The Texas Slave Who Conned Everyone As a Mexican Millionaire

New York City in the late 19th century was spilling over with new immigrants as well as Americans who wanted to start over with a clean slate, whether to advance themselves or take advantage of others. William Henry Ellis was born into slavery on a cotton plantation in Victoria, Texas. But in New York, he became Guillermo Enrique Eliseo, a “fabulously rich” banker from Mexico. Columbia University history professor Karl Jacoby tells us about Ellis’ new identity in an account from his book The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire. Not only did Ellis convince people he was someone else, but he was surrounded by others who did the same.  

To escape the Jim Crow South, the young William Henry Ellis relocated to Manhattan in the 1890s. Fluent in Spanish from his childhood along the Mexico border, he soon persuaded his new acquaintances that he was from a well-to-do Mexican family—an enticing pose to Wall Street investors at a time when almost every item in the U.S.’s burgeoning consumer economy owed its origins in one way or another to Mexican resources, from the Mexican copper used to electrify American cities to the Mexican rubber that went into making tires for the newly invented automobile.

Ellis’s remarkable talent for reinvention made him arguably the first African American on Wall Street (his only known rival for the crown being Jeremiah G. Hamilton, a black man who made his fortune in the 1840s, when Wall Street was still in its formative stages). Yet as his experience in New York demonstrates, even an accomplished trickster like Ellis, who managed to evade the defining phenomenon of his age—the color line—could himself be tricked, especially when sex and scandal were added to the maelstrom of shifting identities that was Gilded Age New York.

Read more about Ellis and the other impostors who both befriended and used him, at The Daily Beast. -via Digg


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If They Take My Stapler - The Saddest Office Story Ever Told


If They Take My Stapler by ShasteenFrey

Submitted for your approval the tale of Milton Waddams, a lonely office worker who has been pushed to his limit for the last time. The people in his office treat him like a jerk and don't respect his space, which he has been able to deal with for years, but recently someone stole his beloved Swingline stapler, an act of criminal disregard that made Milton madder than he's ever been before. He's about to blow his top, but first he'll pay a visit to the TPS Report Zone...

Celebrate your favorite movie misfit the fun way- with this If They Take My Stapler t-shirt by ShasteenFrey, it's the best way to show Milton you support his search for the missing Swingline stapler!

Visit ShasteenFrey's Facebook fan page, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more delightfully geeky designs:

KHAAAAN! You Stay I Go I WANT YOU TO HIT ME The Big Tourist

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

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Uncle Plays with Baby, Pays the Price


(Video Link)

A parent must always be aware of gravity. You will eventually get baby vomit and poop on your body and possibly even on your face. But you can reduce your vulnerability with proper positioning.

Chris Swann, a new uncle, didn't know this when he played with 9-month old baby Alice. She threw up directly into his mouth. It's disgustorable.

-via Nothing to Do with Aborath

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Lovingly-Detailed Outlander Birthday Cake

Yan, from Geeks Are Sexy, wanted to surprise his wife for her birthday with a cake that spoke to her interests. She’s a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, so she got this lovely custom cake made by Josianne St-Laurent from Simplement St-Laurent. It was part of a surprise party and Mrs. Yan was delighted! You can see more of the cake’s intricate details at Geeks Are Sexy.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Japan's Ghostbusters-Inspired Marshmallow Burger

I ain't afraid of no giant marshmallow -especially if it's served toasted with cookies and raspberry sauce. This messy-but-lovely "burger" monstrosity is available at Japan's J.S. Burger Cafe and is part of their new Ghostbusters-inspired line of snacks. Other strange treats include a black-bunned burger topped with anchovy and olive paste, black chili chips and a green kiwi smoothie with an appearance that might make Slimer cringe.

Via Eater

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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We Recreated The Moon Landing To See If It Really Happened

Fifty years after Star Trek debuted on TV, Star Trek: Axanar was made by fans to much higher standards. So it only makes sense that everyday people could recreate the moon landing with the latest movie sets and video effects, right? Or maybe it’s not so easy.

(YouTube link)

Why do people still have doubts that the moon landing really happened? Mostly because it was such an amazing accomplishment. And because the people that populate the internet tend to be too young to remember it. That same internet feeds conspiracy theories about everything being either fake or controlled behind the scenes. The truth is that we had the technology to go to the moon in 1969, but we didn’t have the technology necessary to fake it. -Thanks, Ricky Sans!


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The Strongest Sword in the Seven Kingdoms

Jon Snow’s sword, named Longclaw, is made of Valyrian steel and is five centuries old. It’s a wonder it has lasted this long, considering how it wobbles like rubber under just the pressure of Snow mounting a horse. Last week’s Game of Thrones was the most expensive episode to date, yet this made it into the final production. Well, to be fair, it took a really sharp-eyed imgur user to spot it and isolate it. The season finale of Game of Thrones is tonight.  -via Uproxx


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Modern Manga Art By Ilya Kuvshinov

Manga is no longer a strictly Japanese form of pop art, and the term has come to describe any art drawn in a similar style.

