26 October 2016

Real Life Adventures

How to circum-incise your weiner

Totally safe for work.

How to make a "squirrel burger"

As explained at the Twin Cities Pioneer Press:
The meat grinder tenderizes even tough squirrel meat that might otherwise require at least 45 minutes of braising before becoming tender.

A ground patty (or meatball) isn’t off-putting for dinner guests often weirded out by a squirrel’s hind quarter (even though it looks a lot like a chicken drummy to me).

Lastly, it’s delicious. Squirrel has a distinct, nutty flavor. I don’t find it strong, but for those who do, a bun, cheese and condiment — and possibly even a mixture of another ground meat — can easily “dilute” the flavor...

You can get more meals than you might think. Two grays gave me five 1/4 pound patties with enough meat left on the carcass and bones to obtain one shredded squirrel sandwich, or salad, after simmering said remaining scraps until tender and pulling with fingers.
Preparation details at the link.

"Crony capitalism" defined

It is as Bernie Sanders has foreseen it, you might say.
With its publication of thousands of less-than-flattering emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta over the past two weeks, Wikileaks has done much to undermine Hillary Clinton in her ongoing effort to appeal to millennials who see Washington as a corrupt town where big business and big government are deeply intertwined.

Excerpts from various six-figure speeches that Clinton made in 2013 and 2014 reveal a politician who is not only quite friendly with Wall Street in private, but somewhat resentful of the American public for constantly attacking and scapegoating big banks for the financial crisis...

Although these leaks don’t reveal anything new about Clinton, they do vindicate many of her critics on the left who have long criticized her ties to Wall Street and maintained that she is too comfortable with the neoliberal status quo. On both the progressive left and libertarian right, Clinton is largely seen as a symbol of “crony capitalism.”

Of course, crony capitalism — a term used to describe an economic and political system in which government officials and big business are closely connected, and thus promote each others’ interests over the public good — was the main target of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.
Excerpted from a Salon op-ed.  Lots more at the Wikipedia entry.
The term "crony capitalism" made a significant impact in the public arena as an explanation of the Asian financial crisis. It is also used to describe governmental decisions favoring "cronies" of governmental officials. In this context, the term is often used interchangeably with corporate welfare; to the extent that there is a difference, it may be the extent to which a government action can be said to benefit individuals rather than entire industries...

Crony capitalism exists along a continuum. In its lightest form, crony capitalism consists of collusion among market players which is officially tolerated or encouraged by the government... The term crony capitalism is generally used when these practices come to dominate the economy as a whole or to dominate the most valuable industries in an economy...

Pumpkins with faces, and panties for peaches

Grown inside a plastic mold.  (Photo cropped for emphasis from the original at the Mildly Interesting subreddit.)

And since they are orange, I know what question you're going to ask... yes, there are molds with his face.  From the same company that can sell you sexy panties for your peaches:

The tragedy at Aberfan

"It is exactly 50 years since tragedy swooped down on Aberfan killing 116 children and 28 adults. Revisiting the "obscenity" of 21 October 1966, and its aftermath is a stark reminder of the incongruities of the past. Health and safety, counselling, accountability, litigation, compensation – at times met with derision – are the tenets of our modern day. Aberfan is an upsetting reminder of perhaps why and how much our society changed so much in little over a generation."
The story is told in extensively-illustrated detail (and in an awesome format) at the BBC.  Try scrolling through it for a minute.

Swords into plowshares

German helmets repurposed after WWII.

River basins of the United States

Click to embiggen.  Found at imgur.  Interesting that the person who created this chose to depict the Great Lakes as tributaries to the St. Lawrence River.

"Lügenpresse" explained

When a video of two Donald Trump supporters shouting “Lügenpresse” (lying press) started to circulate Sunday, viewers from Germany soon noted its explosive nature. The defamatory word was most frequently used in Nazi Germany... Both the Nazi regime and the East German government made use of it, turning it into an anti-democracy slogan...

“Lügenpresse” was branded a taboo word in Germany in 2015 by an academic panel after anti-Islam movements, such as Pegida, started using it more frequently in the presence of journalists.

