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Saturday, March 22, 2014

This is lovely: British singer sings along with a time lapse video of wife's pregnancy

Tom Fletcher is the lead singer of a British band named McFly;  to welcome his baby into the world he decided to create a time lapse of his wife's pregnancy to the tune of an original song.

'We took photos every day through the 9 months of our pregnancy, this is the result (plus a little song I wrote called "Something New")' writes Tom Fletcher on his Youtube channel, on which he posted the video 'From Bump to Buzz' of his gradually growing wife Giovanna, who gave birth on Thursday.

Fletcher is no stranger to writing original songs for Giovanna - a video of the wedding speech he wrote in May of 2012 has over 12 million views.



via Daily Mail

This is a hoot: check out Kevin Bacon's 'Footloose' entrance on the Tonight Show

Kevin Bacon celebrates the 30th anniversary of Footloose (wiki) with an epic dance entrance:


And here's the original final dance from the 1984 movie, followed by the version from the 2011 remake:

To celebrate Spring, here's Richard Feynman’s famous Ode to a Flower

Richard Feynman (wiki):
The science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower.
From Brain Pickings, one of my favorite websites:

Richard Feynman — champion of scientific culture, graphic novel hero, crusader for integrity, holder of the key to science, adviser of future generations, bongo player, no ordinary genius. In this fantastic animated adaptation of an excerpt from Christopher Sykes’s celebrated 1981 BBC documentary about Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out — which gave us the great physicist’s timeless words on beauty, honors, and curiosity and his fascinating explanation of where trees actually come fromFraser Davidson captures in stunning motion graphics Feynman’s short, sublime soliloquy on why knowledge enriches life rather than detracting from its mystery.



I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe…

I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bacteria as large as mice, With feet of fire and heads of ice: Ogden Nash on The Common Cold

Several times a year I have to go looking for this because I find myself wanting to send it to someone complaining of a cold; I figured I'd just post it so I'll always know where to find it.

Ogden Nash is one of my all-time favorite poets.  I've read and re-read his stuff several times over the years and always find something delightful that I'd forgotten since the last reading.

The Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I'm not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The F├╝hrer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

Here's an excellent 90 second animated history of the bicycle

There's a bit more to bicycle history than can be covered in 90 seconds, of course, but this seems to sum it up pretty well:

Oops - go watch at io9!


Friday links

In the Original Story, Pinocchio killed Jiminy Cricket, Got His Feet Burnt Off, and was Hanged and Left for Dead.

Best 30 seconds you spend all day will be this video of a baby who wakes up dancing.  If you have another 90 seconds to spare, here's the science and history of popcorn.

What Would Happen if You Stuck Your Head in the Large Hadron Collider's Particle Beam?

25 Amazing Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Star Wars.

A 500 lb chicken from hell: large feathered dinosaur species used to live in the Dakotas.

How Much Is Kermit The Frog's House From 'The Muppets' Worth?

ICYMI, Thursday's links, including the history of the bra and real life versions of video game/cartoon weapons, are here.

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

That's a lot of nuggets.


It stood 11.5-feet tall and tipped the scales at perhaps 500 pounds, with the body of a raptor, the head of a chicken and the crest of a cassowary; it sported big sharp claws and, probably, feathers. That’s the picture emerging from three fossil skeletons that paleontologists say represent a dinosaur species new to science: Anzu wyliei, or the “chicken from hell,” as they have nicknamed it. The fossils, which were discovered in North and South Dakota, date to around 66 million years ago–near the end of the dinosaurs’ reign.

The skeletons, described in a paper published today in PLOS ONE, cast new light on a mysterious clade of dinosaurs known as the oviraptorosaurs, which are known mainly from specimens found in China and Mongolia. According to Matthew Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and his co-authors, the new species reveals “the first comprehensive picture of the skeletal structure” of the so-called caenagnathid lineage of oviraptorosaurs.

Exactly how these peculiar dinosaurs, with their toothless, beak-covered jaws, long legs and big feet made a living is unclear. Scientists have variously proposed that the caenagnathids were specialized waders, fleet-footed runners and skilled tree climbers. Some contend that the beasts specialized in eating eggs, others suggest that they ate mostly plants and still others argue that the creatures fed on small aquatic invertebrates.

