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Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday links

Picking Your Soulmate and Picking the Cleanest Toilet at a Public Event in the Fewest Tries Have The Same Optimal Solution

If the French monarchy were restored, this guy would become King Louis XX of France.

The never-ending conundrums of 19th century classical physics brainteasers.

During WWI, the War Department sent American artists to Europe. The Smithsonian recently digitized this artwork from the front lines, which has gone largely unseen for decades. 

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here and include lots of Schrödinger's cat stuff, the science of spiders on drugs, and medieval knights vs modern troops.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Smartphone app: scan barcodes in grocery store, find out what political party the company/employees support

I'm not sure I want this information, but it's now easily available. Is your grocery bill supporting your political opponents? Now you can avoid it.

Via WaPo: Bet the last time you were sipping Campbell’s soup or popping Pringles chips it never occurred to you that your eating habits could be political.

But every product has a parent company and most major corporations make political contributions. Are you a staunch Republican who would never pull the Democratic lever? Chances are some of your purchases at the grocery store go toward helping a Democratic candidate. Diehard Democrat? Ditto for you.

Never make that mistake again!

Enter Matthew Colbert, a former campaign and Hill staffer, who has built a new app for smartphones that allows users to scan the barcode of products in the grocery store and immediately find out what political party the company and its employees support.

Colbert told the Loop he developed the “BuyPartisan” app to give consumers more knowledge about how they spend their money. For some, it may translate to not buying a certain cereal anymore, for others it could simply be a conversation starter, Colbert said. But he hopes all users will appreciate having at their fingertips an awareness that a fraction of their grocery bill went to political contributions.

The app, based on data from Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation and the Institute for State Money in Politics, is the first rollout from Colbert’s new company, “Spend consciously.” It’s tagline: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend how you believed?”

The goal of the company, he said, is make “every day Election Day” through “spending choices.”

Colorado Hiker Sings Opera, Fends Off Mountain Lion Attack

Read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

Kopestonsy tried to loose the mountain lion, but the animal stalked her for half an hour.

"I would back up and it would creep forward, so I'd stop. Eventually it sort of crouched down, like part way," Kopestonsky said. "So, I start backing up down the mountain, which was really steep. And then it got up and walked toward me. At the closest point, it was eight feet away."

Finally, she decided to try something different.

"I don't know why, I just started singing opera really loud," Koestonsky said. "It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away. Then, it came around the bushes an came towards me again and crouched about 10 feet away."

During the ordeal Kopestonsky had the presence of mind to call her housemate, who alerted the San Miguel County Sheriff's about the situation.

Saudi man dies after being kicked in the face by the donkey he was (allegedly) trying to sodomize

The jokes just write themselves.

Via Opposing Views: The bizarre story of a man who died after trying to have sex with a donkey is circulating all over Middle Eastern news sites.

Lebanese website Beiruting recently reported that a Saudi Sheikh man died after attempting to sodomize a donkey. But other sites have picked it up as well. Reports say that the man tied the donkey to his car, took off his pants and attempted the have sex with the animal.

The donkey, however, was not about to let that happen, and allegedly, it proceeded to kick the Sheikh man in the face following by three strong kicks to the chest. The man fell to the ground and allegedly suffered for some time before dying next to the angry animal.

When police arrived, they reportedly discovered the man’s body and were able to determine what had happened.

It’s impossible to confirm this story's accuracy and it sounds really out there, but it’s starting to pick up steam online. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Picking Your Soulmate and Picking the Cleanest Toilet at a Public Event in the Fewest Tries Has The Same Optimal Solution

From the Numberphile youtube channel:

It's Alfred Hitchcock's Birthday: Here are 37 Cameo Appearances Over 50 Years All in One Video

Great moments in history: Pilot episode of South Park, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” aired on August 13, 1997

This post is OK for work, but major warnings on the videos, especially the first two.

The always interesting Today I Found Out Has an interesting post on the history of South Park:
Once upon a time, way back in 1992, there were two young students at the University of Colorado named Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They collaborated on a crudely done short film called “Jesus vs. Frosty” which caught the eye of FOX exec Brian Graden in 1995. He hired the two lads to create another animated short that he could send to friends as a video Christmas greeting.
Parker and Stone came up with another film called “Jesus vs. Santa” (I’m sensing a theme here) that featured a martial arts battle between the Christmas rivals, followed by a subsequent mutual meeting of the minds over the true meaning of the holiday. This video was shared widely on the Internet and led to the creation of a series on Comedy Central.
It sent me looking for the short precursors from the mid-90's (major language warning for these videos - not safe for work or kids). I saw Jesus vs Santa Claus before Jesus vs Frosty, which was actually made a few years earlier, and in which, if you can imagine, the animation was less sophisticated. Also, when they killed Kenny, he was drawn as Cartman.

