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Monday, November 2, 2020

Einstein, Newton, and Pascal play a game of hide and seek

One day, Einstein, Newton, and Pascal meet up and decide to play a game of "hide and seek". Einstein volunteered to go first.

As he counted, Pascal ran away scrambling to find a great hiding place. Giddily, he squeezed into a crawl space sure that he would win this time as this was his best hiding spot to date and Newton surely wouldn't find an equal.

Newton, on the other hand, stood right in front of Einstein, pulled out a piece of chalk, and drew a box on the ground of roughly 1x1 meters. Once this was completed, he sat down neatly inside the box and waited for Einstein to finish counting.

When Einstein opened his eyes, he of course saw Newton and with a bit of disappointment said “I found you, Newton, you lose”... but Newton replied, “On the contrary, you are looking at one Newton over a square meter... Pascal loses!”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Retrofuture from 1923: When we all have pocket telephones

 

Add caption
Daily Mirror, England, January 23, 1923
Image © The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved.

H/T Messy Nessy

Saturday, August 8, 2020

August 13 is the anniversary of the death of Genghis Khan: founder of the Mongolian Empire, prolific spreader of DNA, Conan the Barbarian inspiration, and climate change hero

Roused by the lash of his own stubborn tail
Our lion will now foreign foes assail.
~John Dryden (Astraea Redux)

Heaven has abandoned China owing to its haughtiness and extravagant luxury. But I, living in the northern wilderness, have not inordinate passions. I hate luxury and exercise moderation. I have only one coat and one food. I eat the same food and am dressed in the same tatters as my humble herdsmen. I consider the people my children*, and take an interest in talented men as if they were my brothers. We always agree in our principles, and we are always united by mutual affection. At military exercises I am always in front, and in time of battle am never behind. In the space of seven years, I have succeeded in accomplishing a great work, and uniting the whole world in one empire. 

The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses, and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.**

John Wayne as Genghis in The Conqueror
One arrow alone can be easily broken, but many arrows are indestructible.

~Genghis Khan (variously attributed) 

Today is the anniversary of the death of Genghis Khan (wiki) (ca. 1162-1227), the founder and emperor of the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in history. Born in the Khenti Mountains of modern-day Mongolia, Genghis rose to power amid a grouping of warring tribes in northwest Asia and eventually united them into a powerful nomadic army that conquered most of the Chin empire of northern China (1213-15). Subsequently, from 1218 through 1224, he subjugated Turkistan, Transoxonia, and Afghanistan and raided Persia and eastern Europe. (For a generation after his death, his sons and grandsons pushed the Empire even farther, but ultimately, it fractured into several khanates and faded away.) Genghis Khan was one of history's most inspired - and ruthless - military leaders, yet he is buried in an unmarked grave at some unknown location (Why Genghis Khan’s tomb can’t be found). At one point in his ascendancy he is said to have remarked, 

"Conquering the world on horseback is easy: it is dismounting and governing that is hard."

Conan, not Ghengis
**This is the origin of the similar line in Conan the Barbarian (musical version here): when Conan is asked what is best in life, he responds. "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

*Many of the people, as it turns out, were his children. Here is an interesting article about the latter-day demographics that resulted from the Mongol conquest:
Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior of the 13th century, may have done more than rule the largest empire in the world; according to a recently published genetic study, he may have helped populate it too.
An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today.
Mother Nature Network considers him a climate change hero, based on the fact that he killed lots of people (and people are a scourge upon the earth):
"Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests."
Not sure why they left out Stalin and Mao.

This map from Wikipedia shows the growth of the Mongol Empire:





Sunday, August 2, 2020

Cardboard UFO

The experiment involves a cardboard flying saucer and 25K wooden matches.

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Seneca on insult vs Injury

Ancient bust of Seneca
For much of posterity, Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 B.C. - A.D. 65) (wiki), the second son of Seneca the Elder, has vied with Cicero (wiki) for the title of "the most noble Roman of them all."  He was taken to Rome as a boy and educated there, but his brilliant debut at the bar so aroused the jealousy of the emperor Caligula that Seneca withdrew from law and devoted himself to the study of Stoic philosophy. 

