Friday, August 17, 2018

John Green is one of the biggest young-adult authors in the world.  Now he wants to get small.  Four of his best-selling novels—including “The Fault in Our Stars”—will be released in October, 2018 in a radically new miniature format.  All the original words will be there, but the pages will be squeezed down to something about the size of a cellphone.  Green first saw these mini-books in the Netherlands, where they’re called Flipbacks or Dwarsliggers (dwarscrossways; liggen to lie).  “I thought the quality of the bookmaking was really magnificent,” he says.  When his U.S. publisher asked whether he wanted to be a guinea pig for Flipbacks in the United States, he readily agreed.  Dutch printer Royal Jongbloed, which started as a Bible publisher, debuted the format in 2009.  Since then, Jongbloed has helped publish more than 1,000 titles—including works by Dan Brown, John le Carré and Agatha Christie—in Flipback format in several European countries.  The spine, a unique hinge that allows the chunky little book to remain open, is the heart of this feat of miniaturization.  And the special paper—long used for Bibles—is miraculously thin without being see-through.  When Strauss-Gabel decided to work with Jongbloed to bring Flipback versions of Green’s titles to the United States, everything about the appearance of his books had to be rethought, from how big the font should be to how many lines could fit on the pages.  Ron Charles  See also

IN THE SUMMER, TAKE IT LOW AND SLOW  Find recipes for slow-cooked meats at

Saphar meaning to number was the ancient Hebrew word for the English "cipher".  The word was and still may be used as a term of derision to mock an unworthy ignorant person.  Organ makers refer to the word as meaning a sound volunteered by a imperfect organ without pressing any key.  It may be nothing; a naught, a zero, according to mathematicians.  But we shall speak of it as indicating a method of secret communication.  According to the comprehensive Oxford English Dictionary, these forms of the word cipher were also acceptable in the Seventeenth Century:  sipher, cyfer, cifer, ciphre, sypher, ziphre, scypher, cyphar, cyphre, ciphar, zifer, cypher.  Francis Bacon who wrote about it spelled it as ciphras in Latin.  Perhaps the earliest allusion is in Homer's Iliad.  Cryptography prospered during the Middle Ages, but most systems were elementary and based on the substitution of a different letter of the alphabet (a "Caesar") while others used numerals or invented symbols.  Examples of these have been found in 9th and 10th Century manuscripts.  But with the European Renaissance and the later English revival of interest in arts and literature cryptology became a separate science at the same time that its practitioners searched for a new universal language.  The mysteries of cryptology had been well guarded and kept in monasteries or in the secret archives of princes and kings; few of its methods were openly published.  But the thirst for means of clandestine communication became stronger in England and on the Continent.  War and politics demanded such tools.  Wayne Shumaker, a master of old Latin and German, has discussed the copious writings of Johannes Trithemius (1462-1526) who was a German monk. Trithemius' book Polographiae libri sex (1518), written in Latin, was mostly concerned with history and theology but the author has been called the first theoretician of cryptography.  His Steganographia was circulated while the manuscript was still in composition and John Dee, who owned the largest private library in England copied at least half of it in 1563.  Thomas Penn Leary  Read much more and see graphics at

Every industry has its jargon.  Catering is no different.  Some terms are:  Dead Stock – this is left-over wine stock (bottles) ordered by the crate for a special event that has taken place.  Dualing Menus – this is another term for Split Entrees.  Instead of having an eight ounce steak, you can have a four ounce steak and a four ounce piece of fish (surf and turf).  This is a good way to introduce exotic items to a meat and potato crowd.  It also allows attendees to ‘trade’ an item they do not like.  Intermezzo – an intermission in meal service just before the main course.  Sorbet is usually served, to cleanse the palate.  Napery – tablecloths, overlays, runners, napkins and other linens used on the dining table.  Read more at

August 14, 2018  Last week, two tourists in Italy both tried to snap a selfie in front of Rome's Trevi Fountain in at the same time.  They confronted one another--first verbally, but then the interaction became physical, before disintegrating into an eight-person brawl as their family members joined in the fight.  The police said that two Canadian tourists had been fined 450 euros ($513) each for bathing in the fountain--another strict no-no, despite the scene from Federico Fellini's 1960 movie "La Dolce Vita."  The baroque water structure opened in 1762 and has a starring role in classic movies including "Three Coins in the Fountain," and "Roman Holiday," starring Audrey Hepburn.  Meanwhile, in the Italian island of Sardinia, officials are cracking down on another kind of tourism issue: sand thievery.  Thieves are being warned that they could be fined anywhere from 500 euros (roughly $580) to 3,000 euros (roughly $3,482) if they are caught pilfering from the island's beautiful beaches.  Tourism issues aren't confined to Italy, though. Chile's Easter Island is limiting the number of people who can visit the island as well as the length of stay and Mount Everest is attempting to deal with the human impact of waste on the world's highest peak.  Francesca Street

