07 March 2017

Divertimento #123

Video of a patient with severe Parkinson's Disease, before and after ingesting medical marijuana.  Impressive.

Fossilized trilobite eggs discovered.

"When [President] Roosevelt heard that a torpedo was zooming toward him, he asked to be moved with his wheelchair over to the railing so that he could see it. Fearing an assassination plot, the Iowa turned its guns toward the William D. Porter — however, the crisis ended when the torpedo finally detonated as it struck heavy waves created by the Iowa’s increased speed. Walter reportedly answered with a meek “We did it” when pressed. The entire crew was placed under arrest and sent to Bermuda to face trial — the first instance in U.S. Naval history that the entire crew of a ship had been arrested."

Intraoperative virtual reality may be useful in allowing lower doses of sedatives and hypnotics for surgery patients.

"Today saw the release of a new study from the Grantham Institute for Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative. It argues that solar photovoltaics and [electric vehicles] together will kick fossil fuel’s ass, quickly. “Falling costs of electric vehicle and solar technology,” they conclude, “could halt growth in global demand for oil and coal from 2020.” That would be a pretty big deal."

Explanation of the floating dry-erase stick man.  Impress your friends.

"The 588th was the most highly decorated female unit in [the Soviet air force in WWII], flying 30,000 missions over the course of four years -- and dropping, in total, 23,000 tons of bombs on invading German armies. Its members, who ranged in age from 17 to 26, flew primarily at night, making do with planes that were -- per their plywood-and-canvas construction -- generally reserved for training and crop-dusting. They often operated in stealth mode, idling their engines as they neared their targets and then gliding their way to their bomb release points.

Myths about what does and doesn't constitute treason.

"På väg mot vaken såg vi älgen göra flera misslyckade försök att ta sig upp själv. Den klarade heller inte att knäcka isen och ta sig in till land på egen hand, så min sambo, Sigrid Sjösteen, började ivrigt hugga upp en ränna in till grundare vatten. Vi turades om att hugga i omkring 30 minuter innan älgen var i säkerhet på land." (saving a moose frozen in a lake)

About those little dots on your car windows.  "Most importantly, it acts to prevents ultraviolet sun rays from deteriorating the urethane sealant."  And "there’s another group of dots on the windshield right behind the rearview mirror. As shown in the clip below, these dots, called the “third visor frit,” are there to help block the sun as it beams in from between the two front sun-visors."

Collector's Weekly has an extensive article on the history of model railroading.

Everything you need to know (or not) about the baton or truncheon (also called a cosh, billystick, billy club, nightstick, sap, blackjack). "The one for daytime was called a day-stick and was 11 inches in length. Another baton, that was used at night, was 26 inches long and called a night-stick, which is the origin of the word "nightstick"."

Someone did a detailed analysis of the most recent Super Bowl (LI) and determined that the ball was in play for a total of 16 minutes and 4 seconds.  "There were 178 plays (including kickoffs, point-afters, spikes, etc) with the average play being only 5.47 seconds long."

Dragonfly wings kill bacteria.  "...the bacteria are essentially caught in one of those sinister traps of which movie villains are quite fond. If they don't move, the bacteria might survive. However, when they do move, shear forces pull on the EPSs, ripping the membrane apart. This results in a fatal leakage of cellular contents, which causes the cell to deflate like a balloon..."

How to make ice cream from snow.

Why British roads are called "metalled" when they have no metal.  "Gravel is known to have been used extensively in the construction of roads by soldiers of the Roman Empire, but a limestone-surfaced road, thought to date back to the Bronze Age, has been found in Britain. Applying gravel, or "metalling," has had two distinct usages in road surfacing. The term road metal refers to the broken stone or cinders used in the construction or repair of roads or railways, and is derived from the Latin metallum, which means both "mine" and "quarry". The term originally referred to the process of creating a gravel roadway.

Pie chart explains pyramids.

"The paternoster is kind of elevator that consist of a chain of open compartments that move up and down continuously through the vertical shaft of a building in a loop and without stopping. Passengers step into the moving compartments in the direction they wish to go and then hop off when the elevator reaches the desired floor. There is no stopping in between the floors, and passengers must remain alert and get their timing right or else get severed."

China is now the world's biggest producer of solar energy.

