What I learned this week, August 5, 2017

Speaking of Bike Lanes…

Someone took the future into their own hands and installed a bandit bike lane on a street in Oak Cliff. Complete with barriers and paint – it was done for a couple hundred dollars and in a few hours – not over the years and tens of thousands of dollars the city requires.

Of course it was deemed “illegal” and immediately removed.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.



 
 
Sometimes there are no words for the pernicious vastness of human stupidity.
 

Not a shot! Anti-vax movement prompts Brooklynites to withhold inoculations from their pets, vets say

 

A Clinton Hill–based veterinarian said she has heard clients suggest the inoculations could give their pups autism, however, echoing the argument of those who oppose vaccinating kids. But even if pooches were susceptible to the condition, their owners probably wouldn’t notice, according to the doctor.

“I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,” said Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care. “We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could.”

My son’s dog, Champ


On the Road with Cirque du Soleil: Brompton is the Star of the Show

I have always loved Cirque du Soleil – now I like it even a little more. Run away to the circus on a Folding Bike!

I drive a tiny car – a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks). I was surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folded down. I was able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.


More New Yorkers Opting for Life in the Bike Lane

Biking has become part of New York’s commuting culture as the city expands bike routes and Citi Bikes become ubiquitous. There are more than 450,000 daily bike trips.


I found these articles on the word’s worst smelling stuff fascinating. Then again, it is what I do for a living.

Things I Won’t Work With: Thioacetone

But today’s compound makes no noise and leaves no wreckage. It merely stinks. But it does so relentlessly and unbearably. It makes innocent downwind pedestrians stagger, clutch their stomachs, and flee in terror. It reeks to a degree that makes people suspect evil supernatural forces. It is thioacetone.

The Dangerous Stink of the World’s Smelliest Chemical

“During early experiments, a stopper jumped from a bottle of residues, and, although replaced at once, resulted in an immediate complaint of nausea and sickness from colleagues working in a building two hundred yards away.”


The amazing ways the function keys F1 to F12 can save you a ton of time


When I Replaced Soviet Workers in the U.S. Embassy

If this seemed like overkill, I quickly learned that it wasn’t. Over the course of my time at the embassy, all kinds of strange episodes occurred. One Saturday, while I was on a sightseeing trip to Leningrad, a Russian stranger sidled up to me and murmured, “So, how’s everything at the embassy?” (A classic K.G.B. move, a diplomat later told me, to “let you know they’re watching.”) Another time, a new Russian friend — a pianist at the Moscow Conservatory, whom I’d met by chance in the Metro — referred to plans I had for the following weekend, although I hadn’t yet told him about them. Even more ominously, after I tipsily confessed to a fellow American that I’d had a girlfriend in college, a pretty Russian woman started showing up at embassy parties and chatting flirtatiously with me. Was she a K.G.B. agent, sent to seduce me just as Violetta Seina seduced Clayton Lonetree? Or was I just imagining things? It was impossible to know for sure.


Here’s another short film for your enjoyment – this one also stars Natalie Dormer.

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What I learned this week, May 14, 2017

After 500 years, Leonardo da Vinci’s music machine is brought to life

Rather than plucking the strings, as a harpsichord would, this instrument, called the viola organista, lowers the strings onto spinning wheels which are wrapped in horse hair. This acts as a bow would on a violin. The resulting sound gives the impression of a group of string instruments. The project took Zubrzycki 3 years and 5,000 hours to complete.


The Harlan Ellison Show

The star of the long-running Harlan Ellison show is 82 now. A stroke two years ago slowed him down somewhat, though not nearly enough to stop him from working. What his admirers fear above all is the loss of his voice—sometimes annoying, sometimes sappy, always funny, always insistent, and always arresting. As George Edgar Slusser puts it, “In its ubiquity and insistence, this voice becomes both guardian and guarantor of the stories, projecting a sense that here is not dead but living discourse—words spoken and re-spoken that are worthy of being guided through the years, mediated to other human beings, and reassessed in terms of their relevance again and again.”

It is this voice—Harlan Ellison’s voice—that deserves preservation for generations of readers, of writers, of 12 year olds who dream of other worlds.


What if We Discovered an Alien Civilization Less Advanced Than Our Own?

Fourth, what would we do if we really found rock-solid evidence of a pre-industrial civilization on a planet around another star? We couldn’t communicate with them by any currently known method. Unless physicists make some kind of wildly unanticipated new discovery, there is no practical way that humans could travel there, either. Potentially we could send miniature interstellar probes to examine the planet and learn more about its inhabitants. A project called Breakthrough Starshot is exploring the kind of technology needed to do something like that. Such probes would be so small and speedy that the aliens there would have no idea they were being watched


Oysters, Despite What You’ve Heard, Are Always in Season

The life cycle of a particular species, the temperature and quality of the water in which an oyster grows, and how the mollusk is handled after leaving that water all can affect its health and taste — and your health.

“Essentially if you buy oysters that are grown in healthy waters and they’re handled properly, then there’s no problem with eating them any time of the year,” said Donald Meritt, an aquaculturist at the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.


Saudi Arabia Whines US Has Too Much Control Over World’s Oil

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has asked the U.S. to stop producing so much oil, according to a report Thursday.

OPEC’s report blames the U.S. in particular because hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has greatly increased American oil production. The new production has led a lengthy period of very low oil prices. OPEC claims raising global oil prices will “require the collective efforts of all oil producers” and should be done “not only for the benefit of the individual countries, but also for the general prosperity of the world economy.”


6 Reasons You Should Watch Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Before Season Three Premieres


How Alamo Drafthouse Is Changing the Moviegoing Experience

 


I have had a crush on the actress Natalie Dormer, ever since The Tudors. I saw this short “The Brunchers” on ShortsTV and really enjoyed it – even if it isn’t anything more than a bit of fluff. I was glad to find it was available to watch on Netflix.

You’re welcome.