Amazon Deals

New at Amazon

Friday, January 31, 2014

Another old popular custom in Scotland on Candlemass day was to hold a football match...

From The Book of Days discussion of Candlemass (February 2) (read the whole thing at the link):
Another old popular custom in Scotland on Candlemass day was to hold a football match, the east end of a town against the west, the unmarried men against the married, or one parish against another. The 'Candlemass Ba', as it was called, brought the whole community out in a state of high excitement. On one occasion, not long ago*, when the sport took place in Jedburgh, the contending parties, after a struggle of two hours in the streets, transferred the contention to the bed of the river Jed, and there fought it out amidst a scene of fearful splash and dabblement, to the infinite amusement of a multitude looking on from the bridge.
was published in 1869.

Groundhog Day, Candlemas and weather predictions

More from the Book of Days*:

Considering the importance attached to Candlemass day for so many ages, it is scarcely surprising that there is a universal superstition throughout Christendom, that good weather on this day indicates a long continuance of winter and a bad crop, and that its being foul is, on the contrary, a good omen. Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, quotes a Latin distich expressive of this idea:
'Si sol splendescat Maria purificante,
Major erit glacies post festum quam fait ante;
which maybe considered as well translated in the popular Scottish rhyme:
If Candlemass day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemass day be wet and foul,
The half o' winter's gave at Yule.'
In Germany there are two proverbial expressions on this subject: 1. The shepherd would rather see the wolf cuter his stable on Candlemass day than the sun; 2. The badger peeps out of his hole on Candlemass day, and when he finds snow, walks abroad; but if he sees the sun shining, he draws back into his hole. It is not improbable that these notions, like the festival of Candlemass itself, are derived from pagan times, and have existed since the very infancy of our race. So at least we may conjecture, from a curious passage in Martin's Description of the Western Islands. On Candlemass day, according to this author, the Hebrideans observe the following curious custom:

The mistress and servants of each family take a sheaf of oats and dress it up in women's apparel, put it in a large basket, and lay a wooden club by it, and this they call Brύd's Bed.; and then the mistress and servants cry three times, "Brύd is come; Brύd is welcome!" This they do just before going to bed, and when they rise in the morning they look among the ashes, expecting to see the impression of Brad's club there; which, if they do, they reckon it a true presage of a good crop and prosperous year, and the contrary they take as an ill omen.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

State of the Union (2014 Political Remix Video)

Soundbytes from Barack Obama’s State Of The Union speech meticulously dissembled and then reassembled into a brand new remix.



more at So Bad So Good.

Kids Build Fort, City Finds it Not Up to Code, Tears it Down

Read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

A group of kids learned a hard lesson about city codes Friday. Lee's Summit had to demolish the kids' creation because it wasn't compliant.

The Pergola neighborhood kids built a fort on an empty lot with scraps from construction on the surrounding larger homes.

"They don't care what it looks like. It's not about outer beauty, it's about the fun, the cohesion between the kids," said neighbor Chris Pate.

"My 6-year-old was pretty mad and said he didn't want to live in the city of Lee's Summit anymore. So I could understand that, he was very emotional," said neighbor Kim Sharp.

When some of the kids were told about the order to demolish the fort, two of them even put together and signed a petition to the city, saying:
"Dear City, Please do not tear this house down! We have all worked for almost a year on it, for hours and hours. We have all had fun climbing on it, camping in it, having picnics in it. Many happy memories were forged here. We all hope that it won't be torn down. So please don't tear it down!"
After a pizza party on Friday celebrating the joy the fort brought to kids in the neighborhood, they and their parents had to watch it come down. But they know the lessons they learned there are with them for life and the kids are ready for round two.

"Build another fort and move it somewhere else," Ben said.

There are already plans in the works to build a new fort, meeting city code and even getting an architect involved.

The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers

From the "let's make up a problem and let the government fix it" files:

Reason on "one of the stranger (yet more persistent) myths of our time: the idea that some Lost Tribe of Gypsy Harlots, tens of thousands strong, wanders about the world from mega-event to mega-event, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transport and lodging which should make the migration of such a large group a daunting task indeed."

The legend seems to have first appeared in conjunction with the 2004 Olympics in Athens. That’s telling because, though the rebranding of sex work as "sex trafficking" was already underway in prohibitionist circles in the late 1990s, the moral panic seems to have begun in earnest in January of 2004. In the months before the Olympics Athenian officials went through the usual cleansing procedure, raiding brothels for largely bogus violations of zoning restrictions. A Greek sex workers’ union complained that by making it difficult to work in legal brothels the city would increase illegal prostitution, and this was twisted by European prohibitionists into "Athens is encouraging sex tourism."

