Project Moby Dick, the Cold War’s Least Believable Surveillance Strategy

In 1956, the United States launched a series of balloons that took advantage of weather patterns to spy on the USSR. They went up in Europe, glided over the Soviet Union, and were intercepted over Japan, where planes would extend hooks to grab the cameras from them in mid-air. What could possibly go wrong?

Still, even the most optimistic assessments admitted that there was a possibility that some of the balloons would veer wildly off course. To aid in recovery, a cartoon and multilingual placard was included, encouraging them to be brought to U.S.-allied bases for a reward.  

“THIS BOX CAME FROM THE SKY
IT IS HARMLESS
IT HAS WEATHER DATA IN IT
NOTIFY THE AUTHORITIES
YOU WILL RECEIVE A REWARD IF YOU
TURN IT IN AS IT IS”

And if the Air Force thought that the Soviets wouldn't notice the balloons, they were sorely mistaken. Read about Project Moby Dick at Atlas Obscura.


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These Indian Runner Ducks Are Late For Work

If you think the rat race is cutthroat and mile-a-minute then you clearly haven't been caught in cross mallard traffic during rush hour, when ducks don't give a quack about anything but gettin' to work on time.

(YouTube Link)

These ducks know they're lucky to be gainfully employed, so they rush off as a flock every day to get to work in the Vergenoegd Wine Estate, where they have an important job to do- eating the snails off the vines.

(YouTube Link)

-Via Laughing Squid

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Symptom of March Madness

March Madness: That time of the year when your head shape really works to your advantage! Spotted by Twitter user @TunaOfTheSky.

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Things You May Not Know About Geena Davis

Geena Davis is one of the most talented and dynamic actresses in Hollywood, and her career has taken her from hanging out with Tootsie in the 80s to her recent appearance as Reagan on The Exorcist TV series.

But acting isn't the most important thing in Geena's life, and unlike the hungry Hollywood crowd that surrounds her Geena has much more important things to do with her life than simply being a star:

20. I run a film festival every May in Bentonville, Arkansas, called BFF. It was created to champion women and diverse voices in film and other media.

23. I’m a special envoy for Women and Girls in Information & Communication Technologies to the U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union.

24. I have a research institute, seejane.org, that advocates for more and better female characters in kids’ TV and movies.

Geena also has many talents you don't see on the screen:

18. I can move my eyes independently.

19. I can also wiggle my ears one at a time.

22. I am an expert pumpkin carver.

25. I can write backward with my left hand while I write forward with my right hand. I can also write upside down just as fast as I can normally write.

Want to know more? Read Geena Davis: 25 Things You Don't Know About Me here


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Baby Romeo Meets Baby Juliet


Photo: Cassie Clayshutle Photography

It's matchmaking of Shakespearean proportion!

On Saturday afternoon at Coastal Carolina Hospital in Bluffton, South Carolina, proud parents Morgan and Edwin Hernandez welcomed their baby Romeo to the world. 18 hours and 8 minutes later, Christiana and Allan Shifflett in the room next door welcomed a baby girl that they named ... you guessed it, Juliet!

Both parents had picked their babies names earlier in their pregnancies and didn't know about each other until they met in the hospital. Photographer Cassie Clayshutle took photos of the babies and shared it on Facebook with their parents' permission - the post has since gone viral.

The two star-crossed babies already had a head full of hair and Internet fame :) View more of the cute babies photos over at Clayshutle's Facebook page.

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Ten Years of LEGO Stephen Hawking

Ten years ago, Stephen Hawking went for a ride on the Vomit Comet and experienced the loss of gravity. Ochre Jelly (Iain Heath) was impressed by the story and paid tribute by building a LEGO version of Hawking, which went viral. Of course it did. The LEGO sculpture has just a few simple shapes, but everyone who saw it instantly knew who it was. Hawking started Ochre Jelly on a new career of sculpting familiar pop culture figures in LEGO with a minimalist goal: make them recognizable with the fewest bricks possible. We've been getting a kick out of his creations ever since. Heath tells the story of how Hawking inspired him at the Brothers Brick.

(YouTube link)

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Hawking's zero-G flight (and his own 50th birthday), Heath took the original Hawking sculpture on its own ride in the Vomit Comet! Oh yeah, he also got some footage of himself on the flight -Thanks, Iain!


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Super Mario Bros Pop Up Bar


Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Forget mushrooms, this Mario prefers whisky!

