What is J.J. Abrams going to do with Episode VII of Star Wars? Given the success of his rebooting of the Star Trek franchise, these cookies illustrate a likely option. Sarah Trefney made these cookies mashing up the two franchises. Darth Vader is now a Klingon, Princess Leia Uhura works the comm station and Chewbacca is a tribble. You can view more photos of them at the link.
I put this new Windows 8 advertisement on my own site because, although it's funny, I didn't think it was quite "neat" enough for Neatorama. Then later, I found out something strange about it. No one seems to know what language the actors are speaking!
Native speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean declare that it is not any of those languages. The first time I listened to them, the ads sounded as though they contained elements of some Wu topolect, a bit like mangled Shanghainese, but I could also definitely hear bits of Mandarin, albeit with unusual tonal contours and slurring. What was most perplexing of all to me was that, although I was certain that the ads contained Chinese phrases and sentences, every Chinese person to whom I showed them emphatically maintained that they could not understand a single word! In contrast, several non-native speakers of Mandarin said they could pick out a word of Chinese here and there.
Look at this: A historic brick temple raised up two stories high on scaffolding. Just imagine the strength and care that went into this feat of engineering! The Provo (Utah) Tabernacle burned in 2010, and although the interior is gone, the brick facade survived. To restore the building, it has been raised up so that a two-floor foundation basement can be built underneath it. Read about the project and see more pictures at Gizmodo. Link
(Image credit: Flickr user Brian Hansen)
Woe unto the man who comes between Korra and her ice cream cone! That man is Mike Reeves, who finally just gave up. Good move. Korra like potato chips, too. I see a weight problem in the future. -via Laughing Squid
Questioning your existence? Doubting the reality of transcendent meaning? Randy Sarafan has designed a phone for your needs:
The way that it works is that when you pick up the handset, the telephone makes a call using a custom cellular module to a list of predefined phone numbers. Whether the phone calls a list of people you know, a list of people you don't know, or randomly dials strangers in your area code, is really up to you. Alternately, the number can be distributed to people with existential emergencies and they can dial in for others to answer.
You can find building instructions and process photos at the link.
A group of researchers from the CDC sampled water from 161 public and private pools and water parks in Atlanta and found that half of them were contaminated with e. coli, which comes from -you guessed it- poop.
The study, published in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, specifically looked at pools in Atlanta, but the researchers say such contamination is likely a widespread problem in U.S. pools, thanks to swimmers not washing themselves off before taking a dip. According to the scientists, each of us carries about 0.14 grams of fecal material into the pool — and that doesn’t include accidents or cases of diarrhea. Among municipal pools, the genetic testing for pathogens detected E. coli in 70% of the filters, while 66% of the water parks contained the bacteria and 49% of pools in private clubs showed evidence of the contamination.
“These findings indicate the need for swimmers to help prevent introduction of pathogens, e.g., taking a pre-swim shower and not swimming when ill with diarrhea, [for] aquatics staff to maintain disinfectant level and pH according to public health standards to inactivate pathogens, and state and local environmental health specialists to enforce such standards,” the authors write in their report.
Because of the way they did the tests, the researchers did not determine whether the bacteria was alive. If pools are properly chlorinated, they should be dead. Atlanta had no reported pool-borne illnesses last summer, when the samples were taken. But just to be sure, try not to swallow pool water. Link -via Digg
(Image credit: Flickr user Vegas ER)
A child's personal project turned into a documentary Yuck: A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch. The film is 19 minutes long and has won several film festival awards. The trailers here are just short clips, but you can find a schedule of screenings at the film site.
In the fall of 2011, fourth grader Zachary Maxwell began asking his parents if he could start packing and bringing his own lunch to school. Unfortunately, they kept insisting that he take advantage of the hot lunch being served at the school. After all, the online menu sounded delicious and the NYC Department of Education (DOE) website assured parents that the meals were nutritious. Zachary wanted to convince his parents that the online menu did not accurately represent what was really being served at his school.
