Archive for Entirely Too Cool

Where have all the monarchs gone?

Mexico, apparently:

One hopeful statistic: their numbers are up over the last couple of years, though still short of the population at the turn of the century.

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Now that’s composure

It would never have occurred to Ken Jennings, either:

Speaking of Mr Yankovic:

Released this very week in 1984, as it happens.

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There was a fungus among us

And we turned it against the bloodsuckers:

A fungus — genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin — can rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosquitoes that spread malaria, a study suggests. Trials, which took place in Burkina Faso, showed mosquito populations collapsed by 99% within 45 days.

The researchers say their aim is not to make the insects extinct but to help stop the spread of malaria. The disease, which is spread when female mosquitoes drink blood, kills more than 400,000 people per year. Worldwide, there are about 219 million cases of malaria each year.

These trials sound almost entertaining:

A 6,500-sq-ft fake village — complete with plants, huts, water sources and food for the mosquitoes — was set up in Burkina Faso. It was surrounded by a double layer of mosquito netting to prevent anything escaping.

The fungal spores were mixed with sesame oil and wiped on to black cotton sheets. The mosquitoes had to land on the sheets to be exposed to the deadly fungus.

The researchers started the experiments with 1,500 mosquitoes. The results, published in the journal Science, showed numbers soared when the insects were left alone. But when the spider-toxin fungus was used, there were just 13 mosquitoes left after 45 days.

As Glenn Reynolds would say, “Faster, please.”

Cite: DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw8737

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Because the South had balls

And they weren’t shy about using them, either:

The three lethal Civil War-era cannons pulled from the Confederate gunboat CSS Pee Dee were loaded for action when they were recovered.

That was maybe the biggest surprise for the conservators who confirmed the ship was ready to fight when it was scuttled in 1865 in the Pee Dee River near Florence as Union troops closed in.

The cannons, recovered in 2015, were restored and preserved in a four-year effort by the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. They will be placed on exhibit outside the Veterans Affairs building in Florence at a date yet to be announced.

“Wait a minute. Why haven’t I heard about this mighty vessel?”

The ship might have been one of the South’s greatest weapons had it ever seen action. But it was finished in the desperate days of the Confederacy as the war drew to a close. While the Pee Dee likely never saw action, its guns had been powdered and primed. Conservators knew this because when they turned the key on a brass fuse it fizzed like a soda.

A 9-pound ball was loaded into the single Dahlgren cannon. The two Brooke cannons were loaded with forged grapeshot the size of billiard balls instead of the large, bullet-like shells they had been rifled to fire.

The neat, or un-neat, thing about grapeshot is that individual projectiles spread out after firing.

The Pee Dee was about 150 feet long and carried a crew of 90, plus that Dahlgren cannon, which bore “U. S. Navy” indicia, indicating it had been taken from a Union vessel.

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Moar power

Adventures with the Power Washer, starring Rob O’Hara:

After verifying that the bird’s nest was empty, I attached the super mamma jamma turbo nozzle to the wand, turned everything on, hit that nest with 2,000 PSI of water pressure and OOOH YEAH THAT MUDDER NESTER FLEW BABY! Again — would a $5 spray nozzle for our garden hose have cleaned up the nest? Maybe, but I’ll doubt it would have shot pieces 20′ into the air like this baby did.

While experimenting with the turbo nozzle I also blew paint off of one of Susan’s bird houses, and was able to blow leaves off of trees. So, yeah. The turbo nozzle has been retired. According to the manual, the turbo nozzle is only safe for cleaning concrete, brick, and masonry. I later shot the manual with the turbo nozzle and it destroyed it. UNLIMITED POWER!

Tim Allen would approve.

Next up was the orange (15°) tip. According to the manual, it is also approved for concrete and such, plus siding, gutters, fencing, decks, patios, lawn equipment, boats, and RVs. For every one of those surfaces it says “USE WITH CAUTION” but does a guy who would buy a 2,000 PSI power washer to remove a bird’s nest sound like someone who uses caution?

The main thing I wanted to see was if the orange nozzle would remove oil stains from the driveway, and the answer is … kind of. The stains were definitely lighter after spraying, but still obviously there. But a bigger problem arises when you start spraying your driveway. First of all, every concrete area you spray becomes super clean and white — which means all the areas you don’t spray stand out and look dirty. And second, for the thing to clean concrete you have to hold the wand pretty close to the ground, which gives a spray area of about a quarter. So if you want your entire driveway to be the same color at this point, bring a sandwich because you’re going to be there for a while.

I’m not entirely sure I could work the wand with one hand and hold a Schlotzsky’s with the other.