August 16, 2018  A battery of forensic chemical tests carried out on a mummy that dated from 3,700-3,500 BC revealed the recipe and confirmed that it was developed far earlier and used more widely than previously thought.  The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, is now home to the mummy in question.  The findings are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.  Dr Stephen Buckley, an archaeologist from the University of York, told BBC News that this mummy "literally embodies the embalming that was at the heart of Egyptian mummification for 4,000 years".  Dr Buckley and his colleagues worked out the chemical "fingerprint" of every ingredient, although each element could have come from a number of sources.  So the basic recipe was:  a plant oil - possibly sesame oil; a "balsam-type" plant or root extract that may have come from bullrushes; a plant-based gum--a natural sugar that may have been extracted from acacia; crucially, a conifer tree resin, which was probably pine resin.  When mixed into the oil, that resin would have given it antibacterial properties, protecting the body from decay.  Victoria Gill  Read more and see pictures at

August 16,2018  Scientists decoded the genome of rice in 2002.  They completed the soybean genome in 2008.  They mapped the maize genome in 2009.  But only now has the long-awaited wheat genome been fully sequenced.  It is arguably the most critical crop in the world.  It’s grown on more land than anything else.  It provides humanity with a fifth of our calories.  While the genome of Arabidopsis—the first plant to be sequenced—contains 135 million DNA letters, and the human genome contains 3 billion, bread wheat has 16 billion.  Just one of wheat’s chromosomes—3B—is bigger than the entire soybean genome.  The bread-wheat genome is really three genomes in one.  About 500,000 years ago, before humans even existed, two species of wild grass hybridized with each other to create what we now know as emmer wheat.  After humans domesticated this plant and planted it in their fields, a third grass species inadvertently joined the mix.  This convoluted history has left modern bread wheat with three pairs of every chromosome, one pair from each of the three ancestral grasses.  In technical lingo, that’s a hexaploid genome.  Ed Yong  Read more, see picture, and link to video at

Aretha Franklin, who died August 16, 2018 at 76, was more than the undisputed “Queen of Soul.”  She was one of the most important musicians of our time, a genius who soared above genres and expectations to create music that will live forever.  She was not an opera singer, yet she brought down the house at the Grammys in 1998 when she filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and delivered an unforgettable version of the Puccini aria “Nessun Dorma.”  She was not a jazz singer, but her renditions of standards such as “Love for Sale” and “Misty” were cited by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in awarding her the organization’s highest honors.  Jerry Wexler, the legendary producer at Atlantic Records who shepherded much of Franklin’s oeuvre, wrote a piece for Rolling Stone in 2004 in which he recalled the day she told him about her idea for reworking a song that had been a hit for the great Otis Redding.  “It was already worked out in her head,” Wexler wrote.  The song was titled “Respect.”  When Redding heard Franklin’s version, Wexler recalled, he said simply, “She done took my song.”  “She was a brilliant pianist, a combination of Mildred Falls—Mahalia Jackson’s accompanist—and Thelonious Monk,” Wexler wrote.  See Why Nobody Sang the Beatles Like Aretha by Rob Sheffield at  Issue 1936  August 17, 2018 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The cooperative pulling paradigm is an experimental design in which two or more animals pull rewards towards themselves via an apparatus that they cannot successfully operate alone.  Researchers (ethologistscomparative psychologists, and evolutionary psychologists) use cooperative pulling experiments to try to understand how cooperation works and how and when it may have evolved.  The type of apparatus used in cooperative pulling experiments can vary.  Researcher Meredith Crawford, who invented the experimental paradigm in 1937, used a mechanism consisting of two ropes attached to a rolling platform that was too heavy to be pulled by a single chimpanzee.  The standard apparatus is one in which a single string or rope is threaded through loops on a movable platform.  If only one participant pulls the string, it comes loose and the platform can no longer be retrieved.  Only by pulling together in coordination can the participants be successful; success by chance is highly unlikely.  Some researchers have designed apparatus that involve handles instead of ropes.  Read much more and see many graphics at

