06 October 2015

Today (10/6) is Mad Hatter Day

Explained here:
Mad Hatter Day is 10/6. The date was chosen from the illustrations by John Tenniel in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, wherein the Mad Hatter is always seen wearing a hat bearing a slip of paper with the notation "In this style 10/6". We take this as inspiration to behave in the style of the Mad Hatter on 10/6 (which is October 6 here, although in Britain MadHatterDay occurs on June 10...but I digress...)

Mad Hatter Day began in Boulder, CO, in 1986, among some computer folk who had nothing better to do. It was immediately recognized as valuable because they caused less damage than if they'd been doing their jobs.
As I searched this topic on the 'net today, it was interesting to see how many observers misinterpret the 10/6 on his hat as being either a style number ("The Mad Hatter’s top hat, according to Lewis Carroll, was of the 10/6 style") or worse ("my birthdate (10/6) is on his hat although I think that is his hat size!"). The correct interpretation, of course, is that "the paper in the Mad Hatter's Hat was really an order to make a hat in the style shown, to cost ten shillings sixpence."

(Reposted from 2011)


Taking a break from blogging in order to attend to some garden chores.  When I return we may talk about hardwood mulch.

03 October 2015

Mammoth find in Michigan

A truly impressive find.  And apparently it was disarticulated by early humans in the region:
James Bristle of Lima Township was digging in a soybean field Monday when he and his friend pulled up what they first thought was a bent, muddy old fence post. But it was actually the rib bone of an ancient woolly mammoth...

“We think we’re dealing with an animal that was at least butchered by humans,” even if the humans didn't kill it, Fisher said. He believes the carcass was placed in a pond — a practice he's observed evidence of at other dig sites in the area. “It was essentially stored meat,” he said.

02 October 2015

WTF, CNN ???

Forget the zero.  Remember the hero:

 Chris Mintz, 30-year old student, took five bullets while charging the gunman.  He is recovering.

Photo via imgur.

30 September 2015

There are all sorts of buried treasures...

From a story in the Guardian's "Experience" series:
The first time I dug up some vintage denim, I had no idea what it was worth. It just looked like some old rags, so instead of carefully uncovering it, I pulled on it and tore it to pieces. I’d actually been digging for antique whisky bottles, and what I didn’t know then was that those “rags” were likely worth thousands.

Out in the desert in California, Nevada and Arizona, there are abandoned silver mines like buried time capsules, virtually untouched, and you can find vintage bottles down there that are worth a lot to collectors. But as I searched for them, I kept coming across these scraps of denim, because jeans,
especially Levi’s, were worn by the silver miners in the late 1800s. When a miner got a new pair of work pants, he’d cut up the old ones and use them for lagging around pipes, so there were a lot of antique jeans buried out here...

I put a few of the denim items I’d dug up on eBay. A Japanese collector contacted me and came all the way out here to look at my collection in person. I sold him a jacket for $1,000. At the time, it seemed a good deal, but he told me not to talk to other people or tell them what I was doing; I realise now that he didn’t want me to find out how much these things were worth. I talked to other dealers and collectors, and found out he was selling the pieces back to Levi’s for its archives – he’d sell them a pair of jeans for upwards of $100,000...

A few years ago, my father-in-law dug up the holy grail: the oldest pair of Levi’s from 1873, the first year they were manufactured. They’re in really good condition – they look like a normal modern pair of jeans, really, only back then, they had a crotch rivet and no belt loops. I wish we could keep them for our personal archives, but recently I had an offer of about $100,000.
More at the link.

Are record-LOW temperatures near Greenland ominous?

Most areas of the globe are experiencing above-average temperatures.  So why are scientists especially concerned about an anomalous area of record-LOW temperatures near Greenland?
First of all, it’s no error. I checked with Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, who confirmed what the map above suggests — some parts of the North Atlantic Ocean saw record cold in the past eight months...

And there’s not much reason to doubt the measurements — the region is very well sampled. “It’s pretty densely populated by buoys, and at least parts of that region are really active shipping lanes, so there’s quite a lot of observations in the area,” Arndt said. “So I think it’s pretty robust analysis.”..

There is strong evidence — not just from our study — that this is a consequence of the long-term decline of the Gulf Stream System, i.e. the Atlantic ocean’s overturning circulation AMOC, in response to global warming.
More at the link and in Wikipedia:
In 2005, British researchers noticed that the net flow of the northern Gulf Stream had decreased by about 30% since 1957. Coincidentally, scientists at Woods Hole had been measuring the freshening of the North Atlantic as Earth becomes warmer. Their findings suggested that precipitation increases in the high northern latitudes, and polar ice melts as a consequence. By flooding the northern seas with lots of extra fresh water, global warming could, in theory, divert the Gulf Stream waters that usually flow northward, past the British Isles and Norway, and cause them to instead circulate toward the equator. If this were to happen, Europe's climate would be seriously impacted.