By the end of the year, the growing “anti-trafficking” movement was using bad stats to claim that “sex trafficking increased by 95 percent during the Olympics.” Within a few months, anti-sex worker groups made the bizarre prediction that approximately 40,000 women would be “trafficked” into Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Of course, nothing of the kind happened. Despite increased police actions (including raids on 71 brothels), the German authorities only came up with five cases of exploitation they believed to be linked to the event.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Check out the comparison pic: Atlanta Is Basically An Episode Of “The Walking Dead” Right Now

Walking Dead fans, stay away from Atlanta:


Lots more comparison images at Buzzfeed..

Peyton Manning Could Pay New Jersey More in Taxes for the Super Bowl Than He Earns For Playing It


According to K. Sean Packard, a CPA writing at Forbes.com, Jersey will indeed treat the players dirty when it comes to taxes:
If Manning is able to play next season, his New Jersey income tax would be $46,989 on $92,000 for winning the Super Bowl, or 51.08%. If they lose and he is able to play in 2014, he will pay New Jersey $46,844 on his $46,000, which amounts to a 101.83% tax on his actual Super Bowl earnings in the state—and this does not even consider federal taxes!
Manning’s tax liability would be less, Packard explained, if the 38-year-old Denver Broncos quarterback were to retire after the Super Bowl, because New Jersey looks at the total income, even when not playing in the state, and because the Broncos play the Jets next season, so New Jersey’s state government gets a take of that too. The taxes paid by Manning and the other Broncos and Seahwawks players for merely competing in New Jersey in a league event, will also fall quite short of how much tax money New Jersey has wasted holding the Super Bowl.

Bilking athletes, though, is nothing new. Jamaican track star Usain Bolt, for example, is boycotting sporting events in the United Kingdom until their tax laws are loosened, while golf star Phil Mickelson was bullied by wealth redistribution advocates for complaining about his onerous tax rate, eventually apologizing for quite rightly pointing out that onerous federal and state (for Mickelson, California) tax laws would cause him to consider drastic changes in his life. Mickelson pays 61 percent of his winnings in taxes, an uncomfortable fact tax boosters tried to deny.

Headline of the day: Obama's HS pot dealer beaten to death with hammer by gay lover after fights over flatulence and drugs

MailOnline (excerpts below): Obama's high school pot dealer who (sic) he thanked for the 'good times' was beaten to death with a hammer by his gay lover after fights over flatulence and drugs.

  • Raymond Boyer was known as 'Gay Ray' to Obama and his marijuana smoking 'Choom Gang' of privately-educated kids at Hawaiian high school
  • Ray was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in 1986, seven years after he supplied the future president and his friends with drugs
  • Lover Andrew Devere, a male prostitute, gave police a variety of reasons for the murder
  • He said surfer Boyer put him down constantly and broke wind in his face
  • Court documents uncovered for the first time by MailOnline
  • Choom is island slang for pot smoking and group went on excursions to countryside to get high and party, sometimes in Ray’s surf van
  • Devere is now living on the mainland after serving his life sentence
  • Obama last week said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol
  • Devere's new wife Elizabeth told MailOnline doing drugs is fine if you are rich and 'have the tools to deal with it' but not if you are poor with problems
Appeal court documents from 1991, uncovered for the first time by MailOnline, reveal Devere killed Boyer on New Year’s Day 1986 because: Boyer was killing a friend of his by supplying that friend with drugs; Boyer embarrassed Devere and put him down in front of other people; Boyer had developed a habit of farting in Devere's face; Boyer once attacked Devere with a knife, slicing Devere's finger; Boyer made Devere beg for drugs.

He mentioned in his own autobiography that he took drugs. And David Maraniss’s book Barack Obama: The Story revealed the existence of the Choom Gang (Choom is slang for smoking pot) and their dealer 'Ray'.

I have to say that of the extremely large number of problems I have with Obama, his pot-smoking isn't one of them.  I'd much rather see his college/law school records.

Wednesday links

13 Facts You Might Not Know about the Movie Dune.

This Bill of Mortality shows the death tally of all city parishes in London for the week of Aug 15 - 22, 1665.  The Plague is the number 1 cause of death, followed by various fevers, consumption, and Griping in the Guts.

What's it like to use the first Apple Mac today.  And here's a Long Lost Video of Steve Jobs Unveiling the Macintosh to the Public for the First Time.

Gallery: Animals In Winter.

Propaganda lithographs from Russia 1917-1922.

ICYMI, Monday's links, including Leonardo da Vinci’s handwritten resume from 1482 and fascinating 2.5D animation of classic paintings are here.

Long Lost Video of Steve Jobs Unveiling the Macintosh to the Public for the First Time

The Computer History Museum recently released a never-before-seen video of Steve Jobs unveiling the Macintosh to the public in 1984. The January 30 presentation at the Boston Computer Society was notable for being the first public showing of the Mac and the first example of a “Stevenote,” Jobs’ much anticipated keynote speech in which he would introduce Apple’s next big thing. The Boston presentation was not Jobs’ first go at the speech—on January 24, 1984 he unveiled the Mac to Apple shareholders at the company’s annual meeting. For more on the Boston speech see this TIME post.



via Laughing Squid

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gorgeous X-Ray Photographs of Plants and Animals

I've long been fascinated by special photographic techniques and effects, but I've never seen anything quite like this. Netherlands-based physicist and photographer Arie van’t Riet applies his background in radiation physics to create colorized X-ray photographs of plants and animals. His prints are available for purchase.

