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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday links

It's Brave New World author Aldous Huxley's birthday.

10 Relics From the Horse-Powered City Hiding in Plain Sight



CNN headquarters was built on an abandoned psychedelic theme park. Kind of related: The Business of Building Roller Coasters.


ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include how baby flamingos become pink, the lengths taken to make Abraham Lincoln look good in photos, when Paris flooded in 1910, and why red M&M's disappeared for a decade.

Monday, July 24, 2017

What happens when you leave a tetherball hanging in the forest

This has been around since 2015, but somehow I missed it:



Per the poster's Facebook page:
Rambro the Angry Ram lives in a 100 acre forest near Nelson New Zealand with his female companion Ewenice and son Dodge ram.
He was relocated there after causing problems for his previous owner - breaking fences, gates, attacking dogs and people. 
He is now free to roam the hills with his family. He guards his new home with extreme violence, he occasionally meets up with forest owner Marty Todd who films their sometimes hilarious encounters.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday links

How Baby Flamingos Become Pink. Kind of related: Don Featherstone, creator of the plastic pink flamingo, and his wife wore matching outfits every day for 37 years.

The Great Lengths Taken to Make Abraham Lincoln Look Good in Photos.


It's the anniversary of the 20th of July plot, the unsuccessful bomb attempt to kill Hitler in 1944.



ICYMI, Monday's links are here. and include why ancient Roman concrete is better than modern mixes, a compilation of film of New York City circa 1900, the anniversary of the first nuclear test, and the history of condoms.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How Baby Flamingos Become Pink

Flamingo (wiki) chicks start out grayish-white, then are fed bright red milk, a sort of crop milk made from either parents’ upper digestive tracts. As the chicks grow, they develop their signature pink feathers, as well as adult bills that can filter mud and silt from their food.

This BBC clip from Animal Super Parents describes the process:



Here's an explanation from Live Science:
Flamingos live by lakes, swamps and wetlands, and so they eat mostly algae, insect larvae and small crustaceans, such as shrimp and mollusks.
The red and blue-green algae they consume is loaded with beta carotene, an organic chemical that contains a reddish-orange pigment. (Beta carotene is also present in many plants, but especially in tomatoes, spinach, pumpkins, sweet potato and, of course, carrots.) The mollusks and crustaceans flamingos snack on contain similar pigment-packing carotenoids.
The bird’s digestive system extracts pigment from carotenoid-containing food and it eventually dissolves in fats. The fats are then deposited in new feathers as they grow, and the flamingo’s color slowly shifts to pink.
Related: Don Featherstone, creator of the plastic pink flamingo, and his wife wore matching outfits every day for 37 years.

h/t The Kid Should See This.

Don Featherstone, creator of the plastic pink flamingo, and his wife wore matching outfits every day for 37 years

Don Featherstone was the creator of the plastic pink flamingo.

Don created the flamingo when he was freshly graduated from art school, and newly employed at a plastics factory. One of his first assignments was to create three-dimensional plastic lawn ornaments (up to that time, most plastic lawn ornaments were more or less flat). The flamingo was one of his earliest efforts for the factory.
Eventually he became president of the company. After Don retired, dire things were done, by his successor, to the flamingo, triggering a worldwide protest, which eventually led to a more or less happy rallying of the forces of Good, and a restoration of the plastic pink flamingo’s status. In 2011, the flamingo attained new heights, when the Disney movie Gnomeo and Juliet featured a plastic pink lawn ornament named “Featherstone”.  Don and Nancy were feted at the film’s premiere.
For 37 years, the Featherstones wore matching outfits every day. Nancy Featherstone told why, in an interview two years in The Guardian. That interview appeared under the headline “Experience: I’ve worn the same outfit as my husband for 35 years“.

Related posts and links:

Flamingos have erectile tissue in their mouths. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday links

On July 16, 1945 the atomic age began with the Trinity nuclear test.

The Medieval History of Stonehenge.

Why ancient Roman concrete is better than modern mixes

Old New York: film from the Library of Congress of New York City circa 1900.



ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include Bastille Day, the 47 names Disney considered for the 7 dwarfs, 1796 cases of Madeira found in a museum basement, and the stories behind iconic movie props.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Old New York: film from the Library of Congress of New York City around 1900

Per YouTube, the video features Enrico Caruso singing "La donna e Mobile"* (from Rigoletto (wiki)) circa 1908 and clips of films taken in New York City dating from 1898 to 1906 from the Library of Congress.



"La donna e Mobile" translates as "woman is fickle".

h/t Miss Cellania

On July 16, 1945 the atomic age began with the Trinity nuclear test

I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

~ J. Robert Oppenheimer* (wiki) (quoting from the Bhagavad-Gita** on witnessing the first atomic explosion, 16 July 1945)

The spherical symmetry about a point approximately
 100 feet above the ground is the height of the test tower
In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.