The "Pickwick" phenomenon

Excerpts from an interesting article in The Atlantic, discussing the publication of the illustrated Pickwick Papers - the graphic novel of its time:
In the afternoon it was common to see men who, by the state of them, had walked dusty miles to lay their hands upon a Pickwick; while in the evening, in every public house and inn the conversation was of the latest number and little else … Mr Pickwick was there, in front of everyone, like a real person, not as a hazy mist of head-hidden words: every man, woman and child had exactly the same image of Mr Pickwick in his or her consciousness. When a dustman talked of Mr Pickwick, a lord could know exactly who was meant because of the pictures. Your Mr Pickwick was my Mr Pickwick, was a universal Mr Pickwick—a being of fiction, a man-created man, was suddenly recognised by all. This was unprecedented in human affairs...

By late 1836, Pickwick was no longer just a serial novel. It was merchandise (Pickwick cigars, hats, canes, soaps), spin-offs (theatrical performances, bootleg editions, joke books), advertisements (on omnibuses, in newspapers). It was a virtual world—delivered in portable monthly episodes, the fictional action synchronized to match the nonfictional calendar—and it invaded the real one, creating a cross-class, national audience. The press run for its 19th and final installment was 40,000 copies, astonishing for the time. “Literature” is not a big enough category for Pickwick. It defined its own, a new one that we have learned to call “entertainment.”
Like other English majors, I was quite familiar with the stories of Americans waiting at the shipyards for the latest installment of The Old Curiosity Ship to arrive -
The hype surrounding the conclusion of the series was unprecedented; Dickens fans were reported to have stormed the piers in New York City, shouting to arriving sailors (who might have already read the final chapters in the United Kingdom), "Is Little Nell alive?"
- but I had not heard these aspects regarding Pickwick, one of Dickens' first publications.

The Atlantic article cited above was written in response to a newly-published novel which focuses on the death-by-shotgun of Robert Seymour, the illustrator of Pickwick, and speculates about the forces that may have driven him to suicide.  Death and Mr. Pickwick sounds quite interesting; I've requested it from our local library.

This is not the Mayo Clinic's basketball team

Well, not exactly.  I mean, it is, but not technically.

The photo shows members of the Minnesota Lynx' WNBA professional basketball team.  The jersey logo in 128-point font is explained in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:
The Minnesota Lynx on Monday will announce a multiyear sponsorship deal that will put the Mayo Clinic's logo on the team's jerseys starting this summer.

Lynx officials say the deal is the "most extensive marquee jersey partnership in WNBA history," but they declined to disclose the terms of the deal. Only five other clubs currently have jersey sponsors.
The new jerseys prominently feature the Mayo Clinic logo across the chest, with the Lynx logo moving to the left shoulder. They also have a Boost Mobile logo beneath at the bottom of the jersey under a multiyear, leaguewide sponsorship deal...

That alliance includes plans for a new training facility at Block E, which will be renamed Mayo Clinic Square... In addition to placement on the team's jerseys, Mayo's logo also will appear prominently on the Target Center court and on other signage in and around the arena.
Reminds me of golf, where the players' headwear always has several logos (and the players are contracturally required to leave their caps on during some media interviews), and there are more corporate logos on the shirts.

The latest advertising innovation in the golf world is mind-boggling:
"They gave John Daly a golf bag that hardly anyone could imagine possible. It has a built in flat-screen television monitor which rotates ads across it while he plays. It works a lot like a much smaller and portable digital billboard..."
Joe Kirkpatrick, founder of Pro Bag Ads, went into specifics about the bags and had this to say about them: 
"Each ad is displayed on an HD Sun-Readable screen for 10 seconds, rotating through a catalog of 20 paid ad spots. For a 7-hour day, each ad will be shown no less than 130 times. During a tournament week, the player’s golf bag will be on display at the golf course for at least 4 days, including practice and tournament play, and an additional 2 days once the player makes the cut. That results in at least 520 impressions for a 4-day week, and up to 910 impressions for a 6-day week!"
But of course, no sport out-logos NASCAR...

Personally, I'm sick and tired of the whole process.  In all sports.  Which aren't really "sports" anymore - just another form of entertainment to deliver advertising.

Golf photo cropped for size from original here.  NASCAR photo credit.

29 September 2015

Getting dad in the family photo

Via the Pics subReddit.

Reusable sanitary pads and Mooncups - updated

From an article in The Telegraph:
I’m holding a soft piece of fleecy fabric, mottled dark purple with poppers at the bottom.

"This is the minky,” says Heather Finlay. “You can see how soft it is.”

She’s right. It’s so comforting and tactile I want to rub it against my face. But actually, it’s for the other end of my body.

