2021 June 12


Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Creep (Radiohead cover)

Bo Burnham - Can’t handle this

Tish Hinojosa - Atlantico

Ratatat - Lex

The first guilty verdict was reached for an insurrectionist in the January 6 attack on the capitol. He was a lone actor who pled guilty to obstruction, and faces $2000 in restitution for damages, additional fines, and 15 to 21 months in prison.

Ever wondered why trains (depicted above), planes, and sometimes buses have a tiny fabric flap on the headrest? Today these are largely decorative, but these antimacassars were introduced in the 1800s in response to the widespread use of Macassar oil, a precursor of modern hair conditioner. Traditionally antimacassars would have been rather larger and also found on household furniture, including armrests, to protect them from damage. While antimacassars still have some utility today, modern hair products are far less oily.

The word cue is derived from the letter Q, an abbreviation for Latin quando (“when”), whereas the word queue is from Old French cue (“tail”) from Latin coda (“tail”).

Given two convex subsets of the plane whose boundaries are smooth, their Minkowski sum (the set formed by adding the points pairwise) has a boundary which must be C^4: i.e., it is four-times differentiable, with continuous fourth derivative. What is remarkable is that if we further require the boundaries to be real-analytic, then the boundary of their Minkwoski sum is C^{20/3}! That is, it is six-times differentiable, with the sixth derivative being Hoelder continuous of order 2/3. This bound is sharp.

Did you know that Berwick-upon-Tweed, a small town in northern England, was still in the Crimean war against Russia until the 1960s? Hopefully not, because it isn’t true. Berwick lies on the border of England and Scotland and had repeatedly changed hands between them, so much so that certain acts of parliament would specifically mention that they applied in Berwick. Apocryphally, Berwick was mentioned in the declaration of war on Russia but not in the peace treaty, leaving them arguably in a state of war until 1966 when the mayor declared peace, allegedly saying “Please tell the Russian people through your newspaper that they can sleep peacefully in their beds”. In truth Berwick was fully integrated into England by the time of the Crimean war.

The programming language Rust had in 2016 an obscure bug in which hash maps could in rare cirucmstances exhibit quadratic runtime behavior, depicted above. While the hash map implementation had been carefully designed to protect from all sorts of deliberate attacks and pathological behaviors, the quadratic behavior was triggered by remarkably simple means: reading elements from one hash map and adding them to another in iteration order.

In response to citizens of Mississippi passing a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana with 69% approval, the Mississippi supreme court ruled that citizens may not amend the Mississippi constitution. The argument is that the constitution requires that proposed amendments must gather a certain number of signatures, with at most 1/5th of the requirement being fulfilled by signatures from each congressional district: however, Mississippi only has four congressional districts. 6 of the 9 justices in the Mississippi supreme court were unelected. See the linked podcast for a breakdown on the multiple levels of wrongness with this decision.

On the Japanese copy of the Instrument of Surrender marking the end of World War II, four of the signatories signed on the wrong line before anyone noticed: the representatives of Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand all shifted one line down, with the last signing in a blank area at the bottom. The scarcity of paper and access to printing meant a replacement could not be made.


“Tick tock Matt Gaetz”

My favorite Agatha Christie work, And Then There Were None, was made in 2015 into a superb 3 hour miniseries. It remains closely true to the book but for a few details it improves upon, with more vivid characters and excellent cinematography, writing, music, and acting.

Slow motion footage of a Saturn V launch taken from the launchpad, with detailed and informative voice over.

Lennart Green’s card magic


Poster from the 1980s Silence = Death Project, which promoted the gay rights movement by pushing coming out as a moral imperative. As discussed here, the AIDS epidemic and public disinterest in the survival of gay people made gay rights an urgent concern; the goal of a broad coming-out campaign was to humanize these victims.

The Privy seal of Japan is the Japanese Emperor’s seal, reading “Emperor” down the right and “Imperial seal” down the left. The seal has been used in some capacity for about 1200-1300 years. The current seal was manufactured in 1874 of pure gold, weighing 4.5 kilograms.

“He’s” is short for “he is”.

Trees in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, most of which are over 4000 years old.

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