Anzu brings fresh evidence to bear on the matter. The remains came from mudstones in the fossil-rich Hell Creek Formation that suggest these dinosaurs lived in a floodplain habitat, rather than a drier environment. Lamanna and his colleagues note that fossilized trackways in Wyoming that look to have been left by theropod dinosaurs similar to Anzu also hint that caenagnathids hung out by the water’s edge and may have waded. Large-bodied caenagnathids like Anzu seem unlikely to have spent much of their adult life in the trees, they add. As for what these dinosaurs ate, the team observes that their jaw morphology would have allowed them to process a wide range of foods. “In sum, in our view, Anzu and other derived caenagnathids may well have been ecological generalists that fed upon vegetation, small animals, and perhaps even eggs on the humid coastal plains of western North America at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs,” the authors conclude.

The science and history of popcorn



via Presurfer

Best 30 seconds you spend all day will be this video of a baby who wakes up dancing

This baby named Christian has the right attitude - wake up dancing! Per the youtube information, "This how we wake up my son every morning." The music is by Bruno Mars.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Infographic: The Business of Death

The Business of Death
Source: BestMedicalDegrees.com

Thanks, Veronica.

Thursday links

An “Uplifting” Story: The History of the Bra.

This compilation video of Christopher Walken dancing in over 50 movies will make your day.

15 Video Game And Cartoon Weapons In Real Life.

Geek alert: Ninety years ago, JRR Tolkien wrote a translation of Beowulf and included some imagined history of the characters.  It's about to be published for the first time.

Dear Future Mom: A pregnant woman finds out that her child will have Down Syndrome and asked what that will be like. 15 people with Down Syndrome answer her question.

ICYMI, links for Tuesday, including utopian communist Soviet sc-fi from the Cold War and the Museums of Bad Art and Imaginary Musical Instruments, are here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This compilation video of Christopher Walken dancing in over 50 movies will make your day

Apparently Christopher Walken’s (wiki) (IMDB) theater training focused on dance, and in many of his films, he seems to find a way to work at least a move or two into his role, scripted or not.

Watch full screen!


Christopher Walken supercut : Dance Now by MisterBuzz

Below is a complete list of the films used in the video:

"Roseland" (1977)
"The Deer Hunter" (1978)
"Brainstorm" (1983)
"Pennies from Heaven" (1981)
"The Dead Zone" (1983)
"A View To A Kill" (1985)
"At Close Range" (1986)
"Puss in Boots" (1988)
"Homeboy" (1988)
"Communion" (1989)
"King of New York" (1990)
"The Comfort of Strangers" (1990)
"Sarah, Plain and Tall" (1991)
"All-American Murder" (1991)
"Batman Returns" (1992)
"Skylark" (1993)
"True Romance" (1993)
"Wayne's World 2" (1993)
"A Business Affair" (1994)
"Pulp Fiction" (1994)
"The Prophecy" (1995)
"Search and Destroy" (1995)
"Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" (1995)
"The Funeral" (1996)
"Suicide Kings" (1997)
"Mousehunt" (1997)
"New Rose Hotel" (1998)
"Blast from the Past" (1999)
"Sleepy Hollow" (1999)
"The Opportunists" (2000)
"Scotland, Pa." (2001)
"Joe Dirt" (2001)
"America's Sweethearts" (2001)
"The Affair of the Necklace" (2001)
"Poolhall Junkies" (2002)
"The Country Bears" (2002)
"Undertaking Betty" (2002)
"Catch Me If You Can" (2002)
"Gigli" (2003)
"The Rundown" (2003)
"Man on Fire" (2004)
"Envy" (2004)
"The Stepford Wives" (2004)
"Around the Bend" (2004)
"Wedding Crashers" (2005)
"Romance & Cigarettes" (2005)
"Domino" (2005)
"Click" (2006)
"Fade to Black" (2006)
"Man of the Year" (2006)
"Hairspray" (2007)
"Balls of Fury" (2007)
"$5 a Day" (2008)
"The Maiden Heist" (2009)
"Stand Up Guys" (2012)
"A Late Quartet" (2012)
"The Power of Few" (2013)

Must read Jonah Goldberg : Not Your Father’s Cold War - that was far more than a conflict with Russia

Go to NRO and read the whole thing.  Excerpts (emphasis mine):

The Cold War was far more than a conflict with Russia. Everyone should agree on that. Communism, anti-Communism, and anti-anti-Communism divided Americans for decades, particularly among academic and media elites. Right and Left may still argue over the merits of those divisions, but no informed person disputes that the topic of Communism — the real version and the imagined ideal — incited riots of intellectual and political disagreement in the West for a half-century.