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All their ducks in a row

And that’s a lot of damn ducks, too:

This happened last week in Sirajganj, in northern Bangladesh.

“After a while, I imagined them descending into a tunnel to get back to the original side of the road, just so they could mess with people,” mused Miss Cellania.

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Built like a tank

Because it’s, well, a tank:

“Pure evil,” they say. Well, at least it’s pure.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Buzzworthy

One of the better ideas EPA has had lately:

The Environmental Protection Agency is pulling from the market a dozen products containing pesticides known to be toxic to a linchpin of the U.S. food system — the honeybee.

The agency announced [May 20th] [pdf] it has canceled the registrations of 12 pest-killing products with compounds belonging to a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids, as part of a legal settlement.

For years, beekeepers and wildlife conversationalists alike have voiced concern that the widespread use of neonics, as the chemicals are commonly called, is imperiling wild and domesticated bees crucial to pollinating commercial fruit, nut and vegetable crops.

The Trump administration’s action was welcome news to some environmentalists. “Certainly we have a ways to go,” said George Kimbrell, legal director at the nonprofit advocacy group Center for Food Safety, whose lawsuit prompted the EPA’s action. “But it’s an important first step in acknowledging the harm they cause.”

The twelve pesticides are made by only three companies; one of them, Bayer, says that its two neonic products are not sold in the US.

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After coffee, no doubt

(Title inspired by Prince. From Everlasting Blort via Miss Cellania.)

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It’s a stretch

I grumble a lot about my reduced physical capabilities these days, and usually, right about the time I do, I end up with a video of someone with no arms who types faster than I do. For example:

On one level, I figure anyone over the age of four and a half is probably a better gamer than I am. Then again, I suppose I should feel better, knowing that current-day packaging is as much of a pain for her as it is for the rest of us.

Scratch that. I once had one of those fancy Razer meece; I actually bricked it trying to install a firmware update. Surely she’s never done that.

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For our future ink-stained wretches

If you were about to graduate from the Reed School of Media at West Virginia University, you might have been worried if maybe you’d signed up for a one-way trip to the downward spiral. Newspapers, after all, are under a lot of stress these days.

To persuade you otherwise, here’s Hilde Lysiak of the Orange Street News:

Yes, she’s serious. But then, she is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. And yes, she’s twelve years old.

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No need to thread

Long before there were cassettes, RCA caused this thing to be built:

For 1960, this was the bee’s knees. Or something. But gradually, things went from small to smaller to actually invisible. (See that MP3 over there? I didn’t think so.)

Warning: Running time > 20 minutes.

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Get ’em while they’re young

Being awed at Symphony Hall is not uncommon, but this exuberance was extraordinary:

The Handel and Haydn Society, one of America’s oldest performing arts groups, had just finished performing Mozart’s Masonic Funeral at Boston’s Symphony Hall, when a young child broke the silence with an exuberant “Wow!”

The awe in the child’s voice is so palpable and genuine that it won laughter and applause from the audience, and deeply touched the musicians.

The president of the Society wants to meet the kid and present her (or him; I can’t tell) with some goodies, including a recording of that very concert.

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Toward a higher purpose

Something about this is stirring:

From Wikipedia:

The Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura, a right affluent of the Q’virila.

The rock, with visible church ruins on a top surface measuring c. 150 square metres, has been venerated by locals as the Pillar of Life and a symbol of the True Cross, and has become surrounded by legends. It remained unclimbed by researchers and unsurveyed until 1944 and was more systematically studied from 1999 to 2009. These studies determined the ruins were of an early medieval hermitage dating from the 9th or 10th century. A Georgian inscription paleographically dated to the 13th century suggests that the hermitage was still extant at that time. Religious activity associated with the pillar was revived in the 1990s and the monastery building had been restored within the framework of a state-funded program by 2009.

And is the place unoccupied? Not even:

A stylite (from Greek στυλίτης, stylitēs, “pillar dweller” or pillar-saint is a type of Christian ascetic who lives on pillars, preaching, fasting and praying. Stylites believe that the mortification of their bodies would help ensure the salvation of their souls. Stylites were common in the early days of the Byzantine Empire. The first known stylite was Simeon Stylites the Elder who climbed a pillar in Syria in 423 and remained there until his death 37 years later.

In recent centuries this form of monastic asceticism has become virtually extinct. However, in modern-day Georgia, Maxime Qavtaradze, a monk of the Orthodox Church, has lived on top of Katskhi Pillar for 20 years, coming down only twice a week. This pillar is a natural rock formation jutting upward from the ground to a height of approximately one hundred and forty feet. Evidence of use by stylites as late as the 13th century has been found on the top of the rock. With the aid of local villagers and the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, Qavtaradze restored the 1200-year-old monastic chapel on the top of the rock.

