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Here's what Nature thinks of your puny roads

Highway 1 meanders more than 650 miles along California’s rugged coastline. The views from this ribbon of asphalt are so spectacular, and the terrain so gorgeous, that the feds declared it an “All-American Road” in 2002.

"Ablaut reduplication" explained

I can't find the original, so I'll embed this screencap of a ?newspaper article for a quick summary.  More details are available in the Wikipedia article on apophony.  Via the discussion thread at the Interestingasfuck subreddit.  "It's a terrible thing to teach language learners, they'll try to agonizingly remember and apply a rule that is complete and totally instinctive even for natives.

Snickers commercial

YouTube link. This commercial aired during this week's Fargo episode.  It's been a long time since I literally laughed out loud at a commercial.

Kudos to Olson Vacuum in Madison

"They don't make 'em like they used to." That dictum is often applied to products like small appliances, and it was the mindset we had when our 35-year-old Hoover vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost.  We researched replacements, but this one had worked so well for so long that we agreed that if it could be repaired for less than $100 it would be worth it.

Scott Sterling videos - updated

YouTube link. Trigger warning: slapstick comedy dialed up to 11. (If you're going to watch, you might as well click the fullscreen button).

Ancient mummy wearing "Adidas boots"

From The Siberian Times: 'Judging by what was found inside the burial we guess that she was from an ordinary social strata,' said Galbadrakh Enkhbat.This is despite the classy appearance of some of the possessions with which she is buried, which might suggest to the uninformed a higher status.

Problems with Olympic medals

From the Washington Post: Now nearly nine months after the Games ended, it looks like organizers in Rio de Janeiro are still experiencing some hiccups.


Excerpts from a public speech presented in Sun City, South Carolina last year: Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr.

The Selk’nam of Patagonia

As reported in Vintage Everyday: The Selk’nam had no chiefs, but were instead led by wise men (‘fathers of the world’) who were believed to possess spiritual power over people, weather and events.

"Can I get a refill on these placebos?"

Physicians and nurses have known for decades that placebos can generate an observable beneficial therapeutic response.  A recent report offers confirmation: Placebos have a reputation problem.

Divertimento #127

Blue whale vs. krill.  Whale wins. "Free-fall lifeboat training."  Not sure, but I think these are used on open-sea oil rigs.

What a week...

Extended excerpts from the "Weekly Review" column in Harper's Magazine: May 16, 2017 By Joe Kloc U.S.

Sleep paralysis in an Ernest Hemingway story

In "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," Ernest Hemingway describes the impending death of a hunter suffering from a gangrenous leg (boldface emphasis mine): Because, just then, death had come and rested its head on the foot of the cot and he could smell its breath.

World's oldest stone bracelet

As reported by Archaeology: A stone bracelet unearthed in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia in 2008 is being called the oldest-known jewelry of its kind.

Normal person vs. scientist

xkcd is here.

The "National Popular Vote" vs. the Electoral College

This was new to me: And, yet, a way out of the electoral chaos is not that far off, thanks to the quiet, wonky National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

History repeats itself

(The original quote is from George Santayana). Via Jobsanger. 

Awake during surgery. On purpose.

From a report in the Wisconsin State Journal: More doctors are letting patients remain alert during certain surgeries, for logistical, financial and medical reasons.

The tops of these two tables are the same shape

They are both parallelograms with identical lengths, widths, and angles.  I enhanced the illusion by referring to them as tables, but they really are identical.

Happy Mother's Day

It was a happy day for the American robin who built her nest under our screen porch.  For several years we've had a robin nesting under the deck, but this year another one found an unused rain barrel under the screen porch and constructed her nest (conveniently for us) at waist-high level.