20 October 2016


At farm supply stores you can purchase "artificial insemination gloves."  The non-veterinary uses are limited only  by your imagination.

Moose vs. lawnmower.  Moose wins.

Einstein is a famous talking parrot (5-minute video).

A woman cleverly stole mail from mailboxes by attaching a mousetrap to a segment from a vertical window blind.

Canities subita is the medical term for hair turning white overnight.

"In the hospital, Carter lost control of his right arm, then over his legs and other muscles within a few days. He now can only wiggle a toe and move the left side of his face. He has been diagnosed with a mysterious, polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis, a condition that seems to be surging this year."

Karma is well known to be a bitch (gif).

In episode 595 of This American Life ("Deep End of the Pool"), Act One ("If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, Some Random Dude Will Be Appointed to You") is a long listen (29 minutes) but provides amazing insight into the practice of public defenders.  If you're in a hurry, just try the first five minutes...

The benefits of going bald.  "While the bald and balding men were not considered as physically attractive as the other men, one category of scores was far higher. The men were consistently rated as more intelligent, influential, knowledgeable, well-educated, high social status, honest and helpful – traits collectively known as social maturity."  (and there's more...)

A robot wins a game of tic-tac-toe (8-second gif).  You have time for this...

Mamajujujive found those three poison Skittles.

Via Everlasting Blort, the worst of McMansions (scroll down the page).

A movie poster for "Forrest Trump."

There is a new world record for largest pumpkin: 2,261 pounds.  "By focusing on thickness as well as weight, gardeners hope to create structurally sound behemoths. As the younger Dill told Inverse in September 2015, he is cultivating a squash that is “pretty well solid right through to the cavity.”

In September, skeletons of Asian ancestry were discovered in a Roman Britain burial site.

"In early 2009, the seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion. Today, they’ve been all but wiped out."  Thanks, Obama.

Disappearing trick.  LOL.  (15-second gif)

NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day offers a zoom into a star cluster.

I heard some numbers on a podcast of No Such Thing as a Fish that I found hard to believe, but I tracked down confirmation at NASA -
When a star dies, its core collapses under the pull of gravity to form an exotic type of star. Average-sized stars like our sun leave behind white dwarfs. These stars contain about as much material as the sun, but gravity squeezes them down to the size of Earth. A teaspoon of white dwarf material would weigh about 15 tons!

If that doesn’t impress you, stars much bigger than our sun leave behind neutron stars. These objects contain even more material than the sun, but they are only about 10 miles across -- the size of a city. A teaspoon of neutron star material would weigh 4 billion tons!
Also via NSTAAF, there IS such a thing as -1 on the Richter Scale.

A deer enjoys a leaf blower.

Is a "juncture" the same as a "junction?"  Grammarist explains.

How hard can it be to get into a tub?

"If I drop food on the floor, I still eat it. I do that because the harm I might get from the floor is not worth my concern compared with many, many other things. You may feel differently. Either way, make an informed judgment based on relative risks, not on any arbitrary span of time that one thing has been touching another."

An interesting read about tsunamis in confined spaces.

"Ladybug, you are cleared for takeoff."

A half-court basketball shot (taken by a proxy) wins a student $10,000.

"When blind writer Trish Vickers failed to notice her pen had run out of ink, Dorset Police made a real impression on her.  The boys in blue came to her rescue and recovered 26 pages of her book."

Juggling flaming torches.  Ta-DAAAA !!  (I really hate to LOL at "fails," but sometimes it's hard not to.)

There is a new drug for severe eczema (a monoclonal antibody interleukin inhibitor).  It's currently in Phase 3 trials.

A map (and discussion thread) of the 14 drill holes in Mars made by Curiosity.

"Lyndel Rhodes listening to Willie Nelson sing a song she wrote."

Footprint of a titanosaur.

"Almost half of a 50-strong herd of cows in western France ate themselves to death after chomping on the equivalent of a whole winter’s rations in just one night."

Forbes Magazine released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans, a record 42 of whom are immigrants.

Opposition to Galileo was not just religious - it was also scientific.

