18 January 2018


Photo credit Adrian Pingstone.

(Belongs to a Rhinoceros iguana):

Via Reddit.

Vikings defeat Saints on final play of game

Brief backstory:  In a playoff game to determine which team will continue on to the conference championship game, Minnesota led New Orleans 17-0 at halftime, then fell behind 21-20.  The lead changed hands twice more.  With only 10 seconds left in the game Minnesota trailed 24-23 and were on their own 39-yard-line.

Then this happened...

(o.k. to click on the "Watch on YouTube" link that appears in order to view)

I actually didn't see this live.  I have not watched any sports live since acquiring a DVR (time is too precious to waste on commercial breaks).  Also I share the attitude of Etta in the Butch Cassidy movie ("I love you, but I won't watch you die"). 

For this game I left my desk after halftime to speed-watch the first half, then was back at my desk getting stuff done and occasionally changing tabs to peek at the ESPN summary, when this unexpectedly appeared:

Finally, after half a lifetime, something to replace the memory of the 1975 Roger Staubach-to-Drew Pearson "Hail Mary" pass and the four Super Bowl defeats.

Every picture tells a story

Via the Well That Sucks subreddit.

When you only have a few minutes to live...

... your priorities change.  The graph shows viewership at Pornhub at the time of the (false) nuclear
bomb warning.  Via Boing Boing.

"Blade Runner 2049" compared to the original

17 January 2018

Trump clump #3

(For a background on this type of linkdump, see my introductory paragraphs on Trump clump #1 back in August.  Trump clump #2 was in November.  Here's what I've bookmarked since then.)

As of November: "Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Secret Service reportedly spent $7,470 on golf cart rentals for its agents and the president while at Trump's private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, according to federal purchase orders reviewed by USA Today. In total, the publication reports that the Secret Service has spent $144,975 on golf carts in the 11 months since Trump assumed office. Golfing is such an integral part of Trump’s routine — he's been on 81 trips to golf properties while in office — that the Secret Service had to sign a ongoing contract with Golf Cart & Utility Distributors, a Florida cart rental company, which now amounts to $69,430."

Op-ed from early December: "Donald Trump’s Jerusalem statement is an act of diplomatic arson."

Are you old enough to remember the Talking Heads' video Once in a Lifetime ?  Here it is reconfigured to incorporate Donald Trump:

"On Thursday morning, Melania Trump followed the annual ritual done by all first ladies in the modern era. The @flotus Twitter account posted a photo of herself with President Donald Trump at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii. But the tweet listed the date of the Pearl Harbor Attack as “11/7/1941,” which was a month off."

In December, the editorial board of USA Today took the gloves off:
With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low...

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.  

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.
Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed...

The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.
Trump tweets plotted by time of day as of November:

"In a speech to graduates of the FBI Academy, Trump talked about calling on Congress to end "chain migration" and "visa lottery," and compared legal immigrants to trash."  Informed discussion thread at Boing Boing.

"The glittering 72-story tower on Panama City’s oceanfront is a standout. Shaped like a sail, it was the tallest building in Latin America when it opened in 2011. It also marked the Trump Organization’s first international licensing venture. And, according to a new report from TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch and her colleagues at Global Witness, this particular building, known as the Trump Ocean Club, is a textbook example of how money gleaned through crime and corruption can enter global markets through what look like legitimate deals. Global Witness’ year-long investigation revealed how members of drug cartels and the Russian mafia used real estate in the building to launder money."

“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion,” Trump told the newspaper. “And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.” “There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime,” he continued. “But there’s no collusion.”

Trump tweet: "We are the highest taxed nation in the world."  Krugman rebuttal tweet: "We are, as pointed out many times, lowest-taxed major advanced nation.  Repetition of this lie shows contempt for the intelligence of the public." 

Trump often cites the rise in the stock market as validation of his presidency.  The Washington Post provides some perspective:

Harper's "Weekly Review" for the end of December offered a scathing summary of recent events.

In January, some reminders re accusations that the Mueller investigation is a Democratic "witch-hunt":  Robert Mueller is a registered Republican, first appointed to a federal position by Ronald Reagan, recently appointed as a Special Counsel by a Republican Deputy Attorney General nominated by a Republican president.