In an effort to prove his point, Zachary started sneaking a small HD camera into the lunchroom to show his parents the truth. Over the next six months, Zachary would continue to gather "inside" footage and research the claims being made by the DOE and the media about the City's public school lunch program.
To the surprise of no one besides his parents, the published menus differed quite a bit from the actual lunches served in schools. To be fair, all the lunches at his elementary school are free, and I've seen much worse. But Zachary Maxwell has a wonderful career ahead of him in filmmaking, journalism, or whatever he decides to do.
Cloning technology may permit scientists to revive extinct species. The writers of Mother Jones contemplated which species they'd like to bring back from the dead. Maddie Oatman proposes the saber-toothed tiger:
The saber-toothed tiger was a compact killing machine, chasing small mammoths, giant sloths, and bison all over North America until about 10,000 years ago when it and many other species mysteriously died out at the end of the last Ice Age. Its genus name, smilodon, comprises the Greek words for "chisel" and "tooth," though the modern lion's bite is probably three times as strong as old smilodon's.
Can we bring it back? About 2,000 saber-toothed fossils have emerged from the La Brea tar pits in Southern California—it's the state fossil—and, being around 10,000 years old, they likely contain recoverable DNA. But so far, no scientists have actually attempted to recreate it.
What species would you like to revive?
Emily Spivack, who runs the Smithsonian blog Threaded, browses eBay for vintage clothing. She found herself especially drawn to clothing items that had stories behind them. Intrigued, she began buying those items with the best stories. It became a hobby.
“I was intrigued by the idea that this marketplace—which was supposed to serve one function, to be transactional—could also have a storytelling emphasis,” Spivack explains. “Interestingly, the time I spent on eBay became much more about looking for stories than things that I actually wanted to purchase.”
Of course, those stories feed right into her blog about historical clothing. Now, Spivak has an exhibition of some of those clothing items (and their stories) called “Sentimental Value” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Spivack’s favorite stories typically blur the line between historical, personal, and hearsay, like the description of the green silk gown belonging to a seller’s aunt in the 1920s. “Supposedly, her aunt wore the dress to a club one evening,” says Spivack. “She was a blonde, and moved fast, and her boyfriend was involved in the mob. And when they went out that night, someone next to her was shot and killed, and blood splattered on her dress. So they were selling this dress with blood splattered on it. I bid on it, and it’s in the show. To me, that story is absolutely incredible.”
Read about how the clothing items of eBay reached out and grabbed the historian at Collectors Weekly. Link
These cookies would be perfect for a graduation celebration! Beth Jackson Klosterboer molded these mortarboard caps around the undersides of a muffin pan. She stuffed them with M&Ms and made tassels with white modeling chocolate.
Hey, looky up there at the menu bar. Do I see a new sub-blog? Yes! We want to give a big welcome to Twaggies, which is now under the Neatorama umbrella. As a matter of fact, we have the entire archive of Twaggies here with us! In case you're not familiar with Twaggies, they are cartoons illustrating funny Tweets from all kinds of people. And if you find a Twaggie that's particularly funny or meaningful to you, you can get any one of them printed on a t-shirt through the NeatoShop! Or you can look through the most popular Twaggies t-shirts already in the shop. Let's take a look back at other stuff that happened this week, so you can catch up.
John Farrier wrote 8 Ponies and Their Matching Civil War Generals. Bronies will understand, the rest of us can just enjoy it.
Eddie Deezen got to the bottom of a rumor with Did Groucho Really Say That?
Sex in Aladdin: Anatomy of a Rumor was another story about show-biz rumors, from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
The Annals of Improbable Research gave us Apples and Oranges: A Comparison.
4 Public Works of Art Gone Terribly Wrong came from mental_floss magazine.
Alex gave us a book feature, The Resurrectionist, which is an excerpt from The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth.
We had a couple of personal posts this week, too. Tiffany wrote Happy Mother's Day about school-made gifts for mothers. Then David Israel gave us How to Introduce Your Child to the Symphony Orchestra. If you like those, we may have more coming.
