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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Video compilation of Small Dogs vs. Big Couches

Dog lovers, this compilation of small dogs trying to get onto and/or off of big couches will bring a smile to your face:

Previous doggy posts:

Animals From History: Portraits of Historical Figures as Cats and Dogs.

This compilation video of sneaky dogs raiding the kitchen is a hoot.

It’s Okay To Be Smart on explains how dogs interpret human language.

Dog lovers, start your day with a smile: Compilation Video of Puppies Chasing Laser Pointers.

More doggy science.

New Zealand Woman Returns Library Book 67 Years Late

In the U.S. this would be a story about how this elderly woman was hauled off to jail. 

A library book that was due more than 67 years ago was finally returned to Epsom Library in Auckland, New Zealand. 

“Myths and Legends of Maoriland” by A.W. Reed is a collection of indigenous tales, and it remains in print today under the title “Maori Myths and Legendary Tales.” The volume was due on Dec. 17, 1948, as the stamp on the old-school library card showed,

Epsom Library wrote on Facebook:

“A wonderful customer came to see us with a confession today! As a child she was a patron of Epsom Library until she moved out of Auckland — and accidentally took a library book with her! Today she finally managed to return it to us. It’s a fair few years overdue but in excellent well-read condition.”

Auckland Libraries said this was the longest overdue book it had ever seen returned. The organization was not sure what to do with it, but the book may go on display at Epsom Library. 

Compare and contrast with the recent story about the couple facing jail time for two books borrowed last year:
Although the couple admitted they were negligent in returning the books, they think it's unfair to each be charged a $105 "diversion fee" to the Lenawee County Economic Crimes Unit in addition to fines owed to the Tecumseh Public Library.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday links

Happy Birthday, Duke Ellington: here's some glorious music and a brief biography.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include streaming Netflix through a pork loin, a muskrat cooking competition, menus for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers on the Titanic, legendary plant-animal hybrids, and a roundup of funny (but not gross) colonoscopy videos.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Happy Birthday Duke Ellington

When it sounds good, it is good.

Duke Ellington (wiki(program notes to Such Sweet Thunder, 1957)

I have a mistress. Lovers have come and gone, but only my mistress stays. She is beautiful and gentle... She is a swinger. She has grace. To hear her speak, you can't believe your ears. She is ten thousand years old. She is as modern as tomorrow, a brand new woman every day, and as endless as time and mathematics. Living with her is a labyrinth of ramifications. I look forward to her every gesture. Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to none. 

~Ellington (Music is My Mistress, 1973)

The three greatest composers who ever lived are Bach, Delius, and Duke E Ellington. Unfortunately, Bach is dead, Delius is very ill, but we are happy to have with us today the Duke. 

~ Percy Grainger* (quoted in Bird, Percy Grainger)

Outside of the intrinsic artistic value of his music (which is, of course, the most important thing about Ellington), I think his contemporary impact on American culture was at least as much a social one as an aesthetic one. He was the first black man who was widely perceived as a serious and significant artist in white America, and his success in vaulting over that barrier of perception was a source of immense collective pride in black America. It was exactly what he set out to do, too, which is one of the reasons why he went to such lengths to cultivate his image as a man apart from the common run of jazz bandleaders—black and white alike. 

Today is the anniversary of the birth of American jazz pianist and composer Edward Kennedy ("Duke") Ellington (1899-1974) (wiki) (official website) in Washington, D.C. One of the most influential figures in the history of jazz, Ellington established his reputation at the Cotton Club in New York City between 1927 and 1932 and toured Europe with his band in the late 1930s, setting an unprecedented standard for jazz performance and improvisation.

Over the course of a 50-year career, he wrote more than 6,000 compositions which span the spectrum from jazz to "serious" and sacred music and include such standards as Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady, Solitude, and Black, Brown, and Beige. 

Often credited to the Duke but actually a couplet by Irving Mills from one of Ellington's favorite numbers, is a phrase that well describes his philosophy of music-making:

"It don't mean a thing
If it ain't got that swing."

Here he is playing that song:

* N.B. Quirky Australian-born composer Percy Grainger (1882-1961) is remembered largely for popular light-classical works such as Over the Hills and Far Away and Handel in the Strand. His ranking of watery English composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934) - whose music never rises above mezzo forte - with Bach and Duke Ellington boggles the mind.

Here's a short (4 minute) bio from the Biography Channel:

And here are the Duke and John Coltrane in Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood":

If you're looking for a good biography of the Duke, I highly recommend Terry Teachout's excellent Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baby Horoscopes

As many of you know, in addition to several older and well-used grandchildren (ages 17, 16, 12, 12, 12, 12 and 11, plus an extra 5 step-grandchildren), I have two brand new granddaughters in the family  - Addie, born February 4, and Charlotte, born April 14. 
Related: Grandmothers gave humans longer lifespans
As a result of these recent additions more than a decade after the previous batch, all things baby-related have been very much in our thoughts and conversations recently. Artist Jim Benton also seems to know his way around babies:
Napping together: Addie, age 11 weeks, and Charlotte, age 10 days. ;-)

Horoscope via Neatorama

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This 1926 Poster Predicts London's Transportation Future

Via the Guardian (over a year ago, but I'd never seen it), which has more information:

In 1926, London Underground published a poster painted by Montague B Black, a publicity artist who also created images for Liverpool’s White Star Line, which imagines London in 2026. A golden sky enfolds a cityscape of skyscrapers over which various types of flying machine hover.

We've still got 10 years to go...

Click here to embiggen

Related, also at the Guardian: the London skyline 1616 v 2016

Tuesday links

Scientists Stream Netflix Through Pork Loin.