The term emerged way before the Nazis took over in Germany. For instance, the German Defense Ministry released a book titled “The Lügenpresse of Our Enemies” in 1918 during World War I... At that time, the word was used more descriptively. A decade later, it had turned into an explosive and stigmatizing propaganda slogan...
Text above from the Washington Post.  For a more complete history of the word, see the Wikipedia entry.

Cheerful video of the week

Don't waste your money on a "butterfly box"

Some butterflies do overwinter in cold climates as adults; at our latitude, Mourning Cloaks and anglewings (Commas, Question Marks) are prime examples.  To do so they seek the shelter of a brushpile, the eaves of a building, or loose bark on a tree.  Some enterprising craftsmen have built shelters specifically for butterflies, but evidence to support their utility is lacking.

Terry Johnson, a wildlife specialist with Georgia's DNR, has reported his findings while researching this topic:
The Entomology Department of Penn State University conducted a study to determine butterfly use of boxes from 1995-97. They monitored 40 boxes built by an Eagle Scout. The boxes were erected along a woodland trail known to be used by wintering butterflies.

At the end of the first winter after the boxes were up inspections revealed that spider silk was discovered in eight boxes. When the boxes were checked after they had been in place for two years the biologists found nothing in eight structures; however, 32 were used by an assortment of other critters. The abandoned nests of umbrella wasps were found in seven boxes; two contained dead stinkbugs; pupating gypsy moths were discovered in two boxes; a colony of ants had staked a claim to one box and three boxes harbored overwintering cluster flies; spider webs were found in 26 boxes, and a white-footed mouse's nest in another.  None of the boxes had been used by a single butterfly.

The results of the study prompted Robert Snetsinger, one of the entomologists conducting the research, to write, "I have yet to see evidence to support the notion that butterflies actually need or use butterfly houses. My suggestion is, if you want to do something useful for butterflies, build them a mud puddle."

20 October 2016


At farm supply stores you can purchase "artificial insemination gloves."  The non-veterinary uses are limited only  by your imagination.

Moose vs. lawnmower.  Moose wins.

Einstein is a famous talking parrot (5-minute video).

A woman cleverly stole mail from mailboxes by attaching a mousetrap to a segment from a vertical window blind.

Canities subita is the medical term for hair turning white overnight.

"In the hospital, Carter lost control of his right arm, then over his legs and other muscles within a few days. He now can only wiggle a toe and move the left side of his face. He has been diagnosed with a mysterious, polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis, a condition that seems to be surging this year."

Karma is well known to be a bitch (gif).

In episode 595 of This American Life ("Deep End of the Pool"), Act One ("If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, Some Random Dude Will Be Appointed to You") is a long listen (29 minutes) but provides amazing insight into the practice of public defenders.  If you're in a hurry, just try the first five minutes...

The benefits of going bald.  "While the bald and balding men were not considered as physically attractive as the other men, one category of scores was far higher. The men were consistently rated as more intelligent, influential, knowledgeable, well-educated, high social status, honest and helpful – traits collectively known as social maturity."  (and there's more...)

A robot wins a game of tic-tac-toe (8-second gif).  You have time for this...

Via Everlasting Blort, the worst of McMansions (scroll down the page).

A movie poster for "Forrest Trump."

There is a new world record for largest pumpkin: 2,261 pounds.  "By focusing on thickness as well as weight, gardeners hope to create structurally sound behemoths. As the younger Dill told Inverse in September 2015, he is cultivating a squash that is “pretty well solid right through to the cavity.”

In September, skeletons of Asian ancestry were discovered in a Roman Britain burial site.

"In early 2009, the seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion. Today, they’ve been all but wiped out."  Thanks, Obama.

Disappearing trick.  LOL.  (15-second gif)

NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day offers a zoom into a star cluster.

I heard some numbers on a podcast of No Such Thing as a Fish that I found hard to believe, but I tracked down confirmation at NASA -
When a star dies, its core collapses under the pull of gravity to form an exotic type of star. Average-sized stars like our sun leave behind white dwarfs. These stars contain about as much material as the sun, but gravity squeezes them down to the size of Earth. A teaspoon of white dwarf material would weigh about 15 tons!