Under Claudius, Seneca was exiled to Corsica for immorality but was brought back in A.D. 49 to become the tutor of the young Nero and later became one of the emperor's most trusted advisors.*

However, in 65, he was implicated in the Piso conspiracy and forced by his former pupil to commit suicide (Seneca followed tradition by severing several veins in order to bleed to death).**

Today, Seneca is best remembered for the psychological acumen and lofty humanitarianism of his moral essays, and he exerted a great influence on subsequent writers, notably Montaigne. Moreover, his nine tragedies served as models for those of Calderón, Camoëns, and Corneille.   

On insult and injury: (translation via the always interesting sententiae antiquae) :            

Manuel Domínguez SánchezThe suicide of Seneca (1871)
 
Museo del Prado
“Serenus, if it seems apt to you, we need to distinguish injury from insult. The first is more serious by its nature and the other is lighter and an issue only for the overly sensitive because people are not wounded but offended. Some spirits are nevertheless so fragile and vain that they believe nothing is more bitter. For this reason you will find an enslaved person who would prefer lashes to fists and believes death and beatings more tolerable than insulting words.

The situation has gone to such a point of ridiculousness that we are harmed not just by pain but by opinion about pain like children whom dark shadows and the appearance of masks or changed appearances terrify! We are people moved to tears by somewhat painful words touching our ears, by rude signs with fingers, and other things which the ignorant rush from in panicked error.

Injury means to do someone evil; but wisdom allows no space for evil because the only evil it recognizes is debasement, which is incapable of entering anywhere virtue and truth already live.”
Dividamus, si tibi videtur, Serene, iniuriam a contumelia. Prior illa natura gravior est, haec levior et tantum delicatis gravis, qua non laeduntur homines sed offenduntur. Tanta est tamen animorum dissolutio et vanitas, ut quidam nihil acerbius putent. Sic invenies servum qui flagellis quam colaphis caedi malit et qui mortem ac verbera tolerabiliora credat quam contumeliosa verba. Ad tantas ineptias perventum est, ut non dolore tantum sed doloris opinione vexemur more puerorum, quibus metum incutit umbra et personarum deformitas et depravata facies, lacrimas vero evocant nomina parum grata auribus et digitorum motus et alia quae impetu quodam erroris improvidi refugiunt. Iniuria propositum hoc habet aliquem malo adficere; malo autem sapientia non relinquit locum, unum enim illi malum est turpitudo, quae intrare eo ubi iam virtus honestumque est non potest.
~ Seneca, De Constantia 5

* N.B.  Seneca's long and intimate relationship with Nero - which led to his accumulating enormous wealth - has long been the subject of significant confusion: How could such a staunch proponent of the Stoic virtues play so central a role in Nero's malignant reign? This contradiction is the subject of one of the best books I've read yet on the Roman imperium: James Romm's 2014 Dying Every Day - Seneca at the Court of Nero.

** It is to Tacitus that we owe the most detailed account of the death of Seneca - in Book 15 of his Annals

Parts of the text above are 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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Monday, July 6, 2020

Ultimate Hummingbird Helmet Has 7 Feeders Attached

Seven hummingbird feeders, hundreds of hummingbirds

One of the reasons blogging has been light - welcoming a new grandchild to the world ;-)

The most recent addition to my family is Miss Sophie Brooke Witt, sixth child and third daughter of my older son Charlie and his wife Mai Lea. Sophie was born at 12:42 in the morning on July 6, 2020, weighs 7 pounds and 14 ounces, and has all of the appropriate body parts, in the appropriate amounts.

It is a pleasant thing to reflect upon, and furnishes a complete answer to those who contend for the gradual degeneration of the human species, that every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last.

Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, Ch. 36

Infant Sorrow


My mother groand! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud; 
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my fathers hands: 
Striving against my swaddling bands: 
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mothers breast.

Song To Be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children


My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.

Oh, somewhere, somewhere, an infant plays,
With parents who feed and clothe him.
Their lips are sticky with pride and praise,
But I have begun to loathe him.
Yes, I loathe with loathing shameless
This child who to me is nameless.
This bachelor child in his carriage
Gives never a thought to marriage,
But a person can hardly say knife
Before he will hunt him a wife.