The Atlantic considered this "the most irresponsible tweet in history"
"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
"Stand back, everyone.  Stable genius at work":

An article in The Atlantic in January asked "Is there something neurologically wrong with Donald Trump?" - "Viewers of Trump’s recent speeches have begun noticing minor abnormalities in his movements. In November, he used his free hand to steady a small Fiji bottle as he brought it to his mouth [pix at the link]... Then there was an incident of slurred speech [video at the link].. Trump has exhibited a “clear reduction in linguistic sophistication over time” with “simpler word choices and sentence structure.”

A sample Trump day goes like this: "On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11 a.m. He then has "Executive Time" for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it's another 1 hour 15 minutes of "Executive Time" followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of "Executive Time" before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45 p.m. meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15 p.m."

One suggestion on how to pay for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.

Donald Trump tried to sue Macmillan, publishers of the new Fire and Fury book.  The CEO ("We cannot stand silent. We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court") and the company's outside counsel responded: "...your attempt to use private contracts to act as a blanket restriction on members of the government speaking to the press is a perversion of contract law and a gross violation of the First Amendment. No court would support such an attempt to silence public servants and the press."  With an interesting comment thread at Boing Boing.

Trump's new ambassador the the Netherlands discovered that he couldn't bullshit Dutch reporters:
“If you are truly an honest and wise man,” another journalist asked, “would you please take back the remark about burned politicians — or name a politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” When Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands but raised in Michigan as a staunch social conservative, called for another question, two reporters asked him, “Why don’t you answer the question?” Another told the former member of U.S. Congress, “This is the Netherlands; you have to answer questions.”

Meanwhile" John Feeley, the U.S. ambassador to Panama, has written and submitted a letter of resignation, saying he is leaving the office on principle and no longer feels comfortable serving in the Trump administration."

In response to Donald Trump's comments demeaning some foreign nations, the San Francisco Federal Building was recently illuminated at night.

And finally, last night a special election for the Wisconsin state legislature yielded some surprising results with possible implications for the mid-term elections coming this November:
A month after deep-red Alabama voted for a Democratic senator, a deep-red Wisconsin district rejected a Republican candidate for a state Senate seat.

Patty Schachtner picked up 55 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow. She credited the win to her message: "Be kind, be considerate and we need to help people when they're down," she told the Associated Press. She said that "negative mailings" against her from third-party groups likely influenced voters to rally around her.  Schachtner's win is sending alarm bells off in Republican circles, as the district has traditionally been a Republican stronghold. It was carried by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election — even though he lost Wisconsin overall, as well as by Donald Trump (by a 55-38 margin) during the 2016 presidential election...
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called the loss "a wake-up call for Republicans.

Top photo via Reddit Pics.  "Stable genius" here. Bottom one also via Reddit

I frankly don't enjoy writing these posts, but they seem to be cathartic.  I'll minimize Trump mentions in the blog for the next three months or so, and then do another purge.

The comments are closed for this post, because the comment thread would not be a forum for rational discussion, so lets move on to more interesting matters. 

14 January 2018

Divertimento #144

Bet you can't guess what kind of creature this is in the first ten seconds.  (pine trees in foreground the best clue).

In ten seconds this gentleman illustrates all you need to know about black ice.

Recreation in Rotorua (click the fullscreen icon)

Spinning triple-kick.

Sibling prank.

Illustrating a lack of situational awareness.

Graphic illustration of Pythagorean theorem.

Sandbag-filling machine.

Flying with your family.

Gaussian distribution.

That thing on your leg is called a jumping cactus.  I'll get it off for you.

Office velociraptor.

Tiled access panel.

Trampoline fun.

Incorporating a shadow into graphic design.

Failure to factor in backward movement of the chair.

I wouldn't be eager to eat this pizza, but he's fun to watch.

Australian driver pulls to the side of the road?


Child discovers antigravity.

Child loves his Christmas present.

Hearing-impaired girl learns she's going to become a big sister.

The pure joy of stacking blocks.

Shoveling snow on the deck :-)

Toddler and kitten.

Cats, dogs and other animals.

Nope.  Nope.

Lovin' the beach.

Likes the view.

Making a snow angel.

Carpet snake!!!

Get a cat, they said.  It'll be fun, they said.

Group snuggle.

Shower for a pet bird.

Ski dog totally loves his job.

Rooster hurries to meet his little girl.

If this is a quick brown fox, what does that make her?

Not much time to blog today (very important football game this afternoon); perhaps I'll add pix later.  Gotta go.


Superb example of countershading on a Southern right whale dolphin

Photo source.