Mockingbird Hill, a Washington DC sherry bar transformed itself into a Super Mario Bros. Pop Up Bar, complete with bartenders dressed as your favorite plumbers and decor that would make Princess Peach feel quite at home.


"It's A Me, Amario" drink Photo: Farrah Skeiky via Drink Company

Photo: Farrah Skeiky


The back room has a King Koopa's Castle theme - via Drink Company

Globo has a YouTube video clip of the Super Mario Pop Up Bar (alongside the cherry blossom-themed pop up bar next door):

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We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Simon's Cat in Camouflage Challenge

Blending in with one's surroundings is a common strategy for predators to use in capturing some other animal to eat. Leopards are good at it. So are spiders, anglerfish, and octopuses. Simon's Cat tries it out.

(YouTube link)

But Simon's cat is neither a spider nor an anglerfish, although he probably thinks he's a leopard. He just doesn't quite have the needed skills. It might have been his comfy suburban upbringing, or it may be just his bad luck.


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Kofflove - Always Date Non-Smokers

Kofflove by Firebeard 

Sometimes love stinks, that's just a basic fact of life. And sometimes love can leave you feeling queasy and nauseous, which is a rarer symptom of love yet no less normal, but a love that's deadly is a love to be avoided at all cost. Which is why nobody wants to get romantically involved with a Koffing trainer- they're sneaky, gassy and heavy smokers, and anybody who hooks up with them is risking death by suffocation. So if you're looking for love in all the wrong zones stick to pocket monster trainers who catch cute critters- because Koffing kills!

Warn the world about how toxic some relationships can be with this Kofflove t-shirt by Firebeard, it's sure to keep the romance alive in your life...as long as your love is a fellow pokefan!

Visit Firebeard's Facebook fan page, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more loveable designs:

Excellent! 100 Cups of Coffee The Jokefather Mystic

View more designs by Firebeard | More Cartoon T-Shirts | New T-Shirts

Are you a professional illustrator or T-shirt designer? Let's chat! Sell your designs on the NeatoShop and get featured in front of tons of potential new fans on Neatorama!


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Fascinating Facts About the Pharaohs of Egypt

You probably know that the pharaohs were powerful rulers of Egypt, but you may be surprised by what you don't know about them. For example, did you know there was a pharaoh who let his army lose in battle only so he could protect the lives of cats, that were considered sacred? Or that the female pharaoh Hapshetsut asked to be depicted as a man by all artists in order that naysayers wouldn't criticize her ability to rule based on her gender?

Learn more about these fascinating historical rulers on TopTenz


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The Peak Age for Everything

There's something great to be said for every age. According to research, people are most satisfied with their lives at age 23, but after a lot more experience, they are  very satisfied again at age 69. The best age for learning a new language is seven, but that doesn't mean your chance is gone if you don't. You reach peak muscle strength at age 25, but your math skills will peak at 50, and 51-year-olds are better at understanding emotions. Of course, these are averages, so your mileage may vary. The section on marriage is understandable, but not definitive.

The peak age to settle down is 26.

The 37% Rule of statistics says that at age 26 you'll have met enough people to have some solid options without waiting so long that they start pairing off without you.

And according to one recent study, divorce rates are lowest for couples who married between the ages of 28 and 32.

Check out the peak age for all kinds of things at Business Insider. Each conclusion has links to the research that produced it. -via mental_floss


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Nordstrom Is Now Selling The Mom Jeans Of The Future

Moms can wear jeans without making people say "nice mom jeans, ma'am" but nobody, mom or otherwise, can wear these Clear Knee Mom Jeans without becoming the talk of the town.

Are they the dumbest jeans ever made, or are they simply so futuristically fashion forward that our modern minds just aren't ready for them yet? I dunno, ask this gal how she feels about being forced to wear them-

These Topshop Clear Knees Mom Jeans are being sold by Nordstrom for a very fashionable $95, and while they're unlikely to spark a pants window craze they're great for people with pale knees!

-Via Metro


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The Trouble with Eden

Reality TV has been around long enough now that you'd think there would be rules in place to handle every contingency. The story of the British reality game show Eden hints that it's not necessarily so. Contestants were taken to an island off the coast of Scotland and expected to fend for themselves for a year, while being filmed as they bond with each other and struggle for survival.  