Bless you, sir.

(Via American Digest.)

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My God, it’s full of data

What’s going on here:

Astronomers have put together the largest and most comprehensive “history book” of galaxies into one single image, using 16 years’ worth of observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

The deep-sky mosaic, created from nearly 7,500 individual exposures, provides a wide portrait of the distant universe, containing 265,000 galaxies that stretch back through 13.3 billion years of time to just 500 million years after the big bang. The faintest and farthest galaxies are just one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see. The universe’s evolutionary history is also chronicled in this one sweeping view. The portrait shows how galaxies change over time, building themselves up to become the giant galaxies seen in the nearby universe. This ambitious endeavor, called the Hubble Legacy Field, also combines observations taken by several Hubble deep-field surveys, including the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), the deepest view of the universe. The wavelength range stretches from ultraviolet to near-infrared light, capturing the key features of galaxy assembly over time. The video begins with a view of the thousands of galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field and slowly zooms out to reveal the larger Hubble Legacy Field, containing 265,000 galaxies.

And how much of this universe have we seen? One percent? 0.1 percent? 0.000000001 percent? God only knows.

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Always sane

An old friend has turned one more page, and understandably, she feels great about it:

Schooled in music, Carolyne Mas skipped college to travel the world pursuing her musical passions. A triple threat; singer, songwriter and guitar player, Mas was living her dream.

In 2002, after decades in the industry and years on the road, Mas found herself needed at home. She would first become her aunt’s caregiver then later her mother’s, both were living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

During her musical hiatus, Mas said she developed pain in her hands.

“I started having problems with arthritis and went on disability and was very unhappy because I’m not one to sit idly by and let time just roll on,” Mas said.

Hoping to help her get out of her funk, Mas’s husband suggested she “go to college.” By this point, they were living in Pearce, Arizona. So she started looking into programs and came across the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s Bachelor of Science in integrative health.

Monday, Arizona State will present her with her diploma — summa cum laude, yet. What’s more, they’ve asked her to speak at the convocation. All of us unrepentant rock-and-rollers should have done so well.

One of her signature songs, recorded live in Paris. (The Europeans always appreciated her more.)

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One of us

Peter Grant has taken the pledge:

I became a US citizen [Monday] morning, as mentioned earlier. I found it very moving and awesome, in the true sense of that word: awe-some. I’ve regarded myself as American in spirit for years, but this put the official seal on the process of becoming one, along with new citizens from 40 other nations, including, sitting next to me, a woman from Zimbabwe, who formerly lived in Bulawayo, a city I knew from previous visits. We exchanged congratulations and memories of our former homes.) As we shared the national anthem for the first time, I couldn’t hold back a tear. It’s my anthem, too, now; and even though I’ve sung it innumerable times before, somehow this time was very special.

I was astonished at how many emotions and memories rolled through my mind during the ceremony. In my previous post, I said that I thought many memories of my deceased friends and colleagues from South Africa would be with me when I took the oath. That was an understatement. The emotions were very powerful indeed. Miss D. says she’s heard others say something similar, if they came out of backgrounds of oppression and struggle, so I’m glad to know I’m not alone in feeling like that at a time like this. I was truly surprised at how real my late friends seemed — not just memories, but almost tangible in their presence. I hope they’re as happy as I am at present.

To borrow a segment of Glenn Reynolds’ shtick: “More like this, please.”

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This way up

Found in a Tumblr somewhere:

Amphibian ladder

To explain:

A common frog climbing out of a drain using an “amphibian ladder” designed by the British Herpetological Society to help frogs, toads, salamanders and newts escape roadside gully pots.

Says the BHS, the ladder is 90 percent effective. Prices start at £15.

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Before the generic appears

I take one brand-name drug, for which no generics have yet materialized. And it occurs to me that Big Pharma LLC might want to keep its customers asking for the brand-name version, even if it means taking a haircut on the retail price.

Actually, this didn’t occur to me until yesterday at Walgreens, where I duly dropped my ID and my American Express card into the drive-in drawer, to cover both Schedule IV controls and the $150 copay for 90 days of the brand-name stuff. The pharmacy tech did warn me that yes, it’s $150. But then she said: “Would you be interested if the manufacturer was offering a discount coupon?”

Um, yeah, I think I might. “Give me a few minutes,” she said, and started clicking away on a keyboard. No one was behind me in line, so a few minutes — turned out to be about five and a half — elapsed before she returned to the window. “We’ve attached a copy of this to your record,” she said, “so you can use it again.”

Net price on that pricey drug, once couponned into submission: five bucks. Ninety tabs, $5.00 total. I made sure I looked properly grateful as I pulled out of the lane. And I spent $31 of that $145 saved on dinner, because reasons.

