The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘insomnia’

One-upmanship in the Morning

November 4, 2015 | by


The Awakening, 1900.

Back in the bad old days, wags used to say the streets of Alphabet City stood, from west to east, for Adventurous, Bold, Crazy, and Dead. I’ve long thought that we need a similar system for categorizing the different hours at which one wakes up. I suggest:

Nine – Nonchalant

Eight – Effortless

Seven – Sensible

Six – Self-motivated

Five – Fantastical

Four – Fast-living

These are, obviously, encumbered by their alliteration. Of course I’d rather have substituted a slatternly here or a debauched there, but that would defeat the purpose, and this gets the idea across. Unless your job or lifestyle demands unorthodox hours, this seems to me a rough guide to such things. Read More »

Cold Storage, Heating, and Ventilating on Board Ship

October 8, 2015 | by

Augustus Egg, The Travelling Companions (detail), 1862, oil on canvas.

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: Cold Storage, Heating, and Ventilating on Board Shipa 1911 guide by Sydney Ferris Walker.

A cold store is a chamber that is built expressly to prevent heat from passing from outside to the produce inside. It is not possible to construct a chamber that will not allow some heat to pass through the walls, floor and ceiling, and this heat which is constantly leaking through into the chamber has to be removed, just as that of the produce itself is, and transported to the sea or the atmosphere. The quantity of heat that leaks through depends upon the difference of temperature between the inside and outside of the cold chamber, upon the construction of the walls, floor and roof, and upon the extent of the surfaces exposed to the action of the heat. Certain substances are good thermal insulators, just as certain substances are good electrical insulators, and the thermal insulators are used to prevent the ingress of heat into the cold chambers, in the same way that electrical insulators are used to prevent the egress of electricity from the I conductors. This fact is very often not understood, and is sometimes challenged, because the sizes are so different; but if it be borne in mind that the thickness of the walls of the chamber correspond with the thickness of the insulating envelope of a cable, or even of the insulation of the iron core of the armature of a dynamo machine, though they are much greater, while the air inside the chamber corresponds with the copper or the iron, it will probably be appreciated that heat leaks in through the thermal insulator just as electricity leaks out through the electrical insulator. Dry, still air is the best insulator known, and the other substances that are good insulators owe their property very largely to the fact that they contain a large number of very small air cells, across which the heat current has to pass. Read More »

The Square Root of Two

July 30, 2015 | by

Joaquín Agrasot y Juan, Las Dos Amigas, 1866.

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: The Square Root of Two, an e-book sequel to Pi published in 2008 by Stan Kerr. NB: The text is abridged. 

This choice was made by popular demand for a second number, from the responses to our posting of Pi to a million places as one of the January, 1993 Project Gutenberg Etexts. This was surprising, in that we never expected the massive response we got. For you, who are interested, we will also do e, Pi to the e, e to the Pi, and perhaps a few more. Suggestions welcome. For those who are not interested, don’t worry, we don’t have many of these in mind.

This electronic text was prepared by Stan Kerr as below. He would like this computation confirmed. This was computed on a Convex C240 using Richard Brent’s multiple precision arithmetic routines (MP), published as algorithm 524 in the March 1978 issue of Transactions on Mathematical Software. Using the MP routines, a base of 10,000 was chosen, to make the final decimal conversion trivial. The time to compute sqrt(2) was 32293 seconds, and the time to compute sqrt(2)**2-2 as a check was 31031 seconds. The number is presented as an integer. Read More »

Things to Know About Trademarks

June 16, 2015 | by


Ferdinand Max Bredt, Couch with Sleeping Lady, date unknown.

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Infringement,” the fourth chapter of Things to Know About Trade-marks: A Manual of Trade-mark Information, a 1911 book by J. Walter Thompson Company.

There is no intrinsic value in a trade-mark. Its worth in dollars is a creation, and it depends upon the successful sale, or popularity, of the commodity to which the trade-mark is applied, the distribution of this commodity, the extent to which it has been advertised, and the profit that there is in it.

Some widely-known trade-marks are worth millions of dollars, and many are valued at a hundred thousand dollars or more.

The ownership of an advertised and favorably known trade-mark is, therefore, a valuable property right. In estimating the assets of a business, its trade-mark is included under the head of Good-Will, and Good-Will is Reputation. The value of a trade-mark is the value of the reputation of the goods it represents and identifies. Read More »

Straw Hats: Their History and Manufacture

May 5, 2015 | by

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: the first chapter of Straw Hats: Their History and Manufacture, a 1922 book by Harry Inwards.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Bed, 1893.

The origin of what is known as a “Straw Hat” is lost in the mists of antiquity.

Ambiguous references to what may have been hats of vegetable materials are to be found in the works of almost all ancient writers, but very little that is specific can be discovered. Perhaps one reason for the paucity of information on this subject may be that the homemade hats of plaited straws or rushes were probably worn only by the common people. With society, as it existed in early days, if such were the case, the matter would be considered almost too vulgar for the classical writers to mention.

Doubtless in the earliest stages of human development any kind of convenient material was utilized by primeval man in the endeavor to keep his head or body warm or cool as the case might require.

Now the mere fact of the shelter afforded by trees would create some inducement towards using leaves for covering the body, for one may assume that even before vegetable products were gathered and used, say, as thatch, for collective shelter, some of them were adopted for individual protective purposes.

The earliest reference to such is the well-known account of the “aprons of fig leaves” mentioned in the third chapter of Genesis. This primitive method of clothing was soon followed by the use of skins (as noted later in the same chapter), but even in this record the vegetable product was used by man before that of animals, and shows in a most unmistakable, even if allegorical, manner, the natural trend of all development, viz., that articles easiest to procure are those that are first used. Read More »

Let Us Go to the Fitness Temple, and Other News

April 6, 2015 | by


Sascha Schneider, Athlete in Basic Position, 1907.

  • Charles Simic uses reading, as so many of us have, to cure insomnia: “I read only a passage or two, and at the most a page, because if I read more than that, I’m in danger of staying up half a night. All I require, to use a culinary term, is an amuse-bouche that leaves a pleasant aftertaste. Have you ever tried poetry, buster? The reader may be wondering. As a snooze-inducer, nothing comes close. Thanks to it, millions have slept like newborn babies over the centuries.”
  • Hanging around at the Barbara Pym Society’s annual North American conference: “Tom Sopko, the conference organizer, read aloud quotations from her novels and, table by table, we guessed the character they related to … The rest of the weekend was spent alternating talks about this year’s featured book … with suitably Pym-ish activities: a sherry party, a dramatized reading, and Evensong back at the Church of the Advent.”
  • A new history of the gym sees it as a “quasi-religious space,” as it’s been since Ancient Greece: “Freeborn male citizens would go there to train their bodies in the pursuit of arete—moral, physical and intellectual excellence. At the gym they would also enjoy same-sex erotic relationships, the beginning of a symbiosis between homosexuality and the gymnasium that continues to the present day.”
  • Salman Rushdie got a Goodreads account—and promptly began to assign unflattering ratings to novels by his peers. Money? Three stars. To Kill a Mockingbird? Three stars. Lucky Jim? One star. “I’m so clumsy in this new world of social media sometimes,” Rushdie told the Independent, claiming he had no idea his ratings were visible to the public. “Stupid me.”
  • Finally, some socially conscious citizen has done what man has long dreamed of: remove all the gluten from iconic works of art.