“Don’t mess with Texas” is a phrase that inspires Texans of all regions and all alma maters and incites mass derision from the rest of the country.  Although this mark of Texas swagger is used to elicit Texas pride in a myriad of situations, it was, and continues to be, a relatively trashy call to arms.  Literally.  The slogan was developed by the Texas Department of Transportation for an anti-littering campaign.  “It’s not just a prideful remark, trying to pick a fight,” says Jeff Austin III, commissioner on the Texas Transportation Commission.  “It’s don’t litter in Texas, don’t mess up Texas.  We want to keep it a beautiful state.  Texas is our home.”  In the late 1980s, the Texas Department of Transportation had a mess on its hands.  It was spending $20 million annually on trash pick-up, and that number was increasing by about 17 percent year over year.  So the department put out a request for a marketing campaign to address the rubbish.  Tim McClure and his colleagues at Austin-based advertising agency GSD&M were just a few weeks away from the deadline, without a clever concept to pitch.   On an early morning walk, McClure noted the trash in his own neighborhood and thought, “This is a mess,”—just  like his mother used to say about his childhood bedroom.  That’s when it hit him that his team was going about this the wrong way.  Texans don’t talk about “litter” in their daily lives but they do say “mess,” and just like that “Don’t mess with Texas” was born.  Within a month of convincing the department to invest in “Don’t mess with Texas,” McClure and his team were stashing bumper stickers spouting the slogan in truck stops and fast food restaurants, places frequented by their target demographic.  But this paraphernalia wasn’t labeled as from the TxDOT and had no clear indication about its true meaning, an intentional ploy by McClure.  The campaign officially launched on New Years Day, 1986, during the television broadcast of the 50th annual Cotton Bowl.  That year’s game, held as always in Dallas, saw Texas A&M trounce Auburn and its Heisman Trophy-winning running back, Bo Jackson.  Viewers saw a commercial starring Texas blues musician Stevie Ray Vaughan strumming a guitar in front of a large Texas flag at the Austin City Limits studio.  A narrator’s voice drifts over the music reminding the audience of the expense and illegality of littering.  The spot ends with Vaughan’s unwavering command, “Don’t mess with Texas.”  It wasn’t until 2002 that the Texas Department of Transportation trademarked the phrase to receive royalties from its use.  They’ve engaged in a few lawsuits since, as in 2012 when author Christie Craig titled her racy romance novel Don’t Mess with Texas.  Reasonably, the Texas government wasn’t keen on associating its precious slogan with the story of the late-night shenanigans between a woman suspected of murdering her philandering boyfriend and a private investigator out to prove her innocence.  The state won the case and Craig renamed her book Only in Texas.  Katie Nodjimbadem  Read much more at

10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze  The list--with instructions--includes bread, butter, milk and eggs.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal:  it is the courage to continue that counts.”   “I am fond of pigs.  Dogs look up to us.  Cats look down on us.  Pigs treat us as equals.”  “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”  “If you cannot read all your books--fondle them--peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are.  Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.”  “Short words are best, and old words when short are best of all.”  Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965), politician, army officer, and writer, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. 

CAUSA RELLENA  This versatile Peruvian potato dish makes a great light meal or a fine addition to a buffet spread.  Causa can be layered with any number of fillings—chicken salad and tuna salad are favorites.  Served cold, the dish is often topped with extravagant garnishes and sauces for a colorful presentation.  Causa takes its name from the old Incan Quechua word kausaq, which means "giver of life," another name for the potato.  Rellena is the Spanish word for "stuffed" or "filled."  Find recipe at

Perk means lively, pert, though perky is the form most often used for this definition.  Perk may also be used as an abbreviation of the verb percolate.  When preceding the word up as in perk up, it becomes a verb meaning to become cheerful or energized.  Related terms are perks up, perked up, perking up.  Perk is derived from the Old French word perquer which means to perch.  Perq is an abbreviation of perquisite, which means a benefit, tip or bonus of employment.  Though occasionally found in print and in newspaper stories, perq is not found in most dictionaries.  The accepted spelling for the abbreviation of perquisite is perk, usually rendered as the plural, perks.

How readable is your writing?  Use our free readability checker and find out.  Just copy and paste your writing into the box and click the ‘check my readability’ button.  We’ll check your writing against the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease score, the Gunning Fog score and the SMOG index (‘Simple Measure of Gobbledygook’).

OLLIE  Co-living provides fully-furnished shared microstudios and shared suites with hotel-style services and community engagement.  Ollie co-founders Andrew and Chris Bledsoe share an unbreakable bond.  Before they were business partners, they were each other’s first roommates, spending their days building Lego masterpieces from the comfort of their Star Wars bed tents.  By high school, Andrew had asserted his independence and commandeered the home office as his own room, while Chris headed off to college.  And, just five years later they were reunited--this time in The Big Apple, where they were briefly roommates once again, though Andrew quickly traded Chris’ couch for a 1-bedroom apartment in the Financial District.  With the help of a pressurized wall system, he reconfigured the unit to accommodate two additional rooms and advertised on Craigslist.  The responses poured in--nearly 90 replies in two days.  The name Ollie is a play on “all-inclusive living."  Ollie locations are in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Jersey City and Los Angeles.