13 January 2018

Severed foot in the Garden of Earthly Delights

It has been almost two years since I've been able to add any material to the 29 posts in TYWKIWDBI's category of severed feet.   So, a tip of my blogging cap to Miss Cellania at Neatorama, who found one in Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

A quick search led me to a claim that "the severed foot is one of the most repeated in the Bosch's panel paintings, appearing in several works, as in the Garden of Delights and in the central panel of the Temptation of St Anthony triptych in Lisbon." Although this is offered as support for the premise that Bosch was depicting sequelae of ergot poisoning, the one pictured above appears to me to be traumatically severed, not withered by occlusive vasculitis.

And speaking of severed feet, by an improbable coincidence, the Washington Post is reporting this week that severed feet continue to wash ashore in the Pacific Northwest.  Those were the odd events that prompted me to create this category for TYWKIWDBI back in 2008.
Sixteen of these detached human feet have been found since 2007 in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington state. Most of these have been right feet. All of them have worn running shoes or hiking boots. Among them: three New Balances, two Nikes and an Ozark Trail.

The most recent one turned up earlier this week.
More information and a video at the link, but no explanation for the phenomenon.

Reposted from 2016 to provide some addenda:
I continue to encounter the odd report of severed feet (and longtime readers occasionally send me links of such incidents).  Rather than put new reports on the front page of the blog, I'm going to convert this post into a linkdump.

Via Nothing to do with Arbroath:
"Three severed human feet found in and around a park are likely to have been educational medical exhibits or from a private collection, an investigation has concluded. The first foot was found by dog walkers in Weston Park East Bath, Somerset, in February. A second was discovered in the garden of a property in Weston Park in July and a third in a garden in nearby Cranwells Park a month later. Avon and Somerset Police said they found no evidence of foul play..."
 A website that sells severed animal feet (dried, salted, or preserved in alcohol).

Severed feet as a theme for Cake Wrecks.

At Rio's 2016 summer Olympics: "A beach goer Wednesday discovered human body parts that had washed up on the shore, right in front of the Olympic Beach Volleyball Arena on Rio's famed Copacabana beach. A dismembered foot and another body part still unidentified was found..."

"The freelance journalist told the Bath Chronicle: "It was just like CSI. There were a few of us out walking our dogs and then a lady came running over to find us and said there's a foot in the hedge."

"The Sonoma County coroner's office is investigating a foot in a shoe that washed ashore at Doran Regional Park south of Bodega Bay" (Feb 2017)

"After a shoe with a human foot inside turned up on a dock in Charleston, South Carolina, investigators are trying to figure out whose it was and how it got there." (May 2017)

A severed foot in a tennis shoe was discovered in a county park in St. Louis, Missouri.  The park was adjacent to the Mississippi River, so it could have come from an aquatic incident.

A tip of the blogging cap to long-time readers Phil and Bub, who remembered this series of posts and sent me a link about yet another foot washing ashore in Canada (13 since 2007...).  This one was remarkable for having the tibia and fibula still attached (photo at right).

I was pleased to see in Neatorama today a link to a Wikipedia page that provides comprehensive coverage of this topic (at least as it relates to the Pacific Northwest.).

Optimal car routes

Not of any practical use, but quite interesting in and of itself.

Via the Data Is Beautiful subreddit.

The rivers of Wales

Via the Map Porn subreddit.

"Water transfer painting"

TMI (14 minutes), so you'll need to skip through the video.  The technique facilitates the transfer of detailed images onto complex surfaces.  Interesting.

Computer-generated waterfall images

In case you were curious what an "arm vagina" is

From an op-ed in The Guardian:
It’s hard for women to keep track of which specific body part is currently being shamed to death, when it seems to be open season on all of them. But even by the demented standards of female self-flagellation, the emergence of “arm vagina” – aka the slight fold of flesh created where the average arm meets the average body – is a low point.

If you’re reading this in a public place and unable immediately to check whether you have arm vagina, then let me help; you almost certainly do. Everyone does. It’s basically a normal human armpit, which tends to involve some spare capacity in the flesh department, what with it being difficult to raise your arm otherwise.

But in Hollywood, having a freakishly fat-free underarm, as taut and smooth as a plastic Barbie doll’s, is apparently the new goal...

From size zero to the “thigh gap”, or having legs so stick thin they don’t touch in the middle, today’s freaky A-list neurosis so easily becomes tomorrow’s fitness blogger’s goal, and next week’s impossible aspiration for your daughter. This stuff is infectious, and it stops being a frivolous issue when over half of British teenage girls say they’re unhappy with their looks, and when a smaller but still heartbreaking number feel driven to starve and punish the flesh that they have begun to see as repulsive.

