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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Video: Pulling a loose tooth with a live squirrel

As we all know squirrels are not known for being helpful; there's no indication that this one intended to be so, and the war with squirrels still continues. In this case, though, the outcome was positive.

David Freiheit of Montreal plucked his daughter down on a park bench, tied one end of a ~6 foot long piece of dental floss to her loose tooth and the other end to a piece of granola, and waited:
Not many people get to say they are the first people in the history of human kind to do something. Today, my kid and I get to say it. For the first time, in the history of human kind, we pulled a tooth using a live squirrel! We attached some dental floss to the loose tooth on one end, tied the dental floss to a piece of granola bar on the other, and the rest... is internet history.

A few related posts/links:

I'm pretty sure this flesh-eating-squirrels-because-fracking movie never got made, but if it ever happens, I'm in: Squirrels - Pre-production Sales Trailer.

January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day - more squirrel-launching videos here.

A fire that heavily damaged an apartment complex was started by a resident using a propane torch to remove a squirrel's fur.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Links

What Accident Most Changed the Course of History?

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include superhero physics, spider fighting, revolving restaurant history, and really bad book covers. 

Happy Birthday Ambrose Bierce, author of "The Devil's Dictionary"

Alliance, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hand so deeply inserted in each other's pocket that they cannot successfully plunder a third. 

Destiny, n. A tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure. 

Diplomacy, n. The patriotic act of lying for one's country. 

Evangelist, n. A bearer of glad tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.

History, n. An account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.

Imagination, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership. 

Infancy, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, "Heaven lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward. 

Occident, n. The part of the world lying west (or east) of the Orient. It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful subtribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call "war" and "commerce." These, also, are the principal industries of the Orient.

Ocean, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills. 

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. 

Rational, adj., Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience, and reflection. 

Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. 

Today is the anniversary of the birth on June 24, 1842 of American journalist and short-story writer Ambrose Gwinett Bierce (wiki) (1842-1914?), remembered primarily as the author of The Devil's Dictionary. Born in Meigs County, Ohio, Bierce served the Union Army in the Civil War as a "topographical engineer," i.e., a map-maker, but he became a journalist after the conflict and settled in San Francisco. 

Cover of the graphic novel version
 of The Devil's Dictionary
As the literary arbiter of the West Coast at the turn of the 20th century, he found early success as a writer of such short stories as "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,"* many of them based on his experiences in the army.* The Devil's Dictionary, a compilation of irreverent definitions of common words and phrases, derives from a series of newspaper columns that Bierce wrote between 1881 and 1886 and then from 1904 to 1906. In 1913, he left San Francisco - at age 71 - to cover the uprising of Pancho Villa in Mexico and was never heard from again. Various theories - including suicide - and unsubstantiated reports of his death have been evinced to explain his disappearance, but the mystery remains.**  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)  had characters like Bierce in mind when he noted, 
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
* N.B. Below is a well-received French film short of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," circa 1962, from a showing of the original on the Twilight Zone many years ago. BTW, no French skills required - there's no dialogue. 

** The excellent site Today I Found Out (I highly recommend their book The Wise Book of Whys, copies of which I've given to several people as gifts) has a good roundup of the theories regarding his death: Whatever Happened to Ambrose Bierce?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Q&A from the New York Mirror, circa 1950s: If a woman needs it, should she be spanked?

It's unanimous:

via @Flashbak

Video: making 18th century fried chicken

From Jas. Townsend and Son's 18th century cooking collection on youtube - they also have a website with a section devoted to 18th century recipes.
This fried chicken recipe comes from Nathan Bailey's 1736 cookbook, "Dictionarium Domesticum." This recipe calls for a marinade that is sure to surprise you. The tartness of the marinade contrasted to the sweetness of the batter really sets this dish off. We highly recommend you try this!

From the same youtube channel, if you're going to be replicating the colonial cooking process, you'll need one of these:

h/t Neatorama

Wednesday links

Physics of superheroes: Batman's powers questioned by scientists.

The History of Revolving Restaurants.

Joel Slater, the Stateless Man.

Operation Acoustic Kitty: Cold War attempt to eavesdrop via transmitters implanted into cats. 

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the summer solstice, the economics of peeing in the shower, healthy summer advice from 1656, state liquor law history, and what will happen if GPS fails.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on a Government Pension

Via youtube:
If you are a government employee in California you don't have to work to get rich -- sometimes you just have to retire. Over 50,000 retired government employees collect paychecks that exceed $100,000 each year for the rest of their lives. But government golden parachutes aren't limited to a single monthly retirement check. One of the more outrageous pension abuses comes in the form of double dipping, or collecting a government retirement check while also receiving a paycheck for a government job.

Physics of superheroes: Batman's powers questioned by scientists

Research from the University of Leicester has deemed Batman to be the “most ill-equipped” of the superheroes, claiming that the velocities Gotham City’s finest reaches when gliding through the air would be likely to kill him on landing.

In a series of papers published over the last seven years in the Journal of Physics Special Topics and Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, students at Leicester have examined the viability of a range of superhero characters. Superman, they have determined, would be “best equipped” to prevail among the contenders they have studied, which include the Flash, Thor and Iron Man.

Looking at everything from the Man of Steel’s muscle tissue – his skin density “would have to be 296 g/cm3 to stop 50% of standard handgun bullets” – to how he reverses the polarity of the Earth’s spin (he increases his relativistic mass by 13.7m times by travelling close to the speed of light, they write), Superman is the “the number one candidate for ‘most powerful superhero’”.

He is followed by Wolverine, whose lunge at an enemy while on top of a train was calculated by the students at at least 1300N, “based on his adamantium-reinforced skeleton’s mass and density (acknowledging that osmium is the closest thing to adamantium in terms of density)”.

James Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota and author of The Physics of Superheroes, praised the students’ “excellent research”, but said they had forgotten to consider a major aspect of Batman’s strength.

“Batman may indeed be at the bottom of the list, when one considers raw firepower, but they have not properly weighted Batman’s greatest asset – his mind. Batman always has a plan, and with enough time and resources, he has demonstrated an ability to singlehandedly take down every member of the Justice League,” said Kakalios, pointing to the Tower of Babel storyline from 2000, which he said sees the villain Ra’s al Ghul use the contingency plans developed by Batman to incapacitate superheroes including Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash and Wonder Woman.

Related posts:

This Comic Reveals Why Female Superheroes Wear Skimpy Armor.

The 1960s Superhero Who Powered Up By Smoking (and other weird superheroes).

9 Reasons Green Lanterns Are the Universe's Worst Protectors.

More at The Guardian, h/t Geekpress.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday links

The summer solstice occurs this evening at 6:34 PM EDT: some science, history, poetry and music.

The Numbers Add Up: Peeing in the Shower Makes Sense.

The Ad Campaign that Convinced Americans to Pay for Water.

How to Have a Healthy Summer: Advice from 1656.

What Happens If GPS Fails?

The Weird and Very Long History of State Liquor Laws.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include parenting advice from Homer Simpson, a photo gallery of awkwardly sitting dogs, the anniversary of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, and a 1942 guide to spaghetti-eating etiquette.