I never see an infant (male),
A-sleeping in the sun,
Without I turn a trifle pale
And think is he the one?
Oh, first he'll want to crop his curls,
And then he'll want a pony,
And then he'll think of pretty girls,
And holy matrimony.
A cat without a mouse
Is he without a spouse.

Oh, somewhere he bubbles bubbles of milk,
And quietly sucks his thumbs.
His cheeks are roses painted on silk,
And his teeth are tucked in his gums.
But alas the teeth will begin to grow,
And the bubbles will cease to bubble;
Given a score of years or so,
The roses will turn to stubble.
He'll sell a bond, or he'll write a book,
And his eyes will get that acquisitive look,
And raging and ravenous for the kill,
He'll boldly ask for the hand of Jill.
This infant whose middle
Is diapered still
Will want to marry My daughter Jill.

Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle!
My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.
A fig for embryo Lohengrins!
I'll open all his safety pins,
I'll pepper his powder, and salt his bottle,
And give him readings from Aristotle.
Sand for his spinach I'll gladly bring,
And Tabasco sauce for his teething ring.
And an elegant, elegant, alligator
To play with him in his perambulator.
Then perhaps he'll struggle through fire and water
To marry somebody else's daughter.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

This 1938 Film Shows How Sound Effects Were Made for Serial Radio Shows

Back of the Mike” demonstrates, in detail, how dramatic sound effects were made for radio serials using specific devices and actors voicing different roles.
A boy lies on his bed (wearing a white shirt and a necktie), listening to a radio western. We see the images the radio creates in his mind, then we cut to the studio, where we see that this whole fantasy world is created at a frantic pace by announcers in three-piece suits and sound-effects technicians operating incredibly complicated jury-rigged devices.
We get to see such things as one guy doing both voices in a conversation, an adult do a very convincing impersonation of a child’s voice, guys playing cowboys impersonating the sound of conversing while riding by playing “horsie” while reading their lines, and all the weird stuff used to make sound effects.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Protests Come for ‘Paw Patrol’


The Protests Come for ‘Paw Patrol’

A backlash is mounting against depictions of “good cops,” on television and in the street.

By Amanda Hess

    June 10, 2020, 1:04 p.m. ET

It was only a matter of time before the protests came for “Paw Patrol.”

“Paw Patrol” is a children’s cartoon about a squad of canine helpers. It is basically a pretense for placing household pets in a variety of cool trucks. The team includes Marshall, a firefighting Dalmatian; Rubble, a bulldog construction worker; and Chase, a German shepherd who is also a cop. In the world of “Paw Patrol,” Chase is drawn to be a very good boy who barks stuff like “Chase is on the case!” and “All in a police pup’s day!” as he rescues kittens in his tricked-out S.U.V.

But last week, when the show’s official Twitter account put out a bland call for “Black voices to be heard,” commenters came after Chase. “Euthanize the police dog,” they said. “Defund the paw patrol.” “All dogs go to heaven, except the class traitors in the Paw Patrol.”

It’s a joke, but it’s also not. As the protests against racist police violence enter their third week, the charges are mounting against fictional cops, too. Even big-hearted cartoon police dogs — or maybe especially big-hearted cartoon police dogs — are on notice. The effort to publicize police brutality also means banishing the good-cop archetype, which reigns on both television and in viral videos of the protests themselves. “Paw Patrol” seems harmless enough, and that’s the point: The movement rests on understanding that cops do plenty of harm.

The protests arrived in the midst of a pandemic that has alienated Americans from their social ties, family lives and workplaces. New and intense relationships with content have filled the gap, and now our quarantine consumptions are being reviewed with an urgently political eye. The reckoning has come for newspapers, food magazines, Bravo reality shows and police procedurals.
Latest Updates: George Floyd Protests Updated 20m ago

Last week, Tom Scharpling, an executive producer of “Monk,” criticized his own show on Twitter: “If you — as I have — worked on a TV show or movie in which police are portrayed as lovable goofballs, you have contributed to the larger acceptance that cops are implicitly the good guys.” Griffin Newman, an actor who appeared in two episodes of “Blue Bloods” as a detective, donated his $11,000 in earnings to a bail fund, inspiring other actors who have played cops to do the same. LEGO has halted marketing on its “LEGO City Police Station” and “Police Highway Arrest” sets. A&E has pulled its reality show “Live PD” from the schedule. On Tuesday night, “Cops,” the show that branded suspects as “bad boys” and spawned the whole genre of crime reality television, was canceled after 32 seasons.

