Archive for the ‘The Lighter Side’ Category

Seen in a public library

September 15, 2018

I forget where I came across this on the Internet.  For the benefit of non-American and younger visitors to this blog, the numbers are part of the old Dewey decimal system of library subject classifications; that system came into existence before the digital age.

A mock Bugatti Chiron built of Lego parts

September 8, 2018

Lego engineers built a driveable duplicate of a $2.6 million Bugatti Chiron sports car, using more than 1 million Lego parts.

It uses real Bugatti wheels and tires, a steel frame and batteries for power, but more than 90 percent of the car is Lego parts, including 2,300 Lego Technic Power Function motors and 4,632 Lego Technic gear wheels.

It has a fully functional steering wheel, brakes (but no accelerator), headlights, tail lights, speedometer and doors that open and close.  No glue was used in putting the parts together.

A real Bugatti Chiron is made of about 1,800 parts.  It has a 1,500 horsepower motor and a top speed of 261 miles per hour.  The Lego version has a 5.3 HP motor and a theoretical top speed of 18 miles per hour.

But it works!  I bet it was a lot of fun to work on.

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A cartoon history of metaphysics

September 1, 2018

Click to enlarge.

Source: Existential Comics.

Fun with street art

June 30, 2018

Time for something a little lighter.

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A street artist who calls himself Tom Bob has fun with everyday objects.

Click on the links below for more of Tom Bob’s art.

There’s a Genius Street Artist Running Loose in New York City and Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him by Monika for Bored Panda.

There’s a Genius Street Artist Running Loose in the Streets and Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him (30+ New Pics) by Ilona for Bored Panda.

Ted Forth and the IRS scammer

June 16, 2018

Time for something a little lighter.

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Source: Ted Forth and the IRS Scammer on Medium Large.

Why I like this Harry Potter fan fiction novel

June 9, 2018

I never read the original Harry Potter novels, but I have been completely engrossed in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, a fan fiction novel by Eliezer Yudkowsky published on-line, chapter by chapter as it was written, from 2010 to 2015.

The premise is that Harry Potter’s foster-father was not the vile Vernon Dursley, as in the original novels, but Michael Verres-Evans, an intelligent and kindly Oxford biochemistry professor, who encouraged Harry to read science and science fiction.

Consequently young Harry is a committed rationalist, who regards the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft not as a refuge from an unkind Muggle world, but as a puzzle to be solved and a challenge to be overcome.

He also is a genius, with the intellect of a Richard Feynman and the ambition of a Napoleon Bonaparte, along with the emotional maturity of an 11-year-old boy.

His plan is to use the methods of science to unlock the secrets of magic, then to combine the powers of both to “optimize” the world on rational principles  As a character remarks, this is not far from wanting to become a Dark Lord.

Young Harry escapes the control of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and Professor Minerva McGonagall and allows himself to be mentored by the cynical Professor Quirinus Quirrell, while trying to wean fellow student Draco Malfoy from unthinking malice and Hermione Granger from unthinking goodness.

There are many adventures, in which young Harry seemingly triumphs by applying his intelligence and the rational method.  He becomes impatient with Hogwarts’ witches and wizards for failing to understand cognitive bias, Bayes’s Theorem, game theory, effective altruism and the other principles of rationality.

Then, in the end, he discovers that he has completely misunderstood his situation and brought himself, Hogwarts and Magical Britain to the brink of doom.  But he thinks his way out of his plight at the very last minute and saves the day, although not without cost.

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Optical illusions up against the wall

May 19, 2018


Manuel de Rita, an Italian artist known as peeta, likes to draw optical illusions on wall murals.  I took these images off a Colossal web page.

I am sure the artist had a good time painting these.  I enjoyed looking at them.  If I spent all my time thinking about government and politics, I’d be depressed.

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Cute harvest mice among the tulips

May 5, 2018

These cute pictures were taken by a British animal photographer named Miles Herbert.  Looking at them made me smile.  He does business as Captivelight. His other specialties are frogs, reptiles and birds of prey.

 I found this set of photos on the Bored Panda web site, which posted a gallery of 20 of Herbert’s mouse-and-tulip photos in all.

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Happy cows jump for joy at spring’s arrival

April 8, 2018

Source: thefunkyfarmer.

This is pretty much the way I feel.

Cats watching over human babies

March 10, 2018

Trade war tactics and strategy

March 5, 2018

Reuters reported that the European Union is considering applying 25 percent tariffs on American motorcycles, bourbon and blue jeans, if President Trump imposes new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Motorcycles, bourbon and blue jeans?  Kevin Drum of Mother Jones explained the significance.

Hmmm.  Harley-Davidsons are made in—what?  Wisconsin, right?  In Menomonee Falls, actually, about 50 miles from Janesville, where Paul Ryan lives.  The Jim Beam bourbon distillery is in Clermont, Kentucky, about 20 miles from Mitch McConnell’s house in Louisville.  Levi’s is headquartered in San Francisco, about two miles from Nancy Pelosi’s house.

I think that’s a pretty funny example of trade war tactics.

How to tell the ‘flu from a cold

February 9, 2018

This doctor’s hilarious chart reveals the very simple way to tell if you’ve got the ‘flu or just a cold by Tom Michael for The Sun.  (Hat tip to naked capitalism)

What is influenza, how contagious is it, what are the symptoms, how can you avoid it, and has anybody died from the ‘flu in the UK? by Lauren Windle and Emma Lake for The Sun.

