Racing the tube

It is interesting the kinds of challenges that people set for themselves. Via Pepe Jimenez, here is a video of someone in London getting off the underground train at one station, running to the next station, and getting on to the same train again. I am not sure what it proved, that he is a fast runner or that the trains are slow, but it is an impressive feat and fun to watch.
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Do some wait staff actually do this?

In an interesting article on the practice of tipping, Aaron Stern described the origins of the practice.

Tipping dates all the way back to the eighteenth century, when patrons would give a few coins to their waiter/struggling scrimshaw artist “to insure promptness.” It’s worth noting that the concept of “promptness” back then was quite different from what it is now. In 1760, if your server took more than twenty minutes to bring your food, you were within your legal rights to “wallop him smartly on his person with a blackjack or billy club.” Whereas today you really need to be waiting for at least a goddam hour before you can administer a wallop in good conscience.

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Sexual harassment on campus

The report released by the University of California system about 113 reported cases of sexual harassment by professors of their students was eye-opening for me. The blatant nature of the propositioning and assault was quite shocking.

University of California professor Eric Gans told his female graduate student that he loved her – and that “in another universe”, they were meant to share a life together.

“I have never seen you more beautiful than the past two days,” the French and Francophone studies professor wrote to the student in May 2011, when he was 69 years old. “I can’t help feeling that … you are being beautiful for me, that I somehow inspire this beauty.”

The letter came one week before the UC Los Angeles (UCLA) student had to take an exam that Gans would evaluate. It caused her to become anxious and depressed, and according to a university investigation, was one of many sexually harassing messages he sent even though she repeatedly stated she was not interested in a romantic relationship.
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‘Sealioning’: a neologism I can get behind

It was only recently that I learned the metaphorical use of the term ‘gaslight’, that arose from the 1944 film Gaslight where the plot involved a husband tricking his wife into thinking that she was going insane. The term ‘gaslighting’ is now used more generally to describe a form of psychological abuse that seeks to undermine a person’s confidence in their own memory or perception or even sanity.
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Sea lions playing volleyball

Via David Pescovitz I came across this video of sea lions playing volleyball. (I initially thought they were seals because I was not aware of the differences between seals and sea lions but this article explains it. One thing that puzzles me is that the article says that sea lions are brown but these appear to be black.) They show extremely impressive skills, even spiking the ball and using strategic placing. I was pretty bad at this sport, never quite getting the hang of how to use my hands clasped together to control the direction of the ball.
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What kind of person does something like this?

The random viciousness of some people never ceases to astound me. Take this story.

Pinnacle Park reopened Tuesday after being closed since the weekend for public safety. Nails were found hammered into tree roots along 2 miles of park trails.

The 1,100-acre forested park is owned by the town of Sylva, with a total of 18.5 miles of trails popular with hikers and trail runners. More than 60 spikes were found along a 2-mile section of trail, said town manager Paige Roberson Dowling.
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Blog anniversary

Today is the 12th anniversary of my beginning to blog, starting at first on a platform provided by my university before moving in 2012 to Freethought Blogs. It has been a very rewarding experience for me. I have made the online acquaintance of many highly knowledgeable, insightful, funny, and thoughtful people among those who have read and commented.

Thanks to all very much for providing the stimulus to write. I feel that I have become a better (and quicker) writer because of the constant writing and editing and feedback.

Raising funds to fight the Carrier lawsuit

As some of you may know, there is a blogger named Richard Carrier who used to be on this network but left after certain allegations were made about his behavior. He has now filed a lawsuit against FtB and other skeptical networks and some individual bloggers such as P. Z. Myers.

In order to fight the lawsuit, a GoFundMe page has been set up for contributions. You can read more about the case here.

The strange story of H. H. Holmes

In the episode The Lying Detective of the latest season of Sherlock, one character referred Sherlock Holmes to the case of a famous serial killer named H. H. Holmes who had constructed a building with secret rooms that enabled him to kill his victims in various ways and dispose of the bodies undetected. I had never heard of H. H. Holmes but the reference seemed to be factual and my curiosity was piqued so I looked it up (on Wikipedia of course!) and the case is truly bizarre. Holmes’s real name was Herman Webster Mudgett and he was a bigamist and conman who adopted various names of which H. H. Holmes was one.
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Graffiti grammar police

Two activists in Quito, Ecuador were offended by the poor grammar and punctuation that they saw in the city’s graffiti, seeing them as showing a lack of respect for the language and people. So they decided to do something about it, by becoming grammar vigilantes who prowl the streets at night, anonymously correcting errors wherever they saw them.
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