The cat and the didgeridoo, or, my, what big ears you have, Grandpa

Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid? That was a topic investigated by one of the scientists honored at the 2017 Ig Nobel Prizes last Thursday. Other researchers receiving Ig Nobels studied such topics as didgeridoo playing as a treatment for sleep apnea and snoring, how exposure to a live crocodile influences gambling behavior, the size of old men’s ears, walking backwards with a cup of coffee, whether identical twins can tell themselves apart, and other recondite topics.

Stopping in for a moment

I’m currently dealing with an excess of reality, and I will probably continue to be scarce here. While I’m away, you can listen to about 30 hours of music for piano and orchestra for 10¢ per hour, courtesy of, here, here and here. There’s ragtime here, if you’d prefer that. (The last includes some Louis Moreau Gottschalk, for no obvious reason.)


Which famous historical figure is this actor portraying?


Hint: here’s a contemporary representation of him. He’s the one seated in the middle.


Who, indeed?


The answer is here.

Black pawns matter

Purples and greens

I’m rather preoccupied at the moment, but I’ll be back eventually. In the meantime, here’s a chess problem to amuse you. There is something wrong with this position. Find the problem, correct it, and then find a mate-in-one for white, no matter how you fix it. You can find solutions in the comments here.

What's wrong?

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1,000 times more likely?

Does the Eagle have any proofreaders left?

I came across some startling numbers in an article on politics and dating while skimming though this morning’s Wichita Eagle.

Those in the Clinton camp are more likely to be female (176 percent) and gay (606 percent), and Trump supporters are more likely to be unemployed (82 percent) or retired (96 percent).

I suppose I ought to track down the original Washington Post story to see if the surprising statistics originated there, but I have better things to do with my lunch hour.

Timely note

This year's calendar

Every January I visit the calendar shop at the regional shopping mall and pick up a few at half-price to provide a variety of art on my walls for the coming year. This year, I struck out. Everything of any interest was gone — no medieval or renaissance art, no pre-Raphaelites, no Edward Gorey, not even Ansel Adams. There were plenty of puppies, of course, but I prefer dogs as friends, not as artistic subjects. Fortunately, I earlier ordered this year’s Girls und Panzer calendar, so I do have a way to keep track of passing time.

January and February

Although there are only six pages (seven if you count the cover), they are poster-sized, 24″ tall (including the binding strip at the top) and 16.5″ wide. (Right-click and open the links in new windows to see the images at high resolution.)

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Odds and ends

Life is annoyingly busy, and I will have less time than usual for maintaining my websites until the middle of December. Expect even less activity here than usual. There might occasionally be posts of miscellaneous nonsense, such as what follows, but probably not much more.


Magical algorithm 1

Flickr recently introduced a “camera roll” feature that displays thumbnails of your pictures arranged either by the date taken or according to its “magic view,” which sorts them into subject-based categories. The algorithms for the latter need a little refinement.

Magical algorithm 2

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