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Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday links

Tomorrow (June 24) is the birthday of Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil's Dictionary.

Caterpillars Recruit Friends with Anal Scraping. If you know of others who use the same method, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Lincoln Memorial Undercroft - A cavernous three-story, 43,800-square-foot basement that was forgotten about for 60 years. 

How Much Businesses Pay To Get On Those Big Blue Exit Signs

These Massive Tunnels Were Dug By Giant Sloths.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include the history of the Aloha shirt, the first day of summer, why it's called Area 51, the rural mail carriers who count wildlife on their routes, and how cats used humans to conquer the world.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday links

Summer started this morning at 12:24 EDT - here's some solstice science, history, poetry and music. Related: Fridgehenge: to celebrate the solstice, British guy recreates Stonehenge using old refrigerators

Hawaiian Style: The History of the Aloha Shirt.

How to Have a Healthy Summer: Advice from 1656.

You've Got Quail: Why Thousands of Rural Mail Carriers Count Roadside Wildlife Every Year.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the science of whiskey flavors, the anniversary of Waterloo (with a Lego re-enactment), the art of Soviet children's literature, and, for Father's Day, a selection of parenting advice from Homer Simpson.

Summer solstice science, quotes, poetry and music

Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass...

Walking around the grocery store on a hot day always reminds me of this Shakespeare quote:
For men, like butterflies, show not their mealy wings but to the summer.
~ Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida Act III, Scene 3

Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound;
And through this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose.

ShakespeareA Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Sc. 2

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.

~ John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.

~ Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

~ Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Thou orb aloft full dazzling,
    Flooding with sheeny light the gray beach sand;
Thou sibilant near sea, with vistas far, and foam,
    And tawny streaks and shades, and spreading blue;
Before I sing the rest, O sun refulgent,
    My special word to thee.

~ Walt Whitman, A Summer Invocation

Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.

Carl Sandburg, Back Yard

Today is the summer solstice (wiki): at the solstice (from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop)), the Earth reaches the point in its orbit where the northern hemisphere is most tilted toward the sun, which puts the latter higher in the sky at noon than at any other time of the  year.*  This is also the day of the year with the longest daylight period and the shortest night.  In prehistoric times, the summer solstice was of great importance to aboriginal peoples. The snow had disappeared, food was easier to find, and crops already planted would soon be harvested in months to come. From then on, however, the days would begin to shorten, indicating the inevitable return of the cold season. 

Here's a brief explanation on the mechanics of solstices and equinoxes:

The two revolutions, I mean the annual revolutions of the declination and of the centre of the Earth, are not completely equal; that is the return of the declination to its original value is slightly ahead of the period of the centre. Hence it necessarily follows that the equinoxes and solstices seem to anticipate their timing, not because the sphere of the fixed stars moves to the east, but rather the equatorial circle moves to the west, being at an angle to the plane of the ecliptic in proportion to the declination of the axis of the terrestrial globe.

Here's Nigel Kennedy playing the last movement of Vivaldi's "Summer" concerto from The Four Seasons:

Here's the view from Stonehenge.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How To Steal Pizza Without Anyone Knowing

This would work with anything round (think cake or pie):

Related: The Scientific Way To Cut A Cake (or pizza...):

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Here's a compilation of all 150,966 deaths so far on Game of Thrones (NSFW - violence)

WARNING - Not safe for work due to violence.

I suppose it's possible, if you're a Game of Thrones fan, that you enjoy these violent death scenes so much that you want to be able to see them all again. I barely made it through the first time.

Related posts and links (I haven't check all of the old links - apologies if any have died):

Very cool visual effects reel from season 5 of Game of Thrones: Mastering the Dragons

Game of Thrones season six: three latest leaks from on set (spoilers).

For $20K, Game of Thrones Author Will Write You Into Future Novel Then Kill You Off

Valyrian steel, length of the seasons, dragon biology: The Science of Game of Thrones, bonus geological map.

If Game Of Thrones Characters Were Drawn By Disney

Game of Thrones infographic chronology: 4 seasons of the 4 main families and the Night’s Watch.

Video: Hodor (Kristian Nairn) Describes His Awkward Game of Thrones Nude Scene.

Game of Thrones Wine Map: The Wines of Westeros.

Supercut of pithy quotes from Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-3.

Fallen behind on Game of Thrones, or want a refresher before Season 4? All 3 seasons recapped in 9 minutes.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Do you want to see a men's romper with a giant Kim Jong Un face on it? Of course you do!

A romper featuring a gigantic image of Kim Jong-un's face is the latest sartorial trend to stir up men's fashion.

