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Posts Tagged ‘banana

“Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline”*…

 

Artist’s impression of medieval Bologna [source]

During the 12th and 13th centuries, for reasons that are still not entirely clear, an incredible number of towers [over 100] were built throughout Bologna, making for a urban skyline that almost resembles modern-day Manhattan. Today, only 22 remain…

More at: “Towers of Bologna.”

* Carl Sandburg

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As we reach for the sky, we might recall that it was on this date in 1826 that 20 year old Joseph Paxton arrived to begin work as Head gardener to William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, possessor of one of England’s premier gardens on his estate, Chatsworth.

Paxton settled into his job and became the Duke’s right-hand man for projects on the estate.  Paxton noticed the need of a conservatory, so designed and built one: The Great Conservatory at Chatsworth– at the time the largest glass in England.  It was lit with twelve thousand lamps when Queen Victoria was driven through it in 1842, and she noted in her diary: “It is the most stupendous and extraordinary creation imaginable.”

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So, when Prince Albert hatched plans for The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations– or the Great Exhibition, as it was more familiarly known– to be held in 1851, Paxton was recruited to design its central building: The Crystal Palace.

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Paxton was knighted, and went on to cultivate the Cavendish banana, the most consumed banana in the Western world, and to serve as a Member of Parliament.

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Written by LW

May 9, 2018 at 1:01 am

“At my age, the radiation will probably do me good”*…

 

The “banana equivalent dose” (BED) is a measure of radiation used to illustrate levels of emissions.  Bananas contain lots of potassium, which contains 0.01% potassium-40– which is radioactive.  The radiation exposure from eating a banana is deemed “1 BED,” roughly equivalent to 0.01 millirem (mrem).  (Happily, one would never be able to eat enough bananas to be dangerous, as our bodies excrete the potassium we’re consuming before it can do exposure damage.)

The existence of a clearly-understandable unit of this sort allows for easily-understood apples-to-apples (or, bananas-to-bananas) comparisons…

This is also roughly the exposure from having a single smoke detector.

 

Due to increased altitude; Mt Everest is more like 800 mrem (80,000 bananas) per year.

 

The granite in the walls is mildly radioactive. By comparison, the Vatican is about 800 mrem (80,000 bananas) per year.

 

More fruity comparisons at Mad Art Lab‘s “Yellow Alert

* Sir Norman Wisdom

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As we peel, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Richard Philips Feynman; he was born on this date in 1918.  A theoretical physicist, Feynman was probably the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-WW II era.

Richard Feynman was a once-in-a-generation intellectual. He had no shortage of brains. (In 1965, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics.) He had charisma. (Witness this outtake [below] from his 1964 Cornell physics lectures [available in full here].) He knew how to make science and academic thought available, even entertaining, to a broader public. (We’ve highlighted two public TV programs hosted by Feynman here and here.) And he knew how to have fun. The clip above brings it all together.

– From Open Culture (where one can also find Feynman’s elegant and accessible 1.5 minute explanation of “The Key to Science.”)

email readers click here for video

 

Written by LW

May 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes”*…

 

Scene 3: whoops!

 

In an earlier post, I laid out a history of “banana peel” (and orange peel) humor, extending back to the early 1800s. Orange peel-slipping humor dates to at least 1817 and banana peel jokes to 1858.  Banana peel jokes were told on stage in 1890, and Vaudeville performers may have performed banana-slipping gags on stage in the early 1900s.

Peels on Film

When I wrote the earlier post, the earliest banana slipping gag on film that I found was from 1913.  As it turns out, however, the banana slipping gag was already so old and tired by 1912, that advice for aspiring screenwriters cautioned against using it for cheap laughs…

The history of the banana peel gag, at “Peels in Film, Song and Poetry.”

* Ludwig Wittgenstein

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As we watch our steps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956, at a party in Cambridge, England, that Fulbright Scholar Sylvia Plath met poet Ted Hughes.

…the one man in the room who was as big as his poems, huge… I screamed in myself, thinking, Oh, to give myself crashing, fighting, to you.

Her wish was granted; they were married later that same year.  Plath killed herself, in London, in 1963, several weeks after The Bell Jar came out; in 1981 her Collected Poems (edited by Hughes, who oversaw her posthumous publications) won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Written by LW

February 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road”*…

 

Introducing the DestapaBanana from Argentina:

In case the images didn’t give you enough information, I’ll explain the device in a bit more detail. The DestapaBanana bores a hole through the length of your banana and then you pour a sweet filling (like caramel, chocolate, or strawberry sauce) into the reservoir. Once sauced, you can eat the banana right away or you can put it in the freezer and eat it frozen later.

For starters, this device does nothing else and won’t work with bananas that have a lot of curve to them. Additionally, I think a straw would do the same thing if you really are fond of this idea. Or, you could dip the banana in a sauce and not waste part of your banana. And, finally, let’s not forget the most obvious thing here that injecting sauce into a banana transforms it from a health food into a tube of pure sugar…

More at Unclutterter.

* Voltaire

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As we pierce the peel, we might we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that the first consumer microwave oven was introduced to the public.  n 1947, Raytheon demonstrated the world’s first microwave oven, the “Radarange,: a refrigerator-sized appliance that cost $2-3,000. It found a some applications in commercial food settings and on Navy ships, but no consumer market.  Then Raytheon licensed the technology to the Tappan Stove Company, which introduced a wall-mounted version with two cooking speeds (500 and 800 watts), stainless steel exterior, glass shelf, top-browning element and a recipe card drawer.  It sold for $1,295 (figure $10,500 today).

Later Litton entered the business and developed the short, wide shape of the microwave that we’re familiar with today. As Wired reports, this opened the market:

Prices began to fall rapidly. Raytheon, which had acquired a company called Amana, introduced the first popular home model in 1967, the countertop Radarange. It cost $495 (about $3,200 today).

Consumer interest in microwave ovens began to grow. About 40,000 units were sold in the United States in 1970. Five years later, that number hit a million.

The addition of electronic controls made microwaves easier to use, and they became a fixture in most kitchens. Roughly 25 percent of U.S. households owned a microwave oven by 1986. Today, almost 90 percent of American households have a microwave oven.

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Written by LW

October 25, 2014 at 1:01 am

From the Plague-On-Both-Their-Houses Department: It’s come to this…

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The Andy Warhol banana that graced the cover of the Velvet Underground’s 1967 debut album has become the subject of litigation between the band and the artist’s estate.

In a nutshell, the estate believes that it holds the copyright, and is licensing the image (for everything from iPad covers to Absolut ads).  The band argues that there is no copyright (as the original ran without a notice), but that the image is protected as a trademark of the band– so the estate is infringing.  (There’s a more detailed recounting of situation and its background at Final Boss Form.)

One is tempted to launch into a discussion of the case as a symptom of the diseased state of intellectual property law and practice in the U.S.; but your correspondent has already burned pixels doing that, e.g., here, here, and here.  Suffice it here to quote the ever-insightful Pop Loser: “This whole story is an excellent metaphor for the world we currently live in and should probably make us all a little bit sad.”

 

As we re-up our affiliation with Creative Commons and write our Representatives to oppose SOPA, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that “The Noble Experiment”– the national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol that was better known as “Prohibition”– was ratified (the 18th Amendment).

By the time it was repealed in 1933, organized crime had become a major feature of American city life, and the American public had adopted the invented-for-the-occasion word “scofflaw.”

Ku Klux Klan: “Defender of the 18th Amendment” (source)

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