Jesus vs Santa Claus (again - NSFW language)

Jesus vs Frosty (and once again - NSFW language)

Today is the anniversary of the airing of the first episode from the actual show - read the whole post at Today I Found Out (and buy their excellent book, several of which I gave out as Christmas presents).
The pilot episode of South Park, Cartman Gets an Anal Probe (video below) aired on August 13, 1997, and quickly earned the highest rating of any basic cable program. The show, which chronicles the adventures of four third-graders named Stan (based on Parker), Kyle (based on Stone), Cartman and Kenny.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday links

Today is Erwin Schrödinger's (he of the famous half-dead cat) 127th birthday: explanation, quotes, jokes, video.

Valar Morghulis: A Statistical Guide To Deaths In Game Of Thrones

This Is a Spider's Brain on Drugs.

Yesterday was Presidential Joke Day - jokes by, not about presidents. They're pretty lame, but if you want a laugh, this video of a baby boy's rapture over the sight of a remote control will make your whole day.

Could Modern Troops Defeat Medieval Knights in Hand-to-Hand Combat?

How to detect speech in the vibrations of a potato chip bag, watched from a distance through soundproof glass.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the anniversary of the battle of Thermopylae, real-life werewolf origins, and some Guardian of the Galaxy science: what plants could Groot have evolved from?

This video of a baby boy's rapture over the sight of a remote control will make your whole day

I've always assumed that there was some deep-seated affinity for remote controls buried (not very deep) in the male psyche.

via Huffpo.

Monday, August 11, 2014

So, today is Presidential Joke Day - jokes by, not about presidents

The holiday began in 1984, when Ronald Reagan made a joke during a sound check for a radio broadcast. "My fellow Americans,” he said, "I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." (audio only clip at youtube here).

Reagan was not aware, however, that his feed was live. And unfortunately, not everyone got the joke. Soviet officials got word of the broadcast and put the military on high alert.

Once the threat of nuclear war had abated, Americans found the situation hilarious, and decided to memorialize Reagan’s famous quip by instituting National Presidential Joke Day on August 11th. To get you geared up to celebrate this holiday properly, we’re saluting these presidential knee-slappers.


"I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself."

"I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency -- even if I'm in a Cabinet meeting."

"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."

"Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his."

"I hope you're all Republicans." —Speaking to surgeons as he entered the operating room following a 1981 assassination attempt


"These stories about my intellectual capacity really get under my skin. You know, for a while I even thought my staff believed it. There on my schedule first thing every morning it said, 'Intelligence Briefing.'"

''Thank you for your email. This Internet of yours is a wonderful invention.'' —To Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign

“We’re studying safe levels for arsenic in drinking water. To base our decision on sound science, the scientists told us we needed to test the water glasses of about 3,000 people. Thank you for participating.” —At the 2001 Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association dinner

''The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions -- for tax cuts and against them, for NAFTA and against NAFTA, for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act, in favor of liberating Iraq and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts.'' —During the 2004 campaign against John Kerry

BARACK OBAMA (This list is from a Mental Floss article in 2012 - presumably there have been additional jokes from Obama since then)

''If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome.''

”There are few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.”

''Many of you know that I got my name, Barack, from my father. What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for 'That One.' And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for president.”


''Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.'' —Lyndon Johnson

“I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy: Dear Jack, Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide.” —John F. Kennedy, addressing complaints that his father’s money was buying the primary for him.

''My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.” —Jimmy Carter

"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'present' or 'not guilty.'" —Teddy Roosevelt

''In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.'' —John Adams

"Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening." —Bill Clinton

“If I were two faced, would I be wearing this one?” —Abraham Lincoln

Peyton and Eli Manning have a new rap commercial out, and it's pretty cool (with bonus Joe Namath commercials)

So it's for a fantasy football TV channel, apparently, but who cares about that?

I really like the part with Broadway Joe* (wiki) making stew with their mom, and the bit with the guy being showered with tiny footballs.

Watch full screen.

Here's last year's Football On Your Phone, subtitled Football in Your Pants”:

*Vaguely related, here's an old shaving cream commercial with Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett (before she became famous):

And his famous pantyhose commercial: