The Pipwick Papers

The Pipwick Papers

This Sunday I am enjoying a post-Eurovision gaming session which mostly involves shouting obscenities at Snakebird. On my other monitor is a webcam trained on a bunch of delightfully wobbly walruses. This embed of the latter, plus a bunch of other bits and pieces is after the jump. Have a lovely Sunday.

  • Here is the promised walrus cam:
  • As an blog explains:

    Each year, while female walruses and their young pups follow the receding ice north, the males “haul-out” to laze around the warmer beaches of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. It’s basically a pinniped bachelor pad of belching and fighting.

  • This was interesting in The times of Israel about a rabbi who has launched a sex toy website with the aim of serving the Orthodox Jewish community as well as people who want to buy the products but aren’t into looking at scantily-clad people while doing so. It’s not the first of its kind but it’s always cool to see alternative approaches to helping people have great sex when they want to.
  • Sad news as police confirm that the mathematician John Nash and his wife Alicia were killed in a taxi crash. You might be familiar with John’s story (and his struggle with schizophrenia) through the film A Beautiful Mind but I wanted to make sure to link to the NJ piece about the couple from 2009 about their mental health care advocacy:
  • “In the mental health field, John and Alicia are very much heroes because they were really one of the first public figures who would lend their stature and put their name to the cause of breaking down stereotypes and humanizing people with mental illness,” said Debra Wentz, a mental health lobbyist and close friend

  • The Huffington Post has this really cool piece about the history of Crayola crayons and their colours.When I used to work at the Huffington Post/AOL I used to use the lists of Crayola crayon colour names to identify various shades of fake tan because it was far more fun than using Pantone colours.
  • “New” Crayola crayons aren’t often new, just renamed. By 2013, Welter had counted 755 color names that had ever been sold, but only 331 individual colors.

    In 1903, the company used 54 names for 38 separate colors. By the end of 1958, the company had created 138 names for 108 colors sold at any point in time. By 2015, it had bestowed 759 names upon 331 colors.

    Special crayon boxes with colors like Iron Man Blue and Liberty Blue are just the plain old Blue you’d find in any regular box. Sweet Georgia Peach is really just Melon. Tye Dye Lime is Green Yellow.

  • National Geographic look into why Bloody Marys – and tomato juice – taste better on a plane. I drink a lot of tomato juice anyway, land or sky, but that only started because of impulsively ordering a tomato juice while on a flight a few years ago and realising how great it tasted. I hadn’t realised this was a universal thing, though and was always surprised that airlines even had tomato juice when I figured orange and apple juices are the standard “safe” options:
  • Unlike your normal taste sensations—sweet, salty, sour, and bitter—the fifth taste, umami, appears to be immune to those in-flight inhibitors. Even amid loud noise and low pressure, your tongue can still taste the savory flavors in foods like tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. It’s not subtle, either. Lufthansa, the German airline, commissioned its own research last year after noticing passengers ordered as much tomato juice as beer. Its harsh acidic taste is masked, while its savory qualities are unchanged.

  • The space Vines that the astronaut Terry W Virts has been posting are truly lovely. One of the most recent is a lightning storm as seen from the International Space Station.
  • I’m not sure how many of you will have read Judy Blume’s books growing up but she was a big presence in my life. She’s also about to publish a new novel for adults, hence this profile piece by Susan Dominus of the New York Times.

  • And finally, the New York Times also has this great piece by Christopher Beam on comedy – particularly stand-up comedy – in China.

    1. All is Well says:

      That history of the crayons could make for a really nice timeline, I think, where every color name is given its own line and then painted with the corresponding colour.

    2. Rizlar says:

      That bloody mary thing is really interesting! I too have found myself ordering bloody marys on planes for no apparent reason. It does tick a few important boxes: something to savour, doesn’t involve imbibing large volumes of liquid, has booze in it.

    3. Anthile says:

      Walruses are like elephant-penguins.

    4. Mumbling_mute says:

      Hah. The headline photo for the Stand up comedy in China is a bar around the corner from my place. It’s such a hole. Expensive and sometimes fake alcohol and about the size of a shoe box. Having said that I’ve been living here for years now and the Stand-up scene is ever so slowly improving.

    5. Punning Pundit says:

      I find it really weird that white noise makes sweet things seem less sweet. Combine that with the fact that cold temperatures have the same effect, and it’s a wonder that anyone eats dessert at a fast casual restaurant.

      • wraithgr says:

        Possibly partly explains why they contain a bajillion times more sugar than desserts at “regular” restaurants yet seem normal when you eat them…

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Perhaps it’s intentional. I read an article recently saying that most restaurants make so little money off desserts that they would really prefer to leave them off entirely, but people would complain.

    6. RARARA says:

      I have recently found out that I really want a quirky indie version of Game of Thrones where Ned Stark is just trying to run a medieval theme park.

    7. Phasma Felis says:

      I was wondering why the fuck there’s an “Iron Man Blue” crayon, since Iron Man is red and gold or, occasionally, silver/grey. Turns out the crayon was from the “Colors of Baltimore” set, and famous Baltimore Orioles baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. is sometimes known as “The Iron Man.”

      …Only the Orioles’ colors are orange and black, so we’re back to square one. The only connection I can find is that Ripken started his minor-league career in the Bluefield Blue Jays. Or…something.