A clean break with the pasta

Okay, it isn’t exactly Fermat’s Last Theorem, but it’s enough to drive you at least slightly batty:

It is a puzzle that has perplexed physicists for decades: hold a strand of dry spaghetti at both ends, bend it until it snaps, and you will always end up with three or more pieces.

In 2005, researchers in France finally discovered why: after the initial break, the brittle stick flexes back in the opposite direction, snapping itself again.

Yet a lingering question mark still hovered over the culinary conundrum. Was it possible, with the right technique, to snap a strand of spaghetti into two pieces?

After breaking apart hundreds of pieces of pasta in a specially-constructed apparatus, a team of mathematicians led by Jörn Dunkel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have concluded it is possible, provided you add a twist into the mix.

Sometimes it takes MIT to solve a problem.

Using a pair of clamps, they twisted strands of spaghetti almost 360 degrees before bringing the two clamps together until the strand broke. With this method, the found they could reliably snap the spaghetti into just two pieces.

Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1802831115

(Via JenLucPiquant.)

Comments (3)

They all sound alike

But you may be certain that some sound more alike than others:

I knew exactly two of these — so, I guess, one of these — in advance.

Comments (1)

Everyone should do this now and then

The last World Tour I did was 2008, and I have to say, I miss them; they leave a big hole in the wallet, but they pay back in so many ways.

Not that I can claim to having inspired her:

More sensible than I, she’s crowdfunding the trip.


Nobody else but Halle

It’s Halle Berry’s 52nd birthday, which means it’s about time she started looking 35 or thereabouts. In general, these photos are self-explanatory.

Halle Berry fiddling with a car seat

Halle Berry on the red carpet

Halle Berry on the purple carpet

Halle Berry stands on her head

Well, maybe not that last one, which she posted on Instagram as a sign of personal progress in yoga.

Then again, who’s gonna argue with Halle Berry? Certainly not I.


They missed “BFD”

If you were hoping for a revival of Eldorado or Fleetwood or even Catera fercrissake, you’re apparently out of luck:

While the company likely won’t use every single label, Cadillac has filed trademarks for CT2, CT3, CT4, CT5, CT7, CT8, XT2, XT3, XT6, XT7 and XT8 according to GM Inside News. That should keep it covered for the next decade and save the creative department the trouble of coming up with monikers that might evoke any kind of emotion in prospective customers.

Would it be too much to ask for a Sixty Special? (“Yes” — ed.)

Comments (3)

Always worthy of respect

There are times — not often, but now and then — when I regret missing one of those damn award shows. Here’s one.

You may be sure none in the theater were sleeping.


The untimely wearing of leather

Parts of Europe are overly warm these days, forcing governments to Take Action:

The government in southern Sweden have granted permission for cows to visit nudist beaches during the prolonged summer heatwave, despite complaints from locals, it’s reported.

According to The Local news website, nudists have been complaining to officials in provincial Smaland about livestock visiting their beaches, saying that their presence is “unhygienic and could pose a health risk”.

It says the roasting summer heat affecting much of continental Europe has led to drought throughout the country, and has meant that farmers have been struggling to feed their animals.

This has meant that some farmers have decided to slaughter their cattle earlier than usual; but others have instead decided to bring their livestock to nearby nudist beaches, in order to cool them down, public broadcaster SVT reports.

“When it’s this dry, you don’t want cows to be brought to slaughter out of necessity. They need to be able to bathe, eat and drink,” municipal official Peter Bengtsson says.

Still: who has priority?

Complaints from bathers have led to municipal Vaxjo’s Culture and Leisure Department taking a vote on whether the cattle were ok to visit, and have ruled they “have just as much right to be there as the human visitors.”

Said humans should of course watch where they step, as they should in the presence of cattle anywhere else.

Comments (3)

The Colosseum of Clutter

Among the Friar’s conclusions after a couple of recent trips to Walmart:

I’ve read some people say that we should all use the human-staffed lanes all the time in order to save cashier jobs, and force stores to keep them on the payroll. Maybe. But I’m pretty sure the stores can outlast us. If there are six cashier lanes open at midnight, then it’s a simple choice. But if there are six open at 5 PM, it’s also a simple choice, because everyone in those lanes has carts holding the product of a small nation-state and it will be midnight before they’re all checked out.

Another gripe has been that the stores are making us do their work for them. It seems running a purchase in from of a laser scanner is a burden most onerous, one that we customers are far too refined and important to carry for ourselves. This idea is used to justify theft, as I have seen a number of posts in different news stories and Facebook threads that scanning our own items makes us store employees and so we are entitled to take our wages in trade. I look for these people next to figure they can walk their restaurant tickets if the server doesn’t cut up their meat for them and dab their faces after every bite.

The self-checkout is supposed to save you time; you can’t expect any more of it than that, especially since it probably runs on Windows.

And oh, if you’re thinking you’re entitled to take your wages in trade, make sure you report it as income on your next tax return.

Comments (2)

You are owned

You used to have some semblance of privacy. Those days are gone:

Google is not allowed to build a surveillance point on your front lawn. Why are they allowed to spy on you and sell your information to the highest bidder? A law that requires written permission to possess and distribute private information would put an end to the abuse of privacy.

