell on her legs with such violence that she feared it would have broken her legs, and then it came upon her stomach and oppressed her so as if it would have pressed the breath out of her body. Then appeared an ugly shaped thing like a dog, having a head such that I clearly and distinctly knew to be the head of Katherine Harrison, who was lately imprisoned upon suspicion of witchcraft. Mary saw it walk to & fro in the chamber and went to her father's bedside then came back and disappeared. That day seven night next after, lying in her bed something came upon her in like manner as is formerly related, first on her legs & feet & then on her stomach, crushing & oppressing her very sore. She put forth her hand to feel (because there was no light in the room so as clearly to discern). Mary aforesaid felt a face, which she judged to be a woman's face, presently then she had a great blow on her fingers which pained her 2 days after, which she complained of to her father & mother, & made her fingers black and blue.

During the former passages Mary called to her father & mother but could not wake them till it was gone. After this, the day of December in the night, (the night being very windy) something came again and spoke thus to her, saying to Mary aforesaid, You said that I would not come again, but are you not afraid of me. Mary said, No. The voice replied I will make you afraid before I have done with you; and then presently Mary was crushed & oppressed very much. Then Mary called often to her father and mother, they lying very near. Then the voice said, Though you do call they shall not hear till I am gone. Then the voice said, You said that I preserved my cart to carry me to the gallows, but I will make it a dear cart to you (which said words Mary remembered she had only spoke in private to her sister a little before & to no other.) Mary replied she feared her not, because God had kept her & would keep her still. The voice said she had a commission to kill her. Mary asked, Who gave you the commission? The voice replied God gave me the commission. Mary replied, The Devil is a liar from the beginning for God will not give commission to murder, therefore it must be from the devil. Then Mary was again pressed very much. Then the voice said, You will make known these things abroad when I am gone, but if you will promise me to keep these aforesaid matters secret I will come no more to afflict you. Mary replied I will tell it abroad. Whereas the said Mary mentions divers times in this former writing that she heard a voice, this said Mary affirmeth that she did & doth know that it was the voice of Katherine Harrison aforesaid; and Mary aforesaid affirmeth that the substance of the whole relation is truth." 
"Sworn in Court May 25, 1669. Attest John Allyn, Sec'y."

"John Barlow eaged 24 years or thairabout saieth and sd testifieth that soumtime this last year that as I was in bedd in the hous that Mead Jesuop then liuied in that Marsey Desbory came to me and layed hold on my fett and pinshed them (and) looked wishley in my feass and I strouff to rise and cold not and too speek and cold not. All the time that she was with me it was light as day as it semed to me--but when shee uanicht it was darck and I arose and hade a paine in my feet and leags some time after an our or too it remained. Sometime before this aforesd Marcey and I had a falling out and shee sayed that if shee had but strength shee would teer me in peses."  
"Sworn in court Septr 19, 92. Attests John Allyn."
This is not one of my recommended books; I'm just storing the excerpts here so that I now the book can find a new home via eBay.  These three excerpts (boldface added) present classic examples of sleep paralysis, nocturnal dyspnea, and hypnagogic hallucinations being misinterpreted as witchcraft.  These events in Connecticut obviously parallel the ones occurring in Salem, Massachusetts.  For further context, see the sleep paralysis section of TYKWIWDBI.  Much more on the Salem events to come in future posts - I have 14 relevant books on my shelf.

Taylor, John M. The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut 1647-1697. Baltimore, MD: Grafton Press, 1908.  Online version here.

16 December 2022

Divertimento #193 (gifs)

Start with:  "Flying table" magic trick (and here)...  Then: ... explained\
Hijab-free protests by Iranian women.  Hijab-burningMore.
Ukrainian drone takes down Russian drone.  Welcome to modern war.
Most-Googled search terms 2021 state-by-state
Mother of 12 children begins her day
Disassembling a carReversed is more interesting (send this one to someone).
Drone equipped with a flamethrower
Gift card scam *** (share this)

Hamster puts eight carrots in his cheeks, eats the ninth one
Wild pigs exit a cornfield
65,000 pre-spawn salmon died from Canadian drought
Eurasian blue tit builds nest, raises 8 chicks - all in 2 minutes
Albino porcupine (scroll down for the gif)
Sarcastic fringeheads display with their mouths.
Service dog in action.  And a helper dog.  And border collies are amazing.
Sheep relieved of 35kg of excessive wool

Nature and Science
Timelapse of hurricane storm surge.  And a timelapse of the satellite view
Planthopper nymph is not popcorn
Science experiment in zero gravity.  Explained by an aerospace engineer in the comments.
The heliosphere illustrated
Plant fires its seeds in series in various directions
Pulling amethyst crystals out of the ground
Stephen Hawking's party for time-travelers
It's apparently called a "lava boat"

