Quotulatiousness

January 21, 2015

Napping

Filed under: Humour, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

James Lileks takes a nap. It therefore (of course) provides the basis of a “Bleat” posting:

Another item of no surprise to any readers of this site is my enjoyment of, and insistence upon, and devotion to, difficult sentence structures. Also naps. I love naps. Didn’t use to; then we had a child. At first I napped on the floor, thinking it Spartan and manly, but eventually I saw the case for sleeping on a surface that did not leave flat indentations on my skill if I slept for more than 20 minutes. I don’t believe in napping on the sofa, Dagwood style; I don’t believe in napping while reclining in a chair. There’s a reason we sleep in beds. No one ever says “I don’t know how much sleep I’ll get tonight, so maybe I’d better sit in a chair and see how it works.” Bed. The humidifier for white noise. Phone on Airplane Mode. Set the alarm, and see you later.

It’s never occurred to me to study my naps, or chart them, or pick them apart for quality. There are good naps and bad ones. There are short naps that leave you refreshed, and short ones that leave you groggy. Long ones that seem to add a year to your life, and long ones that make you feel as though you emerged from a bog of tar. To be fair, long naps never leave me logy. Short naps can make me feel angry, because they weren’t longer naps.

But. I read a review for an app called Power Nap HQ, and it seemed interesting: it took nap data, based on your movements. You entered how much time you wanted to sleep, set a backup alarm, chose a sequence of sounds, and laid it next to you. It would report back on your movements, indicating the depth of the nap, and it would also record any abrupt sounds you made. Nicely designed, too. A buck. Bought it.

Calibrated the device, set all the options, and pressed the button to start the nap. Laid it next to me.

Got itchy. Dry skin. Scratched a little, and wondered if this would register on the device. This was the signal for my upper lip to report in as “slightly chapped,” requiring more minor motion, and I thought I might be confusing the app, which thinks this is light sleep. Or perhaps it doesn’t take any motion seriously until I’m inert for a long period of time. So I laid still.

Then I thought: now it’s going to think I’m asleep.

This nap wasn’t working out very well. You start to think about napping, napping doesn’t happen. You start to wait for the between-two-worlds moment when you’re aware that you’re having a dream, or are thinking of something you certainly did start but grew out of something you’d already forgotten, then the moment never comes. But the next thing I knew I was awake.

Sort of. Half awake. The alarm had not gone off, so I had not reached the desired quantity of sleep. I was up because my body was done with the noon ration of Diet Lime Coke, and wished to offload it. This I did, wondering how the app would read my absence. It would detect the motion, then the absence of motion, then motion, then – providing I got back to sleep – the absence of motion. I did what a man’s gotta do, then returned to bed to complete the nap. Fell back asleep. No dreams.

Woke, and thought: damn, I beat the alarm. Must be close. If I have one superpower, it is the ability to gauge the passage of time; if I knew what time it was 35 minutes ago, I can tell you what time it is now within a minute or so. This extends to naps: if I wake before the alarm, I usually know what the time will be. I laid there, waking, considering how the rest of the day would play out, then realized that the app would interpret my motionlessness as sleep. THE DATA WOULD BE IMPRECISE.

So I picked up the phone to see how long I’d actually slept.

I had overslept by 40 minutes.

The alarm had not gone off. The backup alarm had not gone off. It had not collected data. Other than that, best dollar I ever spent. Now I can remove it from my phone and sleep without worries.

January 18, 2015

Being an artist requires a fine sense of balance

Filed under: Humour, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 09:57

January 13, 2015

The oddity that is Denmark

Filed under: Europe, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:55

In the New York Post, Kyle Smith has a go at de-smugging one of the smuggest countries in the world … no, it’s not Canada (but we’re pretty damned smug ourselves):

Want proof that the liberal social-democratic society works?

Look to Denmark, the country that routinely leads the world in happiness surveys. It’s also notable for having the highest taxes on Earth, plus a comfy social-safety net: Child care is mostly free, as is public school and even private school, and you can stay on unemployment benefits for a long time. Everyone is on an equal footing, both income-wise and socially: Go to a party and you wouldn’t be surprised to see a TV star talking to a roofer.

The combination of massive taxes and benefits for the unsuccessful means top and bottom get shaved off: Pretty much everyone is proudly middle class. Danes belong to more civic associations and clubs than anyone else; they love performing in large groups. At Christmas they do wacky things like hold hands and run around the house together, singing festive songs. They’re a real-life Whoville.

In the American liberal compass, the needle is always pointing to places like Denmark. Everything they most fervently hope for here has already happened there.

