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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday links

Video compilation of Small Dogs vs. Big Couches.

Why You Never Heard About the Largest Disaster in Maritime History.

In addition to International Respect for Chickens Day, May the Fourth (be with you) is also Star Wars Day. Here's a nice collection of Star Wars propaganda posters and a bit of trivia - per, one of the earliest known records of “May the 4th” used in popular culture is in 1979:
“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations."
In 1940, before the U.S. entered WWII, an American citizen offered a $1 million bounty on Hitler.

Your Devices' Latest Feature? They Can Spy On Your Every Move.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the politics of the Louisiana Purchase, how spacecraft dashboards evolved, a 1909 scheme to whiten the Hawaiian populace by importing Siberian workers, and a video of Kung Fu physics brought to life by motion capture.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our guacamole recipe

All quantities are approximate - add more or less to taste: This mixture feeds 4 - 6 people as an appetizer.

You need:

2 - 3 ripe avocados cut into good sized chunks (they'll get somewhat smushed when you stir everything together, so start with chunks)

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 finely chopped good-sized jalapeno, seeds and white pith removed
2 Tablespoons diced tomato (I cut grape tomatoes into quarters)
1 lime, juiced

Tortilla chips

If at all possible, you should do this in a molcajete made of lava stone or unpolished granite - the rough interior is really good for grinding the ingredients together and you can serve in it. If you don't have one, use a shallow bowl and a small amount of coarse salt and smear everything together with a fork.

Chop the avocado and set aside.

Grind together the garlic, salt, onion, and cilantro and jalapeno. Start grinding (or smearing) so that approximately 1/4 of this mixture is smushed and the remaining 3/4 is still in its chopped condition.

Fold (gently) the chopped avocado and chopped tomatoes into this mixture. Squeeze lime juice over the whole thing.

That's it - serve with tortilla chips!

Tuesday links

Tomorrow is International Respect for Chickens Day: some chicken-related links to help you celebrate.

Extremely Cool: Kung Fu Physics brought to life (video).

How Spacecraft Dashboards Evolved.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include Duke Ellington's birthday, that time Eisenhower's presidential motorcade picked up hitchhikers, the plans for the Nazi super-cannon capable of hitting London from France, horoscopes for babies, and why making your bed is a total waste of time.

May 4th is International Respect for Chickens day: some chicken-related links to help you celebrate

In case you don't raise your own (and even if you do, I suppose), May 4th is International Respect for Chickens Day.  In celebration, a few chicken related links:

Take a look at this, even if you don't read the whole thing: the famous (and definitive!) Chicken scientific study.

Here's a "best of" FogHorn Leghorn video - "Any of this gettin' through to you, son?":

Glamour portraits of chickens from Chickens:

More at the artist's web site, and here's a mini documentary on the poultry portraiture project.

Worried about your chickens crossing the road on dark winter evenings? This high visibility chicken jacket comes in yellow or pink:

I went looking for these chicken jackets on Amazon (they're not available) but they do have chicken saddles, which are, apparently, a real thing - I thought at first it was a a joke.  Here's the description:
Chicken saddles are made to protect your hen's back from a roosters nails and spurs. When a rooster overmates a hen this can lead to serious and sometimes life threatening damage. Backs can become bare in what seems like overnight. Often people think they need to trim the spurs or remove them entirely but that is not necessary with a chicken saddle. Why take away your rooster's best defense in protecting his flock when you can get a chicken saddle?
Plucking A Chicken In 14 Seconds With The Homemade Whizbang Chicken Plucker:

Epic Chick Fight: 2 women reenact Family Guy’s famed chicken fight:

And the original: 

Here's an excellent (and cheap!) chicken hat - I have one of these, and it actually quite warm!

A 500 lb chicken from hell: large feathered dinosaur species discovered in North America.

Scientists engineer flu-stopping superchicken.

Got more?  Leave them in the comments, and I'll update later.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cool: Kung Fu Physics brought to life (video)

German digital artist Tobias Gremmler decided to portray Kung Fu in an entirely new light through the use of motion capture.

Gremmier’s complex digital scan measures the fighter’s movements in terms of velocity, time, and space, altering the parameters of its visual manifest through a number of variations. It's fabric woven by time, velocity transformed into matter, expansion out of emptiness.  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Video compilation of Small Dogs vs. Big Couches

Dog lovers, this compilation of small dogs trying to get onto and/or off of big couches will bring a smile to your face:

Previous doggy posts:

Animals From History: Portraits of Historical Figures as Cats and Dogs.

This compilation video of sneaky dogs raiding the kitchen is a hoot.

It’s Okay To Be Smart on explains how dogs interpret human language.