Clever Oktoberfest outfits (gif).

"Bachelor hacks" - several of which are surprisingly clever.

Police have issued an appeal for information about why a chicken was seen crossing the road in Dundee.

"The U.S.’s largest pneumonic plague outbreak in nearly a century has been identified, and it all started with a sick dog... The CDC also found that one of the cases may have resulted from human-to-human transmission, something that hasn’t happened in the States since 1924."

Clever: "Police arrested Logan Pack, 24, for Felony Burglary. They say he collected receipts from the parking lot at Home Depot, then used the receipts like a shopping list to obtain the items from the shelves and return the goods for cash."  I have often wondered why more people don't do this (or perhaps they do).

If I drop food on the floor, I still eat it. I do that because the harm I might get from the floor is not worth my concern compared with many, many other things. You may feel differently. Either way, make an informed judgment based on relative risks, not on any arbitrary span of time that one thing has been touching another.

Where to go when your cruise ship hits rough seas.  There is a certain risk involved, but it's probably better than the dining room.

Here's the Saturday Night Live spoof of the second presidential debate.

If there is such a thing as a humorous Halloween costume of a suicide vest, this may be it.

Credit for the photos embedded in this week's Divertimento goes to Ásta Henriksen, who teaches English at the Icelandic School of Commerce, and whose hobby is photographing "hearts" in Icelandic nature (via Iceland Monitor).

17 October 2016

The Palouse (Washington state)

"Often referred to as the Tuscany of America, the Palouse region of Washington State offers one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the United States. The seemingly endless rolling fields of wheat, lentils and canola offer year-round beauty."
The origin of the name "Palouse" is unclear. One theory is that the name of the Palus tribe (spelled in early accounts variously as Palus, Palloatpallah, Pelusha, etc.) was converted by French-Canadian fur traders to the more familiar French word pelouse, meaning "land with short and thick grass" or "lawn." Over time, the spelling changed to Palouse. Another theory is that the region's name came from the French word and was later applied to its indigenous inhabitants.
Photo © Hamish Mitchell, via Smithsonian.

3D transformation of the Hubble Deep Field

Reposted from 2010 to add this new information:
There are a dizzying 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, up to 20 times more than previously thought, astronomers reported on Thursday. The surprising finding, based on 3D modeling of images collected over 20 years by the Hubble Space Telescope, was published in the Astronomical Journal...

Using deep space images from Hubble, Conselice and his team painstakingly converted them into 3D to measure the number of galaxies at different times in the history of the universe.
And each of those galaxies can have a hundred billions stars...  But, according the Sky and Telescope, "we do not "also have to update the number of stars in the observable universe, which now numbers around 700 sextillion."

Lots of relevant links in this Reddit thread.

16 October 2016

"PodRide" bicycle/car hybrid

More information here.

Julius Caesar pencil holder

Impractical (note the hand required to keep it upright), but clever.  Via Reddit.
Within moments, the entire group, including Brutus, was striking out at the dictator. Caesar attempted to get away, but, blinded by blood, he tripped and fell; the men continued stabbing him as he lay defenceless on the lower steps of the portico. According to Eutropius, around 60 men participated in the assassination. He was stabbed 23 times.

So there's no such thing as bad publicity?

From a complaint filed in Texas in December by Mark Oberholtzer, the owner of Mark-1 Plumbing, against Charlie Thomas Ford, a car dealer.

In October 2013, Plaintiff traded in a 2005 Ford F-250 pickup truck. Plaintiff began peeling off the Mark-1 Plumbing decal located on the truck’s doors when Defendant’s salesman told Plaintiff that peeling off the decal would blemish the vehicle paint. The vehicle was sold at a Texas auto auction and exported to Mersin, Turkey. In December 2014, a member of a jihadist group operating near Aleppo tweeted a propaganda photograph of Plaintiff’s Ford F-250 with an antiaircraft gun mounted on it fighting on the front lines in Syria. Plaintiff’s logo and phone number were still on the vehicle door. Forty-eight hours later, Mark-1’s phones had received more than 1,000 calls. These calls included individuals who were: (a) irate and yelling expletives; (b) degrading to whomever answered the phone regarding their stupidity; (c) singing in Arabic for the duration of the call or voice-message recording; (d) making threats of injury or death against Mark-1’s employees, family, children, and grandchildren in violent, lurid, and grossly specific terms; and (e) directing expletive-laced death threats to whoever answered the phone. Nearly one year has passed since the news story broke. When the Islamic State commits an atrocity that is reported nationally, which occurs with distressing frequency, Plaintiff receives phone calls all over again.
Reproduced in its entirety from the June issue of Harper's Magazine.