Somehow we need to get across to girls that this is bonkers, unreal, insane: twisted norms that have nothing to do with their own lives or with the boys they will encounter...
Sample pic here.

Fifteen children age 17 or under

 And what's truly remarkable is that none of them were multiples -

The New York Times story said the father won a prize.  Seems the prize should have been awarded to the mother.

Reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch.

Via BoingBoing.

12 January 2018

Marble run with magnets

Reposted from 2016 to add this awesome marble run choreographed to music:

With a hat tip to Miss C at Neatorama.

I wish Earth had rings

Stay with the video past the 1 minute mark to see how the rings would look from the surface.

Reposted from 2012 because it's still a cool video (I hadn't thought about the rings lighting up the nighttime sky).  It's low-res but still looks pretty good in the fullscreen mode.

Dramatic ice deposits on Mars

The slope rises as high as London's Big Ben tower. Beneath its ruddy layer of dirt is a sheet of ice 300 feet thick that gives the landscape a blue-black hue... Planetary scientists located eight of these geological features, called scarps, on the Red Planet...

Open University's Matt Balme, a planetary scientist in Britain who did not participate in this study, said the key findings were the color images of a bluish tint. That indicates a sub-layer that is “somehow compositionally different” than the red dirt. It is unlikely that the frozen sheets are a mix of water and soil. “If the conclusions of the paper are correct,” he said, “you’re looking at something that's almost pure ice.”

The scarps exist along the planet's middle latitudes, ruling out glaciers that migrated from the poles. The study authors propose that these ice sheets formed when thick snows blanketed Mars.
More at The Washington Post.

Pigs vs. dogs as truffle-hunters

"According to the few truffle hunters I’ve talked to, sows are actually better truffle hunters than dogs, but dogs can be more easily trained not to eat the truffle they find. Prodan told me the reason for porcine superiority is that the truffle contains the steroidal pheromone androstenone, which also happens to be produced in the saliva of male pigs. Thus, female pigs, particularly when they’re in heat, go hog-wild when they pick up the scent of a truffle."
More at the BBC.

Introducing the "pelican spider"

As explained by Smithsonian:
Formally known as Archaeids, the creatures are perhaps best described by their common name: “pelican spiders.” Each spider in this group boasts an extended, arching carapace and two extra-long mouthparts (called chelicerae), creating the illusion of a “neck” and “beak.” The resemblance to pelicans is uncanny.
They live in Madagascar and eat other spiders.  And as the "Archaeid" family name suggests, this is an ancient lineage, probably dating back 180 million years to before Madagascar was an island.  More at the link.

09 January 2018

Divertimento #143

I let my boyfriend choose a shower curtain and now we have this.

A list of the longest plays in NFL history.  In 2016 the longest was 141 yards run by Odell Beckham on a 4-yard punt return.   There is also a list of the fastest ball carriers.  And the longest tackles and fastest sacks.

A lake trout caught in Lake Superior is at least 46 years old.  "... the fish has been tagged eight times in the past four decades."  It was tagged again and released.

"Mikayla Holmgren made history this weekend when she became the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, and as far as pageant officials know, the first in the country."

A brief anecdote about interacting with small children.

"Police say two people were accidentally shot at a church in Tellico Plains Thursday afternoon during a discussion about the recent church shooting in Texas."

Airless bicycle tires.

"A pair of Queensland paramedics made a detour to the beach for a palliative care patient who wanted to see the ocean again. The unidentified patient was being transported to the palliative care unit of a local hospital when she mentioned her desire to see the beach. The paramedics decided to take a detour to the hospital, propping the patient up in the stretcher so she could see the ocean stretching out from  Hervey Bay."

Fire pit made from an old clothes washing machine.

"Between 1,200 to 1,400 calls are made every year to the [Mackinac] bridge's Drivers Assistance Program that provides motorists with a crew member to drive them across if they're too afraid to drive themselves."

Coyote climbs a tree to eat the fruit.

Mind-boggling photos of landfills.

"Calculated destruction" as a police tactic.

"A pair of amateur explorers in Canada have found a vast underground passage stretching hundreds of metres underneath the bustling streets of Montreal whose formation dates back more than 15,000 years ago to the Earth’s last ice age."

A dog and an orphaned fawn grooming each other.

Extremely well-camouflaged snow leopard.