Cops are not just television stars; they are television’s biggest stars. Crime shows are TV’s most popular genre, now making up more than 60 percent of prime-time programming on the big four broadcast networks. The tropes of the genre are so predictable that a whole workplace sitcom, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” is layered atop them. “A police station was a shortcut,” Dan Goor, the show’s co-creator, has said, “because people are very aware of how police television works. You know instantly who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.”

That shortcut now feels like a cheat: After images of a very special episode where Terry Crews is racially profiled were passed around as evidence of responsible police TV, others marked the show as “copaganda.”

Even on television, the good guys are not always so good. In a recent report, the racial justice organization Color of Change assessed depictions of the police across television and found that modern cop shows “make heroes out of people who violate our rights.” Many of them, it argued, show the good guys committing more violations than the bad guys, making police misbehavior feel “relatable, forgivable, acceptable and ultimately good.”

On television, the hero itself is a concept under review. Just a few years ago, at the height of the antihero craze, a prestige drama could seem a little fluffy if its protagonist was not an actual murderer. There is an artistic justification for humanizing bad people and complicating good ones. It’s hard to argue that a show like “Watchmen” (in which a black policewoman brutally beats suspected white supremacist terrorists) or “Unbelievable” (in which two female detectives repeatedly collar the wrong guys) would make for better television if their star cops acted more like German shepherd puppies.

After Inkoo Kang, a critic for The Hollywood Reporter, described “The Wire” as painting police violence with a “heroic gloss,” Wendell Pierce, who played Detective Bunk Moreland on the show, pushed back. “How can anyone watch ‘The Wire’ and the dysfunction of the police & the war on drugs and say that we were depicted as heroic,” he tweeted. “We demonstrated moral ambiguities and the pathology that leads to the abuses.”

The more salient critique of the crime genre is not how it depicts the police, but just how obsessively it privileges their ambiguities and pathologies over all other players in the criminal justice system — namely, the people cops target as suspects. “As TV viewers we are locked inside a police perspective,” Kathryn VanArendonk wrote recently on Vulture. Color of Change notes that defense attorneys, like Perry Mason and Matlock, “once embodied the character of the American hero,” defending the American people “against the many police officers, prosecutors and judges who jumped to conclusions too quickly and stood as symbols of a deeply flawed system.”

But a sea change led by Dick Wolf’s mammoth “Law & Order” franchise has realigned the crime genre under the perspective of prosecutors and cops. “Our sympathies have generally been with victims,” Warren Leight, the showrunner of “Law & Order: SVU,” said last week on the Hollywood Reporter podcast “TV’s Top 5,” in a conversation about rethinking the show. He added: “Cops behaving illegally, that’s not part of Dick’s brand.”

Cops and Hollywood enjoy a symbiotic relationship, as Alyssa Rosenberg detailed in a Washington Post series in 2016 on policing in popular culture. Cops consult on movies and series, helping mold the characters to their self-conception, and then they take cues from those characters in their own police work. Police officers in Detroit have been spotted wearing the skull insignia of the Marvel antihero the Punisher, and squads in Minnesota have watched Disney’s “Zootopia” as part of their anti-bias training. “LAW & ORDER” has become President Trump’s preferred call-to-arms as the government dispatches police forces and National Guard soldiers against the protesters.

The “good cop” trope is a standard of both police procedurals and real-life police tactics, and now crowdsourced video of the protests has given cops a new stage for performing the role. In recent days, supposedly uplifting images of the police have spread wildly across the internet, competing for views with evidence of cops beating, gassing and arresting protesters. In Houston, an officer consoled a young black girl at a rally: “We’re here to protect you, OK?” he told her, enveloping her in a hug. “You can protest, you can party, you can do whatever you want. Just don’t break nothing.” In Nashville, the police tweeted a photo of cops kneeling next to a black boy with a “Black Lives Matter” sign, smiling from behind their riot helmets. And in Atlanta, a line of National Guard soldiers did the Macarena. On the final rump shake, a black rifle slung over one soldier’s back swung to the beat.