~ Oppenheimer ("Physics in the Contemporary World," lecture at M.I.T., 25 November 1947)

We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.

~ General Douglas MacArthur (wiki) (speech, 2 September 1945)

The assembled Gadget (what scientists were calling the bomb)
 atop the test tower
There are no accidents, only nature throwing her weight around. Even the bomb merely releases energy that nature has put there. Nuclear war would be just a spark in the grandeur of space. Nor can radiation "alter" nature; she will absorb it all. After the bomb, nature will pick up the cards we have spilled, shuffle them, and begin her game again.

~ Camille Paglia (b. 1947) (Sexual Personae, Ch. 1)

It was on this date in 1945 that, for good or ill, the "nuclear age" began, with the explosion of the first experimental atomic bomb, code-named Trinity (wiki), in the western desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Trinity, with a yield equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT, was the first spherical implosion bomb, developed at Los Alamos under the auspices of the Manhattan Project during World War II.

The weapon designers were so confident of the success of the simpler gun-barrel configuration that the device of that type dropped on Hiroshima only three weeks later had never been tested. The subsequent Nagasaki bomb (dropped on 9 August) was of the Trinity type. In light of today's on-going nuclear proliferation, American songwriter/satirist Tom Lehrer had already nailed it in his 1960s-era song, "Who's Next?":



Trinity, the first atomic explosion, 16 July 1945:


* N.B. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was the controversial New York-born physicist who directed the Manhattan Project laboratory in Los Alamos that ultimately designed the first atomic bombs. Later suspected of being a security risk, at least partly for his opposition to developing the hydrogen bomb, he was suspended from his position at the Atomic Energy Commission in 1953.

Trinitite, also known as Alamogordo glass, is the glassy
 residue left on the desert floor after the Trinity
 nuclear bomb test melted the sand into glass.
** The Bhagavad-Gita ("The Song of the Lord") is one of the great poems of Hindu scripture, composed in Sanskrit circa A.D. 100.

Related:


Fan of mushroom clouds? Dozens of nuclear test videos declassified, uploaded to YouTube.



The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday links


Happy Bastille Day! Here's an old Jonah Goldberg article on the subject: The French are Revolting.

Museum discovers three cases of Madeira wine from 1796 in cellar. The wine was stocked in anticipation of John Adams’ presidential election.

The 100 Greatest Props in Movie History, and the Stories Behind Them.


ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include how barbed wire changed the West, Nikola Tesla's birthday, the Japanese soldier who refused to surrender for 29 years, the history of the equals sign, and correlation is not causation: charts of weird things that correlate with each other.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The parakeet has a goiter: the best standard publisher rejection letter ever

From the blog of the excellent Letters of Note

The dreaded rejection letter is, more often than not, an entirely miserable experience for all concerned. To receive one is to instantly and all at once have one’s hopes dashed, confidence thinned, and mood dampened; to send the same is to knowingly rain misery down upon a stranger whose happiness will soon melt away thanks to a decision you had no choice but to make. 

Even worse than the rejection letter is the standard form rejection letter, a lifeless kick to the guts aimed en masse at a pool of unsuitables who are, it would seem, undeserving of a personal shove--a pre-printed shake of the head for one’s troubles. To find a standard form rejection letter of note, then, is quite a task, but not impossible, and here is the finest of examples, written and sometimes sent by Brian Doyle, current editor of the University of Portland’s Portland Magazine

Letter taken from the More Letters of Note book:

Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful submission to the magazine, which we are afraid we are going to have to decline, for all sorts of reasons. The weather is dreary, our backs hurt, we have seen too many cats today and as you know cats are why God invented handguns, there is a sweet incoherence and self-absorption in your piece that we find alluring but we have published far too many of same in recent years mostly authored by the undersigned, did we mention the moist melancholy of the weather, our marriages are unkempt and disgruntled, our children surly and crammed to the gills with a sense of entitlement that you wonder how they will ever make their way in the world, we spent far too much money recently on silly graphic design and now must slash the storytelling budget, our insurance bills have gone up precipitously, the women’s basketball team has no rebounders, an aunt of ours needs a seventh new hip, the shimmer of hope that was the national zeitgeist looks to be nursing a whopper of a black eye, and someone left the toilet roll thing empty again, without the slightest consideration for who pays for things like that. And there were wet towels on the floor. And the parakeet has a goiter. And the dog barfed up crayons. Please feel free to send us anything you think would fit these pages, and thank you for considering our magazine for your work. It’s an honor.

--Editors