Links for December 2021

…and now, back to your regularly-scheduled SMTM links posts.

Barcode scanners: the cool new instrument, especially if you strap one to your skateboard.

A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry takes an extremely close look at the operations and logistics of two sieges depicted in The Lord of the Rings — the Siege of Minas Tirith in six parts and the Siege of Helm’s Deep in eight parts! In both series, the Pedant makes a compelling case that the logistics on both sides of each siege are effective characterization of the commanders involved — you learn a lot about Théoden, Saruman, Denethor, and the Witch-King of Angmar by how they conduct their operations. This blog is great in general, but we’ll refrain from making any other specific recommendations, he just has too many good posts. He keeps hitting that sweet spot of “incredibly long but so good it’s worth reading anyways”.

Other people who really get it: BREADSWORD on Disney’s Robin Hood and the Death of Color. Why mirth and joyousness are important — and if you don’t get it, “these pages are not for you”. To prepare for this video, Breadsword watched every Robin Hood movie and TV show ever made, it’s worth seeing. And as you may know, this tradition is an interest of ours.

Lars Doucet, who won the first ACX book review contest with his review of Henry George’s 1897 book Progress & Poverty, is back with the first three parts of an extensive series on Georgism, kicking the tires to see if it’s worth taking these ideas seriously. He goes after the big three critiques people have of Georgism —  is land really a big deal?, can landlords just pass land value taxes on to their tenants?, and can the value of land be accurately estimated separately from the buildings sitting on top? He’s planning to keep the series going at, so this story ain’t over yet.

Many of you were amused at the historical dildo reference we found in the 1674 anonymous WOMEN’S PETITION AGAINST COFFEE REPRESENTING TO PUBLICK CONSIDERATION THE Grand INCONVENIENCIES accruing to their SEX from the Excessive Use of that Drying, Enfeebling LIQUOR, which we mentioned in our essay Higher than the Shoulders of Giants; Or, a Scientist’s History of Drugs. So here’s some more scholarship on historical dildos, focusing on an 18th-centry piece “​​fitted with a plunger to simulate ejaculation”. Lots of juicy quotes from this one, but we’ll refrain — read it for yourself.

What made The Matrix so special? One possibility: “They have this really admirable view of people, that everybody is as smart as they are, which is one of the reasons why The Matrix is such an unusual movie. … The Wachowskis always think people are gonna get it. They always think of people as smart.” Bonus trivia: before he got woken up, Morpheus was a barber.

You will never love anything as much as Biquette the goat loved punk rock. “To put it plainly,” reports VICE, “Biquette was a goat who loved grindcore.” Her favorite food, cigarette butts “in all [their] forms (butts from the ashtray, lit cig in your hand….)”, may have contributed to her early demise. 

Forcing your smart toaster to play the 1993 first-person shooter DOOM is a standard benchmark in computer science. Now psychologists are getting in on the fun: training rats to play DOOM in VR. See also the technical report here. So far the rats can walk down a hallway and sometimes shoot monsters, but research is ongoing. 

Rita Levi-Montalcini made major discoveries in neuroscience from her bedroom, using a couple of microscopes, a camera and paper, some melting wax, chicken eggs, and “an egg incubator that her brother built with a thermostat and a fan”. All this through the Allied bombing of her home town of Turin. She later went on to win a Nobel Prize and become the first Nobel laureate to live to 100. 

From the Unicode Consortium: The Most Frequently Used Emoji of 2021. Among many other things: “it appears that reports of Tears of Joy’s death are greatly exaggerated 😂.”

Borgen presents a view of politics in which little is at stake beyond the central character’s attainment of deserved power and success; government is merely an arena for self-realization. … The viewer gets the sense that to acknowledge the impacts of government actions on the public at large would somehow spoil the fun, complicating our identification with the heroine.” An analysis of “a social stratum in the modern West that sees politics as a realm of spectacle and personal drama” through the lens of a critically-acclaimed and critically-naïve Danish political drama

Smaller-scale but similar issues; a vignette on political talk and small talk. What do you do when someone tries to rehash a conversation that both of you have heard, point for point, a hundred times before?

What happens if you use human stem cells to make a brain organoid? Well, they “generate primitive sensory structures that are light sensitive and harbor cell types similar to those found in the body.” We like mad science but this is kinda creepy even by our standards.