As rents continue to soar in America’s most desirable cities, companies like New York-based Ollie are angling to transform the real estate market with an updated version of an old model of co-living spaces.  Once all the rage (from the 1920s through the 1960s), co-living is back again.  A slew of entrants from early-stage startups like Common, HubHausPure House and Roam Co-living to better financed entrants like WeLive (from the multi-billion-dollar shared-office company, WeWork) and PMGx, are building businesses (and apartment buildings) to capitalize on the highly competitive and increasingly expensive problem of living for the city.  Ollie has its own spin on things.  The company has designed its apartments to maximize limited space with high-concept design furniture and offers all of its tenants free Wi-Fi, premium television and fancy soaps in the bathrooms.  Linen and maid service are included as well, making the company’s properties seem more like extended-stay hotels than rentals or shares.  Jonathan Shieber  Read more and see pictures at  Issue 1935  August 15, 2018  Word of the Day  cooling glasses  noun  (India) Sunglasses.  Today is India’s Independence Day.  Wiktionary

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Terms of Endearment is a 1983 American comedy-drama film adapted from Larry McMurtry's 1975 novel, directed, written, and produced by James L. Brooks, and starring Shirley MacLaineDebra WingerJack NicholsonDanny DeVitoJeff Daniels, and John Lithgow.  The film covers 30 years of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger).  The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, and won five.  Brooks won the Academy Awards for Best PictureBest Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, while MacLaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  In addition, it won four Golden GlobesBest Motion Picture – DramaBest Actress in a Drama (MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson), and Best Screenplay (Brooks).  James L. Brooks added the character played by Jack Nicholson--there was no such character in McMurtry's novel.

Preparing Cucumbers for Freezing   Wash, remove wax and peel.  Remove the wax from non-organic cucumbers with detergent and a brush.  Slice cucumbers thinly with a food processor or knife.  Brine Recipe:  In a large bowl, mix 2 quarts of cucumbers with chopped onions and 2 tablespoons of salt.  Let stand for 2 hours.  Rinse well with cold water, drain and return to clean bowl.  Add 2/3 cup of oil, 2/3 cup vinegar, 2/3 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of celery seed.  Mix well over and refrigerate overnight.  Freezing:  Pack cucumbers in brine in rigid plastic containers or glass jars, leaving 1 inch of head space.  Freeze.  Wait at least 1 week before defrosting and eating.  Cucumbers preserved in brine will last several months in the freezer.  See also Freeze Cucumbers & Learn How to Use Them at

The richest person in the world--in fact all the riches in the world--couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.” - Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990), publisher of Forbes magazine from 1957 to 1990

Authors! Authors! presented by the Library Legacy Foundation of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library  Sally Field discusses her memoir In Pieces  Stranahan Theater & Great Hall  4645 Heatherdowns Boulevard  Toledo  Tuesday, September 25, 2018 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)

The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, NEA’s Read Across America.  This year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.  "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child."

National Read Across America Day is an annual event that is part of Read Across America, an initiative on reading that was created by the National Education Association.  Each year, National Read Across America Day is celebrated on March 2nd, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  However, if it falls on a weekend, it is observed in the school systems on the school day closest to March 2nd.  This day is a motivational and awareness day, calling all children and youth in every community across the United States to celebrate reading.  The first National Read Across America Day was held on March 2, 1998.  Upcoming dates are:  March 1, 2019 and March 2 in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Crazy 8s is a recreational after-school math club that helps kids enjoy the math behind their favorite activities!  We're nothing like your usual math club.  With Crazy 8s kids will build glow-in-the-dark structures, crack secret spy codes and play games like Toilet Paper Olympics.

March 27, 2018  Bedtime Math's Crazy 8s club reduces children's feelings of math-related anxiety, according to a study led by Johns Hopkins University psychologists.  Crazy 8s is the nation's largest recreational after-school math club for young children.  Kids in kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade explore math through play, engaging in high-energy, hands-on activities that use unconventional items like glow sticks, toilet paper and beach balls.  Since 2014, 140,000 children have participated in 10,000 Crazy 8s clubs across the country.  The results of the study found that children in both age groups experienced a significant reduction in math anxiety after eight weeks of participation in the club.  The effect was more pronounced among children in the kindergarten through second grade club.

