Links for February 2021

When it comes to consuming media on the internet, the Wadsworth Constant is your friend. You should have skipped the first clause of this paragraph. Maybe the second half of the paragraph really.

You’ve probably heard of The Dyatlov Pass incident, where nine hikers died in the Ural Mountains under mysterious circumstances. Well, the mystery appears to have been solved using computer simulation methods developed to animate the Disney film Frozen, combined with data from research at General Motors, where they “played rather violently with human corpses”.

Back near the beginning of the pandemic, Ada Palmer wrote a post over at her blog Ex Urbe, in response to the question, “If the Black Death caused the Renaissance, will COVID also create a golden age?” This piece is perhaps even more interesting now that we’ve seen how the first year of the pandemic has played out. If you haven’t read it yet, you should! 

We love this piece of speculative burrito fiction. The fiction is speculative, not the burritos. At least, we’re pretty sure it’s fiction. 

Exciting new developments in education: NYU cognitive science professor Todd Gureckis, in an effort to learn how to make more engaging video lectures, studies the masters: YouTubers. The results are already pretty impressive, and we suspect they will get even more engaging over time. 

[Morpheus Voice] You think it’s the year 2021, when in fact it’s still early fall 1993. We have only bits and pieces of information, but what we know for certain is that in the early ’90s, AOL opened the doors of usenet, trapping the internet in Eternal September. Whatever date you think it is, the real date (as of this writing) is Sunday September 10043, 1993. 

You probably know about Hieronymus Bosch’s painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, but DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE BUTT MUSIC???

Links for January 2021

The 27th Amendment, which regulates congressional pay, was originally proposed September 25, 1789 but not ratified until May 7, 1992.

Computers are great, sure, but can you give them a sense of humor? Apparently so. “A statistical machine learning algorithm to detect whether a sentence contained a ‘That’s what she saiddouble entendre was developed by Kiddon and Brun (2011). There is an open-source Python implementation of Kiddon & Brun’s TWSS system.”

Possibly the best cognitive science of the year: researchers 3D print egg-like objects to find out what counts as an egg in the mind of a robin:

What is it about tariffs on goldfish? Goldfish were one of the goods rocked by the Trump administration’s trade war in 2019. In the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930, the tariffs on goldfish were a whopping 35%. Lock in your goldfish trades now before President Biden does something reckless. Or maybe $GFSH will be the next asset targeted by r/wallstreetbets. You could try shorting them but I dunno, they’re pretty short already. 

Wide boy is a British term for a man who lives by his wits, wheeling and dealing. According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is synonymous with spiv.” Oh good, that really clears things up. 

In entertainment, we learned that if you ordered the official Spın̈al Tap calendar for 1992, you got a…

New decade just dropped. Eli Dourado is optimistic in detail. Feeling good about energy, electric cars, and filtering your blood to keep you from aging. Definitely cheaper than bathing in the blood of virgins. Don’t try this last one at home… yet 😉

Links for December 2020

There are 37 official editions of Scrabble, each of which has its own distribution of letter tiles. There are also many unofficial versions, including Anglo-Saxon, Bambara, Klingon, and L33tspeak.

During a series of diplomatic talks in 1958, Mao invited Kruschev to his private pool. Kruschev couldn’t swim and was forced to use a flotation device (which Henry Kissinger described as “water wings”) in order to accept his host’s invitation to join him in the water.

Basketball is back, which means an unending stream of bickering about who is the GOAT. Only one man, however, has performed the double-double to end all double doubles. In 1921 William Howard Taft became the Chief Justice of the United States after serving as the President from 1909-1913. Take that, LeBron. 

According to nature, crabs are the most perfect form. You may not like it, but 🦀 is what peak performance looks like. This sacred knowledge inspired us so much, we even made a meme. We think this is the first step in the process of memes themselves evolving to be more crab-like. 

We’re still thinking about the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, his wife, and their rad house. They have my vote. 

Looking to spice things up in the bedroom? Why not try history’s most mysterious sex position, first described in Aristophanes’ classic comedy Lysistrata in 411 B.C. “The women are very reluctant, but the deal is sealed with a solemn oath around a wine bowl, Lysistrata choosing the words and Calonice repeating them on behalf of the other women. It is a long and detailed oath, in which the women abjure all their sexual pleasures, including the Lioness on the Cheese Grater (a sexual position).”

Links for October

Looking for a new cocktail to juice up your fall? Why not try Torpedo Juice–a mixture of pineapple juice and the 180-proof grain alcohol used as fuel in Navy torpedo motors. On second thought, this sounds more like a summer beverage. 

During the first year of his presidency, George H.W. Bush’s love of pork rinds drove a 31% increase in sales of this non-kosher snack. 

Lithium’s psychiatric effects were originally “discovered” by taking urine from patients at the Bundoora Repatriation Mental Hospital (near Melbourne, Australia) and injecting it into the abdominal cavities of guinea pigs. Early pregnancy tests involved injecting women’s pee into mice, rabbits, or frogs (note: Piss Prophets is an amazing name for a feminist punk rock band if you’re looking to start the next Pussy Riot). Maybe if we want faster biomedical research, we need to try injecting more kinds of pee into more kinds of animals.

The Department of Defense represents 77% of the federal government’s energy consumption. In Fiscal Year 2017, the DoD consumed over 82 times more BTUs than NASA. The federal agency with the second largest energy consumption is the Postal Service. 

Trump is famous for giving his political opponents cheeky nicknames, but his zingers pale in comparison to those of classical Chinese philosophers. Case in point: “Mozi criticized Confucians by saying they ‘behave like beggars; grasp food like hamsters, stare like he-goats, and walk around like castrated pigs. 是若人氣,鼸鼠藏,而羝羊視,賁彘起。(墨子·非儒下)’”

In his eulogy at Graham Chapman’s memorial service, John Cleese said, “I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability and kindness, of such unusual intelligence, should now, so suddenly, be spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun. Well, I feel that I should say, Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard, I hope he fries!” Amazingly, we have this on video.

Agent Orange was just one of a family of colorful chemicals put to use by the United States Military. During the Vietnam War, Project AGILE deployed 9 types of Rainbow Herbicides (Agent Pink, Agent Green, Agent Purple, Agent Blue, Agent White, and 4 types of Agent Orange) across Southeast Asia between 1961 and 1971. I feel like I should lighten the mood but all of the rainbow jokes I can think of are extremely offensive and/or distasteful.