18 February 2018

Divertimento #146

So, you pay a helicopter pilot to carry you to the top of a mountain.  Your ski hits a rock.  Then this happens...

Granny flats and zoning regulations.

Google can create panorama photos for you.  They don't always come out right.

In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy hides his hammer in the book of... Exodus.

Arctic musk oxen succumb to an ice tsunami.

When asked about its color, 52 percent said a tennis ball is green, 42 percent said it’s yellow, and 6 percent went with “other.”

If you encrypt personal photos before storing them in the Cloud, you should know that there are programs that allow them to be unencrypted by other people.

"A 15-year-old gained access to plans for intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Iran by pretending to be the head of the CIA to gain access to his computers."

A gallery of photos along Norway's Highway 69.

A meme generator for "Pepperidge Farm Remembers."

The Doomsday rule can determine the day of the week for any date in history.  In case you want to know if the Battle of Hastings was fought on a weekend.

"Just days after the House passed its version of the federal tax law slashing corporate tax rates, House Speaker Paul Ryan collected nearly $500,000 in campaign contributions from billionaire energy mogul Charles Koch and his wife, according to a recent campaign donor report."  The Koch companies, in turn, will receive billions of dollars in tax relief.  They would like you to understand that all of this money will eventually trickle down to you.

Video of a farrier trimming the hooves of a draft horse.

"A US appeals court debated whether or not a monkey can own the copyright to a selfie..."

A compilation of bloopers from a televised fishing program.

IKEA furniture is built with cardboard (inside the particle board).  "They use the particle board for the parts that need to hold screws."

The best "icebreaker questions" for starting a new relationship: #1: What was your first job? #2: Have you ever met anyone famous? #3: Do you read TYWKIWDBI? #24: Do you collect anything?...

In a high-rise building, don't overfill a tub or pool on a windy day.

Copper isn't magnetic.  But it affects magnets.

"Parents are making their children drink industrial bleach to “cure” them of autism, with the potentially deadly practice traced back to a cult in the United States."

The National Security Agency has removed "honesty" from the core values listed on its website.

A "porch bandit" steals a package.  "On her way back to the car, she trips and falls. She can't get up. It looks like she broke her leg, because her foot is at a weird angle."

What ever happened to those kids who used to knock on people's doors and then run away before anyone could answer?  They got jobs.

"According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median four-year cost to attend public medical school exceeds $240,000."

"Over the past four years, some members of [Baltimore's] Gun Trace Task Force stole more than $300,000, at least three kilos of cocaine, 43 pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin and hundreds of thousands of dollars in watches from suspected drug dealers and civilians, according to officers’ plea agreements and statements in federal court. They admit to putting illegal trackers on the cars of suspected dealers so they could rob their homes and sell off any drugs and guns they found."

Cellphone in a 1919 cartoon.

"Chickens raised in India for food have been dosed with some of the strongest antibiotics known to medicine, in practices that could have repercussions throughout the world. Hundreds of tonnes of an “antibiotic of last resort” – only used in the most extreme cases of sickness - are shipped to India each year to be used, without medical supervision, on animals that may not require the drugs but are being dosed with them nevertheless to promote the growth of healthy animals."  For fox ache.

A tree that weighs several tons will not be held in place by a rope when you cut it down.

The famed Nazca lines were damaged this month "when a trucker intentionally drove his tractor-trailer off a roadway that runs through the protected historic area..."

Scandinavians are no longer the world's best non-native English speakers.  That title has recently been gained by the Dutch.

A graph depicting a child's age vs. his/her willingness to help.

"Dye from the cochineal bug was ten times as potent as St John’s Blood and produced 30 times more dye per ounce than Armenian red, according to Butler. So when European dyers began to experiment with the pigment, they were delighted by its potential. Most importantly, it was the brightest and most saturated red they had ever seen. By the middle of the 16th Century it was being used across Europe, and by the 1570s it had become one of the most profitable trades in Europe..."

A discussion thread about bringing your own food into movie theaters.

Young boy watches little girl tumble, imitates her.