The contestants on the show try to complete a task with zero outside assistance or contact with the outside world for one year.   But here’s the kicker.  There were 23 contestants that started.  13 quit and 10 finished the show, only there was one small problem.  By the time the 10 surviving contestants came back, the show had already been cancelled for 7 months.

That tidbit leaves us with so many questions. Did the camera operators stay after the show was canceled? Will the cast and crew be paid? If they cheated and got outside help, as reported, why didn't they hear the news? Is this whole story a publicity stunt to get us all watching a possible revival? Read the story, and see clips from Eden at TVOM.


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Tokyo's Newest Style of Cafe Offers a Nice Place to Nap

We all feel run down during our work day sometimes, but while most people lean towards a caffeinated beverage, sometimes the best way to refresh yourself is with a nap. Now a new Tokyo cafe concept is offering guests a chance to do just that with dim lighting and fancy reclining beds.

Visitors must order a food item to ensure a two-hour slot in the bed, which also includes a cup of decaf coffee for before bed and a caffeinated cup of Joe afterward. 

You can read more about the cafe concept at RocketNews24

Via Eater

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Cheese Trouble

When Wallace and Grommit meet the Minions… you have the premise for a great cartoon. Actually, Grommit meets the Minions. With Wallace, it's not so clear.  

(vimeo link)

Fabrice Mathieu (previously at Neatorama) brings us a digital mashup that's as seamless as it is silly. With French subtitles. -Thanks, Fabrice!


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Synlight: The World's Largest Artificial Sun


Photoengineer Volkman Dohmen stands in front of Synlight - Image: Caroline Seidel/dpa

Let there be light! Scientists at the German Aerospace Center or DLR's Institute of Solar Research flipped the switch to turn on the world's largest artificial sun called "Synlight."

Located in Juelich, Cologne, Germany, the Synlight array is a giant honeycomb-like structure of 140 xenon short-arc lamps. When focused on a single spot, the 350-kilowatt array produces the equivalent of 10,000 times the intensity of solar radiation on the Earth's surface. That's enough to heat the target area up to 3,000 degrees celcius (5,400 degrees Fahrenheit).


Images: DLR

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Things Many People Still Don't Understand About Star Wars

Star Wars has become such an epic franchise with such a devoted fandom that the origins of that universe have been left behind. To understand some of the mechanics of the story, Looper takes us back to how the stories were first constructed to remind of some details we've either forgotten or never realized in the first place.

(YouTube link)

A little context helps us to understand how the juggernaut we know as Star Wars grew from just a movie into what it is today: a modern mythology that became more than anyone could have imagined. -via Geeks Are Sexy


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These Cute Foodie Tees From The NeatoShop Are Delightfully Delicious

BIG LINK by Fernando Sala

Everybody enjoys eating, it's a fact of life, but these days people have taken their love of food one step further and made dining a taste bud driven pastime.

But before foodies go out on tasty food based adventures they need to get geared up, and there's no better place to find fun food-themed t-shirts than the NeatoShop, home of the tastiest designs on the net!

There are many different kinds of foodies in the world

Burger Lover by happinessinatee

From the Gluten Free Freegans to the greasy Baconivores to the very slurpy Ramen Royals

Tutank Ramen by Boggs Nicolas

And do you know the one thing they all have in common? They all love funny food themed tees!

Great White Shark Pizza by Mudge

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Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring is here, so it's time for the customary annual spring clean up. To help keep you on track, Jeff Wysaski of Obvious Plant has created a checklist just for you. Don't forget to feed the Basilisk!


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Vatican City Hailmarys - Blessed Be Those Who Score The Most TDs


Vatican City Hailmarys by Dansmash

Vatican City has failed to produce a successful sports team because their players are always too humble and reverent to keep their head in the game. They're always either looking up to God or down at their feet in the meekest way possible, which in no way helps them keep track of the ball or the players rushing towards them. But one day while they were trying out the sport of American football they gave the ball to a young lady named Maria, and she hurled that football through the air as if Jesus himself were carrying it aloft on his shoulders. It sailed down the field and landed right in the arms of a priest named Abby who was busy imploring the heavens for help and just so happened to be standing in the inzone, scoring Vatican City's first ever touchdown. And thus the Vatican City Hailmarys were born, and they would rain a blessed storm of pigskin down upon their competition...