The bizarre onesie was unsurprisingly on sale for $79.99 – reduced from its original price of $99.99 - despite winning five star reviews on the website where it is advertised. Surprisingly, there are several other rompers on the website that are out-selling Kim (they have a LOT of them), although, actually, they all appear to be pre-orders. 

This pineapple romper is their top-seller:

I like this one:

And this:


And, if you're the patriotic type:

I'd tend to go a bit cheaper, assuming that this will, after all, be a joke gift - Amazon has these starting at $7.99, so you can get 10 of them for the price of one of those above:

h/t Daily Mail

Friday links

For Father's Day, parenting advice from Homer Simpson: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try". Related: here are some Father's Day lessons from Walter White, Don Draper and Tywin Lannister, and one of my favorite Dad stories (NSFW- language).

A scientific meta-analysis of whiskey flavors and quality.

June 18 is the anniversary of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo: history, quotes and video (including a Lego re-enactment).

The Artful Propaganda of Soviet Children’s Literature.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include Flag Day, how lemons gave rise to organized crime in Sicily, embarrassing landmarks by state, the ships buried below San Francisco, and works of art recreated using Marvel action figures.

“Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” Parenting advice from Homer Simpson

For fellow Simpsons fans:

“No, no, no, Lisa. If adults don’t like their jobs, they don’t go on strike. They just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American Way.”

“OK, son. Just remember to have fun out there today, and if you lose, I’LL KILL YOU!”

“You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

“The code of the schoolyard, Marge! The rules that teach a boy to be a man. Let’s see. Don’t tattle. Always make fun of those different from you. Never say anything, unless you’re sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do. What else…”

“Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

“When I look at the smiles on all the children’s faces, I just know they’re about to jab me with something.”

“I have to work overtime at work instead of spending time with my wife and kids, which is what I want.”

“Kids are great, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate and they practically raise themselves now-a-days, you know, with the internet and all.”

“I think the saddest day of my life was when I realized I could beat my Dad at most things, and Bart experienced that at the age of four.”

“Don’t eat me. I have a wife and kids. Eat them.”

“Marge, don’t discourage the boy! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.”

“What do we need a psychiatrist for? We know our kid is nuts. “

“It’s not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to squeeze in 8 hours of TV a day.”

“Remember as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family.”

“Marriage is like a coffin and each kid is another nail.”

“The key to parenting is don’t overthink it. Because overthinking leads to … what were talking about?”


Funny signs from The Simpsons (and links to lots more).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ulysses fan? June 16 is Bloomsday - here's my favorite quote from Joyce's obscenity trial

Today is Bloomsday, a celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses (wiki), a novel about a day in the life of Leopold Bloom as he wanders about Dublin. The festivities generally involve reading the novel aloud (generally a group project, and it takes a loooong time) and drinking.

Zoomable version here.
My favorite bit of trivia about Ulysses comes from Joyce's obscenity trial (the book was banned in various places for quite a while):
 “[i]n respect of the recurrent emergence of the theme of sex in the minds of [Joyce's] characters, it must always be remembered that his locale was Celtic and his season Spring.”
Final lines from Ulysses are from Molly Bloom, who is lying in bed with her lover: 
" ...I was a flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."
Here's an interesting article on the background of the obscenity trial against the book - the publisher went to a LOT of trouble to force a trial: The Worst (And Most Important) Smuggling Job in the History of Literature.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday links

June 14 is Flag Day and the birthday of the U.S. Army.

How 'OK' took over the world.

How lemons gave rise to organized crime in Sicily.

Famous Works Of Art Recreated Using Marvel Action Figures.

A New Map Reveals Ships Buried Below San Francisco.

Most Embarrassing Landmark From Every State.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include Anne Frank's birthday, technologies that replace super powers, the finalists for Shed of the Year 2017, and a selection of Adam West's Batman fight scenes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 14 is Flag Day and the birthday of the U.S. Army

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States (wiki) which happened on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress:
That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.
The resolution was made following the report of a special committee which had been assigned to suggest the flag’s design.

A flag of this design was first carried into battle on September 11, 1777, in the Battle of the Brandywine. The American flag was first saluted by foreign naval vessels on February 14, 1778, when the Ranger, bearing the Stars and Stripes and under the command of Captain Paul Jones, arrived in a French port. The flag first flew over a foreign territory in early 1778 at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where Americans captured a British fort.

Lest you think it's lost its power, remember what the flag can still accomplish:

Two years earlier, on June 14, 1775, Congress adopted "the American continental army", so today is also the Birthday of the U.S. Army. More detail here, at the Army's web site.