The big eyes, diminutive (and sometimes nonexistant) facial features, exaggerated helmet hair and perfectly chiseled head shapes- these are some of the elements we've come to expect from manga.

And while Russian artist Ilya Kuvshinov isn't radically changing the genre, or reinventing it in any way, his manga portraits prove he has truly mastered the artform.

Ilya's portraits are also just extremely pleasant to stare at, and many feature compelling story elements to draw the viewer into the tale and leave them wanting to know more about each character.

See more Modern Manga By Ilya Kuvshinov here


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Exploding Spray Paint Cans in Slow-Motion

Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy, also known as the Slow Mo Guys, explore ways to relieve a spray paint can of its contents other than the normal method. A gun works well. So does an axe and a sledgehammer.  

(YouTube link)

In the process, they make a much bigger mess than they expected. But that’s par for the course for them. The finished canvas is now on eBay, but you can’t afford it. -via Tastefully Offensive

See more videos from the Slow Mo Guys.


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What The Sharper Image Catalogs Say About Life In The 1980s

Back in the 1980s The Sharper Image was the most cutting edge store in the mall with a mail order catalog to match, the place to go when you wanted to impress people with your expensive and totally cool stuff.

The Sharper Image sold some of the strangest gadgets, electronics, household goods and furniture the world has ever seen, like this bizarro mannequin named Gregory who “deters crime by his strong, masculine appearance”.

Sharper Image shoppers wanted the newest and flashiest exercise machines in their homes, lots of spacey looking antennas on their cars, and a robotic scale that spoke of pounds lost and gained.

The Sharper Image family had kids who reflected their wastefully wealthy yet totally modern to the max lifestyle, so walking was strictly forbidden.

See What Old Sharper Image Catalogs Tell Us About American Life In The 1980s at mental_floss


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The 6 Most Embarrassing Superhero Costume Updates

Comic book authors are constantly trying to change things up, to keeping long-time readers interested and to give a new generation a way to relate to superheroes who have been around for decades. The backstories change, the characters themselves change, and for visual effects, those iconic costumes get changed. Sometimes the change in costume is too drastic; sometimes it’s just dumb. Like the time Batman died and Commissioner Gordon took on the role, using a huge mecha-suit to give him the strength of a much younger and fitter hero.

Yes, for some reason, old Commissioner Gordon thought that the best way to live up to Batman's legacy was to strap himself into a Japanese cartoon labeled with "GCPD" and pass it off as a Batsuit. It had police lights. It had a diaper. And for some reason, Ultra Super Sentai Mecha BatoMan also came with bunny ears. It's like they held a coloring contest and the top 50 children all got to include one stupid idea in the new Batman suit.

That didn’t last long. There have been other extreme missteps with superhero costume changes, detailed at Cracked in the colorful language you’ve come to expect.


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Holmes and Watson 1916-2016

Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson have been with us onscreen for 100 years. Video editor Sanguinity shows us 54 different iterations of the duo on film, from the 1916 silent film Sherlock Holmes to the web series S(her)lock, which launched this year. They include movies, TV shows, animation, and even video games.  

(vimeo link)

The clips are quick and jump around from era to era. What’s striking is that no matter who plays the part or what year the film was made, you always recognize the characters. You’ll find a list of the video sources here. -via Metafilter


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Urbane Bear - Better Than Those Hipster Horses!


Urbane Bear by Matt Parsons

You may have seen warnings posted about approaching or feeding wild bears, saying they're deadly and it's a bad idea to go anywhere near them much less let them know you have food. Well, I'm here to tell you there's one kind of bear that's okay to feed and approach- the urbane bear, ursinis urbanis. The urbane bear is much smarter and far more dignified than the average bear, and they would never eat filthy humans because they don't know where those humans have been. These bears have a refined sense of taste with the clothing to match, so if you see a bear in a three piece suit and bowler hat wander into your town don't panic- simply offer him a cappuccino and a charcuterie platter and he'll be too busy eating to bore you with his stories about shopping for bear-sized suits...

Show some love for those civilized bears with this Urbane Bear t-shirt by Matt Parsons, it's the dapper way to say "ursas are major in my life!"

Visit Matt Parsons's Facebook fan page, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more geek-tastic designs:

Let's Jam Lessons Supernatural Power Blazers

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

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News Anchor Comes Across Dog Locked In Hot Car, Shames Owner On Live TV

What would you do if you came across a whimpering dog locked in a hot car in a parking lot?

If you're NBC news anchor Kyle Clark you think about bashing the window open with a rock then decide to shame the owner on the nightly news instead.

Kyle came across a poor little dog locked in a Honda CRV on a 90 degree day while he was out running errands, and he couldn't just sit by and let the owner get away with this cruel act.

(Image Link)

He tried to call 311 to report the cruelty but was left on hold, and when he confronted the dog's owner about the situation the owner just laughed it all off.

So Kyle did the only thing that felt right- he used the incident as a teachable moment, and apologized to the poor dog for not breaking him out of the CRV when he had the chance.

