Friday, July 31, 2009

over one trillion web pages

Which according to Bing would take an average person "six hundred thousand decades of nonstop reading to read through the information." Source here.


"As they were all rather short of breath this time, it was the camembert they could smell. This cheese with its gamy odour, had overpowered the milder smells of the marolles and the limbourg; its power was remarkable. Every now and then, however, a slight whiff, a flute-like note, came from the parmesan, while the bries came into play with their soft, musty smell, the gentle sound so to speak, of a damp tambourine. The livarot launched into an overwhelming reprise, and géromé kept up the symphony with a sustained high note."
- Émile Zola [1840-1902], The Belly of Paris, p. 213


Cody McCasland lost his legs when he was 15 months old to a rare condition called Sacral Agenesis. More images here.

The Truth About IQ

IQ scores can change dramatically and thus don't say anything about a person's intellectual limits, says David Shenk here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
- Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 2, Scene 2, 1599.

Image: Valour and Cowardice by Alfred Stevens [1817-1876]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I don't believe in the Internet

portrait of artists

"Art is capturing something essential."
- Kevin Kline [born 1947]

Photograph of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese by Brigitte Lacombe.

An earlier reference to essence here.

go away

"Travel is the art form available to Everyman. You sit in the coffee shop in a strange city and nobody knows who you are, or cares, and so you shed your checkered past and your motley credentials and you face the day unarmed ... And onward we go and some day in the distant future, we will stop and turn around in astonishment to see all the places we've been and the heroes we were."
- Garrison Keillor [born 1942]

An earlier reference to Keillor here.

Image source here.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Purkinje neurons

"Of the 100 billion neurons in your brain, Purkinje neurons are some of the largest. Among other things, these cells are the masters of motor coordination in the cerebellar cortex. Toxic exposure such as alcohol and lithium, autoimmune diseases, genetic mutations including autism and neurodegenerative diseases can negatively affect human Purkinje cells." Source here.

An earlier reference to neurons here.

creation of the middle class

"We want to make men not just automobiles."
- Henry Ford on using company profits to double employee pay, which created a stable workforce and turned now flush employees into Ford consumers.

An earlier reference to Ford here.


scottish demographer



"I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me."
- A 31 year old Abraham Lincoln in a letter to his law partner John T. Stuart, January 23, 1841.

Historians rank Lincoln the best U.S. President here.

An earlier reference to Lincoln here.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Blue Thousand and One from Blue Man Group HD on Vimeo.

The Universe

View full size map here.

Apple And RIM Take Majority Of Cell Phone Industry Profits

TechCrunch reporting here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Woman on ducking stool accused of witchcraft.

James Warren:
July-August Duke Magazine has a terrific look at a Duke history professor's 15 years of research into European witchcraft. "A Witch's Brew" is the tale of Tom Robisheaux's quest to make sense of a rather common practice, with an estimated 100,000 such trials held between 1450 and 1750 in Europe (with about half in Germany).
He finds that women's central role in economies was part of the catalyst. "Witchcraft was women's work that went wrong, then, in areas like pregnancy, childbirth, the health of children, tending cattle, and the fertility of crops." Ultimately, the witch proved a variation on what he deems a bigger term, namely "the other."

"Societies almost always locate their fears, real or imagined, in those who seem to embody the opposite of all that is valued," he says.
An earlier reference to witchcraft here.


The British Museum lost 250,000 books during the Blitz.

stages of learning

Image source here.


Lt. John J. Dunbar
Were it not for my companion, I would be having the time of my life. He is quite possibly the foulest man I have ever met.

gwyneth paltrow cooks

Saturday, July 25, 2009

crescent wrench

Perfected by a Swede.

royal typewriter

"History is not about dates, and quotes, and obscure privisos. History is about life, about change, about consequences, cause and effect. It's about the mystery of human nature, the mystery of time. And it isn't just about politics, and the military, and social issues, which is almost always the way it's taught. It's about music and poetry and drama and science and medicine and money and love."
- David McCullough [born 1933]

pointless and tedious

Color correction from lernert Engelberts on Vimeo.

Friday, July 24, 2009

that's why there are historians

"People don't understand crises when they go through them. Only afterwards; retrospectively."

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Massachusetts kitchen as law office

It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate
the minds of our children and exalt their courage;
to accelerate and animate their industry and activity;
to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness,
abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and
an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue.
If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy,
they will grovel all their lives.
- John Adams [1735-1826]

An earlier reference to Adams here.

A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life

"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph."

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt [1858-1919], excerpts from 1899's The Strenuous Life speech

An earlier reference to Roosevelt here.

master manipulators

Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Charlie Rose for Girls

Amy Poehler [born 1971] has an interview show for girls ages 8-14 here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The Gulf Stream, 1899

"We're all alone on a battered boat, adrift. The figure could be any of us."

Winslow Homer [1836-1910] is regarded by many as America's greatest painter.

Homer might have been inspired by Géricault [1791-1824] here.


"The light of reason to banish superstition."

An earlier reference to the Pantheon's oculus here.

University of Virginia image source here.

88 keys

A New Yorker article on Steinway's most successful salesperson ever here.

Medieval battle records

The full profiles of 250,000 soldiers from 1369 to 1453 are now online:

Image source here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

chinese poverty

"But I'm loved by society so I never feel sad."
- A student who lives in China on less than $1.25 per day. However according to the World Bank 500 million people have been lifted out of poverty in a generation; the national poverty rate has fallen from 64% to 10%.