Dog lovers, start your day with a smile: Compilation Video of Puppies Chasing Laser Pointers.

More doggy science.

New Zealand Woman Returns Library Book 67 Years Late

In the U.S. this would be a story about how this elderly woman was hauled off to jail. 

A library book that was due more than 67 years ago was finally returned to Epsom Library in Auckland, New Zealand. 

“Myths and Legends of Maoriland” by A.W. Reed is a collection of indigenous tales, and it remains in print today under the title “Maori Myths and Legendary Tales.” The volume was due on Dec. 17, 1948, as the stamp on the old-school library card showed,

Epsom Library wrote on Facebook:

“A wonderful customer came to see us with a confession today! As a child she was a patron of Epsom Library until she moved out of Auckland — and accidentally took a library book with her! Today she finally managed to return it to us. It’s a fair few years overdue but in excellent well-read condition.”

Auckland Libraries said this was the longest overdue book it had ever seen returned. The organization was not sure what to do with it, but the book may go on display at Epsom Library. 

Compare and contrast with the recent story about the couple facing jail time for two books borrowed last year:
Although the couple admitted they were negligent in returning the books, they think it's unfair to each be charged a $105 "diversion fee" to the Lenawee County Economic Crimes Unit in addition to fines owed to the Tecumseh Public Library.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday links

Happy Birthday, Duke Ellington: here's some glorious music and a brief biography.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include streaming Netflix through a pork loin, a muskrat cooking competition, menus for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers on the Titanic, legendary plant-animal hybrids, and a roundup of funny (but not gross) colonoscopy videos.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Happy Birthday Duke Ellington

When it sounds good, it is good.

Duke Ellington (wiki(program notes to Such Sweet Thunder, 1957)

I have a mistress. Lovers have come and gone, but only my mistress stays. She is beautiful and gentle... She is a swinger. She has grace. To hear her speak, you can't believe your ears. She is ten thousand years old. She is as modern as tomorrow, a brand new woman every day, and as endless as time and mathematics. Living with her is a labyrinth of ramifications. I look forward to her every gesture. Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to none. 

~Ellington (Music is My Mistress, 1973)

The three greatest composers who ever lived are Bach, Delius, and Duke E Ellington. Unfortunately, Bach is dead, Delius is very ill, but we are happy to have with us today the Duke. 

~ Percy Grainger* (quoted in Bird, Percy Grainger)

Outside of the intrinsic artistic value of his music (which is, of course, the most important thing about Ellington), I think his contemporary impact on American culture was at least as much a social one as an aesthetic one. He was the first black man who was widely perceived as a serious and significant artist in white America, and his success in vaulting over that barrier of perception was a source of immense collective pride in black America. It was exactly what he set out to do, too, which is one of the reasons why he went to such lengths to cultivate his image as a man apart from the common run of jazz bandleaders—black and white alike. 

Today is the anniversary of the birth of American jazz pianist and composer Edward Kennedy ("Duke") Ellington (1899-1974) (wiki) (official website) in Washington, D.C. One of the most influential figures in the history of jazz, Ellington established his reputation at the Cotton Club in New York City between 1927 and 1932 and toured Europe with his band in the late 1930s, setting an unprecedented standard for jazz performance and improvisation.

Over the course of a 50-year career, he wrote more than 6,000 compositions which span the spectrum from jazz to "serious" and sacred music and include such standards as Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady, Solitude, and Black, Brown, and Beige. 

Often credited to the Duke but actually a couplet by Irving Mills from one of Ellington's favorite numbers, is a phrase that well describes his philosophy of music-making:

"It don't mean a thing
If it ain't got that swing."

Here he is playing that song:

* N.B. Quirky Australian-born composer Percy Grainger (1882-1961) is remembered largely for popular light-classical works such as Over the Hills and Far Away and Handel in the Strand. His ranking of watery English composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934) - whose music never rises above mezzo forte - with Bach and Duke Ellington boggles the mind.

Here's a short (4 minute) bio from the Biography Channel:

And here are the Duke and John Coltrane in Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood":

If you're looking for a good biography of the Duke, I highly recommend Terry Teachout's excellent Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baby Horoscopes

As many of you know, in addition to several older and well-used grandchildren (ages 17, 16, 12, 12, 12, 12 and 11, plus an extra 5 step-grandchildren), I have two brand new granddaughters in the family  - Addie, born February 4, and Charlotte, born April 14. 
Related: Grandmothers gave humans longer lifespans
As a result of these recent additions more than a decade after the previous batch, all things baby-related have been very much in our thoughts and conversations recently. Artist Jim Benton also seems to know his way around babies:
Napping together: Addie, age 11 weeks, and Charlotte, age 10 days. ;-)

Horoscope via Neatorama