Cold Whirled

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=WlYWAAAAEBAJ

Richard Hartman’s “motorized ice cream cone,” patented in 1999, saves both time and trouble:

Because the act of eating an ice cream cone has traditionally been performed by holding a scoop of ice cream largely stationary in one’s hand relative to the continuous licking movements of one’s tongue, the appeal of a device that basically reverses this procedure — that is, continuously moves the ice cream portion while one’s tongue is held in a relatively stationary position — has been largely overlooked. However, it can be seen that such a device is enormously entertaining, extends the natural enjoyment and creative play possibilities of eating ice cream and similarly malleable foods, and enhances the overall experience of eating such foods for young children and adults alike.

Perhaps we can apply the same principle to corn on the cob.

Field Trip

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Van_Gingelen_Vollmondnacht.jpg

In the early 1600s, Johannes Kepler wrote a fantasy in which he imagined a journey to the moon:

We congregate in force and seize a man of this sort; all together lifting him from beneath, we carry him aloft. The first getting into motion is very hard on him, for he is twisted and turned just as if, shot from a cannon, we were sailing across mountains and seas. Therefore, he must be put to sleep beforehand, with narcotics and opiates, and he must be arranged, limb by limb, so that the shock will be distributed over the individual members, lest the upper part of his body be carried away from the fundament, or his head be torn from his shoulders. Then comes a new difficulty: terrific cold and difficulty in breathing. The former we counter with our innate power, the latter by means of moistened sponges applied to the nostrils.

Somnium is largely a treatise on lunar astronomy, describing the motions of the planets as observed from the moon. But Kepler also considers the appearance of the moon’s inhabitants, who “wander in hordes over the whole globe in the space of one of their days, some on foot, whereby they far outstrip our camels, some by means of wings, some in boats pursue the fleeing waters, or if a pause of a good many days is necessary, then they creep into caves.” Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov called it the first work of science fiction.

Coverup

coverup puzzle diagram

Two squares have been removed from this 8×7 rectangle. Can the remaining 54 squares be tiled orthogonally with 18 3×1 tiles?

Click for Answer

Report

Full text of “The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block’,” by Dennis Upper, from the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Fall 1974:

Black and White

mccombe chess problem

By Alexander George McCombe. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer

In a Word

marabou
n. a person who is five-eighths black and three-eighths white by descent

griff
n. a person who is three-fourths black and one-fourth white

mulatto
n. a person having one white and one black parent

The ultimate in racist lunacy was reached in Haiti in the eighteenth century, where Saint-Mery developed a classification of physical types based on the notion that each individual was divisible into no less than 128 separate parts (rather like genes):

‘Thus a blanc (white) had 128 parts white, a nègre (Negro) 128 parts black, and the offspring a mulâtre (mulatto) 64 parts white and 64 parts black. In addition, he also listed sacatra (8 to 23 parts white), griffe (24 to 39 parts white), marabou (40 to 48); quateron (71 to 100); metif (101 to 112); mamelouc (113 to 120); quateronné (121 to 124) and finally a sang-mêlé (125 to 127).’

Given the additional presence of Indians as well as Negroes, Mexican castas were even more complex.

— Peter Worsley, The Three Worlds: Culture and World Development, 1984

Nose Knowledge

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/698003

Seeing a rose seems to give me information about a flower out there in the world. But smelling it, blindfold, is a curiously internal experience: I can suppose, even confidently, that it’s a rose I’m smelling, but this feels like a surmise, and one based only on an impression in my mind. The visual world seems to be made up of independent objects with observable properties, but the world of smell seems to exist only in our consciousness.

If there were no creatures here to observe them, roses would still be red. But would they still smell sweet?

Boxen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boxen.jpg

Stuck in a book-filled house in dreary Belfast in 1906, the 8-year-old C.S. Lewis repaired to the attic with his 11-year-old brother Warren and began to fashion an imaginary world. Jack’s half was called Animal-Land, and Warnie’s was an island called India. The two, connected by steamship routes, formed a world they called Boxen, the subject of novels, textbooks, maps, and even newspapers that the two composed over the next five years:

In those days Mouse-land was called ‘Bublish’ and the mice called Bubills.

Shortly after the ‘Melee of Hacom’s Palace’ (for so it shall be called) some inhabitants of Bombay came over to buy nuts. They taught the mice many things. The most important of which was: the use of money. Before that the Mice (or Bubils as they were called) exchanged things in markets. The Indians landed in 1216.

The Indians as it has been told gave knowledge to the Bublis. But the Bublies asked for some of it. The Bublis asked the Indians how they got on without fighting each others men. The asked ones told the Bubils that they choose a man to rule them all and called him Rajah or king.

The Bubils followed that plan. But no!! ‘Out of the frying-pan into the fire.’ Poor miss led creatures. Now they fought all the more!! Why? Because each mouse wished to be king. One had as much right to the throne as an other. So every place was fighting.

Jack’s Animal-Land drew on the “dressed animals” of Beatrix Potter, but, influenced by the political table talk of their father, it set them in prosaic histories and palace intrigues rather than heroic adventures. “For readers of my children’s books, the best way of putting this would be to say that Animal-Land had nothing whatever in common with Narnia except the anthropomorphic beasts,” he wrote later. “Animal-Land, by its whole quality, excluded the least hint of wonder.”

Update

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spirit_II_in_flight_over_Paris._Built_for_the_San_Diego_Aerospace_Museum._Burned_in_1978_n4.jpg

In late May 1927, when the world had been rejoicing for a week over Charles Lindbergh’s nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, Robert Benchley sent a telegram to Charles Brackett in Paris:

ANY TIDINGS OF LINDBERGH? LEFT HERE WEEK AGO AM WORRIED.

Brackett wrote back:

DO YOU MEAN GEORGE LINDBERGH?

Designers Wanted

I’m looking for a logo designer and a WordPress theme designer for this site — I want to replace the (rather generic) Helvetica nameplate at the top, and I have a small list of tweaks to make to the body. Ideally I’d like to work with experienced designers who read the site and know the tone of the content, but I’ll value all recommendations. You can reach me at gregblog@gmail.com. Thanks.

05/26/2013 UPDATE: Many thanks to everyone who’s responded — there are too many to thank individually, but I value all the advice and recommendations that I’ve received and will review them all carefully. Thanks again!