Meanwhile, Putin’s ideology holds little such allure to Americans or the populations of the European Union. 

...

Many have called the decade between the fall of the Soviet Union and the attacks of 9/11 a “holiday from history.” The truth is closer to the opposite. The Cold War years, while historic in a literal sense, were something of a great parentheses, a sharp departure from historical norms. 

It turns out, the Berlin Wall wasn’t blocking us from a new world order, it was holding back the tide of history. Western Europe was especially slow to realize this. Its politicians and intellectuals persuaded themselves that they had created a continental “zone of peace” through diplomacy, when in reality they were taking U.S. protection for granted. They let their militaries atrophy to the point of being little more than ceremonial.

The contrast with Russia and China (not to mention Iran and Saudi Arabia) is amazing. In Moscow and Beijing, they still believe foreign policy is about military and economic power, “spheres of influence,” formal alliances, and political control. In Western Europe (and much of this administration), it’s about moral authority, international norms, and other kinds of “soft power.” Soft power is great, but it’s useless against people who respect only hard power. And that lesson predates the Cold War by a few millennia.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday links

The perfect communist word of tomorrow: Soviet Science Fiction of the Cold War.

The Himalayan Art of Hand-painted “Beware of the Dog” Signs.

A video tour of the (excellent) Museum of Bad Art.

15 Striking Portraits of Ancient Tribes Around the World.

Wilfred Owen, the best of the WWI "War Poets", was born 121 years ago today.


ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include weird antique medical treatments, pig milk cheese, and a gallery of bizarre car accidents.

Wilfred Owen, the best of the WWI "War Poets", was born 121 years ago today

I've always wondered what he would have been capable of if he hadn't died in the line of duty at the age of 25. Here's a harrowing excerpt from one of Owens' anti-war poems, the final stanza of "Dolce Et Decorum Est": 

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sack of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gurgling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman poet Horace's Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country." Kenneth Branagh reads the poem here:


For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack on the Fonsomme Line on October 1st/2nd, 1918. On the company commander becoming a casualty, he assumed command and showed fine leadership and resisted a heavy counter-attack. He personally manipulated a captured enemy machine gun from an isolated position and inflicted considerable losses on the enemy. Throughout he behaved most gallantly.

- Citation for the award of the Military Cross to Wilfred Owen, 30 July 1919

Today is the 121st anniversary of the birth of English "war poet" Wilfred (Edward Salter) Owen (1893-1918) (wiki) (online archive) (BBC History), whose verse forms much of the text of the celebrated War Requiem (wiki) of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). Born in Oswestry and raised in Shrewsbury, Owen became the "lay assistant" to a vicar in nearby Dunsden in 1911 and later tutored English in France. After the outbreak of World War I, he returned to England to enlist and eventually served on the Somme. Severely "shell-shocked," he was invalided home in May 1917, but after a posting to the small northern cathedral town of Ripon, he returned to active duty in France in August 1918. Owen was awarded the Military Cross posthumously for gallantry in an action two months later, but he was killed, at the age of 25, by German machine-gun fire while leading an attack on the Sambre-Oise canal just a week before the Armistice in November 1918. His extraordinary verse was first published in an edition by his friend Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) in 1920 and expanded into a complete edition in 1931 by fellow war poet Edmund Blunden (1896-1974). 

A BBC production on Owen's life entitled Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale (2007):


The source for the above is Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If interested in being added to his distribution list, leave your email address in the comments.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Heh - Americans with No Abilities Act advocates for those who lack any skills or ambition

Washington, DC – Congressional Democrats are considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

These two non-abled Americans have
become millionaires
‘Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,’ said California Senator Barbara Boxer. ‘We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing.’

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S. employer of Persons of Inability.

Private-sector industries with good records of non-discrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement ‘warehouse’ stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%).

Under The Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million ‘middle man’ positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, ‘Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?’

‘As a Non-abled person, I can’t be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,’ said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint , Michigan , due to her inability to remember ‘rightey tightey, lefty loosey.’ ‘This new law should be real good for people like me,’ Gertz added. With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): ‘As a Senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so. ”

Happy Purim: SNL skit where Gilda Radner explains that she saves up all of her orgasms for this day

From February 18, 1978 (Season 3 Ep 12) - Post-Coital Discussion.

After having a one-night stand, a man (Chase) and woman (Radner) discuss what went right and wrong. Chevy asked her if she had an orgasm and Gilda said that she stores them up and feels them all at once, “usually on the first day of Purim.”

