The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws

Kevin Underhill, the very funny lawyer behind Lowering the Bar, a very funny law-blog, has published a book of weird laws through the ages, called The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws That Human Beings Have Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Sometimes Even Enforced

Humanity’s inventiveness in making dumb rules is really boundless. Underhill’s snarky commentary brings to life such rules as:

* Ala. § 34-6-7, which forbids secret passages leading from billiard rooms

* Ark. HR Con Res 1016, which sets out the official possessive form of Arkansas (it’s “Arkansas’s”)

* Ga. Code Ann § 43-43A-I, which establishes that a pay toilet is not a coin-operated amusement

* Or. HR Con Res 12, which sets out Oregon’s official state microbe (brewer’s yeast!)

* Tex. penal code § 43.23(g) which exempts Texas lawmakers from the state’s five-device-limit on sex-toys

* Australia’s Goods and Services Tax Act § 165-55, which gives tax commissioners the power to “treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened;” and “Treat a particular event that did not actually happen as having happened” (and a lot more contrafactual goodness)

* Lei No 3.770 of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, which requires cellular phone companies to extend a 50% discount on airtime to stutterers

* German Civil Code §§960-61, 962, 963 and 964, which set out the rules requiring beekeepers to chase after their errant swarms, rules for adjudicating the mingling of swarms chased by more than one beekeeper; and rules for removing your swarming bees from other beekeepers’ hives…’ (Boing Boing).

16 Depressing Facts to Break the Ice

‘Perfect icebreakers to jumpstart a conversation are difficult to come by. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of depressing facts that are a surefire way to get people talking. Regale fellow party-goers with tales of the world’s loneliest animal, or bring down the mood with some harrowing statistics regarding our favorite medical practice.’ (Mashable).

What Louis Armstrong Really Thinks

‘To the country at large, he insisted on remaining a breezy entertainer with all the gravitas of a Jimmy Durante or Dean Martin. Fortunately, that image is now being deeply reëxamined. This month, the publication of Thomas Brothers’s “Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism” and the Off Broadway opening of Terry Teachout’s “Satchmo at the Waldorf” (which follows his 2009 biography, “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong,” which was reviewed in the magazine by John McWhorter) provide a rich, nuanced picture of what was behind Armstrong’s public face.’ (The New Yorker).

British Storms Unbury an Ancient Welsh Forest

British Storms Unbury an Ancient Welsh Forest

‘Storms lashing the British coast last month revealed a strange new sight off the west coast of Wales, near the village of Borth: the stumps of hundreds of tree trunks, rising out of the sand, like broken teeth.

Could this be part of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a mythical kingdom believed to have disappeared beneath the waves thousands of years ago? Has Wales’s very own Atlantis been found?’ (National Geographic).

“Motherlode” of Alien Worlds Unveiled by Space Telescope

‘NASA astronomers nearly doubled the number of alien worlds known to humanity on Wednesday, reporting the discovery of 715 planets located in nearby solar systems.

The discoveries bring the total number of known planets outside our solar system—so-called exoplanets—to roughly 1,700.

Launched in 2009, NASA’s $591 million Kepler Space Telescope has now discovered most of the planets orbiting nearby stars.

“We’ve hit the motherlode; we’ve got a veritable exoplanet bonanza,” says Kepler co-leader Jack Lissauer of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

The newly announced exoplanets reinforce the view that most solar systems around sunlike stars have smaller-size planets.

Most of those planets range in width from Earth-size (on the smaller side) to Neptune-size (on the larger). That’s quite a change from the Jupiter-size planets that were often spotted orbiting nearby stars during the early planet searches that started in 1995.’ (National Geographic).