13 Fun Facts About the U.S. Flag.

John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday links

It's Anne Frank's birthday: here's some history and a video tour of the annex where her family hid for two years prior to their arrest.

Ave atque vale, Adam West - here's the Batman opening sequence and a compilation of fight scenes (Bap! Pow!)

The finalists for Shed of the Year 2017

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include photos of earth from the International Space Station, knitting as an espionage tool, cooking literature's famous meals, and how falconry shaped the English language.

June 12: Anne Frank's birthday

Frank in 1940
It is really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet, if I look into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. 

When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?

~ Frank (Ibid., 5 April 1944)

And finally, I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if... there weren't any other people living in tthe world. 

~ Frank (Ibid., 1 August 1944) 

How do you describe the sorting out on arriving at Auschwitz, the separation of children who see a father or mother going away, never to be seen again? How do you express the dumb grief of a little girl and the endless lines of women, children, and rabbis being driven across the Polish or Ukrainian landscapes to their deaths? No, I can't do it. And because I'm a writer and a teacher, I don't understand how Europe's most cultured nation could have done that. For these men who killed with submachine-guns in the Ukraine were university graduates. Afterwards they would go home and read a poem by Heine. So what happened? 

~  Elie Wiesel (wiki) (b. 1928) (quoted in Le Monde, Paris, 4 June 1987)

The apartment block where the Frank family
 lived from 1934 until 1942
June 12 is the anniversary of the birth of German-Jewish refugee and diarist Anne Frank (wiki) (1929-1945) in Frankfurt-am-Main. With the seizure of power by Hitler and the Nazis in January 1933, Anne's businessman father relocated his company to Amsterdam, where he thought his family would be safe. After Germany occupied the Netherlands in 1940, the Franks went into hiding in a secret room in an annex to his former office, where they were sustained with the assistance of their Dutch friends. During this period, Anne Frank began the diary that would be rediscovered and published to world-wide acclaim in 1947. 

In August 1944, however, two months after the Normandy invasion, the Frank's hiding place was revealed to the Germans by a Dutch collaborator, and the family was captured and deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (wiki). Only her father survived, Anne having succumbed to mistreatment, malnutrition, and disease just a few weeks before the camp was liberated in April 1945. 

Here's a video tour of the annex where the Frank family (along with others) lived from July 6, 1942 until their arrest on August 4, 1944:

N.B. For an exhaustive and comprehensive account of the Third Reich that explores in depth the questions raised by Elie Wiesel above, read Richard J. Evans' masterful three-volume history, completed in 2009 with The Third Reich at War. Be prepared for 2,000-plus pages - and it's a harrowing tale.

The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ave atque vale, Adam West - here's the Batman opening sequence and some fight scenes (Bap!)

This Batman TV series opening theme music is totally stuck in my head now:

For a little trip dow memory lane, if you're old enough, here are fight scenes from the 1966 season of Batman (Parts 1 and 2). Those of you too young to remember will probably enjoy them, too:

Related: Here's a 1983 episode of The Family Feud with the cast of Gilligan's Island vs the cast of Batman

Friday, June 9, 2017

Famous Works Of Art Recreated Using Marvel Action Figures

Some impressive photography:

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel, Vatican City), 1508–1512

Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci 1490, Italy

The Discobolus of Myron (Circa 460-450 B.C.)

The Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci, Circa 1495-1497

Perseus with the Head of Medusa, Benvenuto Cellini, 1545

The Thinker (Le Penseur), Auguste Rodin, 1880

Pietà, Michelangelo (Basilica di San Pietro, Vaticano), 1498-1499

Friday links

What it Takes to Cook Some of Literature's Most Famous Meals.

Stunning Photos of Earth from the International Space Station.

The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool.

ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include the cut-throat world of toddler bike racing, early gas station architecture, tequila as a weight loss tool, food photography tricks, and 17th century methods for killing snakes and fleas. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday links

How to Kill Snakes and Fleas: advice from 1688.

These food photography tricks are kinda fascinating.

Inside the Cut-Throat World of Toddler Bike Racing.

Diet tip of the day: Drinking tequila can lead to weight loss. Among other things.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include using a a charge card for a $170 million painting, pasta shape ranking, D-Day links, artificial skating rinks before reliable ice-making technology, and foolproof pick up lines (according to Chinese scientists).

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How to Kill Snakes and Fleas: advice from 1688

How to Kill Snakes, 1688
"1. How to gather Snakes and Adders to one place. Take one handful of Onion, and ten River Crab-fish, pound them together, and lay it in the places where the Snakes and Adders are, and they will all gather together.
2. To kill Snakes and Adders. Take a large Rhadish, and strike the Adder and Snake with it, and one blow will kill them." 
R. W., A Necessary Family-Book (1688)

A simple and elegant technique: lure the snakes with a giant crabcake and then bludgeon them with a radish.

