Plea

https://pixabay.com/en/earth-planet-world-globe-sun-1990298/

One sticks a finger into the ground to smell what country one is in. I stick my finger into the world — it has no smell. Where am I? What does it mean to say: the world? What is the meaning of that word? Who tricked me into this whole thing and leaves me standing here? Who am I? How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it, why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought from a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn’t it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager — I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?

— Kierkegaard, Repetition, 1843

Bullseye

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AZTZ.png

Rather than follow daylight saving time, the state of Arizona observes standard time throughout the year.

But the Navajo Nation observes daylight saving time throughout its territory, including the part that lies in Arizona.

And the Hopi Nation, which lies entirely in Arizona, surrounded entirely by the Navajo Nation, doesn’t.

So the Hopi Nation is a region that doesn’t observe daylight saving time inside one that does inside one that doesn’t inside one that does.

Related: Ontario contains an island in a lake on an island in a lake.

Fierljeppen

Since much of the Netherlands is below sea level, Dutch farmers needed a way to leap waterways to reach their various plots of land. Over time this evolved into a competitive sport, known as fierljeppen (“far leaping”) in which each contestant sprints to the water, seizes a 10-meter pole, and climbs it as it lurches forward over the channel. The winner is the one who lands farthest from his starting point in the sand bed on the opposite side.

The current record holder is Jaco de Groot of Utrecht, who leapt, clambered, swayed, and fell 22.21 meters in August.

Good Boy

Elisabeth Mann Borgese taught her dog to type. In her book The Language Barrier she explains that her English setter, Arli, developed a vocabulary of 60 words and 17 letters, though “He isn’t an especially bright dog.” “[Arli] could write under dictation short words, three-letter words, four-letter words, two-letter words: ‘good dog; go; bad.’ And he would type it out. There were more letters but I never got him to use more than 17.”

She began in October 1962 by training all four of her dogs to distinguish 18 designs printed on saucers; Arli showed the most promise, so she focused on him. By January 1963 he could count to 4 and distinguish CAT from DOG. Eventually she gave him a modified typewriter with enlarged keys, which she taught him to nose mechanically by rewarding him with hamburger. “No meaning at all was associated with the words,” she writes, though he did seem to associate meaning with words that excited him. “When asked, ‘Arli, where do you want to go?’ he will unfailingly write CAR, except that his excitement is such that the ‘dance’ around the word becomes a real ‘stammering’ on the typewriter. ACCACCAAARR he will write. GGOGO CAARR.”

(And it’s always tempting to discover meaning where there is none. Once while suffering intestinal problems after a long flight Arli ignored his work when she tried to get him to type GOOD DOG GET BONE, and then he stretched, yawned, and typed A BAD A BAD DOOG. This was probably just a familiar phrase that he’d chosen at random; Borgese estimated its likelihood at 1 in 12.)

Arli did earn at least one human fan — at one point Borgese showed his output to a “well-known critic of modern poetry,” who responded, “I think he has a definite affinity with the ‘concretist’ groups in Brazil, Scotland, and Germany [and an unnamed young American poet] who is also writing poetry of this type at present.”

Near and Far

Designed by Baroque architect Francesco Borromini in 1632, this gallery in Rome’s Palazzo Spada is a masterpiece of forced perspective — though it appears to be 37 meters long, in fact it’s only 8. The effect is produced by diminishing columns and a rising floor; the sculpture at the end, which Borromini contrived to appear life size, is only 60 centimeters high.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spada_02.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Marine Warfare

Humans tend to abuse sea creatures, so digital artist Neil Mendoza gave them a way to fight back. As Smashie the fish swims around his aquatic habitat, he takes aim at the human habitat outside; the hammer drops periodically when a rotating cam releases it.

Mendoza created the project through Autodesk’s artist-in-residence program. You can build your own “fish hammer actuation device” with the instructions here.

Twice Missed

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gen._Joseph_Hooker_-_NARA_-_527503.jpg

Union general Joseph Hooker had an eventful day at the Battle of Chancellorsville:

I was standing on this step of the portico on the Sunday morning of the 3d of May, and was giving direction to the battle, which was now raging with great fury, the cannon-balls reaching me from both the east and the west, when a solid shot struck the pillar near me, splitting it in two, and throwing one-half longitudinally against me, striking my whole right side, which soon turned livid. For a few moments I was senseless, and the report spread that I had been killed. But I soon revived, and to correct the misapprehension, I insisted on being lifted upon my horse, and rode back towards the white house, which subsequently became the center of my new position. Just before reaching it, the pain from my hurt became so intense, that I was likely to fall, when I was assisted to dismount, and was laid upon a blanket spread out upon the ground, and was given some brandy. This revived me, and I was assisted to remount. Scarcely was I off the blanket, when a solid shot, fired by the enemy at Hazel Grove, struck in the very center of that blanket, where I had a moment before been lying, and tore up the earth in a savage way.

In Strange Tales of the Civil War, Michael Sanders writes, “In this way, Joseph Hooker avoided being instantly killed by two cannon balls within minutes of each other.”

Good Girl

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SVVP_Klikat%C3%A1,_veden%C3%AD_nevidom%C3%A9ho.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Four years ago, the city was making extensive repairs for a number of blocks along our main thoroughfare here in Pasadena, putting in a complete new set of pipes. After two weeks, the day came when I was to have my hair done. I heard machinery in the distance, but decided to go on.

I soon found myself right in the midst of the work which was plenty noisy. Rene was on the outside, the side of the machinery, but aside from slowing up a little, she kept steadily on her way. One of the workmen shouted that the dog was doing fine, but I noticed that she kept pushing me very close to the buildings, almost against them. When I reached the shop and mentioned the way we had come, everyone was simply horrified. All along the block where Rene had kept me so close the buildings was just a narrow strip of sidewalk. The rest was a great hole where pipes were being laid.

— Genevieve Wiley on her dog Rene, from Peter Brock Putnam, Love in the Lead: The Fifty-Year Miracle of the Seeing Eye Dog, 1979

Snug

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Manicouagan-EO.JPG

Canada’s René-Levasseur Island is larger than the lake that surrounds it.

The island occupies 2,020 square kilometers, while the surrounding Lake Manicouagan covers 1,942.

Visible from space, the feature is sometimes called the Eye of Quebec.

The Liszt Fragment

On April 10, 1886, Edward Elgar visited the Crystal Palace to attend a performance in honor of 75-year-old Franz Liszt, who was visiting England after an absence of many years. In the margin of his program Elgar made a cryptic notation:

liszt fragment 1

What does it mean? Anthony Thorley suggested that it was a cipher representing the words GETS YOU TO JOY, AND HYSTERIOUS, where the last word is a portmanteau combining hysteria and mysterious. But that seems contrived, and in any case “this doesn’t fit!” writes Craig Bauer in Unsolved!, his history of ciphers. “Not only do repeated letters fail to line up with the same squiggles each time, but we don’t even have the right number of squiggles. The last six letters of the proposed decipherment have nothing to line up with.”

liszt fragment 2

If Thorley is mistaken, then this fragment remains unsolved, like Elgar’s Dorabella cipher of 11 years later. Are the two messages related?