Over at our sub-blog Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly, the featured pets this week were Lucy and Muffin, from Neatoramanaut Jane Lang, and Blaze, submitted by Neatoramanaut Miki Davis. If you have a photogenic pet, we'd like to feature yours, too! Send your pictures to email@example.com anytime.
We had two Brainteasers from the Bathroom Readers Institute this week: Touch This and Mouthy Abbreviation. I may have to find another source for puzzles, as the supply is getting thin.
The post with most comments this week was Internet is Destroying the Middle Class. In second place, there was a tie between How to Beat the Lines at Walt Disney World
The comment of the week was a simple pun from Sham on the Venezuelan toilet paper crisis, but that simple pun was delivered with style:
I guess it's a...
The most popular post was A Fast Food Purse, followed by Merida Reverts to Original Form and Sex in Aladdin: Anatomy of a Rumor.
The most ♥ed post was by far the graduation speech This is Water. The next most ♥s went to Portland Police Pursuit, and in third place we had a tie between Merida Reverts to Original Form and Curious Kitten and the Bearded Dragons.
The most emailed post was This is Water with Curious Kitten and the Bearded Dragons coming in second.
All of us here at Neatorama want to say a hearty CONGRATULATIONS! to all the 2013 graduates, whether you are graduating from preschool, trade school, boot camp, high school, college, or you're finally getting that PhD. Well done, y'all!
Japanese latte artist Nowtoo Sugi uses syrup to add vibrant colors to his lattes pictures. I'm especially impressed by the detail in his depiction of Iron Man.
At the link, you can see more photos of his lattes as well as two videos showing Mr. Sugi at work.
Michael Abrahamson makes amazing balloon sculptures. Browse his gallery to see startlingly realistic motorcycles, cartoon characters and even a full-sized couch that can support the weight of three adults. My favorite, though, is this xenomorph chilling at a pub.
The annual Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars is back as Disney's Hollywood Studios launch their Star Wars Weekends. This year's dances include "Bad," "Fight for Your Right to Party," "Hey Ya," and since this is the first Dance-off since Disney bought Lucasfilm, a special appearance by Jedi Mickey. You can see all the numbers on video at Inside the Magic. Link
Face it, some days you feel like a kind and gentle Dorothy and some days you feel like the mean wicked witch. Now you can have an accessory that quietly expresses the darker side of your split personality with the Don't Make Me Release the Flying Monkeys Bangle from the NeatoShop. This beautiful bracelet is hand carved, inked, and polished. It is inscribed with the text "Don't make me release the flying monkeys." The bangle comes with a handsome embroidered gift pouch.
Faced with the daunting prospect of having to sit through hours of commencement speeches, Dominique Zamora of Foodbeast came up with the perfect solution: she put a flask in her graduation cap.
Luckily, the process for making this thing is painless enough. Just pop off the top button with a pair of pliers, Velcro in the bladder (I took mine out of the Wine Rack Bra, secure the whole mess with bobby pins and drink up.
Head on over to Foodbeast to see how you can make your own (we're not responsible if you get thrown out of your graduation ceremony, mmkay?): Link
Oh, alcohol. The cause of and solution to all of life's problems.
We already know that cats will steal anything that's not tied down. But what about the rest of the animal kingdom? The tendency to steal food is a beneficial adaptation for a species, and taking what another critter has is not really rare. For example: Flowers produce nectar to attract bees for pollination purposes, but bumblebees take nectar from flowers without pollinating the plants in exchange.
Bees who’ve evolved with short tongues and thus can’t reach for the sweet nectar have learned to carve holes into the side of a flower in order to reach their reward. This phenomenon, first observed by Charles Darwin, gets a bee nectar without the bee pollinating the plant. More cannily, there’s evidence suggesting that bees aren’t born behaving this way—they learn how to thieve from other bees, a sad sign that bee society is being overrun by hoodlums.
It's never occurred to me that tea could be a pie flavor, but it has to Sarah Baird, a writer and cook in New Orleans. Her pie filling recipe includes ground cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and the contents of chai tea bags.