From the same book, here's How to Kill Fleas:

"Take an Earthen Platter, that is broad and shallow, fill it half full with Goats Blood, and set the Platter under the Bed, and all the Fleas will come into it like a swarm of Bees. Or take the Blood of a Bear or Badger, and put it under the Bed, as before, and it gathers the Fleas to it, and they die immediately."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

These food photography tricks are kinda fascinating

Commercial food photographers use all kinds of non-edible products to cleverly make food look delicious in front of a lens. I've known that they did this, but never knew the details. 

This Guardian article discusses additional tricks.

How Falconry Shaped the English Language

Feeling hoodwinked or fed up? During the 16th century, an amateur falconer and playwright named William Shakespeare loved training birds of prey so much that he began adding falconry references to his plays.

Related: From 32 starlings in the 1890s to 200 million now: The Shakespeare Fanatic Who Introduced the Bard’s Birds to America

Further reading:


How To Be Miserable

Seven things that are scientifically known to maximize misery.

Tuesday links

"Your smile is a naughty goblin": Foolproof pick up lines, per Chinese scientists

How do Animals Have Sex Underwater?

June 6, is D-Day: quotes (Shakespeare, Eisenhower, Churchill), videos (footage, FDR's and Reagan's speeches, a Lego re-enactment), lots of links.

The First Artificial Skating Rinks Looked Pretty But Smelled Terrible - before the technology to reliably freeze water existed, the rinks used a mixture of pig fat and salts.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include how America's self-esteem craze took hold, some 17th century advice on encrypting and sending secret messages, TV characters killed off out of spite, and the anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk by a flotilla of small boats (the inspiration for Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches...we shall never surrender" speech).

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 6 is D-Day: quotes (Shakespeare, Eisenhower, Churchill), videos (footage, FDR's and Reagan's speeches), lots of links

There's so much available on this subject - the information below consists of things I found of particular interest.

It's hard to think of D-Day without thinking of Henry V's speech on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt - the source of the famous Band of Brothers line:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

~ William Shakespeare (King Henry V, Act IV, Sc. 3)

D-Day assault routes into Normandy - click here to embiggen.
You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world … Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely… Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men …  The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle… We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (wiki) (Order of the Day for 6 June 1944, excerpts)

And here's the story of The Speech Eisenhower Never Gave On The Normandy Invasion - he had prepared it in case the mission failed:
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone. 
This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.

Winston S. Churchill (wiki) (in announcing the Normandy invasion to the House of Commons, 6 June 1944)

Then darkness enveloped the whole American armada. Not a pinpoint of light showed from those hundred of ships as they surged through the night toward their destiny, carrying across the ageless and indifferent sea tens of thousands of young men, fighting for ... for ... well, at least for each other.

Ernie Pyle (wiki) (of the Normandy invasion, in Brave Men)

June 6 is anniversary of D-Day (wiki) in 1944, the date of the long-awaited allied invasion of Europe, on the Normandy coast of France. Preparations for Operation OVERLORD had been underway for over a year, but because of exemplary allied operational security and several elaborate deception schemes, the German high command remained unsure of the time and location of the actual landings and as a result found themselves unexpectedly back-footed in organizing an effective defense.

Thus, in the largest military operation in history, the Allies were able to land 160,000 troops in France on the first day, and by the end of August, three million – 47 divisions – were ashore. Organized under the aegis of OVERLORD’s naval element, Operation NEPTUNE, more than 4,100 landing craft and transports supported the crossing, and these were protected by more than 1,200 warships, including 200 destroyers, destroyer escorts, frigates, corvettes and sloops. By 25 August, Paris had been liberated, and Germany surrendered early the following May. 

Over 4,400 Allied servicemen died in the assault, and 7,500 more were wounded or went missing. Americans made up almost two-thirds of the overall casualties (over 6,600). The German casualty figures were never known, but estimates range from 4,000 to 9,000. That was just the first day of the Battle of Normandy, though: by the time Normandy was secured, over 425,000 casualties had been inflicted on both sides, 209,000 by Allied forces. Another 200,000 troops were captured by the allies, and over 15,000 French civilians were killed.

German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) - in charge of the Normandy defenses - is widely quoted as having observed before the event,

"Glauben Sie mir, meine Herren, die ersten vierundzwanzig Stunden dieser Invasion werden entscheidend sein! Das wird für die Alliierten, aber auch für die Deutschen, der längste Tag werden - der längste Tag."