How Scott Walker and the Republican party are dismantling environmental regulations in Wisconsin for the sake of an industrial development by Foxconn.  "Foxconn can fill in wetlands that are regulated by the state, change the course of streams, even build in a stream running through the property if it wants to. In addition, the plant will use potentially polluting chemicals to manufacture an array of super-high-definition display panels. Yet no environmental impact statement will be required by state officials for one of the largest economic development projects in U.S. history."

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (Japanese "fail-video" game program) overdubbed a la MST3K. 

"The US Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid program requires any student applying for federal aid for college or university to turn over an enormous amount of compromising personal information, including current and previous addresses, driver's license numbers, Green Card numbers, marital details, drug convictions, educational history, tax return details, total cash/savings/checking balances, net worth of all investments, child support received, veterans' benefits, children's details, homelessness status, parents details including SSNs, and much, much more. If you have the Social Security Number, data of birth, and full name of anyone who's applied for college grants or loans, you can then feed it into the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website and it will show you all this data."

Lake Chad is "The World's Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster" (a longread to spoil your day).

Most people by now have heard about the conundrum posed by the "Do Not Resuscitate" tattoo,

Rex Tillerson "was a debacle, pure and simple, the worst Secretary of State in living memory (and there has been serious competition) not because of ineptitude, but because of the semi-intentional demolition job he was doing on his own department even as he fell out of presidential favor."

It is now possible to transplant vascularized lymph nodes to treat lymphedema.

"Enough Is Enough. We Need to Elect More Scientists to Congress."

"Yet perhaps the greatest thing in this scene [the singing of La Marseillaise in Casablanca] is that most of the people in it weren’t actors at all; rather, director Michael Curtiz filled the scene with actual French refugees. Keep in mind, this movie came out in 1942 and was filmed at the height of World War II, at a time when Germany looked nearly unbeatable and Nazi occupation of France was indefinite. And here was a group of refugees from that occupation, given the chance to sing their anthem with defiant pride. For one brief moment, this wasn’t a movie. It was real life, and it was tragic, and it was brave. Reports have said that extras were crying on set during filming, and the passion is evident any time you look past the main actors to the background singers."

The images in today's linkdump come from a review at Collector's Weekly of match holders and match safes (see also here).

Order delivery pizza, get a cellphone stand for free

Just cut one leg off the crush protector.  Via the LifeHacks subreddit.

In every household...

From Real Life Adventures.

Mesolithic woodcarving tools? Beaver teeth.

It may be older than the Egyptian pyramids:
This ancient example of human creativity was recovered in January 1890 near Kirovgrad but there remains uncertainty over its age, believed to be around 9,500 years old. Made of 159 year old larch, it is covered with Mesolithic era symbols, which are not yet decoded. Some 2.8 metres in height, it appears to have seven faces.

It was protected down the millennia by a four metre layer of peat bog on the site of an open air gold mine...

Now, German scientists secured a grant which they hope will provide the Idol's age to within half a century.

'There is no such ancient sculpture in the whole of Europe. Studying this idol is a dream come true', said Professor Thomas Terberger, of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony.
Reposted from 2015 to add some interesting information:
New scientific findings suggest that images and hieroglyphics on the wooden statue were carved with the jaw of a beaver, its teeth intact.

Originally dug out of a peat bog by gold miners in the Ural Mountains in 1890, the remarkable seven-faced Idol is now on display in a glass sarcophagus in a museum in Yekaterinburg. Two years ago German scientists dated the Idol as being 11,000 years old.

At a conference involving international experts held in the city this week, Professor Mikhail Zhilin said the wooden statue, originally 5.3 metres tall, was made of larch, with the basement and head carved using silicon faceted tools. 'The surface was polished with a fine-grained abrasive, after which the ornament was carved with a chisel,' said the expert. 'At least three were used, and they had different blade widths.

The faces were 'the last to be carved because apart from chisels,  some very interesting tools - made of halves of beaver lower jaws - were used'.

He said: 'Beavers are created to carve trees. If you sharpen a beaver's cutter teeth, you will get an excellent tool that is very convenient for carving concave surfaces.'..
The professor has found such a 'tool' made from beaver jaw at another archeological site - Beregovaya 2, dating to the same period. 
The "basement" referred to is probably what is more conventionally referred to as a "pediment." More information and photos at The Siberian Times.  This full-length photo via Wikipedia:

08 January 2018

"Side effects include euphoria, increased appetite..."

An interesting article in Politico this past week suggests that Jeff Sessions' to reimpose federal restrictions on state cannabis policies may lead to a backlash that may eventually favor nationwide legalization.
Business leaders in an industry that was worth $7.9 billion in 2017, called Sessions’ action revoking “outrageous” and “economically stupid.”

Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. It was Republican senators, too...

Thursday may well turn out to be a pivotal moment in the marijuana industry’s evolution as a political force. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe in some form of legalized marijuana, but does the nascent industry have the sway to rewrite nearly 50 years of federal drug policy?..

“There’s a lot of [legislators] trying to have it both ways who are now going to have to make up their mind,” said Tick Segerblom, the Nevada state senator who is considered the father of the state’s legalization movement. “Are they going to go with what the voters of their state support, or are they going to join Sessions and crack down and try to re-instate prohibition?”  Right now, the answer seems to be the former...

The fact that marijuana has now risen to the height of top-tier budget negotiations is a sign that the pro-marijuana coalition is no longer merely a menagerie of loud-mouth hippies, stoners, and felons, as the pro-pot crowd has been characterized in the past. The community of Americans who now rely on legal medical marijuana, estimated to be 2.6 million people in 2016, includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, and parents of epileptic children...

As of late Friday, POLITICO Magazine could not find a single member of Congress who had issued a statement in support of Sessions’ actions. 

When bearskin was better than bare skin

Petr Hlavacek, a Czech academic and calceology expert from the Tomas Bata University in Zlin, eastern Czech Republic, has taken his research into prehistoric footwear to another level by re-creating  Ötzi ‘s boots. Hlavacek’s expertise in calceology (from “calcei” meaning shoes in Latin) studies the archaeological and historical aspects of footwear.
Further details at The Vintage News, via Neatorama.

Also - analysis of the grasses used by Otzi is at Researchgate.

Nativity scene

At the top, a traditional nativity scene, photographed in Boston and emailed to me during the Christmas season by an old friend.  At the bottom one example of a modern version (variously termed "minimalist" or "Bauhaus."

06 January 2018

For puzzle enthusiasts - updated with answers

Each year the Royal Statistical Society posts a "Christmas Quiz."  The 2017 Christmas Quiz is here.

The embed above is a convenient image, but is not representative of the quiz as a whole, much of which is not "mathematical."

I've got questions 1b and 12 mostly done, and may work on some more as time permits, but I'm saving most of my energy for the pending release of the King William's College General Knowledge Quiz, which should be out any day now.  Great fun and an immense challenge.

Related: Here's a good puzzle for you (with links to the 2016 RSS quiz - and answers).

AddendumAnswers to the 2017 RSS Christmas Quiz now in the Comments.

Unconventional domino tricks

Via BoingBoing.

How Americans voted (or not) in the last election

Via Scatterplot, where the data are discussed.

Child's raingear

Via Reddit.

How to make a wooden cow - updated

This craftsman has created an entire herd by turning a piece of wood and then slicing it.  The object comes from the collections of the Hornihan Museum; it is described as "German," but they offer no data re its age.

Via A London Salmagundi.

Addendum #1:  Reader mim found a video of how these are made in a modern family craft shop:


Addendum #2This relevant report found by an anonymous reader in Lost Art Press -

... In the Tyrol, for example, there is a valley called the Grödnerthal, about twenty miles long, in which the rough climate and barren soil will not suffice to grow corn for the inhabitants, who are rather numerous. Shut out from the agricultural labour customary in other districts, the people earn their bread chiefly by wood carving.

They make toys of numberless kinds (in which Noah’s Ark animals are very predominant) of the soft wood of the Siberian pine—known to the Germans as ziebel-nusskiefer. The tree is of slow growth, found on the higher slopes of the valley, but now becoming scarce, owing to the improvidence of the peasants in cutting down the forests without saving or planting others to succeed them.

... Many of the specimens shown at the Kew museums are more elaborate than those which could be produced wholly by hand. A turning-lathe of some power must have been needed. Indeed, the manner in which these zoological productions are fabricated is exceedingly curious, and is little likely to be anticipated by ordinary observers.

Who, for instance, would imagine for a moment that a wooden horse, elephant, or tiger, or any other member of the Noah’s Ark family, could be turned in a lathe, like a ball, bowl, or bedpost?
No English carver would dream of such a thing at such a price. However, these are not the most important of the productions of the peasant carvers, commercially speaking; like as our Mintons and Copelands make more money by every-day crockery than by beautiful Parian statuettes, so do the German toymakers look to the Noah’s Ark class of productions as their main stay in the market, rather than to more elegant and artistic works.