These images show cops engaging in a kind of pantomime of protest, mimicking the gestures of the demonstrators until their messages are diluted beyond recognition. They reframe protests against racist police violence into a bland, nonspecific goal of solidarity. These moments are meant to represent the shared humanity between officers and protesters, but cops already rank among the most humanized groups in America; the same cannot be said for the black Americans who live in fear of them. Cops can dance, they can hug, they can kneel on the ground, but their individual acts of kindness can no longer obscure the violence of a system. The good-cop act is wearing thin.

Wednesday links



Ancient methods for storing food.

How to Kill Snakes and Fleas: advice from 1688.

Father's Day suggestion for the man who has everything - Rhinestone jockstrap belonging to Elvis Presley on sale for almost £30,000.

Gallery of construction photos from 1881-1895: Building London's Tower Bridge.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include nature’s best toilet paper substitutes, the dark side of Peter Pan, quarantines in the 19th century, and bronze-age fighting techniques.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

On June 10, 1964, Democrats' 57-day filibuster of the Civil Rights Act ended


A 1964 photo of African-Americans protesting Robert C. Byrd
 for filibustering the Civil Rights Act bill. (source)
On June 10, 1964, Everett Dirksen (R-IL), the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate, condemned the Democrats’ 57-day filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Leading the Democrats in their opposition to civil rights for African-Americans was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) (wiki). Byrd, who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan. At 9:51 on the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Byrd completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier.

Democrats still call Robert Byrd “the conscience of the Senate.”

As Senator Byrd took his seat, Georgia Democrat Richard Russell offered the final arguments in opposition. Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, who had enlisted the Republican votes that made cloture a realistic option, called on the Democrats to end their filibuster and accept racial equality.

Cots filled the Old Supreme Court Chamber during the  civil rights debates.
He spoke for the proponents with his customary eloquence, "The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing in government, in education, and in employment. It will not be stayed or denied. It is here!"

Never in history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a civil rights bill. Nine days later the Senate approved the act itself—producing one of the 20th century's towering legislative achievements.

Much more detail on the Civil Rights bills (there were four of them) and the back and forth on approving the 1964 version here and here.

Related: Here's a bit of Americana for you - the 1920's KKK Application Form.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

How to Kill Snakes and Fleas: advice from 1688

How to Kill Snakes, 1688
"1. How to gather Snakes and Adders to one place. Take one handful of Onion, and ten River Crab-fish, pound them together, and lay it in the places where the Snakes and Adders are, and they will all gather together.
2. To kill Snakes and Adders. Take a large Rhadish, and strike the Adder and Snake with it, and one blow will kill them." 
R. W., A Necessary Family-Book (1688)

A simple and elegant technique: lure the snakes with a giant crabcake and then bludgeon them with a radish.

From the same book, here's How to Kill Fleas:

"Take an Earthen Platter, that is broad and shallow, fill it half full with Goats Blood, and set the Platter under the Bed, and all the Fleas will come into it like a swarm of Bees. Or take the Blood of a Bear or Badger, and put it under the Bed, as before, and it gathers the Fleas to it, and they die immediately."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Story of Flowers: this gorgeous botanical animation will make your day.

I'm a huge fan of vintage botanical drawings. This is distinctly different, but also stunningly beautiful.

Watch full screen:


Per youtube:
The animation was developed for kids to show the life cycle of flowers.

