May 14, 2010

Friday Fun (v. 1.0)

Out of shear laziness, and because my next post is about a poker law issue that will take some time to write, I'm adding a clichéd "Friday link dump" feature to the blog.  Basically, I plan to gather the interesting stuff I run across during the week that is worth sharing, but doesn't really merit a full blog post.  Most likely, it will tend toward amusing / bizarre stories, or things that make ya go "hmmm"

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This is a cool 3D optical illusion (hat tip to 3 Quarks Daily, a great site for challengin' the ol' noggin'):

More optical illusions by creator Kokichi Sugihara HERE.

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Next, we have a story about a scientist who spotted an error in the Oxford English Dictionary that has been around for nearly a century.  Apparently, the dictionary stated that a "siphon" operated because of atmospheric pressure, rather than by gravity.  Money quote:

When Dr Hughes stumbled across the mistake he alerted the dictionary's revision team, which had just completed revising words beginning with the letter "R".

"I thought, 'Oh good, just in time,' because S is next," he said.

—Marissa Calligeros, The Sydney Morning Herald (May 10, 2010)

This story brought back childhood memories of setting siphon tubes to irrigate corn fields.  It was a hot, humid, muddy, nasty job, and every so often you would have the unpleasant experience of feeling a mouse or snake bump up against the palm of your hand that was sealing the tube as you primed it.  Fun times, farming.

(Photo via Webshots)

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Finally, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a couple of interesting decisions this week.  First up is Alcor Life Extension Foundation v. Richardson.  This case involved a cryogenics company (Alcor) suing the brother and sister of Orville Richardson to force them to exhume Orville's body so that Alcor could take Orville's head and cryogenically preserve it.  Apparently, Orville had paid for cryogenic preservation a few years prior to his death, and his brother and sister did not approve of his decision.  So, when Orville died, his brother and sister ignored Orville's wishes and had him embalmed and buried.  The court had to analyze the interplay between a statute related to anatomical gifts and a statute governing who has authority to make decisions related to final disposition of a deceased's remains.  The court finally determined that Alcor had the superior right to the remains over the family's wishes.  Interestingly, even though Orville had been embalmed and buried for several years, the court still ordered that the body be disinterred so that Alcor could cryogenically preserve the head.  I suppose that if Orville is ever revived, he could still pursue a career in politics.

The Court of Appeals also issued a ruling related to overdue library books.  In State of Iowa v. Linebach, the defendant checked out 40 books and DVDs and failed to return them (most likely because he was trying to sell them on eBay).  Linebach was eventually arrested and charged with second-degree theft.  The main issue on appeal was whether the value of three books which were returned should be deducted from the total value of the stolen items ($1,079.73), which Linebach contended would result in the total value falling just under $1,000 ($1,079.73 - $79.89 = $999.84), resulting in a lesser offense.  Alas, as the court pointed out, Linebach's math was in error, and the value of the three books in question was only $71.93, which means that the total value of the stolen property would remain just over $1,000.  Double "D'oh!" moment!  He definitely got his money's worth for that extra $7.08.  Linebach also complained that the library could have purchased the books more cheaply; the Court of Appeals echoed the sentencing judge in slapping down his argument:

[Linebach] chose to take items from the Library, not from the Half-Price Book Store.  He should not complain about his victim's purchasing practices.

So there you have it—return your library books!


  1. OMG thank you for the pointer to 3quarksdaily! That site is an absolute GOLD MINE of interesting stuff.

    Bookmarked, RSSed, and on the must read list now.


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