Charles Dickens (Editor)

All the Year Round – April 8, 1865
Yes - THAT Charles Dickens.

03 January 2018

Divertimento #142

An old-fashioned ice hockey brawl.  The announcer just loves it.

"More than $300m of cryptocurrency has been lost after a series of bugs in a popular digital wallet service led one curious developer to accidentally take control of and then lock up the funds, according to reports. Unlike most cryptocurrency hacks, however, the money wasn’t deliberately taken: it was effectively destroyed by accident."

I was going to say this lady is pigeon-toed, but that's not quite accurate.

Does this custom from the Byzantine civilization sound familiar? (hat tip NSTAAF):
Court officials touring the provinces in search of suitable brides for the imperial prince were apparently given a painting of what a perfect or ideal match should look like, and they tried to match it to the candidates they met. They also carried an impe­rial shoe of the right length for the ideal bride and tested it on their feet.
"Farmers urged to bury their underpants to improve quality of their beef."

Cryptic message on a deli order.

"An image of two elephants fleeing a mob that set them on fire in eastern India highlights the ongoing human-elephant conflicts in the region... The image shows a calf on fire as it and an adult elephant run for their lives — as a crowd of "jeering" people throw "flaming tar balls" and firecrackers at the pair."

Video shows the devastation of a mudslide (in Switzerland).

"Given the ubiquity of the wheel in human technology, and the existence of biological analogues of many other technologies (such as wings and lenses), the lack of wheels in the natural world would seem to demand explanation..."

"Ore. teen was excited to join her high school dance team. Then she learned about the maple syrup wrestling."

Honda service manager wrote down customer's complaint word for word.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brade claims that drinking lots of water protects him from sunburn.

Caution regarding high-priced liquor: "Researchers at the University of Oxford then performed carbon dating on the label and the cork, finding it was also probably from the 1970s. “The bottle, the label, the cork and the whisky were all counterfeit. There are three kinds of fakes we see — refills, replicas and relics — and this falls in the relics category of pretending to be an exceptionally old bottle,” Simpson told the Times of London. The bottle, which Bernasconi thought was worth around $350,000 turned out to be “almost worthless as a collector’s item.”"

Photo of two brothers who won two Powerball lottery prizes the same day, holding up their checks...

"Nearly four years ago, scientists in Vienna discovered that they could create organoids – lentil-sized blobs of human brain tissue – from stem cells. The revolutionary discovery has helped advance research on human brain development, Alzheimer’s, and Zika virus. These human brain organoids existed solely in test tubes, until this past weekend, when two teams of neuroscientists reported successfully implanting these cells into the brains of rats and mice."  Reported by Fox News as "Scientists implant tiny human brains in rats."

How to make flowers out of Jello-type gelatin (kind of cool).  10-minute video, but you can click to timeline to sample different stages.

More gelatin flowers - and spiders.

Movie theater popcorn butter "has no butter in it, but it does have partially hydrogenated soybean oil (a.k.a. trans fats), and... actually has 20 more calories per tablespoon than real butter."

A woman called a Louisiana sherrif's office regarding a neighbor who had harassed her family.  When the officer arrived, "he shot their rat terrier in the head in front of her children, then griped about the expense of the valuable hollow-point bullet he'd squandered on killing their beloved pet."

Video of a dog reunited with his owner after a 3-year separation.

For football fans only:  a high-school team trailed 27-10 with a minute to go in the game.  They then scored three touchdowns in that final minute to win 29-27.  News report with video here.

Video of the miniatures being crafted for the production of Blade Runner 2049.

The "border slash" between the United States and Canada. "Every year, the average American taxpayer pays half of a cent to the International Boundary Commission (IBC) for the sole purpose of deforesting every inch of the US-Canada border. With an annual budget of $1,400,000, the IBC ensures that the boundary will never be just an imaginary line." (photo gallery at the link)

A recent column in the most recent Harper's shows why "all politics is local."  The writer details some of her experiences serving on a county board.  "Most significantly, I am learning the limits of idealism, especially when it runs up against economic reality; the need to allow for conflicting interests, even when I think some of those interests are misguided, if not destructive; and the complexity of even the simplest problem..." It's an easy and informative read.

How to distinguish an alligator from a crocodile (humor).

Decision matrix on mass shootings (not humorous).

Stan Freberg's Little Blue Riding Hood parody (1953).

Chinese wedding party photo.