Cheer on your favorite Catholic football team with this Vatican City Hailmarys t-shirt by Dansmash, it's a hilarious way to show some love for Mother Mary and her incredible passing skills!

Visit Dansmash's Facebook fan page, Twitter and Tumblr, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more blessedly geeky designs:

Tokemon Clobberin' Time Ashes to Ashes Dudermeister

View more designs by Dansmash | More Funny T-shirts | New T-Shirts

Are you a professional illustrator or T-shirt designer? Let's chat! Sell your designs on the NeatoShop and get featured in front of tons of potential new fans on Neatorama!


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The Great American Dream House

The following article is from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into California.

It wasn’t everybody’s idea of home sweet home, but it was the right house at the right time for thousands of West Coast families after World War II.

MASTER BUILDER IN THE MAKING

All Joe Eichler wanted to do was build some low-cost housing for World War II veterans and their families: small, ranch-style homes with basic amenities. What he ended up with were stylish, iconic homes that are still in demand today. The reason? Eichler, though he didn’t know it at first, was a modern man in every way. For one thing, he was an equal-opportunity builder who opened the doors of his houses to people of all races and colors, a pretty daring prospect in the pre–civil rights era. If someone wanted to buy one of his houses, all they had to do was come up with the down payment (anywhere from $500 to $2,650) and qualify for a mortgage.

In fact, the only colors Eichler cared about were the colors of his houses. His son Ned tells the story of how his father, while cruising through one of his developments, called a halt to a house-painting job because the color the owners had chosen didn’t look right with the colors of the houses on either side of it. The house-painter told Eichler that the owners really wanted that particular color and added, “After all, it’s their house.” Eichler said, “Like hell it is. It’s my house. Change the g**damn color.”

THE HOUSES THAT JOE BUILT

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The Ridiculous Way Epic Cosplay Shots Are Made

Cosplayers have learned how to market themselves on social media, how to fund their art with print sales and crowdfunding, and now they're mastering the art of the superheroic self portrait.

But, much like the characters they portray, those epic self portraits are pure imagination, scenes set up to make the cosplayers appear to be fictional characters come to life.

Budding cosplayers should take note of the ridiculous(ly clever) ways these seemingly epic shots were created, so you can power up your cosplay photo game with a few simple tricks and a little help from your friends.

See 15 Epic Cosplay Shots...and the Ridiculous Ways They Were Made here


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Nowruz Celebrations Around the World

 

Nowruz is the Persian New Year holiday, which starts at the vernal equinox. Although it has a Zoroastrian origin, it is celebrated in a asecular way by Persian and Turkish people all over the world. These celebrations vary, but usually include public parties, food, dancing, parades, and a lot of jumping over fires. Shown here is a celebration in Astana, Kazakhstan. See a roundup of photographs from Nowruz 2017 at Buzzfeed.  


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Rare Black Serval Spotted in Africa


Photo: Sergio Pitamitz

While leading a wild life photography tour in Kenya, Sergio Pitamitz spotted something rare: a jet-black serval - an African wild cat that normally has cheetah-like spots. The black serval ambled into view of the group, then disappeared back into the bush.

"When you do wildlife photography, you're always searching for something rare and strange," Pitamitz said to National Geographic, "It was absolutely incredible."

Black servals have been spotted before - but it's quite rare. There are just six records of black servals in scientific literature, according to biologist Eduardo Eizirik of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil:

The animal is melanistic—its genes carry a mutation that creates more dark pigment than light pigment ... Though melanism is common enough among wildcats—it's reported in 13 of the 38 known species—the trait seems to be relatively rare in servals

Christine Dell'Amore of National Geographic has the full story (check out the large image of the black serval there. What a lovely creature!) - Thanks Kelsey!

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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March Madness Basketball Fails

The NCAA basketball tournament has so many great players and great matchups that people watching start to think that's normal. It's not. Fail Army is here to remind us that the rest of us aren't that good at the game. This video has some NSFW language.

(YouTube link)

Before playing basketball, you should know the rules:
1. Don't hang onto the rim, especially with a free-standing basket.
2. Do not use a folding chair to boost your jump.
3. Keep in mind that basketball can become dodgeball at any moment.

-via Tastefully Offensive


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Photos Of The Mad Max: Fury Road Cars Before They Were Wrecked

The beautiful wasteland shredding machines featured in Mad Max: Fury Road are custom made (and fully functional) works of automotive art, most of which were wrecked by the time the film was in the can.