Read about Mohamed Bzeek, a foster father who takes in children with terminal illnesses.
"Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed. Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life. “I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,” he said. “I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.”

Apeirophobia is fear of everlasting life.

UNIT 731 (2015) "A research unit of the Imperial Japanese Army during the second Sino-Japanese War and WW2, who conducted human experiments and committed horrible war crimes. After the war, the U.S. government assisted in a coverup of their activities in exchange for the medical data they acquired."

"A Utah mother has received immense amounts of praise on social media for dressing up as a man to take her son to a "dads and doughnuts" event at his school... Kittrell said she became a single parent three years ago, and eventually asked her son if he wanted to take his grandfather to the event.  Her son told her no and that he wanted to take her because she was his mother and father."

An argument that the phrase "Dark Ages" is inappropriate.  "Far from being a stagnant dark age, as the first half of the Medieval Period (500-1000 AD) certainly was, the period from 1000 to 1500 AD actually saw the most impressive flowering of scientific inquiry and discovery since the time of the ancient Greeks, far eclipsing the Roman and Hellenic Eras in every respect."

The CIA has a Flickr account with a webpage with many albums of declassified maps.

The Bay of Bengal is dying.  "Many once-abundant species have all but disappeared.... Fish stocks have been decimated by methods that include cyanide poisoning. The region was once famous for its coral reefs; these have been ravaged by dynamite-fishing and climate-change induced bleaching. Yet the exploitation of these waters continues without check."

"Queen Elizabeth had her own “Watchers,” a network of agents who intercepted letters, cracked codes, and captured possible dissenters to protect the crown in secret. The queen’s network of spies formed the original surveillance state in the U.K., and she started it for good reason... When spying abroad, Dee signed each private letter to Elizabeth with the insignia “007”—a moniker that was later borrowed by Ian Fleming, writer of James Bond."

A mother saved her baby from a house fire by strapping him into a car seat and then dropping him from the second-story window.

"Soul-crushing facts about income inequality."

Why you shouldn't play dodgeball with a softball player.

"Technology can also allow people to access cars long after they’ve sold them, which is enough to leave any buyer uncomfortable."

"Hungry hungry humans."  A discussion thread suggested this was either a corporate team-building exercise, or a Mormon youth-group activity.

This Finnish resort bills itself as "the world's most enchanting Arctic resort."  I believe it.  Look at the photos and the videos.

"There have been rumblings regarding some sort of nuclear incident—or possibly incidents—in the Arctic over the last month. Multiple reports, some of them from official monitoring organizations, have reported iodine 131—a radioactive isotope often associated with nuclear fission—has been detected via air sampling stations throughout the region."

A waitress physically drags an unwanted guest from a restaurant. (this)

How to use a can of tuna to cook a dinner (clever, but I asked a friend who does long-distance hikes; he said he'd rather consume the oil than burn it)

This week's gifs:

This week's embedded images are winners of this year's Wellcome Image Awards, via Digg.  Info re subject matter and photographer/artist at the link.


  1. The link to fossilized trilobite eggs points to the Reddit Parkinson's link.

    Here's one to the correct story: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170124124905.htm

    1. Speed kills when blogging, which is why my procedure is to keep my folder of divertimento links for a week after creating the linkdump, to give time for my 200 unpaid proofreaders to check everything. And in this case your link was better than my original, so I've used it. Tx, Big Boppa.

  2. Thanks for the economic facts- whatever remained even hopelessly hopeful is now duly quashed.

  3. Re: Night Witches - Modern tabletop roleplaying games have gotten much more artistically interesting. It isn't all elves and dragons any more. The critically acclaimed RPG Night Witches invites players to take on the roles of these women and try to kill fascists by night while dealing with sexism, harassment, and lack of resources from their own Red Army comrades by day.

  4. Thank you for the link to the scientific photos. We have an African Grey parrot and the image of the blood supply and brain fascinates me. I was especially curious as to the extent of the blood vessels into the beak- occasionally the vet had to make beak adjustments with filing and I wondered where the living tissue began and ended inside. Also...that brain...I want to know more how birds think and process information as greys are so incredibly intelligent.

  5. About the ice cream made from snow.... In Tennessee, we called that "Snow Cream." I now live in Florida, and there is actually a flavor at a local sno-cone place called "snow cream." I don't know all the key difference between it and ice cream, but the flavor is distinctly different (though delicious!).


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