I can't find a video of this (although you can get the whole show on Amazon for $1.99), but here's a still, and the transcript is below. If you locate a video, please leave a link in the comments!


Conversation After Sex

Man.....Chevy Chase
Woman.....Gilda Radner
[ a couple begin a conversation after having sex ]

Man: You want a cigarette?

Woman: No, thanks, I don't smoke.

Man: Oh, good. Neither do I. [ pause ] That was terrific. How was it for you?

Woman: Okay.

Man: Was it just "okay", or was it "really okay"?

Woman: Well, it was "really just okay".

Man: Did you, uh.. did you.. hmm? Did you have, uh..?

Woman: Couldn't you tell?

Man: Well, I'm not very good at those things. I can't figure those things out too good. They confuse me.

Woman: Well, why did you ask?

Man: Well, you know, I figured we've just been very intimate, as intimate as you can be, you know? And, uh.. I'd feel sort of guilty if only one of us was satisfied, you know? I mean, it's not like I didn't try..

Woman: Oh, I know.

Man: Well, did you?

Woman: Well, look, don't worry. Sometimes I do, and I don't even know it.

Man: Huh? I've never heard of that before. When it happens to me, I know it.

Woman: Well, girls are different, you know? I didn't even know I was allowed to have one 'til I went away to college.

Man: Do you usually have one, though?

Woman: Well, you see, it's like this - I never really feel them immediately. It's sorta like they, uh.. kind of store up, and then I feel them all at once. Usually, on the first day of Purim. A lot of girls are like that.

Man: Well, then.. you mean, you did have one?

Woman: Well..

Man: You might have.

Woman: Yeah.

Man: Good. I feel better.

Woman: Could you hold me?

Man: What?

Woman: Well, I just wondered if you'd hold me. I mean, we've been so close and everything.. and I like that part, the holding part. I like that as much as the other part.

Man: Well, sure. I like that, too. [ they adjust themselves for comfort ] Can I ask you something personal?

Woman: Sure.

Man: Um.. I don't want to pry.. but, who's Phil?

Woman: How do you know about Phil?

Man: Well, in the middle of it, you said his name, you know?

Woman: Oh, gee. I'm sorry.

Man: It's okay. Who is he?

Woman: Well, Phil's my old boyfriend. We broke up a couple weeks ago. I'm sorry.. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, really..

Man: Oh, no, no.. That's okay, I understand. I was just wondering, that's all. It's okay..

Woman: You mind if I ask you a personal question?

Man: Of course. Shoot.

Woman: Who's Terry? Right in the middle of everything, you said, "Terry."

ManI'm Terry. Terry Forrester?

Woman: Oh, I remember! You told me at the party! Right.

Man: That's just sort of a habit, from all those night alone. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings..

Woman: Terry?

Man: Yeah?

Woman: Can I ask you another question?

Man: Yeah, sure.

Woman: Who's Mommy?

Man: I said "Mommy"?

Woman: Yeah.

Man: Mommy's my middle name - Terry "Mommy" Forrester, I swear!

Woman: I believe you.

Man: I know that sounds funny.. Well, it's getting pretty late. What time do you have to get up for work?

Woman: Well, my boss is out of town, I don't have to go in 'til the afternoon.

Man: Wow, you're lucky. I've got a 9:30 class, it takes me 45 minutes to get there.

Woman: Class?

Man: Yeah.

Woman: I thought you said you pitched for the Yankees?

Man: I did? Yeah.. well..

Woman: You even promised you'd give me tickets for opening day..

Man: Look, I was lying. I just.. I'll level with you. I just wanted you to go home with me. I wanted to take you home, I thought it would sound a little better if I told you I was pitching for the Yankees. I figured if I told you I'm teaching Driver's Ed for Rodell Junior High, you know..?

Woman: I understand. You must really like baseball.

Man: Never miss a game.

Woman: Yeah, me either. Especially the Yankees. I follow them closely, like I know the whole roster.

Man: Well, why did you let me lie to you like that?

Woman: Well, I didn't want to embarrass you, and I was afraid you wouldn't take me home.. and I knew you'd tell me the truth, eventually.

Man: Well, that's real nice of you. That's real nice. I've gotta go. [ gets up ]

Woman: Well, where are you going?

Man: I told you - I've got an early class.. I've gotta get ready..

Woman: Well, you can stay, if you want to.

Man: I can?

Woman: Sure. It's your apartment.