So: Why does no one seem particularly interested in visiting Denmark? (“Honey, on our European trip, I want to see Tuscany, Paris, Berlin and … Jutland!”) Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5% of Danish men have had sex with an animal. Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”

So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?

January 10, 2015

Living with diphallia

Filed under: Health, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

BBC Newsbeat on the plight of a poor American boy who lives a secret life due to his rare diphallia condition:

A man with two penises has been speaking to Newsbeat about living with the condition.

Known only as Triple D, the 25-year-old from the east coast of America claims to have had 1,000 sexual partners.

He suffers from diphallia which is a rare condition where a male is born with two penises.

According to a report by the BMJ — the global healthcare knowledge provider — one-in-five million males in the world are born this way.

[…]

Triple D describes himself as “very much bisexual” and has been in polyamorous relationships — sexual or romantic relationships that are not exclusive to one person.

He says his longest relationship was with a couple.

Everyday things like buying underwear are an issue — so he tells Newsbeat he doesn’t wear any.

Both penises are fully functioning. “I can urinate and ejaculate through both at the same time,” he explains.

“Entering into the porn industry has crossed my mind. I knew people who worked in the sex industry and some of them knew what I had, some had heard what I had.

“Nobody had seen it. I remember thinking about it but I don’t want to become a novelty. My dignity is priceless.”

Newsbeat has seen photographs which support Triple D’s claims but cannot independently verify his identity.

January 9, 2015

Scott Adams can predict your diet success rate

Filed under: Health, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

No, he really can:

I can accurately predict whether you will meet your weight loss goals by the way you talk about it.

I mean that literally. I think I could devise a controlled experiment in which I pick weight-loss winners and losers in advance based on nothing but a transcript of folks talking about their fitness goals.

I’ll give you some examples. What follows is a list of things you will hear from people that have no legitimate chance of losing weight and keeping it off. Yes, your thing is probably on this list and it pisses you off to see it. But stay with me and I’ll change your life by the end of this post.

Here’s what people say when they are preparing to fail at a weight-loss strategy.

“I need to exercise more.”

“I’m counting calories.”

“I have a cheat day coming.”

“I’m watching my portions.”

“I’m doing a cleanse.”

“I’m trying the (whatever) diet plan.”

Ten years ago I would have said everything on the list is a common-sense way to lose weight. But science has since shown otherwise. I’ll go through them one at a time.

January 3, 2015

The Beeriodic Table

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 11:00

Christine Hurlbut sent me a link to The Beginner’s Guide to Craft Beer which included a neat little “family tree of beer styles” image. Unfortunately, the version they embedded was too small to be useful, so I looked for a larger version. I found a few other beer-centric images, including this one:

Found via a Google search at gunaxin.com (but don't go there directly ... my antivirus software had a field day warning me about the site's contents). [Click to see full-sized version]

Found via a Google search at gunaxin.com (but don’t go there directly … my antivirus software had a field day warning me about the site’s contents). [Click to see full-sized version]

Another find from the quick Google image search was this one at The Urban Diplomat:

The very, very many varieties of beer (via The Urban Diplomat)

The very, very many varieties of beer (via The Urban Diplomat)

December 31, 2014

QotD: Dr. Johnson on the future

Filed under: Quotations, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 00:01

At another level, futurology implies that we are unhappy in the present. Perhaps this is because the constant, enervating downpour of gadgets and the devices of the marketeers tell us that something better lies just around the next corner and, in our weakness, we believe. Or perhaps it was ever thus. In 1752, Dr Johnson mused that our obsession with the future may be an inevitable adjunct of the human mind. Like our attachment to the past, it is an expression of our inborn inability to live in – and be grateful for – the present.

“It seems,” he wrote, “to be the fate of man to seek all his consolations in futurity. The time present is seldom able to fill desire or imagination with immediate enjoyment, and we are forced to supply its deficiencies by recollection or anticipation.”

Bryan Appleyard, “Why futurologists are always wrong – and why we should be sceptical of techno-utopians: From predicting AI within 20 years to mass-starvation in the 1970s, those who foretell the future often come close to doomsday preachers”, New Statesman, 2014-04-10.

December 29, 2014

HMCS Annapolis to be sunk as artificial reef on the west coast

Filed under: Environment, Military, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:58

HMCS Annapolis at Pearl Harbour in 1995 (via Wikipedia)

HMCS Annapolis at Pearl Harbour in 1995 (via Wikipedia)

After a protracted legal battle, the hull of HMCS Annapolis will finally be sunk as an artificial reef in Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park, in Howe Sound. Jennifer Thuncher reports for the Squamish Chief:

In her prime, the 1960s-era HMCS Annapolis warship sailed the open seas off the eastern and western Canadian coasts for the Royal Canadian Navy.

