Yesterday I watched an episode of QI (Series H, episode 16, "History") that talked about war tubas:
UNLEASH THE TUBAS OF WAR.
Okay, they weren't really tubas. Rather, they were a type of topophone, which is an audio device which helps you locate specific sounds--specifically to alert you to approaching planes or ships before the advent of radar. They were big in WWI. The above picture is of Japanese war tubas in the 1930s, but the technology itself was a much earlier invention by Hoboken physics professor A.M. Mayer in 1880 (this is what I have gathered from my brief research--let me know if his info is wrong, or if someone before him actually invented these). I mean, he basically just expanded the idea of the ear horn for hard-of-hearing people, but it worked.
While the Japanese version had a certain grandeur and might be slightly intimidating if you saw them on the march, Mayer's war tuba looked like this:
Half stethoscope, half yoke, total abomination to your sense of dignity. Obviously, this far back in time, his topophone was used more for naval purposes, like when sailing through fog. The French eventually got in on their own style, which was slightly less nutty:
"J'ai l'air ridicule."
There isn't too much biographical information on Mayer, but if you're interested in seeing excerpts from his original article published in The Scientific American discussing his invention, it can be found here.
incidentally, this is I think my favorite whistler painting.
In 1877 James McNeill Whistler sued John Ruskin for panning his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold. “I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now,” Ruskin had written, “but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” The trial saw this exchange between Whistler and Ruskin’s attorney, Sir John Holker:
Holker: Did it take you much time to paint the Nocturne in Black and Gold? How soon did you knock it off?
Whistler: Oh, I “knock one off” possibly in a couple of days — one day to do the work and another to finish it.
Holker: The labour of two days is that for which you ask two hundred guineas?
Whistler: No, I ask it for the knowledge I have gained in the work of a lifetime.
Similar: When Henry Ford’s engineers were unable to solve a problem with a huge new generator, he called Charles Steinmetz. Steinmetz listened to the generator for two days, made some calculations, mounted a ladder, and drew a chalk mark on its side. If the engineers would remove 16 windings from the field coil at that location, he said, the generator would work perfectly. He was right.
Afterward, Ford received a bill for $10,000. When he respectfully asked for an itemization, Steinmetz sent this:
Making chalk mark on generator: $1
Knowing where to make mark: $9,999
Total due: $10,000
Links to full projects and instructions, in case you actually do have time for that:
1. The cantilevered macarons
2. The cupcakes in disguise
3. The C.R.E. pasta
4. The cake of 17,000 ruffles
5. The pizza-roll sized Pop-Tarts
6. The wordy marshmallows
7. The coulraphobia cake (page is in Malay)
8. The rainbow jello monstrosity
9. The femto-BLTs
10. The rainbow heart cake
11. the Rubik's Cube Fruit Salad (original link lost to Internet; this is someone's recreation)
12. The mini ice cream cones were apparently sourced from a wedding photography blog, with no recipe extant. Presented in their stead is the French Laundry's recipe for salmon tartare in black sesame cornets, which I believe they may actually be.
13. The fish cake
14. The rainbow bread
15. The enormous peony cake, again, is from a cake photo blog, no instructions. Instead, have this step-by-step tutorial for making gum paste peonies.
16. The waffle breakfast sushi
17. The piñata cookies (autoplay video warning)
Bonus: Ain't nobody got time for that! and the autotune remix.
For her 1974 book Lighter Side of the Library, Janice Glover asked American librarians to recall titles requested by confused patrons, and the books they turned out to want:
Requested: Who Is Your Schoolmaster?
Book wanted: Hoosier Schoolmaster
Requested: Entombed With an Infant
Book wanted: In Tune With the Infinite
Requested: The Missing Hand
Book wanted: A Farewell to Arms
Requested: The Armored Chinaman
Book wanted: The Chink in the Armour
Requested: King of the Ants
Book wanted: Lord of the Flies
Requested: The Wooden Kid
Book wanted: Pinocchio
Requested: Five Pennies and the Sun
Book wanted: The Moon and Sixpence
And so on: From Here to Maternity; The Merchant of Venus; “Allergy in a Country Churchyard”; My Heart Is Wounded, They Buried My Knee. One inspired library staff finally sent a student home with Homer’s Iliad; he had come in asking for Homeless Idiot.