March 30: Happy Birthday, Vincent Van Gogh!

Born 1853.

No one has since filled these.

A full-size photograph by Michael Weinberg Photography of this work may be seen here: Vincent van Gogh: Shoes, 1888

A tip of the beret to FamousBirthdays

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March 30: Happy Birthday, Jethro Tull!



No, no, not those guys.

This guy, the guy those guys were named after:


Baptized on this day in 1674, the real Jethro Tull was a very influential British agronomist who invented several farming tools, and promoted more modern techniques of agriculture.

March 30 – Today in Science History

The band, by the way, did not adopt the name because they admired Jethro Tull, or even knew of him. In 1967, the band changed their name frequently to keep themselves playing in London clubs. Names were supplied by their booking agents. “Jethro Tull” was suggested by a history buff, and they happened to be playing under that name when they attracted attention. So they kept it.

Thus speaketh Wikipedia.

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Hoverbots Playing Catch

Your robot overlords will play catch with you. If they’re not too busy. And if you ask. Nicely.

These robots were made by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and use highly precise positioning sensors to tap the balls into play and then right themselves before they fall.

These Robot Quadrocopter Jugglers Perform For Your Amusement… For Now

Link has video.





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Schott’s Vocab: The Pondonome Scores!

Ben Schott’s blog at The New York Times features a vocabulary contest each weekend. This last one:


This weekend, co-vocabularists have generously proposed modern maladies.

As ever, it’s the taking part that counts. The following took part especially well: …

Among the winners:

Typoid fever: a condition of excessive irritation caused by minor errors of spelling, syntax, or grammar

The Pondonome

Bluetooth-Ache –


(Basking in the warm –though virtual– applause.) Thank you, thank you.  Be sure to click the link to my name to see my other contributions. Which lost.

Posted in Cultural Comment, Language | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Stunning Astronomy Picture of the Day

The astropic du jour is a gorgeous timelapse of the aurora over Norway. A must see.










APOD: 2011 March 28 – Time Lapse Auroras Over Norway

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Cold Toles


Click to see what’s behind the door.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon on

Note: from March 28.



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The Quake: Tokyo Quiets Down

The giant TVs are silent, the neon lights dark and the bars of Tokyo half-empty. Two weeks after Japan’s deadly earthquake, the city that once never slept is learning to live with a new era of frugality.

Many public escalators are idle, the trains less frequent and the usually overflowing shelves of the round-the-clock convenience stores sparsely stocked.

In the daytime, under the crisp winter skies, the city almost seems to have recovered from the shock of the massive March 11 earthquake which sent a huge tsunami crashing into northeast Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis.

But nightfall reveals the reality — a fortnight after the twin disaster struck, the capital is still a shadow of its former self.

Lights Out in Japan : Discovery News


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