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Crate expectations

As of 4/26. this big bruiser is added to the catalog:

Appropriately, Fiat Chrysler waited for choose this calendar date to open pre-orders for its monstrous “Hellephant” 426 crate engine, a 1,000-horsepower, 950 lb-ft beast of an powerplant designed to turn your pre-1976 Mopar into an object of fear and testosterone-fueled lust. It now has a price tag.

Officially named the Mopar “Hellephant” 426 Supercharged Crate HEMI Engine, the retro-themed tribute mill can be had for $29,995, which happens to be just five dollars more than the pre-destination price of an electric Nissan Leaf S.

Oddly, just last night a friend was mulling the feasibility of shoehorning an 8.0-liter Magnum V10 into a Leaf out of spite for the green crowd.

And for the time being, purchase of a Leaf may qualify for a Federal tax credit. You drop this beast into your old Plymouth, and Scott Pruitt will call you and ask you for a ride.

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Still a daily single

I’ll take Cute Girl Singers for $2000, Alex:

Oh, all right, if you insist:

Rebecca Black at Nylon's It Girl Party, October 2018

Happy now?

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Buy this man a beer

Any beer he wants. Several of them, in fact:

So I’m in the process of transitioning computers, which means I have to again set my Web browser to stop bothering me when every last Web site wants to send me notifications.

This is a simple config change, but I did a quick Web search to ensure I set the correct preference name to false.

Which search led him to r/Firefox on Reddit, which then threw up the very “Allow notifications” box he, and I, find objectionable.

Not everyone, of course, uses Firefox. I am a convert to the Pale Moon browser, a fork from Mozilla from right before the time when feeping creaturism entirely devoured Firefox.

And it works there, too. From about:config:

Note to self: It’s dom.webnotifications.enabled.

Do the Boolean toggle, and buy a beer for Noggle.

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We should all be so resourceful

Especially when we’re dealing with this mindset:

Cheese sticks on the thermostat

(From Pleated Jeans via Miss Cellania.)

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Already Czeched

And as always, it’s a good thing to be where your customers are:

CZ-USA, the U.S.-based affiliate of Czech firearms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka a.s. Uherský Brod (CZUB), announced today plans to locate their North American Headquarters and build a new manufacturing facility on approximately 73 acres at the Port of Little Rock. CZ-USA plans to implement a two-phase approach with an investment of up to $90 million and create some 565 jobs over a six-year period. CZ products are considered some of the highest-quality firearms in defense, competition and sport shooting around the world.

“As CZ looked to increase our presence in North America, it engaged in a multi-state search for the ideal location,” said Bogdan Heczko, CZ-USA chairman of the board. “The Arkansas workforce, culture, business climate and industry support cleared the way for us to choose Little Rock as our new home.”

CZ-USA has been the exclusive importer of CZ products since 1997; up to now they’ve been working out of Kansas City, Kansas.

(Via Tamara Keel.)

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Over at Harry’s place

This has been going on at the Truman Library tonight:

Dozens of middle school students will perform original and historical speeches Monday at the Truman Library and Museum — a Midwest regional event that’s part of the Ford’s Theatre National Oratory Fellowship.

“An Evening of Oratory” will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday at the library, including more than 25 middle school students from Independence, Fort Osage and Raytown schools, as well as Wichita, Kansas who will perform in front of a public audience and a representative from Ford’s Theatre. A scheduling conflict will prevent students from Omaha, Nebraska from making the trip to participate.

Students from Bridger Middle School in Independence have been participating in this for several years, but this is the first time it includes students from other Midwest schools. Speeches will last about two minutes. An additional 25 students from Bridger will give speeches at a later event Wednesday evening.

Now, who do I know who attends Bridger?

Yep. Grandson Gunner, just turned twelve, is doing one of those speeches. And it makes sense that he should be the family member to take part in this thing, inasmuch as he’s now a fairly experienced thespian, having appeared in several local community-theatre productions. I am properly awed.

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AOC, Jr.

This young lady definitely has a future:

(Via the New York Post.)

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You should be pondering this

And by “this,” I mean:

The stroke of brilliance, of course, was bringing in the two guys who actually do the voices of Pinky and the Brain.

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People who need peepholes

They’re the luckiest people in the world:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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That’s what I like about the South Pole

Ariel Waldman heads for Antarctica:

Adjustments were definitely in order.

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Take that, Mortimer Snerd

Female ventriloquists have always been fairly uncommon. Female ventriloquists who sing opera …?

I don’t think Edgar Bergen (or Charlie McCarthy) ever once tried to sing Puccini.

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