Long-deceased Viennese doctors, unless they’re called Freud, rarely make newspaper headlines.  But one has done so on both sides of the Atlantic.  On April 19, 2018, the academic open-access journal Molecular Autism published a detailed article by the Austrian medical historian Herwig Czech about Hans Asperger, the Viennese pediatrician whose name has since the 1980s designated a syndrome that forms part of the wider autism spectrum.  Like many prominent Austrian medical figures of his generation, Asperger’s wartime record of involvement in some of the deadliest aspects of Nazi medical practice had long remained unquestioned or was glossed over.  The historian Edith Sheffer’s book Asperger’s Children was published a month after Czech’s exposé.  The term “autistic” originated with the talented Eugen Bleuler, director of the Burghölzli, the pioneering psychiatric hospital in Zurich.  In the detailed description of the group of schizophrenias he included in a 1911 book, Bleuler coined the term “autistic” to characterize thinking—something that, unlike many, he was certain was going on in his patients—and feeling that were more than usually introverted, self-absorbed, and lashed with fantasies.  Autism as a separate diagnostic category did not exist for Bleuler, Freud, or indeed for any doctor until 1943.  What brought it into being was the birth of a new field:  child psychiatry, with its close observation of behavior and its measurements and assessments carried out in schools, hospitals, or institutions.   Asperger’s name first appeared in English-language medicine in 1981, when the British psychiatrist Lorna Wing published an account of a syndrome she named after him, drawing on his 1944 treatise on autistic psychopathy.  In that paper, Asperger described children, some of them “little professors,” who lacked the ability to interact with others.  “Asperger’s disorder,” a new subcategory of PDD included in DSM-IV, was distinguished by the fact that children showed no delay or deficit in intelligence or cognitive abilities or verbal communication, but like other autistic children exhibited impairments in social interaction and behaved in repetitive and ritualistic ways.  It is unclear whether this common usage contributed to Asperger’s disorder disappearing as a separate diagnosis from DSMV (2013) and being merged into an autism spectrum disorder.  (Asperger’s remains in the International Classification of Diseases, which is maintained by the WHO.)  Lisa Appignanesi   Thank you, Muse reader!   See also What Is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)? by Kendra Cherry at

August 13, 2018  If  you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment:  Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends.  Now bend it until it breaks.  How many fragments did you make?  If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again.  Can you break the noodle in two?  If not, you’re in very good company.  The spaghetti challenge has flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman, who once spent a good portion of an evening breaking pasta and looking for a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refused to snap in two.  Feynman’s kitchen experiment remained unresolved until 2005, when physicists from France pieced together a theory to describe the forces at work when spaghetti—and any long, thin rod—is bent.  They found that when a stick is bent evenly from both ends, it will break near the center, where it is most curved.   This initial break triggers a “snap-back” effect and a bending wave, or vibration, that further fractures the stick.  Their theory, which won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, seemed to solve Feynman’s puzzle.  But a question remained:  Could spaghetti ever be coerced to break in two?  The answer, according to a new MIT study, is yes—with a twist.  In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that they have found a way to break spaghetti in two, by both bending and twisting the dry noodles.  They carried out experiments with hundreds of spaghetti sticks, bending and twisting them with an apparatus they built specifically for the task.  The team found that if a stick is twisted past a certain critical degree, then slowly bent in half, it will, against all odds, break in two.  The researchers say the results may have applications beyond culinary curiosities, such as enhancing the understanding of crack formation and how to control fractures in other rod-like materials such as multifiber structures, engineered nanotubes, or even microtubules in cells.  Jennifer Chu  Issue 1934  August 14, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
paragnosis  (par-uh-GNO-sis)  noun  Knowledge that cannot be obtained by normal means.
From Greek para- (beyond) + gnosis (knowledge).  Earliest documented use:  1933.

Oedipus at Colonus was the third play of the Oedipus trilogy written by the great Greek tragedian Sophocles (c. 496-c. 406 BCE).  Although written in the years prior to his death, it would finally be presented by his son Iophon at a dramatic competition in 401 BCE.  The play’s sequel Antigone was actually written years earlier in 441 BCE.   Along with Aeschylus and Euripides, Sophocles represents the greatest of the Greek playwrights.  In the 4th and 5th centuries BCE, Greek tragedians performed their plays in outdoor theaters at various festivals and rituals in a series competitions.  The purpose of these tragedies was to not only entertain but also to educate the Greek citizen, to explore a problem.  Along with a chorus of singers to explain the action, there were actors often three (later four or more and always male) who wore masks and costumes.  Although he was often considered a passionless observer of life, classicist Edith Hamilton in her book The Greek Way believed Sophocles was the embodiment of what we believe to be Greek.  “He is direct, lucid, simple, reasonable. Excess--the word is not to be mentioned in his presence.  Restraint is his as no other writer’s”.  Donald L. Wasson