During the late 1980s, the helicopter-carrying destroyer was the first Canadian navy ship fitted with a towed array sonar system. She was decommissioned in 1996.

Come January, after years of anticipation, a court case and plenty of controversy, the Annapolis will be sunk in Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park, in Howe Sound, to serve her afterlife as an artificial reef.

“The good news is… all the permits are now in place, Environment Canada has done its final inspection… and they passed the inspection,” said Richard Wall of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia, which bought the Annapolis from the federal government in 2008.

Wall said Fisheries and Oceans Canada “is happy because we are creating habitat, not destroying habitat.”

The original plan had called for the Annapolis to be sunk in 2009.

One of the main hold-ups has been getting the ship cleaned up enough to be sunk.

The federal government “has very stringent disposal at sea regulations which we have been following, and Environment Canada would not allow us to sink until they were satisfied, which is one of the reasons the big delays happen,” Wall said.

The crash of commodity prices around the time the Annapolis project started also contributed to the long delay in preparing the ship for sinking.

HMCS Annapolis disposal 1 HMCS Annapolis disposal 2

December 26, 2014

Coming up next on Moral Panic Daily, the war on “gendered” toys

Filed under: Media, Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

If you’ve had kids of your own, you may have been briefly concerned about imposing gendered expectations on your children by giving them stereotypical “boy”- or “girl”-coded playthings — or more likely, been accosted on that issue by someone who doesn’t have kids. Get ready for more of it, as it’s apparently the next imaginary crisis western society is facing:

“Tis the season for anxious parenting,” writer Elissa Strauss announced last Friday in The Week. The cause of this parental stress may not be obvious at first glance. Rather, it is quiet, insidious, and, apparently, it lurks worldwide.

It is — get ready, innocent holiday shoppers — an army of sexist, “gendered” toys, ready to oppress children around the globe. Sadly, these toys, much like, say, Victoria’s Secret models, face a rather odd conundrum: They are both victimizers and victims at the same time. These inherently sexist toys, you see, are also forced to live in a virtual apartheid of equally sexist, restricting, and gender-segregated toy store shelf arrangements. It is, as modern feminists like to say, a bit of a double bind.

Remember the children’s book Corduroy, where the underprivileged bear with the broken overalls lives on the same shelf as the fancy doll and the gigantic lion and the unintentionally spooky clown that looks like it’s about to murder them all? Well, friends, in our age of inequality, this diversity is apparently no more. Strauss explains further:

    Thanks to the feminist revival of the past half-decade more and more parents now hesitate to buy their daughters a doll or sons an action figure. In Australia, activists are calling for a ‘No Gender December;’ in the UK a campaign called ‘Let Toys Be Toys’ is pushing for gender-neutral toys; in Sweden some toy stores are now gender neutral; and here in the States resistance to the pink aisle is growing louder and louder.

Interesting! Since I do almost all of my shopping online, thereby avoiding — and this is quite purposeful, friends — any type of toy aisle altogether, I did what any good writer investigating a potential international scourge would: I took my three boys to the local Target toy section. This, in case you don’t have kids, is a very brave thing to do.

My goal was to investigate “the gendered tyranny” of the toy aisles, as Australian academic Michelle Smith recently called it. I’ll start by saying this: There was a certain tyranny in the Target toy section, but I’m not sure if it was gendered. Here are the toys my kids descended upon within approximately 15 seconds:

  1. A giant plastic castle, concocted by the Fisher Price “Imaginext” brand, which has a lion’s mouth as a gate. Every time you open the gate (“Click!”) the lion lets out a roar (“RARGHGH!”).
  2. A “Let’s Rock” Elmo, which says the following, over and over: “ELMO’S GONNA ROCK! YEAH!” (Maybe this one was broken, but seriously, that’s all it said.)
  3. A four-foot long Star Wars light saber, which makes a rather realistic light-saber “Woooooosh!” sound. This toy is also useful for knocking all the other toys off the shelves.
  4. “Click! RARGHGH! Click! Wooooooosh! Click! ELMO’S GONNA ROCK! YEAH! RARGHGH!”

I’m sorry, what was I saying again? My ears are bleeding. Oh, yes. Among the colorful rows of the Target toy section — I’m sorry, I mean “the highly gendered amusement prison bounded by proverbial pink and blue bars” — two aisles stood out. Both, unsurprisingly, were an explosion of purple, sparkles, and several alarming and unearthly shades of pink.

December 21, 2014

Woodworking Christmas Gifts and Projects – with Paul Sellers

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 00:04

Published on 20 Dec 2013

In this holiday themed video Paul Sellers give some advice on buying a new woodworker some basic tools. He shows how to make a small tree decoration. He also shows how to make a wooden propeller toy, a mixing spatula and a cutting board.

