198 lines of html code presenting 1,528 words

an aural noise

some of the things I read while eating breakfast in antisocial isolation

Imbolc, Groundhog Day, and Brigantia All Celebrate the Coming Spring

Whatever you call it, early February’s cross-quarter day reconnects us with ancient astronomical timekeeping traditions.


THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR is turning. In the Gregorian calendar system, we are already one month down, and about to experience the first Sun-oriented event of the year. In the lunisolar calendar system used in China and other parts of Asia, we are closing out the last month of the year and entering a new one: the Year of the Dragon. In the Northern Hemisphere, February might be a dead time of year for gardening and most outdoor activities, but it is a banner month for astronomical timekeeping.

On the Gregorian civil calendar and solar calendars, Feb. 1 is a cross-quarter day, which marks the midpoint between a solstice and an equinox. To understand why this matters, first consider that the sun itself divides our solar year into four parts thanks to a quartet of events: the winter and summer solstices, and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. These are the quarter days, which track our tilted planet’s journey around the Sun and also how the Sun’s path, from our vantage point, changes over the course of a year. These days are important, now and for our ancestors, and in both hemispheres. The winter solstice promises the return of the light; the spring equinox tells of fresh growth and new life; the summer solstice brings us long days of warmth and plenty; and the fall equinox tells us to harvest and to harbor.

The Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice usually lands on Dec. 21, the longest night of the year (and, in the Southern Hemisphere, the longest day, or summer solstice). The winter solstice is also the day when the angle of the Sun’s path across the sky, which has been sinking toward the horizon for the past six months, pauses and then begins to climb higher in the sky again. The spring equinox, marking a day and night of equal length, falls this year on March 19. We are midway, or crosswise, between them. Ancient people commemorated these cross-quarter days, too.

On a cross-quarter day, we are midway between solstice and equinox.

Feb. 1 is Imbolc, a pre-Christian tradition attributed to Celtic people, though it probably predates the Celts. It’s still celebrated in Britain and Ireland. Imbolc is also known as Brigantia, after the Celtic deity of fertility and light, acknowledging the advance of the Sun higher into the sky as we move toward the vernal equinox.

Trump apologists can just fuck off

The Supreme Court is going to eat Trumpism alive.

“It will just make it worse.”

“Democracy fails without the will of The People.”

“Trumpers will hit the streets and start a civil war!”

Oh my fucking god.

Just stop.

All of you.

Guilty is guilty in our nation of laws.

What the mob contemplates “to retaliate” is completely irrelevant.

In fact, what’s necessary is giving that mob a chance and an “excuse” to “retaliate” is exactly what a strong democracy needs.

They all got a beef with The Rule Of Law in America? Go for it! Hit the streets assholes.

If there’s one thing I learned from years of protesting it is this, in America, militants lose.

Every time.

It took down the KKK.

It took down the Black Panthers.

Fuck, my People, it took down the entire SOUTH with the Civil War!

So when I keep reading all these conservatives, “imploring” America to just let Trump on the ballot and let “The People” sort it out . . .


That is mob rule.

Not a democracy.

Not the rule of law.

There are rules and laws for just about everything in America. Especially our elections. Not just “anyone” can run for any office.

The 5 Worst-Ever Times People Fell Asleep

For many people, waking up is the worst part of their day. You leave the comfort of your bed and awaken to the gradual realization that your dog ripped out your organs or you’ve been shot in the brain. Clearly, you should really be looking forward to going back to sleep, where it’s soft and warm. But when you sleep, this is when you let down your guard and lose control. Soon, everything can go wrong, just like the time that…

5. Sleeping With an Ice Pack Ruined a Player’s Career

Here’s a little story about NBA player B.J. Tyler. If you’ve never heard of NBA player B.J. Tyler before, well, this story might explain exactly why that is. Tyler played for the Philadelphia 76ers before signing with the Toronto Raptors in 1995. The deal was he’d earn $6 million to play with them for five years. Then, one day, while still in the preseason, Tyler put an ice pack to his leg. Ice packs are a debatably good choice when your muscles hurt. They reduce swelling, and popular wisdom says this speeds recovery, but we aren’t sure whether the ice really is good for you. It might just numb the pain, and it might make things even worse.

No pain, no gain.

In Tyler’s case, it definitely made things worse. He fell asleep with the ice on him, and it stayed long enough to mess with the nerves there. Though far from enough to paralyze him, this was enough that he never played in an NBA game again.

We know what you’re wondering right now: Did he sleep so soundly because he was high? Insiders say yes. Either way, the slumber cut short what we choose to believe would have been a legendary career. Tyler wore a number 1 jersey, and if that doesn’t foretell success on the court, the entire field of numerology is a fraud.

When Quantification Loses Its Meaning

Are you measuring just to measure?

Dyson vacuums display analytics now.

My first reaction to seeing this as a data enthusiast was, “Yay, data!” And then immediately after, “but… why?”

What am I supposed to do with this detailed information about the microns of dirt I am sucking up?

When we throw numbers out into the world — to our project stakeholders, to our users, to anyone — we want them to be meaningful. We want our analysis to drive change, empower our business, and create an impact.

So when does quantifying lose its meaning?

When there isn’t a clear message

Giving numbers and metrics to your audience without a message is like putting ingredients on the table when you were supposed to cook dinner.


Aside from the above dashboard not being the prettiest, a lot of information is thrown at the viewers. And what it needs is a message for the audience. While some reds and greens might indicate bad vs. good, it’s unclear what numbers are in the range of what we would expect, what numbers we should pay attention to, etc.

Maru&Hana&Miri become sleepy on the fluffy mattress!

Ed. マルハナミリはふくらんでいるマットレスで眠くなります!


Mathematicians Have Just Reversed the Sprinkler

Born out of a thought experiment, this machine functions like an inside-out rocket.

A photo of dyed water being ejected from the team’s sprinkler. Embiggenable.

FOR 141 YEARS, PHYSICISTS like Richard Feynman have puzzled over a question of fluid flow: how would a sprinkler rotate if it were underwater, sucking in the stuff instead of spewing it? Now, a team of researchers has found an answer.

Though the idea was first proposed by experimentalists in the 1880s, it was repopularized by Feynman in the mid-20th century, to the extent that it became known as Feynman’s sprinkler. The issue was thus: A normal sprinkler with S-shaped arms will spit out water, propelling the arms to rotate, watering whatever needs watering. But whether a reverse sprinkler would rotate at all remained an open question, and not for lack of trying.

Feynman tooled around with the idea for a while and even built an experimental set-up to address the question while a graduate student at Princeton. (The experiment ended when a large water-filled bottle exploded.)

Now, a team of researchers at New York University have run it back. The reverse sprinkler redux (as I call it—rolls right off the tongue!) consisted of a submerged sprinkler on an “ultra-low-friction” bearing, according to an NYU release, to optimize the device’s ability to freely spin, and designed in a way to allow them to easily observe water flow through the device.

To that end, the team also dyed the water, added microparticles to it, lit it up with bright green lasers, and videotaped the entire experiment with high-resolution, high-speed cameras. The resulting footage is pretty trippy:

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Likely, if I find nothing more barely uninteresting at all to do.

Ed., etc. I didn’t have time to do this today.



Happy Groundhog Day Nancy!

Also: Happy Birthday.

Assimilation Complete