Archilochus (c. 680–c. 645 BC) was a Greek lyric poet and a professional soldier from the Aegean island of Paros.  His father is credited with founding a town on Thasos, “an island crowned with forests and lying in the sea like the backbone of an ass,” as Archilochos describes it in a poem. 
Brief Poems by Archilochus
The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
Fox knows many, Hedgehog one Solid trick
Alternative version:
Fox knows Eleventythree Tricks and still Gets caught; Hedgehog knows One but it Always works
translated by Guy Davenport
Read other brief poems by Archilochus at

The hedgehog is of a single substance, a monist; the fox is composed of heterogeneous elements, a pluralist.  The hedgehog's great strength is focus, and main weaknesses are fixation, rigidity, and self-absorption.  The fox's primary strengths are flexibility and openness to experience, and fundamental weakness is a tendency toward the scattershot approach to life and thought.  Bob Frost  Read much more and see pictures at'she.html 

People use the internet to get more of what they do not get enough of in everyday life.  So while people have been socialized to resist being impulsive in the real world, on the internet they cave to their temptations to lash out.  This is nothing new, of course.  Before the internet, people took their frustrations to TV and radio talk shows.  The internet was simply a more accessible, less moderated space.  Tech companies have long employed various methods to detect fake comments from bots and spammers.  So-called Captcha tests, for Completely Automated Procedures for Telling Computers and Humans Apart, ask you to type a word or select photos of a specific item to verify you are human and not a bot.  Other methods, like detecting a device type or location of a commenter, can be used to pin down bots.  Yet security researchers have shown there are workarounds to all these methods.  Don’t take web comments at face value.  Look at a commenter’s history of past posts, or fact-check any dubious claims or endorsements elsewhere on the web.  Brian X. Chen  Read more at

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and Metroparks Toledo proudly present Florence Williams and The Nature Fix:  Why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative  Thursday, August 30, 2018  7:00pm - 9:00pm  Toledo Lucas County Public Library Main Library 325 Michigan, McMaster Center  Is there anything better than reading outside in one of our glorious Metroparks?  The Library and Metroparks Toledo have partnered to welcome journalist, bestselling author and podcaster Florence Williams to explore that very question.  Florence is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for the New York Times, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones and numerous other publications.  Her book The Nature Fix uncovers the science behind nature's restorative benefits and its positive effects on the brain.  Copies of her book will be available for purchase and to have  signed by the author.  This event is free and open to all.  Grab a copy of The Nature Fix from the Library or listen to the audiobook while you take in the scenery at our beautiful Metroparks, then come see the author in-person!

Tsundoku:  The practice of buying more books than you can read by Melissa Breyer   "Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity." – A. Edward Newton, author, publisher, and collector of 10,000 books.  Are you one of us?  A master of tsundoku?  Mine takes the shape of the aspirational stack by my bedside table--because I am going to read every night before bed, of course, and upon waking on the weekends.  Hahaha.  My tsundoku also takes shape in cookbooks--even though I rarely cook from recipes.  And I think I most fervently practice tsundoku when I buy three or four novels to pile in my suitcase for a five-day vacation.  Sometimes not even one sees its spine cracked.  Thank heavens the Japanese have a word to describe people like us:  tsundoku.  Doku comes from a verb that can be used for "reading," while tsun "to pile up."  The ol' piling up of reading things.  "The phrase 'tsundoku sensei' appears in text from 1879 according to the writer Mori Senzo," Professor Andrew Gerstle, a teacher of pre-modern Japanese texts at the University of London, explains to BBC.  "Which is likely to be satirical, about a teacher who has lots of books but doesn't read them."  Even so, says Gerstle, the term is not currently used in a mocking way.  Tom Gerken points out at BBC that English may in fact seem to have a similar word in "bibliomania," but there are actually differences.  "While the two words may have similar meanings, there is one key difference," he writes.  "Bibliomania describes the intention to create a book collection, tsundoku describes the intention to read books and their eventual, accidental collection."

August 10, 2018  Six crows trained to pick up cigarette ends and rubbish will be put to work next week at a French historical theme park.  Rooks, a member of the crow family of birds that also includes the carrion crow, jackdaw and raven, are considered to be “particularly intelligent” and in the right circumstances “like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play”, Nicolas de Villiers, president of the Puy du Fou park, said.  The birds will be encouraged to spruce up the park through the use of a small box that delivers a nugget of bird food each time the rook deposits a cigarette end or small piece of rubbish.  The crow family is not the only one that might have decent litter-picking skills--Australian magpies have been found to understand what other birds are saying to each other.  Research published in May in the journal Animal Behaviour says the wily magpie has learned the meanings of different calls by the noisy miner and essentially eavesdrops to find out which predators are near.  Noisy miners--small, native honeyeaters--have different warning calls for ground-based and aerial predators.  By playing both kinds of recording to a series of wild magpies, researchers observed the magpies raising their beaks to the sky, or dropping their heads to the ground.  Issue 1933  August 13, 2018 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fort Western is a former British colonial outpost at the head of navigation on the Kennebec River at modern Augusta, MaineUnited States.  It was built in 1754 during the French and Indian War.  Its main building, the only original element of the fort to survive, was restored in 1920 and now depicts its original use as a trading post.  Today it is the oldest log fort in the United States, and its main building is a little-altered example of an 18th-century trading post.  The fort and store are maintained as a museum and are open to the public during the summer months.  The fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973.  See also and