Dabba ("The Lunchbox")

This was the best movie I've watched in a long time.  Decidedly not a Hollywood-style movie (no killing, no sex, no explosions), The Lunchbox reminded me very much of You've Got Mail.   Some of you will recognize Irrfan Khan from his role in Life of Pi.  The acting is superb, and the movie is filmed with a sensitivity that allows moments of quiet to be extended and savored.
Tiffin carriers or dabbas are a kind of lunch box used widely in South Asia for tiffin meals. From South Asia, they spread to and now are widely used in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore as well.  They are known as rantang in Indonesian and mangkuk tingkat (leveled bowls) in Malay. In Arab countries they are called Safartas Arabic سفرطاس meaning travel bowls. They are also used extensively in Hungary, primarily to transport restaurant cheap workday midday meals for consumption at home. The Hungarian word for a tiffin box is éthordó (food carrier). A very similar device is called Henkelmann in Germany. It usually is round or in an oval shape similar to military campaign dishes. The Henkelmann was very popular until the 1960s, but is very rarely used by Germans today.

Normally they come in two or three tiers, although more elaborate versions can have four. The bottom-most tier, being the largest, is the one usually used for rice. Tiffin carriers are opened by unlocking a small catch on either side of the handle. The Hungarian version will typically contain a soup, main course and piece of cake.

In the Indian city of Mumbai, there is a complex and efficient delivery system that regularly delivers hot lunches packed in dabbas to city office workers from their suburban homes or from a caterer. It uses delivery workers known as dabbawalas.
The movie was released three years ago, so I was able to get it from our library with almost no waiting time.  It's also available from Netflix.  I highly recommend it to you.

13 October 2016

Marble veil

"Veiled Lady by Rafaello Monti, c.1860, held by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts"
Via Stuff about Minneapolis.

Stone Age artifacts emerging from glaciers

In 2010 I wrote Retreating glaciers and melting ice yield treasures, about discoveries in the Alaksan Yukon, and in 2012 Artifacts from retreating glaciers showed a 4th century A.D. wool garment found in Norway.  The video embedded above, via Science Nordic, shows an additional example from Norway’s Jotunheimen range.

Messerschmitt KR175

The Messerschmitt KR175 microcar (1953–1955) was the first vehicle built by Messerschmitt under its 1952 agreement with Fritz Fend... Approximately 15,000 were built before it was replaced by the Messerschmitt KR200 in 1956.
Related: List of motorized trikes.

Via Lushlight.

Green's Dictionary of Slang online

"Green’s Dictionary of Slang is the culmination of a life’s work for Green. First published in print as a three-volume behemoth in 2010, to awards and rave reviews, it now emerges in digital form with about 30% ‘revised, augmented and generally improved’...

Green’s Dictionary of Slang Online can be searched for definitions, first uses, etymologies, parts of speech, authors, titles, usage labels, etc. As the press release puts it: ‘Those who wish to know how many words James Joyce used for sexual intercourse or Charles Dickens for drunk will find their answers. And whether any came from Yiddish.’..

There are two levels of access. The basics (headword, definition, etymology) are freely available to the public. The rest (citations, timeline, full search) are for subscribers: initially £49 ($60) a year for single users, £10 ($12.50) for students.
Additional discussion at Sentence First.

A prediction from 1943

Via The Elegant Criminal Society.

2.2 MB

"Univac 9000 Series disk cartridge prototype with a 2.2 MB capacity  1966"
Via Sloth Unleashed.
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