Many different flowers are growing beautifully and strongly in this world. Taking their roots in the earth, sprouting, blooming, pollination by birds and insects, living on in spite of rain, wind and storms. They pass on the baton of life, rebirth and decay. Everything is so in a continuous, endless cycle. This is the story and message of this animation.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

How to walk (or run or dance) on water - the non-Newtonian pool

This commercial features a 2,100 gallon pool of the non-Newtonian fluid (wiki) mixture of cornstarch and water known as oobleck: it was filmed in Kuala Lumpur for a Malaysian bank. More information below the video, which you should watch full screen:


You can make your own oobleck using 1 cup water to 1 to 2 cups cornstarch - in my house we call this a slurry and use it to thicken sauces. Add food coloring if you want. More on oobleck at Scientific American, and this Wired article  explains:

British polymath and Enlightenment hero Isaac Newton studied lots of things: optics, gravity, waves, mathematics, astronomy, history, religion and alchemy and so on. Then in his spare time, he investigated how liquids flow and thus got a whole branch of fluid dynamics named for him. Newton observed how common liquids, such as water, flow the same regardless of how much stress you subject them to. Push a stirring stick into a cup of water and swish it around. The water’s viscosity – how smooth or sticky its consistency is – stays the same.
Pretty simple, yeah? Many liquids that we interact with on a regular basis work this way: things like water, milk, oil, or juice. But there are also a lot of common fluids that don’t. These are non-Newtonian fluids; substances whose viscosity changes based on how much pressure you apply to them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Pig Got Up And Slowly Walked Away

Here's Rudy Vallee:

"You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses"
And the pig got up and slowly walked away:



Lyrics (alternatives here):

PIG GOT UP AND SLOWLY WALKED AWAY

(Music: F W Bowers / Lyrics: Benjamin Hapgood Burt)

Frank Crumit - 1934
Johnny Bond - 1966
Jim Croce - 1975

Also recorded by: Sam Hinton; Rudy Vallee;
Harry Belafonte; Clinton Ford; Acker Bilk.

One evening in October
When I was about one-third sober
And was taking home a load with manly pride
My poor feet began to stutter
So I lay down in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side

Then we sang "It's All Fair Weather"
And "Good Fellows Get Together"
Till a lady passing by was heard to say
She says, "You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses"
And the pig got up and slowly walked away

Yes, the pig got up and slowly walked away
Slowly walked away, slowly walked away
Yes, the pig got up and he turned and winked at me
As he slowly walked away

I also well remember
One evening in November
When I was creeping home at break of day
For in my exhilaration
I engaged in conversation
With a cab-horse, right on the corner of Broadway

I was filled up to the eyeballs
With a flock of gin and highballs
So I whispered to the cab-horse old and grey
I says, "It's these all-night homeward marches
That gave us both our fallen arches."
And the old horse laughed and slowly walked away

Yes, the old horse laughed and slowly walked away
Slowly walked away, he slowly walked away
And the old horse laughed and he turned and winked at me
As he slowly walked away
As he slowly walked away

Log cabin time lapse: A Canadian man builds a shelter from scratch

Extreme DIY from Shawn James - lots more at his website.

"All summer, I cut the notches in the logs as I built the cabin up, offsite. Once I was finished notching the logs with a log scribe, saw, axe, adze and wood carving gouge, I loaded up the entire cabin of logs and moved them to my land near Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.

Once on site, I spent a month reassembling the cabin on a foundation of sand and gravel. Once the log walls were up, I again used hand tools to shape every log, board and timber to erect the gable ends, the wood roof, the porch, the outhouse and a seemingly endless number of woodworking projects.

For the roof, I used an ancient primitive technology to waterproof and preserve the wood – shou sugi ban, a fire hardening wood preservation technique unique to Japan and other areas in northern climates."

Friday, May 8, 2020

A Biologist's Mother's Day Song: Slightly more than half of everything I am is thanks to you

Happy Mother's Day!

Full lyrics (and guitar chords, for those of you so inclined) are below, but here are a couple of highlights: 
Just like two strands of DNA are spirally entwined
Your nature and your nurture are inspiringly combined
Scientists remind me and I find that it is true
Slightly more than half of everything I am is thanks to you
I got nutrients and transcription factors
and nearly everything that matters
plus my prenatal environment (transplacental inheritance)
mRNA, mitochondria,
That back in the day once belonged to ya...