(Photo: Sarah Baird)
Image: Igor Kolos/Shutterstock
For the fourteenth year in a row, Jacob is America's most popular baby boy name - but there are new entries in the list as compiled by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Here are the most popular baby names in 2012:
As we mentioned above, Jacob has been champ for 14 years since 1999 ("Michael" held that title from 1959 to 1998). This is the second year Sophia came at number one for girl names. Liam cracked the top 10 for the first time, perhaps because of recent movies starring Liam Neeson.
The US Social Security Administration also released the names that underwent the greatest change in popularity from 2011 to 2012:
From Social Security's press release:
Many pop-culture naming trends appear in a popular feature of Social Security’s baby names website--the “change in popularity” page. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 500 are Major and Arya.
The fastest riser on the girls’ list may have been influenced by the popular cable TV series “Game of Thrones.” Arya is the daughter of a leader of one of the Seven Kingdoms. She also is an expert sword fighter, so doubt her influence on the popular names list at your own risk.
For the boys, parents may associate Major with the military title. Acting Commissioner Colvin added “I have no doubt Major’s rising popularity as a boy’s name is in tribute to the brave members of the U.S. military, and maybe we’ll see more boys named General in the future.” You also might trace Major’s increase in popularity to a cable TV show. “Home by Novogratz” is a popular home design show featuring Major Novogratz, the youngest son of designers Robert and Cortney.
The second fastest riser for boys was Gael, and for girls, Perla. Both names most likely are on the rise due to the increase in the Spanish-speaking population in the United States. Perla is the Latinized version of Pearl and is popular among Hispanic-Americans. Gael’s popularity could be tied to Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.
Got a beard? Then you've got potential ad space to rent! Cornett-IMS, an ad agency in Kentucky, came up the idea. It has already leased billboard space to the restaurant company A&W:
At least, that’s what A&W was thinking when they signed up with a Kentucky-based agency to create “beardboards.” According to Biz Insider, the “half-joke, half genius” scheme involves paying men with beards $5 a day to walk around with a mini ad clipped to their facial hair.
“We’re getting a ton of emails from guys with epic beards that want to host beardboards and we’re actually in talks with some brands that want to be Beardvertisers. I think we’ll probably be seeing some beardboards in the wild before too long,” said agency Cornett-IMS’s Whit Hiler.
When aspiring rapper Baba Brinkman went to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, he decided to mix a little rap into his studies in Medieval and Renaissance English Lit. In fact, he recreated Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in rap for his Master's thesis, thus making him the only peer-reviewed rapper in the world.
After graduating in 2003, Brinkman began his career as a rap troubadour and achieved great success with this clip above, The Rap Guide to Evolution.
View more of Brinkman's work over at this neat post by 'xim Sauriol over at Geeks Are Sexy: Link
Luo Gang was five years old when he was kidnapped from his home in Sichuan province, China, and taken to Fujian province. He was adopted by a family 1500 miles away.
“Everyday before I went to bed, I forced myself to re-live the life spent in my old home,” he said. “So I wouldn’t forget.”
But the only memory Luo had of his hometown was of two bridges.
He drew a rough map of his hometown from memory, before posting it on “Bring Lost Babies Home”, a Chinese website devoted to locating missing children through the help of volunteers.
Soon afterwards, a volunteer wrote back with valuable information - a couple from a small town in Sichuan’s Guangan city had lost a son 23 years ago. The time matched Luo’s abduction perfectly.
Luo searched for pictures of the Sichuan town and found they looked familiar to him. To confirm his suspicions, he turned to the satellite version Google Maps. The minute he zoomed in on an area called “Yaojiaba” near the Sichuan town, Luo recognised the two bridges.
“That’s it! That’s my home,” shouted Luo, in tears.
Many tunnels in Sydney, Australia aren't tall enough to permit tractor trailers to move through safely. This animated gif shows a warning system that informs truck drivers when they're about to crash into a tunnel entrance. When sensors detect a vehicle that is too tall, the system pours water across the entrance to the tunnel and projects a stop sign onto that water curtain.