The images embedded in this linkdump are selections from a photoessay in The Atlantic about shepherds in Georgia’s Tusheti region in the northern Caucasus Mountains (transferring their flocks from alpine meadows to lower winter pastures). © Amos Chapple / Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

The craft of rock music, exemplified by Fleetwood Mac

Many years ago I saw a televised program - probably VH1's "Behind the Music" - which included long interviews with the members of Pink Floyd explaining how they generated their music.   The method was an eye-opening contrast to the more prosaic production technique of recording a live performance.

The video above (via BoingBoing) takes the same approach with Fleetwood Mac.

Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac - Landslide

One of the early Fleetwood Mac classics, first recorded way back in 1975, written when Stevie Nicks was experiencing some major changes in her personal and professional life.

This recording is from two decades later, in 1997 in a live performance. Her introductory comment "This is for you, Daddy," refers to her father, who was in the audience that night.

Well, I've been afraid of changing,
'cause I've built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder -
Children get older -
I'm getting older too

Reposted in 2009 after discovering another version of "Landslide," this one performed by the students of PS22 in New York City. I still prefer the Stevie Nicks version, but this one has a certain charm...

Reposted again for 2018.

Bars per capita

"Wisconsin is third in the nation in both number of bars and bars per capita. At the county level, Wisconsin's Iron County, with one for every 240 residents, leads the nation in bars per capita."
Interactive graphic at The Cap Times.  Discussion thread at the TodayILearned subreddit.

Valet parking competition

Every two years, the American valet-parking industry sends its best parkers—optimistically described as athletes—to compete in a head-to-head battle known as the National Valet Olympics...

The first event, the Key Box Challenge, is a form of competitive OCD: Valets must sprint to a locked key box, match a dozen or so keys with their corresponding vehicle tags, hang them correctly on a metal door, then sprint back to the finish line...

Next up was Precision Parking, the photogenic centerpiece of the games. Valets must sprint to a car—in this case, a black Toyota Camry—leap inside, and roar out of the parking spot. There is no speed limit. Athletes then weave through 10 orange cones, park the car, put it in reverse, and do the whole thing all over again, backwards...
The rest of the story is at The Atlantic.

02 January 2018

One photo (not a composite)

Interesting composition.  Via the OddlySatisfying subreddit.

Medical students, 1885

Photo taken at the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, now known as Drexel College of Medicine.

Photo via the OldSchoolCool subreddit (sepia removed and cropped for size).

This guy raised the price of a cancer drug by 1,400%.

Because he can.  And there's no generic available.  So fuck you.
Prices for a cancer drug called lomustine have skyrocketed nearly 1,400 percent since 2013, putting a potentially life-saving treatment out of reach for patients suffering from brain tumors and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Though the 40-year-old medication is no longer protected by patents, no generic version is available.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lomustine was sold by Bristol-Myers Squib for years under the brand name CeeNU at a price of about $50 a capsule for the highest dose. The drugmaker sold lomustine in 2013 to a little-known Miami startup called NextSource, which proceeded to hike lomustine's price nine times since. It now charges about $768 per pill for the medication.
More details at CBS News.

Photo of Nextsource CEO Robert Dicrisci via BoingBoing.

Film adaptations

Discussed in this video:
Novel- Apocalypse Now, adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness
Non-Fiction- Adaptation, adaptation of Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief
Play- Throne Of Blood, adaptation of Shakespeare's MacBeth
Graphic Novel- Oldboy, adaptation of G. Tsuchiya and N. Minegishi's manga Old Boy
Misc.- O Brother Where Art Thou, adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey
Via Neatorama.

Highway interchange

Located in Japan; mountain tunnels top and bottom.

Via the WoahDude subreddit.

The far side of the moon is dark, but not in darkness

Photo taken from a spacecraft, showing the side away from the earth fully illuminated by the sun.

It's amazing how many people think the far side of the moon is in eternal darkness.

Via the Space subreddit, where the discussion thread includes these nuggets:
"I love how this photo shows how dull the moon really is. It's about as luminous as asphalt. It just looks so bright because it normally sits in an inky black sky." "The moon albedo is only 0.12, that is, only 12% of incident light gets reflected. Asphalt and coal have similar albedos." "The moon is one of the darkest (least reflective) bodies in the solar system. It just looks bright and white to us because it's so close."
There's also a discussion there about "tidal locking."

Radar-regulated streetlights

This system was developed in Norway.  The lights are LED to start with, but in addition they are controlled by radar, dimming to minimum when no traffic is present, then becoming more intense as the car passes.

Developed for cost-saving, but would also help minimize nighttime light pollution.
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