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How Christmas crackers were made in the 1930s

YouTube link.

Referring to "the 50's" or "the 60's" is grammatically incorrect

Contractions for numbers follow the same rules as contractions for words. As a apostrophe goes where the letters are dropped in a contracted word (e.g.

London's newest tourist attraction

Via Bad Newspaper.

The UN Convention Against Torture

Several weeks ago The Dish live-blogged the release of the torture report.  It makes for difficult reading.  An important, earlier, related post provides a detailed rebuttal to those who defend the use of torture (boldface added): It’s worth recalling in that context the actual words of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was signed by Ronald Reagan and torn to shreds by Dick Cheney.

So you like to take quizzes?

I'm waiting (impatiently) for the annual King Williams College General Knowledge Quiz, which presumably will be released just after Christmas.  In the meantime I peeked at the Royal Statistical Society Christmas Quiz, which is equally near-impossible.

A tortoise rescues an overturned comrade

YouTube link. Discussed at Reddit.

Wealth inequality is not just an American problem

YouTube link.  Via the always-interesting Nag on the Lake.

Democracy as a vehicle for tyranny

That democracy can be a vehicle for tyranny was well understood by earlier generations of liberal thinkers.

Adrenaline rush videos of 2014

YouTube link. A compilation of over 200 snippets from this past year's YouTube videos.  No single common theme, but a heavy preponderance of adrenaline-junkie material, about which I have mixed feelings.  But there are several segments in here I would like to post as full videos, if I can manage to find them in this list of the source material.

Cranberry packaging

Cropped for size from original at imgur, via Reddit.

If a garlic head in the store smells like garlic... don't buy it.

This scientifically valid advice comes from the staff at Cook's Illustrated, who note that "garlic is one product where a strong fragrance is a sign of questionable quality rather than potency.

"History is a set of lies agreed upon" - Napoleon

"The typical spices used in winter include nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and anise. These spices contain two groups of chemicals, the allylbenzenes and their isomers, the propenylbenzenes.

"I do not want to be the one who tries to tell somebody else what life is all about. To me it’s a complete mystery."

BoingBoing offers a comprehensive report entitled Everything you need to know about marijuana edibles.  "It’s important for individuals to develop an idea of how they personally metabolize any oral cannabis preparation, starting with a very small dose and remaining patient until it’s thoroughly metabolized over six hours, before taking more...


An article at the BBC explores why so many Americans live in mobile homes.  "Not everyone who lives in a trailer park is poor."  My father lived in one in Texas for many years .

Return of the Weekend Linkdump

Gotta do this.  Otherwise the links accumulate and multiply like coathangers in the closet. Video of massive numbers of mullets (fish, not hairdos) becoming prey during their annual migration.

I'm shutting down TYWKIWDBI

Not permanently, but for an indefinite time period, probably extending through the holiday season. On Tuesday, shortly after I wrote that last post, I received a phone call informing me that my 95-year-old mother had fallen and injured herself.  Evaluation at the University Hospital here confirmed that she fractured her humerus when she landed on her elbow, driving the shaft into the head at an angle.  She is now stable in an assisted living facility, but this combined with her dementia results in a variety of medical and social needs that require my attention.

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."

Archaeologists in Bulgaria have uncovered another "vampire grave" dating to the first half of the 13th century: "The skeleton, thought to be of a man aged between 40 and 50, had a heavy piece of ploughshare – an iron rod, used in a plough – hammered through its chest.

The "drinkable book"

YouTube link. From the outside, "The Drinkable Book" looks like a normal book. It's about an inch or two thick, with 20 pages.

Card manipulation

YouTube link. Not card tricks - just (literally) manipulation of the cards by people you wouldn't want to play poker with.

Black members of Congress

Found at The Washington Post.