Funny Evening Open Thread: Weird stuff too…

2034152199_633cd4b5eeGood Evening

After this morning’s post, I thought we all could use a laugh…or at least a smile. So tonight, let’s look at some weird news of the day.

Today makes two years since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and because this post will not touch on upsetting news, I will not link to anything about the Fukushima disaster.

Floating tsunami trash to be a decades-long headache

Earthquake and tsunami debris lie at Yamada town in Iwate prefecture on June 6, 2011. The tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011 created the biggest single dumping of rubbish, sweeping some five million tonnes of shattered buildings, cars, household goods and other rubble into the sea.

Earthquake and tsunami debris lie at Yamada town in Iwate prefecture on June 6, 2011

The tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011 created the biggest single dumping of rubbish, sweeping some five million tonnes of shattered buildings, cars, household goods and other rubble into the sea. About three-and-a-half million tonnes, according to official Japanese estimates, sank immediately, leaving some 1.5 million tonnes of plastic, timber, fishing nets, shipping containers, industrial scrap and innumerable other objects to float deeper into the ocean.

That is some mess in that picture…

Tracking the 2011 tsunami debris
Tracking the 2011 tsunami debris Graphic on tracking the debris created by the tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011. Official Japanese estimates say about three-and-a-half million tonnes of debris sank immediately while another 1.5 million tonnes float deeper into the ocean

Read the rest at that link.

I’ve also got some news on space debris, Chinese space debris collides with Russian satellite

According to Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI) has determined that on January 22, 2013 debris from the Chinese FENGYUN 1C collided with Russia’s BLITS satellite. The FENGYUAN 1C is the satellite that was destroyed by China on January 11, 2007 in a test of an anti-satellite missile. The collision changed the orbit of the Russian satellite, along with its spin velocity and attitude. The animation above is from AGI and it depicts the event. The collision wasn’t reported until February 4, 2013 when engineers at the Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering (IPIE) in Moscow reported to CSSI a significant change in the orbit for their BLITS satellite. BLITS is tracked to high precision by the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS), and IPIE had detected a sudden decrease of 120 meters in the semi-major axis of its orbit and a change in its spin velocity and attitude.

And one more science/math link: Mathematicians calculate chances of actually discovering King Richard III were less than 1%

As part of a maths project, undergraduate students on the Business Applications of Mathematics module were asked to work out the probability of the University of Leicester archaeologists finding the remains at the time they started the investigation. They concluded that there only a 0.84% chance of the team discovering Richard – or about 120 to 1 against. And they further calculated: the chances of Richard having been buried in the Grey Friars church were about 85% there was about a 98% chance that the location of the Grey Friars precinct had been identified with sufficient accuracy only 2,322m² of the total area of the Grey Friars precinct of 13,648m² (about 17%) was available for investigation. The students thought the chances of the choir –where Richard was reputed to have been buried – being in the available area were about 25%. The skeleton might not have survived, even if it were in the available area. The students assessed the chances of the body still being there (if it had been there at all) as about 66%. One of the most difficult chances to assess was that the investigation carried out would identify the choir. The students assessed the chances of the investigation finding the choir, if it were there, at about 15% and the chances of finding the grave within the choir if the choir were found at 80%. The students considered that the odds on being able to identify the skeleton as Richard’s were about 50%.

Over a decade ago, I went to a local fiber artist to learn how to spin yarn. She had photographs of her herd of sheep and  there was just a couple of pictures that had a sheep looking directly into the camera. She told me that those particular sheep were abandoned by their mothers and had been hand raised from birth. Supposedly, sheep will only look humans in the eyes if they were raised by humans. (Not sure if this is true or not, I never Googled it. )

Anyway, I thought about those sheep when I read this next article: Why Your Brain Like Art That Looks Back At You

A new study of art through the ages suggests that a more accurate adage might be “beauty is in eye contact with the beholder.” Research shows that what we find beautiful — or at least engaging — are works of art that look back at us. Of course, we still wouldn’t recommend staring for very long into the eyes of Vigo, the Scourge of Carpathia.

The new study is rooted in a concept known as cognitive attraction, and it states that our neurological processes — our hardwired human brains — cause us to favor specific cultural traits more often than not. That plays out in our unconscious preferences, and has been used to explain our interests and desires in everything from religion to  video games.

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior and authored by Olivier Morin, goes on to state that the psychology of cognitive attraction led painters during the Renaissance to favor direct-gaze portraits over others. That is to say, paintings where the subjects are looking back at us — at you — instead of the profile, the three-quarters shot, or the looking-totally-somewhere-else style of painting that came before. Morin’s paper points out this cultural shift over the course of 16th century Europe didn’t take much into account for the subject’s age or sex. Whether the subject was young, old, male, female, pretty, or ugly — a young woman or Carpathian tyrant, it doesn’t matter – the direct-gaze approach was favored during the Renaissance. And here’s the clincher: It still is. Our museum collections and our coffee table books still demonstrate a preference for the creepy I’m-watching-you style of painting.

Morin posits that whenever cultural restrictions don’t override it, our neurological preference is the Mona Lisa approach in creating or observing. He even found a parallel artistic evolution in the poses of historical Korean paintings, showing that this isn’t a European trend but a human one.

Eye-to-eye contact, whether from a living person or a 2D, rendered image, are simply easier for us to identify — the same is true for infants — and are there more attractive to us. We’re just hardwired this way. Of course, “attractive” is not synonymous with “handsome.” It just means we have an easier time looking away from people not looking back at us.

For this next link, art meets immigration issues. Photos: Life in Mexico’s Fast Lane

Alejandro Cartagena

While working on an assignment to capture how people made use of the streets in Monterrey, Mexico, photographer Alejandro Cartagena discovered an unusual perspective on commuting. Two or three mornings a week for a year, Cartagena would stake out pedestrian bridges overlooking a southbound highway to snap shots of workers riding in the back of pickup trucks.

The trick, he says, was to “try to predict which trucks would be carrying people on the back,” then run across the overpass and prepare to quickly photograph the moving vehicle’s passengers. Many of the men were ducking down to avoid attention, though some were likely just protecting themselves from the cold.

The “Car Poolers” photos, now on display at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, show workers preparing for the mundane—another day of construction in one of Monterrey’s many suburbs. Taken together, they serve as an unusual portrait of survival and adaptation amid sprawl and uncertainty.

Okay, this one is for Boston Boomer and Pat Johnson…and anyone else in the Bean Town greater area.

The Postal Tower: 1908 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive


Can you guess where that photo was taken?  “Post office in Lowell, Massachusetts.” Circa 1908.

And finally, this last link made me think of those weasel toys they sell at Cracker Barrels. Weasel Interrupts A Soccer Match [VIDEO]

Technically, it was a “marten” (basically a weasel) that was on the field. That’s not the exciting part, though. Watch as the helpless players and stadium officials struggle to capture the varmint as the game was momentarily halted for the sake of comedy.

Anyone ever hear that expression about having a face like a cats ass? Well, see if you can spot an ass in this picture, from pinterest:

That is an illustration for some early book of fairy tales…

This is an open thread.

5 Comments on “Funny Evening Open Thread: Weird stuff too…”

  1. Y’all have a wonderful evening….

  2. Geez, this is why I could never live in California: California earthquake packed unusually wide punch, experts say –

    Hope all you folks near this earthquake are okay…

  3. bostonboomer says:

    That photo from Lowell is amazing. That was when Lowell was a mill town. I can see the mills in the background.

    • bostonboomer says:

      In fact, this whole post is fascinating! For some reason I just love those photos of people lying in the back of pickup trucks–reading the paper, etc.