The history of Des Moines, Iowa can be traced to 1834, when John Dougherty, an Indian Agent at Fort Leavenworth, Ks, recommended that a military post be established at the point where the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers merge.  Nine years later, May 1843, Captain James Allen and a company of dragoons from Fort Sanford arrived on the site.  Captain Allen proposed to name the garrison Fort Raccoon but was directed by the War Department to use the name Fort Des Moines.  The origin of the name is uncertain, but most historians agree that the name probably initially referred to the river.  Some people feel that 'Des Moines' is derived from the Indian word 'moingona' meaning river of the mounds which referred to the burial mounds that were located near the banks of the river.  Others are of the opinion that name applies to the Trappist Monks (Moines de la Trappe) who lived in huts at the mouth of the Des Moines river.  French voyagers referred to the river as La Riviere des Moines.  See also,_Iowa

Juneau is the state capital for Alaska, the state nicknamed The Last Frontier, and is America’s 6th-least populated state capital city.  Named after Canadian gold prospector and miner Joseph Juneau, Juneau is the largest capital city by land area and is also the sole American capital city that is unreachable by road.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Once Helped Clear an Innocent Man of Murder by Helen Thompson   At 82 years old and unmarried, Marion Gilchrist lived in the wealthy neighborhood of West Princes Street in Glasgow.  On the evening of December 21, 1908, just after 7pm, someone attacked Gilchrist and beat her to death in her own home.  When the housemaid Helen Lambie returned from errands, she found find her employer dead on the dining room floor, papers ransacked and a diamond broach mysteriously missing.  There was no sign of forced entry, so police assumed that she had known her attacker, who had absconded with the broach.  Within five days, the police had a suspect:  A petty crook named Oscar Slater had recently tried to sell a pawn ticket for a diamond broach before hopping on a ship to the United States.  Slater lived near Gilchrist, and Lambie had identified him as a man she had seen running from Gilchrist’s house that night.  Perhaps thinking their evidence was lacking, Slater waved extradition and returned to Scotland where he stood trial.  The Scottish court convicted and sentenced him to death in 1909.  Though scheduled for execution, Slater’s lawyer gathered signatures for a petition and successfully got his client’s sentence commuted.  Slater appeared destined to spend his life in jail instead.  By then, the publicity surrounding the case had garnered the interest of Conan Doyle, who began a reexamination of the facts by Sherlockian methods.  Despite the sentence, the prosecution had left some glaring holes in their case.  The broach he said he had pawned actually belonged to a lady friend, and rumors surfaced that witnesses, including Lambie, had been coached.  Conan Doyle interviewed new witnesses, searched for additional evidence and even covered some of Slater’s legal fees.  In 1912, he published his findings in The Case of Oscar Slater.  But, it wasn’t enough to induce a retrial, and Conan Doyle lost interest in the case.  Seven years later, the widow of a Glasgow police officer contacted him.  Her husband, John Thompson Trench, had kept documents revealing that other officers withheld evidence about suspects among Gilchrist’s family—suspects with powerful friends.  Conan Doyle also received at plea from Slater in prison around the same time, and a journalist published a piece on the case that highlighted Conan Doyle’s work.  Suddenly, he was on the case again.  Eventually, thanks in part to Conan Doyle’s influence, Slater was released in 1927.  Once authorities reopened and retried the case, Slater’s name was cleared.  As for Marion Gilchrist’s actual murderer, his identity remains unknown.
Microfilm Lasts Half a Millennium  Millions of publications—not to mention spy documents—can be read on microfilm machines.  But people still see these devices as outmoded and unappealing.  An Object Lesson by I recently acquired a decommissioned microfilm reader.  My university bought the reader for $16,000 in 1998, but its value has depreciated to $0 in their official bookkeeping records.  Machines like it played a central role in both research and secret-agent tasks of the last century.  But this one had become an embarrassment.  The bureaucrats wouldn’t let me store the reader in a laboratory that also houses a multimillion-dollar information-display system. They made me promise to “make sure no VIPs ever see it there.”  After lots of paperwork and negotiation, I finally had to transport the machine myself.  Unlike a computer—even an old one—it was heavy and ungainly.  It would not fit into a car, and it could not be carried by two people for more than a few feet.  Even moving the thing was an embarrassment.  No one wanted it, but no one wanted me to have it around either.  The first micrographic experiments, in 1839, reduced a daguerreotype image down by a factor of 160.  By 1853, the format was already being assessed for newspaper archives.  The processes continued to be refined during the 19th century.  Even so, microfilm was still considered a novelty when it was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia of 1876.  The contemporary microfilm reader has multiple origins.  Bradley A. Fiske filed a patent for a “reading machine” on March 28, 1922, a pocket-sized handheld device that could be held up to one eye to magnify columns of tiny print on a spooling paper tape. But the apparatus that gained traction was G. L. McCarthy’s 35mm scanning camera, which Eastman Kodak introduced as the Rekordak in 1935, specifically to preserve newspapers.  By 1938, universities began using it to microfilm dissertations and other research papers.  During World War II, microphotography became a tool for espionage, and for carrying military mail, and soon there was a recognition that massive archives of information and cross-referencing gave agencies an advantage.  Libraries adopted microfilm by 1940, after realizing that they could not physically house an increasing volume of publications, including newspapers, periodicals, and government documents.  As the war concluded in Europe, a coordinated effort by the U.S. Library of Congress and the U.S. State Department also put many international newspapers on microfilm as a way to better understand quickly changing geopolitical situations.  The first micrographic experiments, in 1839, reduced a daguerreotype image down by a factor of 160.  By 1853, the format was already being assessed for newspaper archives.  The processes continued to be refined during the 19th century. Even so, microfilm was still considered a novelty when it was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia of 1876.  Read much more at  Thank you, Muse reader!

