7 Quick Takes (3/2/12)

— 1 —

A human hand where everything but the blood vessels has been stripped away. From the BODIES exhibit

I have a confession to make.  I was under the impression that the reason some of your blood vessels looked blue was because they were veins and deoxygenated blood was blue.  A post from io9 this week set me straight.


— 2 —

This weekend I’m hosting a viewing party for the livestream of 8, a play sourced from the trial transcripts of California’s Prop 8 trial.  It’s in the style of The Laramie Project, in that it primarily lets all the major characters speak in their own words.  I think this project got it’s start when actors started reading the entirety of the transcripts daily during the trial after an injunction prevented the courthouse tapes from being released.

Oh, and Jane Lynch plays Maggie Gallagher.


— 3 —

Not everyone who can’t get trial tapes has access to a stable of award-winning actors.  According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, Akron, Ohio has found a charming low budget way to cover the high-stakes corruption trial of Jimmy Dimora.

Despite mixed reactions, Mr. Salamone hired Mr. Maynard, a former police officer who had put together a puppet troupe in 1999. At the center of his cast is Nutty the Squirrel, a fast-talking puppet that sounds like Mr. Maynard on caffeine and helium.

The Nutty character anchors a one-minute review of the day’s testimony after the human reporters have had their say. The segment is introduced with its own “Puppet’s Court” graphic and theme music along with the tag: “The testimony is real, the puppets are not.”

Mr. Dimora shaved for the trial, so the Dimora puppet has a removable beard. When the puppet acts out a scene from the wiretaps, the beard is on; when he is sitting next to his attorney at the defense table, he is clean-shaven and grim.

— 4 —

Ok, my new favorite tumblr has to be My Daguerrotype Boyfriend.  The title should be self-explanatory, but if you were inexplicably unmoved, this picture from the blog should be enough to win you over:


— 5 —

Were any of you guys really taken with the Little House on the Prairie series growing up?  I really wanted an inflated pig’s bladder to bat around, despite the fact I hated all sports and anything involving coordination.  The scene I remember most vividly is from Farmer Boy when Almanzo’s teacher uses a bullwhip to keep order in her schoolhouse.

Anyway, the River Front Times has a great story on Mansfield, Missouri — the town where the real life Almanzo and Laura settled. Now, they hold Laura Ingalls Wilder Days and the reporter there to tell the story behind the stories gets roped into judging the Little Laura Lookalike contest.

The job was harder than it sounds. In their long calico dresses and sunbonnets and pigtails, the girls all looked alike. I wound up awarding extra points for creative accessorizing (a live duckling) and deducting for blatant costume discontinuity (gym shoes). My favorite contestant was the girl who announced that she ought to be allowed to be Mary, because they both had blond hair and Laura’s was brown. Though Wilder’s Laura once slapped Mary out of envy for those golden curls, a logical mind and a strong sense of fairness were two of her most prominent traits, and I decided she’d have liked the blond girl’s spunk.


— 6 —

My favorite strange book-related award remains the Bulwer-Lytton, but I’m happy to slot the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year as second in my heart.  And these nominees have the distinction of not being deliberately composed for the sake of the contest, unlike Bulwer-Lytton.  Here are the finalists:

  • A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two by Peter Gosson (Amberley). A book that documents the sand trade from its inception in 1912 to the present day, focusing on the Welsh coast.
  • Cooking with Poo by Saiyuud Diwong (Urban Neighbours of Hope). Thai cookbook. “Poo” is Thai for “crab” and is Diwong’s nickname.
  • Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli (Kirjastus Elmatar). Covers styles of socks and stockings found in Estonian knitting.
  • The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson (Createspace). An analysis of the “Koro” psychiatric epidemic that hit the island of Singapore in 1967.
  • Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge by Stephen Curry and Takayoshi Andoh (Royd Press). The story of Koichi Andoh, who travelled from Japan to Yorkshire in the 1930s to train workers at a hatchery business the art of determining the sex of one-day-old chicks.
  • A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares (Phaidon). Exhaustive overview of the evolution of the modern office chair.
  • The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush (North Atlantic Books). In which the author reveals that Jesus is a personification of the Holy Mushroom, Amanita Muscaria.

(h/t Marginal Revolution)

— 7 —

Finally, just a reminder that you can vote once per day for the About.com Atheism Awards.  I’m one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.


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  • I’m in agony because of the colon-conjunction error in the fourth book title. But I’m fascinated by the mushroom book. That seems like quite the claim. Can you imagine what communion would be like? Little old biddies on vision quests…

    And I thought that de-oxygenated blood was blue, too! Though, really, I can’t imagine why it would be. Blood cells should reflect red light whether or not they have oxygen attached to them, right? That makes sense.

  • Peter S.

    Somehow, somehow, I’m not surprised that you swoon for the daguerrotype boyfriend wearing goggles.

    • leahlibresco

      And tweed!

  • deiseach

    “In which the author reveals that Jesus is a personification of the Holy Mushroom, Amanita Muscaria.”

    I thought that was Saint Nicholas, via Santa Claus and the red-and-white costume?

    Also, I never knew that about why blood appears blue! So what I learned about “it’s blue because it’s deoxygenated” is wrong!

    I am delighted to see our voting has elevated your blog to a massive 5% while P.Z. Myers languishes on a paltry 67% 🙂