Lyrics:

To make one me you just add
Half of mom and half of dad
That is what I once believed
But I know now that I was wrong
I got so much more from you mom
Than just half a set of genes

I got nutrients and transcription factors
and nearly everything that matters
plus my prenatal environment (transplacental inheritance)
mRNA, mitochondria,
That back in the day once belonged to ya (theyre cytoplasmic)
and I just want to thank for supplying them

Just like two strands of DNA are spirally entwined
Your nature and your nurture are inspiringly combined
Scientists remind me and I find that it is true
Slightly more than half of everything I am is thanks to you

Mitochondria power my cells
and they have DNA as well
Transcription factors modulate transcription
And since theyre in the cytoplasm
The eggs the only one that has em
and sperm I guess they dont have much ambition

My sex determination gene means that Im a guy
From you I got my X chromosome, from Dad I got my Y
X has over a thousand genes, Y has less than 92
Thats why more than half of everything I am is thanks to you

I roomed in your womb for nine whole months and never paid the rent
Your glucocorticoids shaped my hypothalmic development
I took in your blood and sucked it dry of every nutrient (its gross but true)
Sometimes I wonder where the time went (where did it go)
Sometimes I wonder where it went

I know Ill never understand all you have done for me (I'm not that smart)
But since you paid for college I'll get my B. S. degree (bachelor of science)
And I have learned its not BS but absolutely true
Slightly more than half of everything I am is thanks to you.

"It's not an even 50/50 split you get a disproportionate share of your DNA coming from your mom. Really important." - Robert Sapolsky

CHORDS
Verse: D A G G
Chorus: A bm G D x2 / G A D-A-bm / G A G D
Bridge: G A D G x2 / G A D-A-bm / G G A A -- rock on!

Friday links

V.E. Day: 75 years ago, on May 8, 1945, World War II ended in Europe.

Nature’s best toilet paper substitutes.

James Barrie was born on May 9, 1860 - here's the Dark Side of Peter Pan.

Sword-Wielding Scientists Show How Ancient Fighting Techniques Spread Across Bronze Age Europe.

Roundup of Mother's Day links.


The 1918 Parade That Spread Death in Philadelphia - in six weeks, 12,000 were dead of influenza.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include tax day quotes, cartoons, and history and links, stopping the spread of disease during and after the American Revolution, the lost state of Franklin, the anniversary of Lincoln's assassination, and the history of pizza.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

James Barrie was born on May 9, 1860 - here's the Dark Side of Peter Pan

Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. He was born on May 9, 1860, educated in Scotland, and then moved to London, where he wrote a number of successful novels and plays.

When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.

~ James Barrie, Peter Pan

Every time a child says, "I don't believe in fairies," there is a little fairy somewhere who falls down dead.

~ Id.

Fascinating story about James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, over at Neatorama - read the whole thing. Some excerpts:

"All of James Barrie's life led up to the creation of Peter Pan," wrote one of his biographers. 

A pivotal point came in 1866 when Barrie, the youngest in a Scottish family of ten children, was six: his brother David, the pride of the family, died in a skating accident. Barrie's mother was devastated. To comfort her, little James began imitating David's mannerisms and mimicking his speech. This bizarre charade went on for years… and only got weirder: when James reached 13, the age at which David had died, he literally stopped growing. He never stood taller than 5', and didn't shave until he was 24. He always had a thin, high-pitched voice... 



In 1899, while still unhappily married, Barrie befriended young George, John, and Peter Davies and their mother, Sylvia, in London's Kensington Park. The boys' father, Arthur Davies, was too busy tending to his struggling career as a lawyer to spend much time with the family. So childless Barrie was only too happy to play with the Davies boys. He became a frequent caller at their home, and even rented a cottage nearby when they went on vacations in Surrey. 

Barrie idolized the children's beautiful mother. But it was with the children that he could truly be himself. He met with them daily in the park or at their home. They played Indians together, or pretended to be pirates, forcing each other to "walk the plank." Barrie made up stories for the boys, featuring talking birds and fairies, and acted them out.

Barrie always acknowledged that the Davies boys' free-spirited youth was the inspiration for Peter Pan. "I made Peter by rubbing the five of you together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame," he wrote on the dedication page of the printed version of the play. More than that, however, the Davies family - loving mother, impatient father, and adorable sons - served as Barrie's model for the Darlings in the play. He even used their names:

* Mr. Darling was named after the eldest boy, George Davies.

* Jack Davies became John Darling.

* Michael and Nicholas became Michael Nicholas Darling.