Welcome to the world of the cloth sanitary pad – or CSP.  Cloth pads, as the name suggests, are manufactured from natural, absorbent fabrics such as cotton and bamboo. More significantly, they are washable - and therefore reusable.

Most are brightly patterned, to keep staining to a minimum. Once worn, they are simply rinsed in cold water, and then popped in the wash ready for next time...

Caring for young children removes any squeamishness around bodily functions. Having dealt with the torrent of poo, wee and vomit that is a new born, a bit of menstrual blood doesn’t seem so bad.
And the perks are numerous. The environmental benefits speak for themselves - then there’s the cost. No tampon tax for starters.  “Surveys estimate that menstruating costs women around £18,000 over their lifetime,” says Finlay. “Switching to reusables you can save around £8,400”. 
More at the link.   There is a separate Telegraph article for those interested in Mooncups.

A tip of the blogging hat to reader -T, who offered this comment:
One of my girlfriends and her aunt make these for girls in developing countries that have to miss school due to their periods. Here is the site to do this if anyone is interested.
From -T's link:
Lack of access to menstrual products affects millions of girls in the developing world. As many as 10% of school-aged girls miss school because of it. The effect of these missed days is devastating, with girls missing up to 20% of their education, thereby increasing the likelihood of dropping out, earlier marriage and pregnancy as well as limiting career options.

The solution is simple: provide school girls with washable menstrual pads and underwear that will last for years. Providing reusable products means the burden of purchasing products each month is removed and the environmental devastation that hundreds of thousands of disposable pads would have on the landscape is alleviated. The case for girl's education is well documented as one of the most important tools for development. We believe that no one should have to miss out on opportunities that will affect their future, simply because they have a period.

Since its inception, in partnership with dozens of groups, individuals, and NGOs, Lunapads has helped provide over 14,000 girls and women in 17 nations with over 85,000 menstrual pads and/or menstrual underwear, giving them an immediate, essential and sustainable means to remain in school or at work. 
Also see the other relevant comments in the section below.

28 September 2015


Several days ago I went for a "butterfly hike" in a rural part of south-central Wisconsin.  Nearby was a very old but well-tended graveyard, where my attention was drawn to several of the monuments.

The one at top, Henry Teel, was born in 1787.  Prescott T. Brigham, in the bottom photo, was born in 1780.

They died in 1856 and 1862, respectively.  Wisconsin had only become a state in 1848.

I returned to my butterflying, but while hiking did a lot of thinking about what their lives must have been like.

"Library dustbin"

"A student empties a trash can next to a murky stream near a school in Kenya’s Kibera slums in Nairobi." 
Posted as a reminder that there is no "away."

Noor Khamis/Reuters, via The Washington Post.

Should America be "more like Switzerland" ??

"Switzerland’s high rate of gun ownership is tied to the fact that it does not have a standing army so virtually every male citizen is conscripted into the militia where they receive comprehensive weapons training. Since they are a militia, they keep their government issued weapons (without ammunition) at home. Therefore, many of the guns in Swiss homes were issued to them by the government and most Swiss gun owners are highly trained in gun safety...

And with a law worthy of Orwell’s worst nightmare, every gun in Switzerland is registered by the

Unless those two laughing women on the bicycles are transporting those weapons to a gun show or are members of the militia reporting for duty (in which cases the guns must not be loaded) or they are security personnel licensed to guard Roger Federer, they are probably breaking the law. “Open carry,” as we understand it in the United States, is only allowed in those very limited circumstances...

You can see that the Swiss militia inculcates the idea of gun ownership as a responsibility to protect the nation while to the American gun proliferation advocates, the reason for the 2nd Amendment is to protect the citizens from the government."
A tip of the blogging hat to reader Dominique, who forwarded me an article reporting that Switzerland has the highest rate of gun-related suicide in Europe:
“In Switzerland, firearms are like pesticides in developing countries. They are accessible,” Ajdacic-Gross explained. “Many suicides are impulsive. In other words, the decision is taken very quickly.”

At such moments, availability – or a lack of it – is crucial. “If somebody has to make a lot of effort to find something that will kill them, that’s a strong preventative factor.” 

"Warning: do not look into the eyes"

An art installation by Norwegian artist Erik Pirolt.

Remember when "America was great" ?

An article in The Atlantic reminds us of conditions in the 1950s...
Everyone agrees that the midcentury boom times began after Allied soldiers returned in triumph from World War II...

In 1950, America led the world in GDP per capita. Even by 1973, it had only sunk to number two. Jobs were so plentiful that male employment peaked at over 84 percent. Unemployment, when it did strike, didn’t last long. Housing was cheap. Gas was cheap. Movies were cheap. If America was ever “great,” it was great in 1950, and one can sympathize with a desire to recreate those economic conditions, if not the social ones.
And those economic conditions were achieved in a period of strong labor unions, high taxes, and Big Government...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...