In case you think this is impossible, keep in mind it used to exist. Credit bureaus used to need permission to release your credit history. One of the things you signed in the loan process was a form giving the lender the right to pull your credit report and call on your references. The same is true of employers. The application process included you giving them permission to call former employers. Simply restoring a basic of civil society — property rights — would put an end to most of the privacy abuse we see with technology.

Of course, there are folks out there — think wannabe Representative Occasional-Cortex — who hate the very idea of property rights.

To get a sense of just how far we have gone down the road to serfdom, ask a normie friend about such a proposal. Ask them if the government should require Facebook to get your written permission to use your data. The right leaning normie will recoil in horror at the state doing anything. The left leaning normie will most likely give you a blank look, as they are unable to process the concept of privacy. The very idea of you owning you, owning your name, you image and your habits, is now alien to most Americans.

Facebook, for its part, will argue that by using their service you have consented to handing over all your data; why, it says so in the user agreement, which is about the size of a short novel.

Comments (3)

Like those others even exist

Tom Klockau puts aside his compulsive Broughaming for just long enough to toss this fact at you:

I love car books. Especially coffee table style car books. With lots of great big color pictures of showroom condition cars. But when it comes to Porsche books, there’s more than a little bias. Go to any book store, if your town or city still has one. Look for Porsche books. Pick one out at random (if there is more than one, that is). The first ten pages will be the introduction and the 356. Then approximately 92% of the book will be 911s. Perhaps eight pages on the 924/944/968/928. And maybe two on the Boxster. The end.

I remember once when the Porsche/Audi and Infiniti dealers shared a lot, and while I’m waiting for them to write up a service order on my I30, an utterly gorgeous 356 pulled into the adjacent lane.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said a staffer.

I nodded. “And it isn’t even a 911.”

Of course, this was before Porsche decided to mint money by selling sport-utility vehicles; nowadays you see more Cayennes and Macans than 911s.


Strange search-engine queries (654)

What we do here, in case you hadn’t noticed, is to look through the hundreds of search strings that lead to this very site, and hope some of them are amusing enough to reprint here on Mondays.

Tom Servo, remind you to bite me:  You know, you really should just relax.

where is cougar solenoid sensor:  It’s in the cerebral cortex. Do you expect to meet any cougars?

breast types pictures cup sizes clothed unclothed:  Well, at least you’re not picky.

margaret trudeau no panties:  Unlike, for instance, this guy.

cheap diet shoes:  Do they have to be gluten-free?

outfits with orange shoes:  Probably not cheap. Or low-calorie, either.

hot nightwear:  If it’s really that hot, you might as well take it off.

“like to pee standing”:  You might not want to do that in hot nightwear.

“what the font”:  Perhaps you’re getting an Arial view.

variable attitude submersible hydrofoil china:  And meanwhile, we worry about plastic straws.

snow is a four letter word:  Yeah. So was “July.”

what the fuck is steve’s problem:  Perhaps you should ask Garfunkel and Oates.

Comments (2)

Grace, under pressure

Pull up a page of pictures of singer/songwriter Grace VanderWaal, and you’ll see smiles, smirks, grins, grimaces, and all the other stuff you’d expect to see on a tousled girl of fourteen.

And you’ll find this one, in which she actually looks depressed:

Grace VanderWaal is unhappy about something

I hope it’s nothing more than “I can’t believe they’re making me wear this.”

Comments (3)

Somehow it all adds up

On about day three of your programming class, you’ll be expected to generate a Fibonacci sequence, in which each number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding. The farther up the sequence you go, the closer the ratio between any two adjacent numbers in the sequence approaches the golden ratio, which makes you wonder how a musical piece thus derived might sound.

It made this guy wonder, anyway:

There are probably infinitely many ways these numbers can be combined, but this one certainly works.

Comments (2)

Expect no discount

Today in the Oklahoman:

Now on sale at Dollar General Stores

I’m assuming the price of the paper — $1.50 daily, three bucks on Sunday — will remain unchanged, despite the name over the door.

Comments (1)

Tribe drops the ball

From yesterday afternoon:

A few hours later:

Things happen, guys. Don’t worry about it.

Comments (4)

More orphan than not

A baby squirrel seems to have put the Fear of God into this chap:

German police have rescued a man after he called for help saying a baby squirrel would not leave him alone.

Emergency services received a call on Thursday from the man, who claimed he was being chased down the street by the tiny animal.

Police in Karlsruhe said the unnamed man called them in desperation after he was unable to shake off the small rodent.

Officers sent a patrol car out to investigate and arrived to find the chase still in full flow. But the drama ended suddenly when the squirrel, apparently exhausted by its exertions, lay down abruptly and fell asleep.

It’s not likely the rodent meant any harm:

Police said it likely targeted the man because it was in search of a new home.

“It often happens that squirrels which have lost their mothers look for a replacement and then focus their efforts on one person,” said Christina Krenz, a police spokeswoman.

Poor little fuzzball.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Comments (1)