If that doesn’t impress you, stars much bigger than our sun leave behind neutron stars. These objects contain even more material than the sun, but they are only about 10 miles across -- the size of a city. A teaspoon of neutron star material would weigh 4 billion tons!
Also via NSTAAF, there IS such a thing as -1 on the Richter Scale.

A deer enjoys a leaf blower.

Is a "juncture" the same as a "junction?"  Grammarist explains.

How hard can it be to get into a tub?

"If I drop food on the floor, I still eat it. I do that because the harm I might get from the floor is not worth my concern compared with many, many other things. You may feel differently. Either way, make an informed judgment based on relative risks, not on any arbitrary span of time that one thing has been touching another."

An interesting read about tsunamis in confined spaces.

"Ladybug, you are cleared for takeoff."

A half-court basketball shot (taken by a proxy) wins a student $10,000.

"When blind writer Trish Vickers failed to notice her pen had run out of ink, Dorset Police made a real impression on her.  The boys in blue came to her rescue and recovered 26 pages of her book."

Juggling flaming torches.  Ta-DAAAA !!  (I really hate to LOL at "fails," but sometimes it's hard not to.)

There is a new drug for severe eczema (a monoclonal antibody interleukin inhibitor).  It's currently in Phase 3 trials.

A map (and discussion thread) of the 14 drill holes in Mars made by Curiosity.

"Lyndel Rhodes listening to Willie Nelson sing a song she wrote."

Footprint of a titanosaur.

"Almost half of a 50-strong herd of cows in western France ate themselves to death after chomping on the equivalent of a whole winter’s rations in just one night."

Forbes Magazine released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans, a record 42 of whom are immigrants.

Opposition to Galileo was not just religious - it was also scientific.

Clever Oktoberfest outfits (gif).

"Bachelor hacks" - several of which are surprisingly clever.

Police have issued an appeal for information about why a chicken was seen crossing the road in Dundee.

"The U.S.’s largest pneumonic plague outbreak in nearly a century has been identified, and it all started with a sick dog... The CDC also found that one of the cases may have resulted from human-to-human transmission, something that hasn’t happened in the States since 1924."

Clever: "Police arrested Logan Pack, 24, for Felony Burglary. They say he collected receipts from the parking lot at Home Depot, then used the receipts like a shopping list to obtain the items from the shelves and return the goods for cash."  I have often wondered why more people don't do this (or perhaps they do).

Where to go when your cruise ship hits rough seas.

Here's the Saturday Night Live spoof of the second presidential debate.

If there is such a thing as a humorous Halloween costume of a suicide vest, this may be it.

Credit for the photos embedded in this week's Divertimento goes to Ásta Henriksen, who teaches English at the Icelandic School of Commerce, and whose hobby is photographing "hearts" in Icelandic nature (via Iceland Monitor).

17 October 2016

The Palouse (Washington state)

"Often referred to as the Tuscany of America, the Palouse region of Washington State offers one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the United States. The seemingly endless rolling fields of wheat, lentils and canola offer year-round beauty."
The origin of the name "Palouse" is unclear. One theory is that the name of the Palus tribe (spelled in early accounts variously as Palus, Palloatpallah, Pelusha, etc.) was converted by French-Canadian fur traders to the more familiar French word pelouse, meaning "land with short and thick grass" or "lawn." Over time, the spelling changed to Palouse. Another theory is that the region's name came from the French word and was later applied to its indigenous inhabitants.
Photo © Hamish Mitchell, via Smithsonian.

3D transformation of the Hubble Deep Field

Reposted from 2010 to add this new information:
There are a dizzying 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, up to 20 times more than previously thought, astronomers reported on Thursday. The surprising finding, based on 3D modeling of images collected over 20 years by the Hubble Space Telescope, was published in the Astronomical Journal...

Using deep space images from Hubble, Conselice and his team painstakingly converted them into 3D to measure the number of galaxies at different times in the history of the universe.
And each of those galaxies can have a hundred billions stars...  But, according the Sky and Telescope, "we do not "also have to update the number of stars in the observable universe, which now numbers around 700 sextillion."

Lots of relevant links in this Reddit thread.
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