The Art and Science of Muskrat Cooking - Do you have what it takes to win a rodent cooking competition?

Titanic Food Menus For 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class Passengers.

Roundup of funny (but not gross) colonoscopy videos.

4 Legendary Plant-Animal Hybrids.

Bed Bugs Are Picky About Certain Colors.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli (with recovered footage and a Lego re-enactment), a gallery of photos from the massive 1917 Halifax explosion, the 28 fakes species made up by Audubon to prank a rival, and Oliver Cromwell's speech tossing out the corrupt Parliament (plus the post-mortem adventures of his decapitated head, and some bonus Monty Python).

Monday, April 25, 2016

Roundup of funny colonoscopy videos

For those of us of a certain age, who have to think about these things...

The Colon is a Mighty Big River:

Here's to the Colorectal Surgeon:

Dave Barry on his colonoscopy. Article here.

From The Simpsons, Homer's colonoscopy:

The Colonoscopy Song - Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary:

Lou Rawls/Damon Wayans Colonoscopy Exam:

Polyp Man Sings and Dances on Ice (with Lyrics):

Update - Miss Cellania at Neatorama had posted this one a few years ago:
Gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond is also a comedienne known as The Divine Ms. Butt Meddler. Here she sings her way into your ...heart, with a song about what your first colonoscopy will be like. 

The same doctor borrowed the tune from The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady:
The Hole In Your Rear (from the classic Broadway musical "My Fair Colon")

Monday links

April 25th is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli: here's some history, a documentary, and a Lego re-enactment.

Gallery of photos from the Halifax explosion - the naval accident that erased an entire city in Canada.

Audubon Made Up At Least 28 Fake Species To Prank A Rival.

It's Oliver Cromwell's birthday - here's his excellent speech throwing out the corrupt Parliament, the posthumous travels of his head, and bonus Monty Python.

The evolutionary origins of laughter are rooted more in survival than enjoyment.

Japanese/English Phrasebook Is Absolutely Hilarious.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the Earth Day co-founder who killed and composted his girlfriend, the costs of keeping Lenin's corpse on display, construction workers from competing companies fighting in the street with bulldozers, and Teddy Roosevelt's white rhino hunt.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My two new granddaughters sleeping together ;-)

For those who asked - Addie, age 11 weeks, and Charlotte, age 10 days. ;-)

April 25th is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli

Ship after ship, crammed with soldiers, moved slowly out of the harbour, in the lovely day, and felt again the heave of the sea. No such gathering of fine ships has ever been seen upon the earth, and the beauty and the exaltation of the youth upon them made them like sacred things as they moved away... 

These men had come from all parts of the British world... They had said good-bye to home that they might offer their lives in the cause we stand for. In a few hours at most, as they well knew, perhaps a tenth of them would have looked their last upon the sun, and be a part of the foreign earth or the dumb things that tides push. Many of them would have disappeared forever from the knowledge of man, blotted from the book of life none would ever know how, by a fall, a chance shot in the darkness, or alone, like a hurt beast, in some scrub or gulley, far from comrades and the English speech and the English singing.

~John Masefield (wiki) (Gallipoli)*

Damn the Dardanelles. They will be our grave.

~Admiral Sir John Fisher (to the Dardanelles Committee, 1915)

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.

~Mustafa Kemal - Atatürk (wiki) (tribute to the ANZAC dead, 1934)

Map of the battle - larger version here
April 25th is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC Day, commemorating the key participation of the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in the ill-fated Allied assault on the Turkish-held Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 during World War I. This was one of the first large-scale amphibious invasion of modern times and the first major military operation in which Australia and New Zealand participated on behalf of the British Empire. As a result, the Gallipoli campaign was perhaps the key  defining event for Australia's nationhood, as it was in a sense for Turkey's also. Turkish Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli's successful defense, later became the founder of modern Turkey, adopting the name "Atatürk" - father of the Turks.

Today much of the Gallipoli Peninsula is a Turkish national park with over 20 cemeteries lovingly tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We visited there several years ago on ANZAC Day, taking a bus with a dozen or so others, mostly Aussies, from the nearby town of Canakkale to tour the cemeteries and battlefields. The tour guide read the Ataturk quotation above, along with, as is typical, the fourth stanza of Lawrence Binyon's For The Fallen:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Followed, as is also typical, by "Lest we forget..."

The Making of a Legend, The Landing at Anzac Cove by Lambert
The visitor can not help but be struck by the stark, natural beauty of its steep, scrubby, deeply-gullied terrain and sadly moved by the remembrance of the tens of thousands of men on both sides who lost their lives there in a futile clash of empires - only a few miles across the "wine-dark sea" from the ruins of ancient Troy. Of that earlier struggle, Homer wrote in book XIII of the Iliad,

"It is not possible to fight beyond your strength, even if you strive."

* N.B. John Masefield was the Poet Laureate of England from 1930 until his death in 1967. He served as a medical orderly on the Western Front in World War I and later wrote Gallipoli to counter German propaganda seeking to exploit the British defeat there.

The most readable account of the Gallipoli campaign remains Alan Moorehead's venerable history, Gallipoli, from the late 1950s. Also, the 1981 Australian movie of that same name, starring the young Mel Gibson, is an excellent evocation of both the horror and exhilaration of those times. There's a more recent movie, apparently, but I'm not familiar with it, and Mel Gibson.

Several years ago, Peter Jackson restored and aggregated quite a bit of contemporaneous Gallipoli film:

Here's a 9 minute documentary:

And, as seems inevitable these days, there's a Lego reenactment of the events:

There's a good article on the 2015 centennial at The Guardian, and much more at the Australian government's site.