Everyone knows that the microbiome is important to your health. Turns out the quality of black tea is also impacted by ITS microbiome. Has anyone tried rubbing yogurt on their… you know what, forget it.

Links for July 2021

From Wikipedia’s list of gestures:

  • “Loser, made by extending the thumb and forefinger to resemble the shape of an L on the forehead is an insulting gesture.”
  • “High five is a celebratory ritual in which two people simultaneously raise one hand and then slap these hands together.”
  • Somehow it has jazz hands (“used in dance or other performances by displaying the palms of both hands with fingers splayed”) but not spirit fingers, what gives?

The economy is endlessly fascinating, if occasionally terrifying, and a good story at the intersection of the two is this tale about the startup “Fronk”, now available for your reading pleasure thanks to an expired NDA.

You don’t often see project management fiction, but this one is amazing: Instruments of Destruction, a Star Wars fanfic 

Speaking of the fascinating details of management, consider this overview of the artillery practices of the major powers in WWII. Briefly, the Germans risked the lives of specially trained Forward Observers in a system that still came down to “guess and check”, the British assumed the earth was a perfectly flat, infinite plane and instead of worrying about accuracy, “just accepted the errors and tended to fire every available battery at the target”, and the Americans brute-forced the calculations for “a HUGE number of variations of wind/temperature, barrel wear, elevation differentials” beforehand, and then pulled out their reference materials to deliver extremely precise fire in only a couple of minutes.

The late, great Satoshi Kon passed away in 2010, at the age of 46. An interview from him in 2007 that had previously never fully seen the light of day has just been published on the substack Something Good

Before there was the replication crisis, there was the 0.1 second crisis, which rocked science and philosophy for most of the 19th century. Then, everyone stopped caring and most of us forgot, but this crisis may have created modernity. Also, for better or worse, it helped give us statistics.

Eighteen-Year-Old Tunisian Swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui Claims Gold in the 400m Freestyle at Tokyo Olympics, Commentators Struggle to Keep Up

Very fond of Visa’s charming twitter thread on Samantha Smith, “a 10 year old American girl from Maine, wrote a letter to the new leader of the USSR, Yuri Andropov, asking him why he wanted to conquer the world, and could we please have peace instead.”

Here at SLIME MOLD TIME MOLD we are very interested in alternative approaches to education, so we were very interested to see this piece on teaching the Iliad to Chinese teenagers. To complete the cycle, we would like to see a Chinese author write a piece on teaching Romance of the Three Kingdoms to American teenagers.

Also in unusual educational approaches, see welcome to class. We have no idea if this would work out well but it gets lots of points for being original. If anyone tries this or has tried it, please let us know. (h/t commenter Noah)

Our ongoing series A Chemical Hunger (Part I here) inspired reddit user pondgrass to create /r/spudbud/, advocating “The World’s most Legible Diet” based on a simple premise: “Eat Nothing but Potato”

In case you missed it, one of the authors of this blog won third place in the Astral Codex Ten Book Review Contest for a book review of On The Natural Faculties by Galen of Pergamon. Thanks Scott for hosting, and thank you to everyone who voted in the contest! Also, congratulations to the first and second place winners, Lars Doucet and Whimsi!

Links for June 2021

Antidepressant, or Tolkien Character? Not all that hard, but I made mistakes on more than I would like to admit. Don’t mix up Haldir and Haldol.

Look at two things — are they the same or different? We can do it, you can (hopefully) do it, ducklings can do it, BEES can do it — convolutional neural networks, ”one of the most powerful classes of artificial intelligence systems”, can’t really do it

Naturally this is but one of many ways you can confuse modern “artificial intelligence”. We’re particularly fond of “anti-face” dazzle makeup intended to disrupt facial-recognition software. We’d be very interested to see research on the effectiveness of different kinds of dazzle makeup at fooling these algorithms.

Some medical history we didn’t know — when the medical journal The Lancet was founded, it was intensely anti-establishment, which is part of why it is named after a cutting implement. Sadly, this no longer seems to be the case.

In other medical developments, consider this story of a patient who suspected doctors were using too high of a dose of Dexamethasone, convinced them to run studies on the effectiveness of a lower dose, and ended up saving a lot of lives.