* Peter Davies' name went to Peter Pan.

As for the author, he appears as Captain James Hook, whose right hand is gone. Barrie suffered paralysis of his right hand from tendonitis.

But this story has no happy ending. Arthur Davies died of cancer, which left Barrie and Sylvia free to marry. Barrie went so far as to give her an engagement ring, but then she, too, died of cancer. Suddenly Barrie was the legal guardian of five boys, ages 7 to 17. George, the eldest Davies child and Barrie's favorite, died in World War I in 1915. Michael drowned in a pool at Oxford while being taught to swim by a close friend; there were rumors of a suicide pact. John married and distanced himself from Barrie. Peter Davies committed suicide as an adult in an attempt to escape, some say, from forever being called "Peter Pan."

Much more in the Neatorama post, and for further reading, try this: J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan.

Roundup of Mother's Day links

Grandmothers gave humans longer lifespans.

Notes on the History of Mother's Day: 5 Things Worth Knowing.

For your wino mom or wife on Mother's Day: FlaskScarf, tampon flasks, or the Wine Rack

The 8 Best Mothers In The Animal Kingdom, and the 15 worst.

Top 10 Mothers in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

A Biologist's Mother's Day Song: Slightly more than half of everything I am is thanks to you.

6 Unforgettable Movie Mothers and the Real Moms They Depicted.


Don't get along with your mom? This might help:

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wednesday links

Tax day quotes, cartoons, history and links, including the 1967 cartoon version of The Beatles "Taxman"


How computational power—or its absence—shaped World War naval battles.

Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865 and died the morning of the 15th - here's history, contemporaneous articles and illustrations, and an eyewitness report from 1956.

Stopping the spread of disease during and after the American Revolution - fumigating people with smoke was thought to neutralize smallpox: “a judicious and proper application of fire and smoke is the true means appropriated for the destruction and utter extinction of the most malignant sources of disease.”

History of Pizza - Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, described pizza in 1831 - "it altogether looks like a piece of bread that has been taken reeking out of the sewer’.

And in the animals are just like humans category, Elephants Console One Another By Genital Touching and Sympathetic Noises.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Excuse Creator

Zoomable version here.


Tax day quotes, cartoons, and links, and the 1967 cartoon version of The Beatles "Taxman"

The first modern income tax was levied in Britain between 1799 and 1816 to fund the Napoleonic wars, but it did not become permanent until 1874. Similarly the United States adopted a like measure during the Civil War, but it was not institutionalized until the ratification of the 16th amendment to the Constitution in 1913. Related: tax protester Sixteenth Amendment arguments.

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

~ Frédéric Bastiat (wiki)

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.


There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.


I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

~ James Madison

The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away.

~ John S. Coleman

Here's the 1967 cartoon version of The Beatles "Taxman": lyrics below the video. George Harrison (who wrote the song) explains why (more here):
“I had discovered I was paying a huge amount of money to the taxman,” he once explained in interview.  “You are so happy that you’ve finally started earning money – and then you find out about tax.  In those days we paid nineteen shillings and sixpence out of every pound (there were twenty shillings in the pound), and with supertax and surtax and tax-tax it was ridiculous – a heavy penalty to pay for making money…It was, and still is, typical.  Why should this be so?  Are we being punished for something we have forgotten to do?...That was the big turn-off for Britain.  Anybody who ever made any money moved to America or somewhere else.”

Let me tell you how it will be:
There's one for you, nineteen for me,
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman.

Should five percent appear too small,
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman.

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for,
If you don't want to pay some more,
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman.

Now my advice for you who die:
Declare the pennies on your eyes,
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman,
And you're working for no one but me.

The Beatles (George Harrison) ("The Taxman")

And from 1943, here's Donald Duck telling you to pay your taxes:


Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.


To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury.

~ Benjamin Tucker

The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.

We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

~ Winston Churchill

Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.

~ Calvin Coolidge

It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income.

~ Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.

~ Thomas Paine

What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin. 

To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men. 

~ Edmund Burke 

Civil servants and priests, soldiers and ballet dancers, schoolmasters and police constables, Greek museums and Gothic steeples, civil list and services list - the common seed within which all these fabulous beings slumber in embryo is taxation.