The photos embedded in today's linkdump come from a gallery posted at HistoryDaily, depicting rural librarians of the 1930s.  "In Kentucky, they had isolated mountain communities which could only get their books and reading material from one source… librarians on horseback." (via BoingBoing)

16 February 2018

The letter "D" (by Erte)

"He imagined that each letter was a character possessing the unique personality of a stage performer, a body made pliable by years of dance training and a style all their own. Some – such as “X”, with his black gimp mask, scarlet boots and thong, or “K”, bound to a Grecian column by a string of pearls and wearing only stockings – are explicitly erotic. Others, such as “T” and “C”, look like charmingly fanciful nymphs from “Fantasia”, a Disney film. “D” belongs to a third category. The bow and crescent moon evoke Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, but Erté, of course, added glamorous new ingredients: blue, star-spangled skin and sinuous curves reminiscent of the women in Persian miniatures he so admired."
More about Erte at Wikipedia.

Image and text from an article about Erte at The Economist.

Look how big the Titanic was

(It's the one in front in this composite with a modern cruise ship) (via)

Skating on Lake Baikal

 "I tell them, 'Pick up your litter.  Tidy up after yourselves.  Don't leave litter.  It all ends up in Baikal.'"

Skating on thin ice creates unusual sounds

Apart from the cracking sounds, there are also "boing-boing" sounds similar to the sound effects from Star Wars movies.  Those are created by a phenomenon called acoustic dispersion (more info via links at Neatorama).

Girls are now reaching puberty before age 10 - updated

And that's an average age of puberty - not an outlying limit for precocious individuals:
Scientists have found that the average age that breast development begins is now nine years and 10 months – almost a year earlier than a previous study in 1991.

They have yet to discover the reason behind the phenomenon but believe it could be linked to unhealthy lifestyles or exposure to chemicals in food.

The study was carried out in Denmark in 2006, the latest year for which figures were available, but experts believe the trend applies to Britain.

Data from America also points to the earlier onset of puberty.
In the nineteenth century the average age of onset of puberty in females was 15.  By the 1960s it was about 12.  Now it's under 10.

Lots of implications, some of them discussed a different article in The Telegraph:
These girls are towering over boys of their own age because, for girls, the growth spurt and development of breasts come first; periods come later. With boys, it is the other way round: their genitalia and sweaty armpits develop before their height shoots up. The last stage of the maturing process, when they are finally able to signal their manliness, comes when their voices break.

All these markers have been occurring steadily earlier for both boys and girls, but recent changes have been dramatic. In the 18th century, when Bach was directing the Leipzig choir, the average age at which a boy’s voice broke was 18. Choirmasters now have trouble finding trebles over the age of 13 or 14...

Parents, too, should be careful not to treat them as teenagers. “They need to look at their emotional, not their physical, development.
Photo credit PA.

Reposted from 2010 to add new data that suggests the trend is not pathological:
However, our archaeological research suggests that there's nothing to worry about. Children in medieval England entered puberty between ten and 12 years of age – the same as today...

In our study of 994 adolescents from medieval England, who died between 900-1550, we traced the stages of puberty by examining their canine teeth; the shape of their neck and wrist bones; and the fusion of their elbows, wrists, fingers and pelvises. Using these clues, we were able to work out the average age the children started puberty, reached their growth spurt, and reached full maturity. We were also able to work out when girls had their first period. The average age at which children entered puberty was the same as for most boys and girls today: between ten to 12 years. But medieval teenagers took longer to reach the later milestones, including menarche...

Our impression of what is the normal age for a child to reach each puberty milestone has been tainted by the use of data from children growing up in the challenging conditions of the last century, and an over reliance on the age of menarche, rather than the age at which children actually entered puberty, which appears to be unchanged.

Sign at an Australian church

The victims:

Trenchant commentary:

Onion commentary:

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens
PARKLAND, FL—In the hours following a violent rampage in Florida in which a lone attacker killed 17 individuals and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Wednesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Indiana resident Harold Turner, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”
I'm closing this post to comments.  Send your comments to your legislators.

Top photo via.
Victims photo via.
Cartoon via.

In Olympic news today...

"The Tongan cross-country skier perhaps best known for walking out into the last two Olympic opening ceremonies without a shirt is set to take to the snow in the Pyeongchang Games...

Pita Taufatofua has joked that his two immediate goals are to not crash into a tree and to finish before race organizers turn the lights off.

Taufatofua says the 15-kilometer race is probably a bit of a stretch for him since all his qualifying races were 10 kilometers. He just started skiing this year and has not skied much on snow.