December 20, 2014

Build a Wooden Salt Cellar

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:38

Published on 14 Dec 2014

Plans and project resources: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/salt-cellar/

The Wood Whisperer is education and entertainment for the modern woodworker! Find more at http://thewoodwhisperer.com & don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

December 12, 2014

Modern parenting: just go right ahead, dear, Mommy’s got your back

Filed under: Randomness, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:04

Amy Alkon didn’t enjoy her most recent flight … but not because of the TSA goons, scheduling issues, or the ordinary wear and tear of flying. It was an encounter with the most modern, up-to-date parenting style:

I’ll take snakes on a plane. Snakes are quiet.

Last Saturday, I woke up at 4 a.m. to fly to an event across the country. “I’ll sleep on the plane,” I told myself. And no, I wasn’t being naive.

I came prepared: I had my “asshole-canceling headphones” (big Bose over-the-ear “cans”), industrial-grade earplugs to wear underneath, and an iPhone with selections of white noise.

The cute blonde 3-year-old seated in front of me wasn’t a screamer. She was a talker — in a tone and volume appropriate for auditioning for the lead in “Annie.”

I figured she would quiet down after takeoff. She did not. And, sadly, even $300 worth of Bose technology was no match for this kid’s pipes. After about 20 sleep-free, “SUN’LL COME OUT TOMORROW!!” minutes into the flight, I leaned forward and whispered to the child’s mother, “Excuse me, could you please ask your little girl to be a little quieter?”

“No,” the woman said.

No?

No?!

Lucky me, seated behind another proud purveyor of “go-right-ahead!” mommying. And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t ring the call button to “tattle” on her. Those uniformed men and women walking the plane are flight attendants, not nursery school dispute resolution experts. Also, a mother who sees no reason to actually, you know, parent, is unlikely to start because a lady with a pair of wings pinned to her outfit tells her she should.

We experience more and more of this these days — parents who apparently see any correction of their children’s behavior as a form of abuse. We have “parents” like this in my neighborhood. Throughout the day, through closed windows, you can hear this horrible high-pitched screaming. No, nobody’s taken up urban goat slaughter. Those are the impromptu audio stylings of their 3-year-old going underparented.

November 23, 2014

The odd names of Britain – now available as a wall map

Filed under: Britain, History, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 00:02

Like most denizens of North America, I’ve sometimes stumbled upon odd village names in Britain. There are some weird and daffy names still in use in the UK and you can now get a wall map highlighting a large number of them:

Weird British place names

H/T to Jessica Brisbane for the link.

November 20, 2014

Are you as smart as a Neanderthal parent?

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:02

In The Federalist, Rachel Lu says that Neanderthals were better at parenting than modern humans:

Is it just me, or has the world gone completely crazy when it comes to childrearing?

You know what I’m talking about. Once upon a time, people expected to get married in early adulthood and have kids at reasonable intervals. Parents stayed married and paid the bills, while kids played in front yards and freely opened sidewalk lemonade stands. Children fit naturally into the rhythm of American life.

Nowadays, we treat children like a deathly plague, unless of course you’ve decided you want one. Then they become a luxury good worth tens or even hundreds of thousands. Once acquired, they must be treated like prize poodles, feted and protected at every turn.

The traditional family model has largely been put through the shredder, much to the detriment of children. We try to make up for this by hovering over our kids every second, and sending the police after parents who still think it’s fine to take their grandparents’ more laid-back, “let the kids play” approach.

In other words, our ideas about family are a huge, hairy mess. It’s strange we would have so much trouble figuring out a thing that’s been done since Neanderthal times. Then again, maybe that’s the real problem. Unlike Neanderthals, we’re obsessed with figuring out how to do this. We’ve fought tooth and nail to free ourselves from the natural implications of our biology and, as a reward, we now have to plan every detail of family formation. There’s no taking comfort in “the done thing” anymore. Parenthood today is all about doing it right.

November 16, 2014

Where does your dog rank?

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 10:15

An infographic in Slate slices and dices doggy data to provide you with a quick way to alienate half of dog owners (whose beloved mutts fall into the “Inexplicably overrated” or “Rightly ignored” quadrants:

Top dog infographic

As a dog owner myself, I am pleased to note that Brittany (Xander) and Corgi (Kaylee, although she’s a Corgi mix) both fall into the “Hot dog!” quadrant (and our late-and-still-lamented Shi-Tzu would also be in that quadrant). This clearly must indicate that the chart is 100% accurate.

Update: Forgot to H/T Megan McArdle for the link.

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