But before they ended up in the scrap pile photographer John Platt was given the opportunity to photograph each of the 150 cars used in the production with proper lighting in his studio.

Platt's two part series "Before The Dirt" is an homage to the Angel of Combustion, who was clearly guiding the hands of the blackfingers who built the amazing vehicles who very nearly stole the show from Saint Max.

-Via designboom


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The Cheapest House For Sale in San Francisco is a Fire-Gutted Wreck for $499,000


Images: Estately

If you want to buy a house in San Francisco, you better have deep pockets. The median listing price of a detached home in the city is currently $1.15 million dollar according to Zillow (renting isn't much cheaper either, with median rent list price of over $4,000).

But deals can be found, like this house in the Excelsior District, which is currently listed for sale at a mere $499,000. It's a steal, if you're willing to overlook some negatives ... like being completely gutted by a fire, for example.

Take a look at what half-a-million bucks would get you in San Francisco, which Curbed SF identified as the cheapest house for sale in the city right now:

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This House Is In Desperate Need Of A Spring Thaw

People are tired of waiting for the spring thaw, they're done dealing with those winter blues and can't wait to see some green start sprouting up around their house again.

But no matter what the weather's like in their neck of the woods the pics of this house in upstate New York encased in ice is bound to put their winter situation in perspective.

Photographer John Kucko captured these chilling images of a house on the shores of Lake Ontario that became completely encased in ice thanks to the bitterly frigid weather brought in by Storm Stella. Time to trade in the house keys and garage door opener for a flamethrower...

-Via Laughing Squid


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Why Women Couldn’t Wear Pants on the Senate Floor Until 1993

So many of the conventions that ruled how men and women interacted were "unwritten rules" that everyone understood, but were not legally codified. Conformity came from social pressure from the majority of people who just knew that "that's the way it is." Such was the dress code for the U.S. Senate that expected women to wear dresses long after those in other professions were wearing pantsuits, uniform pants, or jeans to work.

As the upper house in the U.S. legislature, the Senate has always been more formal and reserved than the House. Even during the 1980s, pants on women were apparently too much for that august chamber to handle. Individual Senate offices had their own rules, but on the floor, women wearing pants were verboten, which could necessitate quick changes. "We've heard from women staff that in the 1980s, if they came in to work—if they were called in on an emergency basis—they needed to keep a dress to put on quickly or they had to borrow one if they had to appear on the Senate floor," Richard A. Baker, Senate historian from 1975 to 2009, told The Washington Post in 2002.

While the dress code for the Senate was never officially codified, the norms were enforced by Senate doorkeepers, who controlled access to the chamber and served partly as security guards, partly as protocol monitors. Even today, they assess each person seeking entry, making sure they are supposed to be there and are dressed appropriately. The problem is that "dressed appropriately" has historically been up to the discretion of the doorkeeper on duty: Doorkeepers made determinations based on personal opinion or instructions from their boss, the sergeant at arms.

What did it take for the doorkeepers to back down over enforcing that dresses be worn by women senators? It took a critical number of concurrent women senators (six), and one breaking the unwritten rule in order to bring the entire subject up for discussion. Read how that finally happened in 1993 at mental_floss. 


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Chef Wears Raw Ingredients From His Menu On His Face For Creepy Portraits

Chefs who only serve raw and organic ingredients in their restaurants go out of their way to advertise that fact, turning their fresh food philosophy into a branding element.

They call their eatery something cute like "Organically Yours", put images of fresh fruits, veg and grain on all their advertising and include a long list of things their dishes are free of, such as hormones or gluten.

But chef Robbie Postma is an odd duck, so he skipped all the cheesy name games and went straight for the shock factor, posing for portraits while covered in raw ingredients from his kitchen.

MENU is a deliciously bizarre photo project created by Postma and photographer Robert Harrison, and these photos are so much more than just pics of some guy with food all over his face:

When creating these images, Postma and Harrison stuck to the same principles and values a chef would when creating a menu: paying a lot of attention to the details, the composition, the preparation and of course the ingredients. From cutlery to coffee bean, every component is painstakingly prepared to produce the ultimate effect. And every grain of rice was added by hand, without the aid of digital manipulation. MENU is hand crafted. Just like the best food.

MENU - The craft behind the project. from Tim Arnold on Vimeo.

-Via Laughing Squid

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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