He says he has a “love-hate, hate-hate relationship” with the 15-kiometer race. The last time he raced in a 15-kilometer event he lost a ski and finished in 1 hour, 40 minutes."
Update: He exceeded his goals.
"After spending only 12 weeks on snow in his life, having seen snow for the first time two years ago, Taufatofua finished third last, nearly 23 minutes behind the gold medallist. Three other athletes did not finish the race."
Photo: Instagram

15 February 2018

This is an Olympic 1% gold medal

The 2012 "gold medal" is 92.5% silver, 6.16% copper and 1.34% gold.

Details at BoingBoing.

Reposted from 2012 because it is presumably still true. 

Questions about Canada and the Olympics

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow?(UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto. Can I follow the Railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only Four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. Its a kind of big horse with horns. (USA)
A: Its called a Moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

As explained at Snopes, these are all "fake" questions.  More at the link.

Reposted from 2010.

Winter Olympics medals adjusted for size of countries

The chart above was originally published in The Atlantic in the middle of the games; I don't know whether it has been updated to reflect the final counts.

Reposted (but not updated) from four years ago, because it's still interesting.

14 February 2018

"Gilding the lily"

To "gild the lily" is a misquotation from Edward deVere's (a.k.a. "Shakespeare") 1595 play King John (Act IV, Scene 2):
"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue unto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
An article in the StarTribune notes how Valentine's Day roses are now being "improved" -
In a warehouse north of Ecuador's capital, a small, busy army of dexterous workers puts the final touches on a shipment of made-to-order roses with tones as diverse as the colors of a rainbow suffused in fragrance capable of seducing even the most demanding nose.

Each petal is custom made for foreign clients whose orders multiply every year in the run up to Valentine's Day. For example, a client in Qatar recently ordered a shipment in the maroon and white colors of that nation's flag...

The two-day process involves cutting a flower at full bloom, dipping it into a plant-based solution to extract the natural colors and then infusing it with a pigment of the customer's choice. Additional colors and designs are applied using an airbrush.

The result is a multicolored bouquet as vibrant as a painter's palette but whose petals keep their natural softness and require no sunlight or water to last a year or more.
Photo:  "Luxury Hat Box of Preserved Pink & Lilac Roses – Medium"

"Thanks for the Valentine, kid"

Color adjusted from the original posted here.

Where I fit in the political spectrum - updated

Update January 2009: When I started TYWKIWDBI in December of 2007, the circus carnival known as the "presidential primaries" was in full swing, so I thought it was important for me to "state for the record" what biases I might have. I explained that I was registered as an Independent and was supporting Ron Paul. Then I posted the following three graphs...

(2007 text) There are a number of online websites that allow one to assess one's position by answering a long list of questions. I completed one of these back in 2003, with the following result-

Another assessment site in October of 2005 showed me to be leaning ever so slightly libertarian -

The most recent one was last December, and I was squarely in the center -

So, that's "where I'm coming from." Not unbiased, certainly, but probably as much "in the center" as any person you're likely to meet. If you want to find out how you stand, try the quiz at this link... http://www.politicalcompass.org or at this one - http://www.okcupid.com/politics. It might be an interesting experience.

Update January 2009: I'm amused to note that I was such a "newbie" then that I didn't even post the links in clickable form. I'll correct that now. Here's the one for Political Compass, and here's the OKCupid one.

I'm posting this update today because the Weblog Awards are sending a flurry of new traffic here this week. There seem to be a couple hundred extra visitors per day, most of them wondering what this blog is about, and as a corollary, what this blogger is about. The charts above pretty well define me as a centrist on the political spectrum; I tend to have equal contempt for polticians of both major parties. Now that you know where I stand, I challenge you to go to the links and chart out your own political biases.

Update February 2018:  I decided to take the test again, and found my position on the chart has changed slightly but not fundamentally:

I don't know whether I have changed, or whether the test standard reference points have changed (the questions are the same as in 2003), or in fact whether the repositioning of my dot is statistically significant.

Political Compass now offers a cartoon-amended chart to show where various well-known persons would be (approximately) situated on the chart:

I'm pleased to see that I'm seated right next to Bernie Sanders.

You can take the test here.
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