Man runs into burning home to save his Xbox

It's not clear whether this was a new Xbox One or an older 360.

Read the whole thing at CNET:

A sense of priorities is always helpful in life. As is a sense of passion.

The two miraculously came together for one Kansas man and, miraculously, he survived to tell the tale.

As ABC15 reports, the man's Olathe, Kan., home was on fire.

He woke up during the night to discover this phenomenon. He made it outside before the fire engulfed him.

Study casts doubt on theory that retired NFL players suffer CTE

Read the whole thing - The study referred to in the bolded portion below is the entire basis of the lawsuits and ESPN-type reporting on the problem.

Little evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy

MAYWOOD, Il. – The media have widely reported that a debilitating neurological condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a well-established disease in retired athletes who played football and other contact sports. But a study by a Loyola University Medical Center neuropsychologist has found little evidence that CTE actually exists.

"There has not yet been one controlled epidemiological study looking at the risk of late-life cognitive impairment in any collision sport, including boxing, American football or other sports involving repetitive head trauma," Christopher Randolph, PhD, reports in the peer-reviewed journal Current Sports Medicine Reports.

CTE is said to be the cause of behavioral symptoms such as anger, aggression and suicidality, and cognitive symptoms such as impaired learning and memory problems. CTE is thought to be linked to concussions and characterized by the build-up of abnormal substances in the brain called tau proteins.

A 2005 study, co-authored by Randolph, reported that rates of mild cognitive impairment among retired NFL players seemed to be higher than that of the general population. But Randolph noted there were no controls in this study, and results may have been subject to reporting bias.

A more recent study of retired NFL players found that rates of Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) were higher than that of the general population. But this may be due to the fact that the NFL players had lower overall mortality rates from heart disease and other causes. Since they lived longer, the players naturally would be more likely to get age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

In addition to having much lower overall mortality rates than the general population, retired NFL players are only 40 percent as likely to die of suicide as men in the general population, according to a 2012 study. It is difficult to reconcile this finding with the high rate of suicide that is said to be a key feature of CTE.

"Overall, although retired NFL players have been the focus of more attention into the potential late-life neurological consequences of repetitive head trauma than athletes in any other sport, the risks for these retirees remains largely hypothetical," Randolph writes.

The list of symptoms that have been associated with CTE "is so broad as to be essentially meaningless in any attempt to define a clinical syndrome," Randolph writes. Some of these symptoms are found in the healthy population, while other symptoms have been observed in a variety of neurological diseases. The broad range of CTE symptoms includes attention problems, paranoia, executive impairments, suicidality, memory loss, language impairment, visuospatial impairment, apathy, gait disturbance, dysarthria (speech disorder), parkinsonism, post-traumatic stress disorder, headache, depression, impulsivity, explosivity and aggression.

Randolph concludes: "CTE has received substantial media attention and appears to have entered the American lexicon as a verifiable disease, despite a lack of clear epidemiological data on increased risk of dementia in boxers or football players, a lack of controlled pathological studies to substantiate neuropathological finding as occurring at an increased rate in these retired athletes, a lack of consistent pathological criteria and a lack of specific clinical criteria for diagnosis."

Randolph calls for a carefully controlled epidemiological study. Such a study would, for example, compare a large, randomly selected sample of retired NFL players to a sample of demographically matched men who had not played football or other collision sports. If such a study found retired players were at higher risk of neurological problems, the players then could be followed over time, with further imaging and neuropathological investigations to characterize any identified disorders.

The study is titled "Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy a Real Disease?"

Randolph is a professor in the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

ICYMI, the Swedish Marines' cover of Greased Lightning, and the original

As of Monday, the original viral clip had been removed from YouTube for reasons that remain unclear, although several other versions have cropped up in its place. Below is one version that has survived, followed by the original for comparison.


Here's John Travolta in the original, from Grease:


More detail here.

Monday links

Dispatchwork: patching old walls all over the world with Lego bricks.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Handwritten Resume from 1482 concentrates on his wartime engineering skills.

45 Greatest Sports Photos Of All Time.

12 Fascinating Images of Extreme Cold Weather Conditions.

This Guy Animated Several Classic Paintings: the Results Are Weird and Beautiful (may be NSFW due to artistic nudity).

How Much Is Pee-Wee's Playhouse Worth?

ICYMI, Friday's links, including weird spy gadgets and macro photos of spiders are here.

Compilation video of the day: the one-sided battle between cats and toilet paper