03 March 2015


Herewith three selections from a gallery of iceberg photos at The TelegraphTop photo credit to Steppes Travel. The beautifully-laminated one is by Hurtigruten/Dominic Barrington.  The bottom one, by Lizzie Williams, I include just for scale: those black dots are penguins.

Emma Thompson - tax protester

She and her husband are protesting not about paying taxes per se, but to the selective enforcement of the rules and the coddling of corporate entities such as HSBC:
Greg Wise, the actor married to Oscar winner Emma Thompson, has said he and his wife will refuse to pay tax until those involved in the HSBC scandal go to prison.

Wise spoke of his disgust with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the bank after the Guardian and other news organisations published leaked details of 100,000 accounts held by HSBC’s Swiss arm which showed how the bank had helped clients to move cash out of the country.

I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” Wise told the Evening Standard. “I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.”..

“Em’s on board. She agrees. We’re going to get a load of us together. A movement. They can’t send everyone to prison. But we’ll go to prison if necessary. I mean it.
Good for them.  More details at Business Insider, with a discussion at Reddit.

"Southern Cross" (Crosby, Stills, Nash)

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day

So I'm sailing for tomorrow my dreams are a dyin'
And my love is an anchor tied to you tied with a silver chain
I have my ship and all her flags are a' flyin'
She is all that I have left and music is her name...

Texas sportscaster speaks out about race relations

"Kids have to be taught to hate." 

The speaker is Dale Hansen -
In 1987, Hansen was honored with the George Foster Peabody Award for Distinguished Journalism. That same year, he won the duPont-Columbia Award for his contribution to the investigation of SMU's football program.

Sportscaster of the Year on two occasions by the Associated Press

Texas Sportscaster of the Year on three occasions by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association


If you have never seen a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker before, you can read the explanation at The Telegraph, where there is a video interview with the photographer.

A shiny spot on the dwarf planet Ceres

Even more impressive on the gif of planetary rotation.
The latest images from Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft reveal a pair of bright spots on Ceres, a 590-mile-wide dwarf planet, with the brightest of the two reflecting at least 40% of the sunlight that falls on it.

Scientists are unsure what the bright patches are, but given that frozen water makes up at least a quarter of the bulk of Ceres, the odds are high that they are patches of primordial ice.

There are other possibilities though. The bright spots might be the work of volcanic eruptions on Ceres that blast ice out from the body’s interior. Yet another explanation could be the materials that make up the object. Some asteroids shine brightly because of their mineral constituents. Known as enstatite asteroids, they are rich in magnesium silicates, which can reflect nearly half of the light they receive.
The Reddit thread discusses this phenomenon and the concept and calculation of albedo.  Also interesting that a 590-mile wide planet "holds enough frozen water to fill all the lakes on Earth."

St. Bernards prefer spaghetti to salad

The pseudo-stop-action technique reminds me of some Naked Gun closing credits.  This one is well done and must have required remarkable restraint on the part of the four actors.

The location of Jeopardy! daily doubles

The distribution should be intuitive to anyone who regularly watches the show.  This table offers a little more precision.

As a reminder to enthusiasts, here is the link to the JArchive and its 277,000 questions with answers.

02 March 2015

A Royal Flycatcher - before and after

Via Reddit.

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe tosses a snowball

The travesty is detailed at ABC News:
Sen. Jim Inhofe, a devoted climate change denier, tossed a snowball at someone on the Senate floor today as he tried to debunk climate change. 

“In case we had forgotten because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair: You know what this is? It's a snowball and that just from outside here so it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonal,” he said. 

“So, Mr. President, catch this,” Inhofe, R-Okla., said on the Senate floor, tossing the snowball to someone off-screen as he tried to suppress a smile. 

We hear the perpetual headline that 2014 has been the warmest year on record but now the script has flipped and I think it's important since we hear it over and over and over,” Inhofe, 80, said. “As we can see with the snowball out there, this is today. This is reality.” 
That degree of ignorance in a person who helps make the laws for this country is virtually incomprehensible to me.  I can't even comment without resorting to offensive expletives.

A global rainfall/snowfall map

Created by NASA: "The map covers more of the globe than any previous precipitation data set and is updated every half hour, allowing scientists to see how rain and snow storms move around nearly the entire planet.... What this visualization shows so clearly is that all precipitation is interrelated all around the globe."

Perhaps he was thinking of a fistula

BOISE -- An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.
The question Monday from Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.
He later claimed he "wasn't being serious" when he posed the question.  It's worth noting that he "sits on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in northern Idaho."

Why you "stave off" a cold

From the Language Corner of the Columbia Journalism Review:
Nowadays, “stave off” means to keep at bay, fight off, or defend against. But in its original, noun form, around 1400, the Oxford English Dictionary says, a “stave” was a thin strip of wood that was curved to make a cask or barrel...

“Staves” was originally the plural of “staff,” a long rod or walking stick. So by extension, many kinds of sticks or rods, including the staffs of a lance or other weapon, were known as “staves.”

By the 1600s, “stave” meant “to drive off or beat with a staff or stave; esp. in to stave off, to beat off,” the OED says. While the original use was meant literally, as in to “stave off” an attack on the castle, possibly using lances or other weapons with “staves,” the common uses today are figurative, as in “staving off” a cold.

The reasons you have eyelashes

I had always assumed that eyelashes evolved simply to keep particulate matter out of the eyes. Now a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface reports that particulates are only half the story; eyelashes also divert airflow to prevent drying of the eyes.
Through anatomical measurements, we find that 22 species of mammals possess eyelashes of a length one-third the eye width. Wind tunnel experiments confirm that this optimal eyelash length reduces both deposition of airborne particles and evaporation of the tear film by a factor of two. Using scaling theory, we find this optimum arises because of the incoming flow's interactions with both the eye and eyelashes.
And this bit from the introduction was an interesting TYWK:
One study found that growth of eyelashes occurs in response to exposure to allergens. Children with allergies have 10% longer and denser lashes than those without allergies. This response arises from allergens triggering mast cells within the inside of the eyelid to release prostaglandins that promote hair growth, which presumably protects the eye.
More at the link, with additional discussion at the L.A. Times, via The Presurfer.

Previously on TYWKIWDBI:
Poliosis, and
Elizabeth Taylor's distichiasis (top photo).

High school spends $662,000 on sports upgrades

This story comes from Wisconsin:
An anonymous donor's gift has come to fruition at Arrowhead.

In August 2014, the school board approved the renovation of the North Campus girls and boys basketball locker rooms after an initial $275,000 donation from a donor. The end result required more money from the donor, who ended up giving $361,224 to a project that cost a total of $662,602, according to Superintendent Craig Jefson.

The anonymous donor's money went toward the space-ready area, which included the girls and boys team room, a media room, football storage and 25 percent of the heating and ventilation upgrade.
Some additional details and a photo gallery at the link.   Stories like this crop up in state and local news, and tend to generate a mix of responses.  It's nice to see people donating their personal funds to their alma mater or hometown school, but certain inequities are created when more fortunate schools have training facilities that poorer or less lucky schools or districts cannot match.

Some of these views are discussed in a Reddit thread.
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