A millennium is a period of a thousand years.  Researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years for Millennials.  See also

The Jeep legend began in November 1940, in the early days of World War II, just a year before the United States entered the war. A small, four-wheel drive prototype, the Willys "Quad", was delivered to the US Army.  It featured the Willys "Go-Devil" engine, developed by Delmar "Barney" Roos.  With 60 horsepower and 105 foot-pounds of torque it not only exceeded the Army's requirement, but dwarfed the Bantam's 83 and Ford's 85 pound-feet of torque, it's only competitors for the military contract.  The Quad was the father of the MB, CJ series, and Wrangler. Willys refined the Quad and built 1,500 units of the Willys MA model, many of which were used in WWII.  Read more at

FREE TO THE PUBLIC – FAMILY-FRIENDLY – COMMUNITY FESTIVAL  Join us August 10 through 12, 2018  for the 2nd Toledo Jeep® Fest in Toledo, Ohio – home of the Jeep. 

Some of the only things thinner than N.Y.-style thin crusts may be the thin skins of New York-style pizza superfans unhappy that Chicago will celebrate pizza on Friday, August 10, 2018 with the opening of the U.S. Pizza Museum, a love letter to the pizza-loving world with memorabilia from pizzerias all over the country.  The museum, which grew out of a website established in 2012, will unveil its hopefully permanent home tomorrow in the South Loop.  Earlier in the week, an AP story began circulating with the headline “Chicago is the site of US Pizza Museum: report,” an abridged pick-up of Tribune story.  When the story hit New York, some people in the Big Apple unleashed their outrage.  Chicago wasn’t worthy, they claimed. The Internet once more gyrated with the typical takes about Chicago deep-dish pizza:  “It’s lasagna,” and “it’s not even real pizza.” Today and Conde Nast Traveler picked up on the hijinks to fuel more reaction.  The truth is that U.S. Pizza Museum founder Kendall Bruns didn’t even grow up in Chicago.  He was an Air Force brat who spent much of his childhood in Ohio.  He doesn’t participate in the pizza politics.  There are seven days in a week and that means pizza lovers can order N.Y.-style Monday, enjoy a Detroiter on Tuesday, and a New Haven crust on Wednesday.  That leaves more than enough days for either a Chicago deep-dish or the lesser known Chicago tavern-style thin crust.  The latter is something those Internet commenters know nothing about.  The Chicago museum isn’t the first. Pizza Brain debuted in 2011 in Philadelphia.  Bruns knew that when he started his museum, and noted that Philadelphia’s was an extension of an existing pizzeria.  A New York museum is opening in the fall and will be more experiential.  Bruns wishes them luck, as he feels there’s more than one way to tell a story.  Ashok Selvam  Issue 1932  August 10. 2018  Word of the Day  Couch potato was coined after boob tube, slang for television.  One who watches a boob tube is a boob tuber and a tuber is a potato.  According to the Bon Appétit magazine, the term was coined by Tom Iacino.  Yesterday’s couch potato is today’s mouse potato, spending time in front of a computer screen, surfing the web.  A. Word.A.Day with Anu Garg