(Believe me, gentlemen, the first twenty-four hours of this invasion will be decisive! It will become for the Allies, as well as for the Germans, the longest day - the longest day.) This quote is the source of the classic John Wayne D-Day epic The Longest Day.

The Atlantic has an excellent set of Scenes From D-Day, Then And Now:

And here are Life Magazine's archives of photos from before and after D-Day in England and France, and their collection of color photos of the ruins of Normandy.

The British D-Day museum has a roundup of information, including this explanation of why the expression "D-Day" was used:
When a military operation is being planned, its actual date and time is not always known exactly. The term "D-Day" was therefore used to mean the date on which operations would begin, whenever that was to be. The day before D-Day was known as "D-1", while the day after D-Day was "D+1", and so on. This meant that if the projected date of an operation changed, all the dates in the plan did not also need to be changed. This actually happened in the case of the Normandy Landings. D-Day in Normandy was originally intended to be on 5 June 1944, but at the last minute bad weather delayed it until the following day. The armed forces also used the expression "H-Hour" for the time during the day at which operations were to begin.
Forecasting The Weather For D-Day - not an easy task in those days.

FDR D-Day Speech June 6, 1944:

Here's a 3 minute compilation of footage:

Reagan's address at the 40th anniversary ceremony in Normandy:

Horrible Histories: Winston Churchill's D-Day Plan:

And, of course, the Lego version:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Your smile is a naughty goblin": Foolproof pick up lines, per Chinese scientists

Likewise, the researchers said that men should approach women and say “your roof is a lover’s shoulder” or “your garden is the sea of flowers” rather than sticking to a more prosaic phrase like “your door is very strong.”
Scientists at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China have published a new study called “Women prefer men who use metaphorical language when paying compliments in a romantic context” which suggests that poetic language is the way to a ladies’ heart.

It suggested lines like “Your smile is a naughty goblin” were likely to be more enticing than straightforward compliments like “your lips are so sexy.”

Likewise, the researchers said that men should approach women and say “your roof is a lover’s shoulder” or “your garden is the sea of flowers” rather than sticking to a more prosaic phrase like “your door is very strong.” Per the study:
The findings confirm our hypotheses that in a courtship situation where compliments serve as a sexual display of mate quality, women show a preference for metaphors, particularly novel ones, in verbal structure.
The preference seemed even more pronounced when the women were fertile:
We investigated 124 female students’ preference for compliments paid by males incorporating either literal or metaphoric (conventional/novel) language and targeting their appearance or possessions (house) throughout their menstrual cycle. Male faces paired with novel metaphorical compliments were rated as more attractive by women than those paired with literal ones. Compliments targeting appearance increased male attractiveness more than possessions. Interestingly, compliments on appearance using novel metaphors were preferred by women in a relationship during the fertile phase but by single women during the luteal phase. 
The study was published in Nature, and is available online here. They seem to draw a tenuous conclusion that novel metaphorical language indicates higher intelligence, which would indicate better mating potential. What the hell, I like a good metaphor myself.

Translation errors are not uncommon.
I realize, of course, that there may be some mistranslations among these otherwise extremely spiffy pick-up lines - it happens on occasion:

And this, not a translation fail but one of my favorite Chinese things: This Chinese music video is the weirdest thing you'll watch all day

More on the pick-up line story at Daily Mail

This discussion reminded me of a contest a few years ago (WaPo-sponsored, I think) wherein respondents were asked to produce pick-up lines that only Washington, D.C.-area residents would understand. The winner was "Your beauty renders me as powerless as D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton." Don't get it? That's because you don't live in D.C., but there's a cursory explanation here.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Snickerdoodle recipe

By request:


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs*, room temperature

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda**
1 teaspoon cinnamon

To roll the dough in before baking, combine:

3 tablespoons white sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cream together the butter and the 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat until soft.

Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and baking soda. 

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake exactly 8 minutes, and as soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle on a little more of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets, and cool completely before storing.

* If your eggs are too big the dough will spread too much. Most recipes call for large eggs - in a recipe calling for 2 eggs, it probably won't matter much, but if you double the recipe it might - 4 extra large eggs are approximately the equivalent of 5 large. If you have extra large and are worried, you can pour off a little of the white (or whisk the eggs first and pour off a little of the mixture). The simplest thing, if you do much baking, is to just always buy large. Here's a conversion chart.

* Baking soda goes flat very quickly, which will give you flat cookies (which are just as delicious, only flat) - here's how to check. Expired or Still Good? The Quickest Way to Test Baking Soda & Baking Powder for Freshness

Easy variations - add nutmeg, cloves, or cardamon to the cinnamon mixture.