Cold versus flu, explained by Julia Belluz for Vox.  [Added 2/10/2018]  (Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist.)

Wit and wisdom on church signs

September 16, 2017

These photos of church signs were collected on the Bored Panda website.

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A cat watches Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”

August 26, 2017

Two versions, in case one is taken down or has too many pop-ups

A third version below matches the kitten’s reaction with the scene.

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The fine art of telling a joke

August 5, 2017

The only things I know about how to tell a joke is to pause before I state the punch line, and to emphasize the words in the punch line that are the point of the joke.   But there’s a lot more to it, as this analysis of a Louis CK joke shows.

In praise of dullness

July 8, 2017

Some 35 years ago, there was an International Dull Men’s Club whose chairman was J.D. Stewart, a statistical analyst for Eastman Kodak Co. here in Rochester, New York.

That was in 1982, a year of peak dullness and boring prosperity for both Rochester and Kodak.   Since then Kodak has gone bankrupt, which has made life around here more “interesting” in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse.

The club was formed largely as a joke, but with an underlying idea of honoring people who enjoy mundane things and who do mundane but necessary work.

Stewart would do things like publishing a list of the 10 dullest Americans (including Don Rickles, Gerald Ford, Lawrence Welk, Walter Mondale, Fred Rogers and Garfield the cat) and proposing seminars on topics such as “dressing to break even” and “non-assertiveness sensitivity training”.

The video above shows how the Dull Men’s Club concept has been revived in Great Britain.  The club blog is devoted to safe excitement, an outstandingly dull concept.

I do have to say that the British devotion to dullness is incomplete.   The new Dull Men’s Club is devoted to unusual hobbies, some of which seem actually interesting.

There is a woman whose hobby is to follow brown road signs, wherever they might take her.  That could lead to actual adventures, which is contrary to the spirit of dullness.

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A brief entertaining history of everything

May 20, 2017

This video by Bill Wurtz is fun and, as far as I can tell, well-researched and accurate.

Hat tip to Jason Kottke, who also linked to Wurtz’s video history of Japan.

Donald Trump’s Russian admirers

May 17, 2017

The Easter bunny caper

April 16, 2017

Source: Medium Large.

Astronaut vandalism

April 3, 2017

Source: xkcd

Sign of the thymes

March 25, 2017

Image via mlkshk.

Bertrand Russell’s shortest book

March 4, 2017

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Click on HISTORY OF THE WORLD in epitome (for use in Martian infant schools), and scroll down, to read the text and illustrations.

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A joking Dutch message to Donald Trump

January 27, 2017

Update 2/14/2017.  You also can click on this to view the video.

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Everybody needs a hug

September 17, 2016

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Hat tip for these to Elizabeth Mummert and Joyce Mummert Ireland.

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When (if ever) will Donald Trump self-destruct?

August 8, 2016

It’s a good thing we have photographic evidence of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump being in the same room at the same time.

Otherwise you could really convince me that after a blowout electoral loss on Nov. 8, “Trump” will walk onstage and pull off a rubber Scooby-Doo-type mask to reveal that it was really Bill Clinton all along, acting like the dumbest candidate in the world, just to guarantee that Hillary Clinton got into the White House.

The real Donald Trump is somewhere tied up in a Brooklyn, N.Y., basement, guarded 24-7 by Clinton surrogates, wondering why he’s allowed food and drink but no access to Twitter.

That’s more believable than the idea that out of all of their options, Republicans nominated a Gold Star-family-attacking, non-party-endorsing, baby-kicker-outer to face off against an ethically challenged policy wonk who barely connects to her own party’s base.

Source: Jason Johnson | The Root

In the early days of Donald Trump’s candidacy, I never thought he would get the Republican nomination.  I thought he would soon do or say something so offensive and outrageous that his followers would turn against him.

I’m still waiting for that to happen.

The daily news cycle seems to go like this.

  • Donald Trump says some shocking and offensive thing.
  • Washington press corps and respectable politicians denounce Trump for shocking and offensive thing.
  • Donald Trump refuses to back down from shocking and offensive thing.
  • Next day: Donald Trump says or does another shocking and offensive thing.

DonaldTrumpInstagram(JPEG Image, 1160 × 629 pixels)What Trump manages to do with all this is to keep public attention focused on himself.   He says so many shocking and offensive things that it is hard for the ordinary busy person, who has a job and family responsibilities, to keep them straight.  What remains is an impression of Trump as a strong person who doesn’t back down.

Hard-core of Trump supporters believe anything and everything he says, including that President Obama is a secret Kenyan-born Muslim socialist and that Muslim sharia law is a real and present danger to the USA.   There is no way to convince them of anything different because they are not interested in separating truth from falsehood, and have no criteria for doing so.

Their support is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls anti-fragile.  No matter what Trump’s opponents do or don’t do, their faith in him grows stronger.

Another group supports Trump not on his merits, but because they think anything is better than the status quo.  The more he outrages established politicians and journalists, the better they like it.  The size of this group is a measure of the failure of American government during the past 15 or so years.

By the standards of the past, Trump would have been a fringe candidate, as would Bernie Sanders.  Their strong showings are due less to their own qualities than to the discontent of the American public.  I don’t think Trump supporters’ will cease to be angry at the status quo because Trump makes disrespectful remarks about a Muslim Gold Star mother.

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