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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.


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.