On the even more extreme end of patient involvement, Benjamin Stecher describes what it’s like to be awake while a team of doctors is drilling into your skull so that they can install hardware for deep brain stimulation.

And now for something completely different: John Cleese referencing Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions on twitter. The crossover I didn’t even know I needed.

Designing antennas by hand is hard and takes a long time. Designing antennas with evolutionary algorithms is fast and easy, and as a little bonus, the antennas look really weird:

A new book (we haven’t read it) argues that getting hammered — and in particular, getting hammered together — made civilization possible. (h/t Roger’s Bacon) We’re paraphrasing. Naturally related to some of our previous work. We also feel obliged to reference Chinese poet Li Bai.

Maybe you heard that George W. Bush was a cheerleader. What you may not know is that he is not alone among US Presidents in this distinction.

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about the dangerous wildlife in Australia, but did you hear about the mouse plague? (warning: not for the faint of heart) They’re in the middle of an especially bad mouse plague now. “The horror lurking in the darkness,” reports the New York Times, “is a throng of thousands of mice swarming above.” Other choice quotes from the article: “They used to say once they start eating each other, it’ll be over, but they’ve been eating each other since December, and it’s not stopping.”

Links for May 2021

A recent trend has people posting their ideal political platform. But no platform can beat Angelyne for Governor — she has the key to California. What is her secret? A lady never tells, but we suspect she is reading the Chinese classics. In The Way of the General, Zhuge Kongming says, “One person can teach ten, ten people can teach a hundred, a hundred people can teach a thousand, a thousand can teach ten thousand.” Angelyne says, “California will hire social workers to select individuals and help them one by one … Once a person has been homed/established, California will hire that person to help relocate another. And the social workers shall continue on, as well. And that becomes exponential! Voila! Everybody has a home and the streets are clean!”  Truly Angelyne is a 仁人.

Cinnamon and Avocados are closely related to each other. Bananas are more closely related to lilies and skunk cabbage than they are to papayas. Aloe vera is closely related to asparagus and onions, but not at all related to cacti, which are closely related to beets. There is no such thing as a tree.

A little birdie on twitter told me that there’s a group on discord that are trying to breed quail back into dinosaurs. We wish them success but also, uh… be careful guys.

Also from twitter: “I cannot stress enough just how much you need to stop whatever it is you are doing and watch the opening titles of this documentary. I promise you’re not ready for what’s coming.”

We love stories about what questionable research practices look like from the inside, not only because it humanizes the people involved (most of them don’t mean to do anything wrong) but also because it helps make it obvious how easy it can be to slip into this kind of behavior if you’re not careful. Here’s a new one from Devon Price, who was in graduate school right in the middle of the revolution.

Joe Hilgard, famous (or infamous) psychology research methods gadfly, recently left academia for a job as a data scientist, and writes about it in a post titled “Smell you later”. While we disagree with the author’s cocktail choices, his candor is quite interesting in saying, “I feel that a lot of the research that we do doesn’t matter.” We suspect many academics feel similarly, but it’s very rare to hear someone say it, even when they’re leaving.

One of the most interesting things about scams and grifts is just how audacious they can be while still getting away with it. Enter the Quadro Tracker, a bomb / drug / person / weapon / lost golf ball-detection device from the 90s that was sold at prices of up to $8,000 and turned out to be a box of dead ants. This does make cops and school districts look like a bunch of suckers, but I wonder if the real mark wasn’t everyone else. Seems like cops and school officials would love to have an excuse to accuse or search anyone they like, backed up by an $8,000 price tag. If the real nefarious purpose of the device was to manufacture reasonable suspicion and probable cause, I’m afraid to say that it may have worked (for a while).

New in cognitive science: If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus). In this project, Gabriella Smith and colleagues show that cats want to sit in imaginary boxes as well as real ones. The study is also notable for crowdsourcing citizen science, i.e. using bored cat-owners in pandemic lockdown to collect data.

Also new: researchers at University College London gave people a third thumb to see what it would do to their brain. The brain results are meh but you have to see the videos of this thumb in action. [Insert joke about being “all thumbs”.]