Impressive or clever
Stuntwoman in training. Looks scary, but note the first comment.
The value of a helmet on a cyclist
Castle being built with 13th century technology
"Stairway to heaven" created with fireworks
Time lapse of paint stripper (methylene chloride)
Cake icing machine.  I want to lick that spatula.
The skills of a heavy equipment operator
"Hydro excavation" prevents damage to underground structures
World record 13-second solving of 3x3 Rubik's cube - blindfolded

Sports and athleticism
Impressive archery feats
Young dancer (at their age I was learning the box waltz)
Spelunker enjoying his hobby

Fails and wtf
Lauren Boebert says she doesn't know what a "wonton killing" is
Idiot drills into a gas tank full of gas
Freight train vs. truck, seen from interior cam
23 contact lenses removed from a woman's eye
Car driver almost misses his exit
Florida man messes with apex predator [lives]
Escaping an attempted armed robbery

Humorous or cheerful
"It's a tradition in Bhutan to see if a man can shoot straight when his manhood is being touched."
Not sure what to call this (?cardio) - but it looks like fun
Severely neglected puppy gets professional grooming
All dogs in the shelter were allowed to choose a toy for Christmas

The seasonally-appropriate embedded photos are entries from the 2022 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year competition.   About 20 more images at Capture the Atlas, via Neatorama, and via Madame Jujujive's always-interesting Everlasting Blort.  Individual photographer credits and locations at the gallery link.

14 December 2022

Two videos about Hieronymus Bosch


Very unusual rock found in Northern Arizona

Post your guesses in the comments.  I'll provide an update tomorrow.

Update:  Lots of opinions at the whatsthisrock subreddit (and two more photos).  I would agree with the current leading suggestion that it is a salt lick.  Based on the third photo it looks like a sedimentary rock with high salt content rather than a commercial salt lick put out for cattle

Australian English vs. American English

Pondering the "American Century"

Two excerpts from an essay in Harper's Magazine.  First, the intro -
In February 1941, as Adolf Hitler’s armies prepared to invade the Soviet Union, the Republican oligarch and publisher Henry Luce laid out a vision for global domination in an article titled The American Century. World War II, he argued, was the result of the United States’ immature refusal to accept the mantle of world leadership after the British Empire had begun to deteriorate in the wake of World War I. American foolishness, the millionaire claimed, had provided space for Nazi Germany’s rise. The only way to rectify this mistake and prevent future conflict was for the United States to join the Allied effort and
"accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and . . . exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."
Just as the United States had conquered the American West, the nation would subdue, civilize, and remake international relations.

Ten months after Luce published his essay, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States, which had already been aiding the Allies, officially entered the war. Over the next four years, a broad swath of the foreign policy elite arrived at Luce’s conclusion: the only way to guarantee the world’s safety was for the United States to dominate it. By war’s end, Americans had accepted this righteous duty, of becoming, in Luce’s words, “the powerhouse . . . lifting the life of mankind from the level of the beasts to what the Psalmist called a little lower than the angels.” The American Century had arrived....
Then at the midpoint of the article -
The more one considers the American Century, in fact, the more our tenure as global hegemon resembles a historical aberration. Geopolitical circumstances are unlikely to allow another country to become as powerful as the United States has been for much of the past seven decades. In 1945, when the nation first emerged triumphant on the world stage, its might was staggering. The United States produced half the world’s manufactured goods, was the source of one third of the world’s exports, served as the global creditor, enjoyed a nuclear monopoly, and controlled an unprecedented military colossus. Its closest competitor was a crippled Soviet Union struggling to recover from the loss of more than twenty million citizens and the devastation of significant amounts of its territory.

The United States’ power was similarly astounding after the Soviet Union’s collapse in the early Nineties, especially when one aggregates its strength with that of its Western allies. In 1992, the G7 countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—controlled 68 percent of global GDP, and maintained sophisticated militaries, which, the Gulf War seemed to demonstrate, could achieve their objectives quickly, cheaply, and with minimal loss of Western life.

But this is no longer the case. By 2020, the G7’s GDP had dwindled to 31 percent of the global total, and is expected to fall to 29 percent by 2024. This trend will likely continue. And if the past thirty years of American war have demonstrated anything, it’s that sophisticated militaries do not always achieve their intended political objectives. The United States and its allies aren’t what they once were. Hegemony was an anomaly, an accident of history unlikely to be repeated, at least in the foreseeable future.
Conclusion and more at Harper's.
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