"Canadians are highly engaged spending an average of 45 hours per month online, which is more than any other country on earth."
- Jonathan Lister [University of Toronto Rotman MBA], Managing Director, Google Canada

Google Moon available here.

An earlier reference to Google here.

Ten Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets

1. Be prepared to be blamed for your circumstances, no matter how much they may be beyond your control. Think of ways to disabuse the public of common misconceptions. Don't internalize cruelty or condescension. Let go of your pride--but hold on to your dignity.

The complete list here.

An earlier reference to homelessness here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

England's 1st singer songwriter

John Dowland [1563-1626] "Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens" meaning "Always Dowland, Always Doleful"

slagged off

"James Joyce was quick to take offense and delighted in testing people's loyalties. Almost all of his male friends failed that test in the end, and he had to discard them. He slagged off left, right and centre all those whom he felt had betrayed him."

from model student to notorious outsider

"The boy with the blotting paper memory."
- James Joyce had an impressive memory according to his early teachers at Clongowes Wood College.

An earlier reference to Joyce here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

hammer & sickle

Nikita Khrushchev [1894-1971], banging his shoe, hated putting things in writing because he couldn't spell.

"Communism was an impractical mishmash of ideas, imposed by squabbling zealots that promised much, delivered little and cost millions of lives. It is striking that 36 countries at one time or another adopted this system and that five—Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam and the biggest of them all, China—still pay lip service to it."
- Economist Magazine, July 4th 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

most stately of stately houses

Stowe House was the most impressive estate built in Britain in the 18th century. With the fall of the Duke of Buckingham, it eventually became a private boarding school, whose alumni includes Sir Richard Branson and David Niven, who when asked why he was always so cheerful remarked "Well, old bean, life is really so bloody awful that I feel it’s my absolute duty to be chirpy and try and make everybody else happy too."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

neurology vs. psychiatry

There are 100 billion nerve cells in the average human brain. Each cell makes 1000 to 10,000 contacts to other nerve cells. They can be on or off [or of another status]. The number of brain states, the number of permutations and combinations, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the known universe.

An earlier reference to V.S. Ramachandran here.

Zurich euthanasia

The Swiss Dignitas Clinic administers a lethal barbiturate from which you don't wake up.

interracial, baby

"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and white. Or a rape."
- 37th President of the United States Richard Nixon in 1973. Audio here.

An earlier reference to interracial relationships here.


America's freed slaves founded Liberia in 1821, but everything that was done to them as slaves in America they did to the African indigenous people.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in Motion from Matthew Wartman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

laid low, remained obedient, built up strength, conquered rivals

Zhu Yuanzhang, Ming Dynasty founder

"Happiness from happiness is not true happiness. Only happiness from suffering is true."
- Ming Dynasty [1368-1644]


FDR speaks at the 75th anniversary Battle of Gettysburg Civil War reunion.

An earlier reference to Gettysburg here.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud, 1952

Francis Bacon [1909-1992] "would get up in the morning at 7am, paint until noon. Have a smart lunch in Saint James's, go to his gallery Marlborough, get some money from the drawer, go drinking in the afternoon until the early evening and then be taken home in a taxi by somebody then wake up at 7am then paint clear headed until noon again."

An earlier reference to Francis Bacon here.

An earlier reference to routine here.


On one occasion in 1487 the Aztecs sacrificed four lines of prisoners each two miles long. At least 40,000 deaths over four days.

Image source here.

An earlier reference to Tenochtitlán here.

Jordan Valley

Where people have been living continuously longer than anywhere else on earth.

Image source here.


90 islands, 500 bridges.

Image source here.

but not those of the United States

CIA headquarters, Langley, Virginia

"The CIA exists to violate the laws of other countries."
- David Ignatius [born 1950]

Image source here.

Bulgarian Umbrella

Sunday, July 12, 2009


The novelist in 1954.

Each day Graham Greene wrote exactly 500 words - no more, no less - even stopping mid-sentence so as not to exceed his strict self-imposed daily quota.

An earlier reference to Greene here.

An earlier reference to routine here.

warts and all

By the father of modern realism Thomas Eakins [1844 - 1916], Between Rounds, 1899

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Apple Tree I, c. 1912

"Early in the morning most days towards six, or a bit sooner or a bit later, if the weather is fine I go to the neighboring woods. I paint a grove of beech trees lit by the sun, strewn with conifers, until eight. Then breakfast and a bathe. After that I still paint for a while if the weather allows it."
- An earlier reference to Gustav Klimt here.

Another's routine here.

gaining and losing

eliminated "hotel" from name

George V opened in 1928 and was conceived to seem more like a private home than a commercial establishment. It has since been taken over by a group that includes the Four Seasons Hotels.

Mobile Phone for Senior Citizens

Samsung's Jitterbug

An earlier reference to Smart Phones here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

old salt

"Sailing is like standing in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills."
- Commodore of a Michigan yacht club

Image source here.

conservative aim

"Aspirational agreements are what we have with our friends."
- David Brooks [born 1961]

power concern

"How much evil should be done to achieve good?"
- Reinhold Niebuhr [1892-1971]


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T. S. Eliot [1888-1965], excerpt from Little Gidding, No. 4 of 'Four Quartets'

An earlier reference to T.S. Eliot here.

It's always today

Order sign here.