Finally, some news about us, the blog: We’re looking for an agent who can represent nonfiction trade books. We already have one manuscript written which early readers have called a “fascinating, comprehensive review” and “a wild new paper that blew my mind”. If you are an agent or know an agent who might be interested in representing us, please contact us!

Links for April 2021

“THOUGH TOMMY IS A MALE SQUIRREL HE HAS TO WEAR FEMININE CLOTHES BECAUSE TAIL INTERFERES WITH HIS WEARING PANTS,” Life Magazine reported defensively in 1944. “The Bullis family … took him on the road in their Packard automobile, where he … gave uninspiring radio interviews. … At the height of his fame his fan club numbered 30,000 members. … When he died in 1949 he was stuffed and mounted … and his nightmarish fate pursued him even into the grave.” Apparently the interview was along with FDR, so perhaps it was more entertaining than they say! Unfortunately we can’t find it. We also learned that in his journeys Tommy was “accompanied by a bulldog that had gold teeth and wore a fez. ‘He may very well have gotten the dog stuffed, too,’ Jim said. If so, its whereabouts are unknown.” The article also calls avocado “avocado pear” — truly the past is a foreign country.

In case you were wondering: yes, mice CAN hallucinate, and they hallucinate more than average when you give them ketamine. Apparently this is the kind of finding you need to get published in Science these days.

All you need to do to get into Nature, on the other hand, is brew cannabis using hacked beer yeast. The resulting beer is probably illegal but we’re guessing the yeast itself is not. Can you make sourdough with this stuff? What are the limits on this discovery? ARE there any limits??? 

The kids are more than all right, they’re playing 5-Dimensional Chess With Multiverse Time Travel. If you’re not afraid of the next generation yet, you should be.

Totally unrelated, Kelsey Piper at Vox argues compellingly that voting rights should be extended to young people regardless of age. How young? To “every American citizen who can successfully fill out a ballot.” We’ve made similar arguments about age in the past, but this is even more radical, and we approve. 

In 1997 Jim Kardach of Intel was reading Frans G. Bengtsson’s historical novel about 10th-century vikings The Long Ships in between working on wireless data transfer. When it came time to name the technology, he named it after King Harald Bluetooth and invented a logo based on the runes for H and B. Similarly, the peace symbol was originally for Nuclear Disarmament and is a combination of the flag semaphore characters for N and D.  

Also at the intersection of new and very old is the 🧿 Nazar Amulet Emoji, representing an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye.

You remember all those stories about the vibrator being invented to treat hysteria? Probably outright lies, invented in the ‘90s. The NYT reports: Everything You Know About the Invention of the Vibrator Is Wrong 

Werner Herzog interviewed by Jenkem, a skateboarding magazine. “I am puzzled because I am not familiar with the scene of skateboarding,” he says. “At the same time, I had the feeling that, ‘Yes, that is kind of my people.’ … You have to accept trial and error. And I see them doing a certain jump or trying to slide on a metal rail, and they do it 25 times and fail. The 26th time, they fail. The 30th time, they fail. It’s good that you accept failure and you don’t give up, and finally you land the right jump and you keep sliding and screeching down a handrail.”

Did you hear about the garden gnome shortage?

In other international news, a Russian man ‘trapped’ on Chinese reality TV show has finally been voted off, and the story is truly pitiable. “His lack of enthusiasm played out in half-hearted singing, rapping and dancing alongside the other, more eager contestants. … he urged the public to vote him out, saying he did not want to be among the 11 winners of the show, who are contractually obliged to form a boy band. ‘Don’t love me, you’ll get no results,’ he said on one episode. But viewers took to his dour persona and kept him in the running for nearly three months. … Fans, some earnest and some ironic, dubbed him ‘the most miserable wage slave’ and celebrated him as an icon of ‘Sang culture’, a popular concept among Chinese millennials referring to a defeatist attitude towards everyday life. ‘Don’t let him quit,’ one viewer commented on a video of a dejected-looking Mr Ivanov performing a Russian rap. ‘Sisters, vote for him! Let him 996!’ another fan commented, using the Chinese slang for the gruelling work schedule that afflicts many young employees, especially in digital start-ups.”

Sometimes it feels like everything has already been discovered, like there’s no possibility of progress in the modern world. But progress is alive and well, at least in the realm of pro NES Tetris, where a new technique has been discovered that is faster than Hypertapping!

Peer review doesn’t always work great. But you know what does work great, all the time, with definitely no problems ever? That’s right — tinder! This is the pitch for, which describes itself as, “Tinder, but for papers & preprints.” We can’t tell if this is brilliant or moronic. 

Links for March 2021

We cannot more highly recommend Tim Carroll’s pen-and-paper game Lineage, “a game about telling the story of a Royal family through the ages.” You and up to five friends (or enemies, I don’t judge) play as historians, piecing together the records of several generations of a great and powerful family. The resulting stories are prone to hilarity and tragedy, and are also “a handy world building tool for game masters, authors, and admirers of the sorts of diagrams that lurk in the appendices of thick fantasy novels.” While it was developed with royal families in mind, Tim notes that royals are not the only ones with insane family trees, and it could also be used to tell the stories of other kinds of families. Also interesting is that it was developed in the context of thinking about one-player role playing games. 

Apparently Regina George from Mean Girls was based on Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross. I knew she seemed familiar. Also, why is she named “Queen George”? Is Mean Girls an allegory for the Revolutionary War?

Relevant to recent discussions on alternative ways to structure the government: Thomas Jefferson thought that the constitution should automatically expire as soon as new generations make up a majority of the population, at which point the country should come up with a new constitution. McGill University political philosopher Víctor M. Muñiz-Fraticelli writes, “If a constitution is discussed, negotiated, and approved by citizens who are, necessarily, contemporaries, what normatively binding force does it retain for future generations who took no part in its discussion, negotiation, or approval?”

We’re glad to see Senator Sanders endorse almost the exact argument we made in our post about the Senate:

I come from one of the most rural states in America, and I lived in a town of 200 people for a couple of years. And I think there is not an appreciation of rural America or the values of rural America, the sense of community that exists in rural America. And somehow or another, the intellectual elite does have, in some cases, a contempt for the people who live in rural America. I think we’ve got to change that attitude and start focusing on the needs of people in rural America, treat them with respect, and understand there are areas there are going to be disagreements, but we can’t treat people with contempt.

The dead but amazing was the home of some of the best history writing of all time. A gem from the archives: Rah Rah, Rasputin. Here’s the pull quote. While their comrade was preparing to poison Rasputin: “…Felix’s friends were upstairs listening to Yankee Doodle Dandy, the only record they owned, over and over and over. Really.”

Zoom Escaper is a tool to help you escape Zoom meetings and other videoconferencing scenarios. It allows you to self-sabotage your audio stream, making your presence unbearable to others.” We do not officially endorse Zoom Escaper, but we do think you should know about it. Please enjoy responsibly. There’s also Zoom Deleter, which does what it says on the tin. 

Trust in the media is at an all-time low. Unusual proposal for a solution: replace journalists with CEOs, who are (apparently) much more trusted than journalists, especially the CEO of the company respondents work for. We appreciate how original this take is — we’ll also note that, if they want to go by this metric, scientists are even more trusted as a group, by at least 10 points.

Of course, scientists have their own limitations. In Questionable Practices by Researchers and Teenage Wizards, psychologist Sacha Epskamp compares Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) to his experiences as a teenager cheating at Magic the Gathering (MTG) in order to beat his older brother. I also sometimes cheated at card games when I was very young (by high school I knew better) — could that be part of why I find open science issues so intuitive?

Update from last month: NYU professor Todd Gureckis continues to impress with his attempts to improve video lectures based on insights gleaned from watching YouTubers. If any YouTubers read this, we would be very interested to hear what you think.

Honda makes capsaicin-impregnated duct tape to keep rodents from chewing on wires and hoses. “The report also noted that Honda was the target of a class-action lawsuit over its use of soy-based wraps in various vehicles, with the suit alleging that the delicious soy coatings in 2012-2015 models attracted rodents.”

We rather liked this video essay about Wes Anderson’s style of filmmaking.

Just how much of an environmental impact do cryptocurrencies really have? We’re still not sure, but we liked this attempt from Visakan Veerasamy to come up with some numbers. We’d be interested to see more analyses along these same lines — send them our way if you have them!

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.