(YouTube Link)

Treat your pets like any other member of your family- don't leave them to die in a hot car!

-Via Boing Boing

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

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Sketching Science

#gameofthrones #science

A photo posted by Sketching Science (@sketchingscience) on Apr 25, 2016 at 6:48am PDT

Ernesto Llamas is a Ph.D. student at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics in Barcelona, Spain. He uses a micropipette a lot. He also draws comics about his life in science, which he posts at the Facebook page Sketching Science.

#foreveralone

A photo posted by Sketching Science (@sketchingscience) on May 29, 2016 at 2:07pm PDT

#energy #coffee #einstein #phd #phdlife #sketch

A photo posted by Sketching Science (@sketchingscience) on Mar 7, 2016 at 8:22am PST

Recurring themes in the comics are of scientists being lonely and …micropipettes. You draw what you know. If you’ve ever worked in a biology lab, or you know someone who does, these will hit home.

#science #relationship #emoji

A photo posted by Sketching Science (@sketchingscience) on Mar 22, 2016 at 1:05pm PDT

Pipette love

A photo posted by Sketching Science (@sketchingscience) on Jun 11, 2016 at 3:41am PDT

You can also see the comics at Instagram. -via The Daily Dot


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Ten Effective Self-Defense Techniques

There are still plenty of safe, quiet towns scattered all across the globe, but in-between these idyllic hamlets are big, dangerous cities full of angst and violence.

(YouTube Link)

Which is why anyone who truly enjoys traveling should learn some basic self-defense moves, so they can help protect themselves in situations where fighting is unavoidable.

(YouTube Link)

Top Tenz put together a primer on the art of self-defense, with instructional videos showing you how to take a punch, escape a chokehold and use your keys as a weapon, just to name a few.

(YouTube Link)

You may not want to think about having to defend yourself in these ways, but when a situation arises that calls for action you'll be glad you watched these videos!

(YouTube Link)

See 10 Effective Self-Defense Moves That Could Save Your Life here


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The Deep-Fried Burger

Considering how much we report on fair food, the title might make you think that this is an entire hamburger -bun and all- breaded and deep-fried on a stick as an extreme dish. No, this is a method for cooking your hamburger patties that’s been around for at least 100 years. You can do it at home to make the same kind of burgers your family expects. It began at Dyer’s in Memphis.

In my travels throughout the United States I have since discovered other deep-fried burger joints, stands, and carts, and they all share one very important component—rich hamburger history. The method for deep-frying burgers was actually born of laziness: an accident-turned-tradition. One day, in around 1912, Elmer Dyer was too busy to drain the skillet he was using to cook burgers. Eventually the rendered fat became a deep pool of grease. Elmer discovered that if he strained the grease and used it to cook with, the result was actually a better-tasting burger.

Now I know what you are thinking—“Yikes! I’m not eating a deep-fried burger!” But trust me, you should, and you will. The deep-fried burger cooks in just 1 minute and, if the temperature of the oil is just right, the patty deflects most of the oil. These factors allow the patty to retain a moist composition and lend it a slightly crispy exterior.

The method is not difficult, but may take a little practice. That means more cheeseburgers! The instructions are at Lucky Peach. -via Digg

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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TV Shows That Were Banned Due To Crazy Controversy

Controversy is to be expected from shows like Family Guy, Game Of Thrones and South Park, but how could shows like Sesame Street and The Price Is Right possibly cause controversy?

Sesame Street was banned in Mississippi in 1970 due to racist attitudes towards the integrated cast of kids, but when an insider leaked the real reason the show was banned the committee had to reverse their decision.

(YouTube Link)

Screen Rant put together 10 TV Shows Banned Due To Crazy Controversy featuring a few common facts (Seinfeld's Puerto Rican Day Parade episode and the Family Guy abortion episode) and reveals why Bob Barker wasn't invited to The Price Is Right's 40th anniversary episode.

-Via GeekTyrant


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World’s Ugliest Dog 2016

 

This is Sweepee Rambo, the newly crowned World’s Ugliest Dog. He won the competition yesterday at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. Sweepee Rambo is a 17-year-old blind Chihuahua-Chinese Crested mix. She accompanies Jason Wurtz of Encino, California, to work every day.  

"I've had girlfriends over the years and they were jealous of her and like I told them, she was here when you came and she'll be here when you leave, that's the best friend I have," Wurtz told TODAY.

Does this dog remind you of anyone? See more pictures of Sweepee Rambo and her competition at Buzzfeed.

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

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This Television Repels Mosquitoes

(Image: LG)

The South Korean electronics company LG is selling a television set that drives away mosquitoes with ultrasonic sound waves. It's marketing the TV in India, where mosquitoes are a major public health menace. Each 32" monitor costs about $400 USD. UPI quotes the company:

"The ultrasonic sound waves effectively drives away the mosquitoes keeping your loved ones absolutely safe at home. Since no harmful chemicals are used, it is also odor-free and not hazardous to health like the conventional methods used for keeping mosquito away," the company said on its website.

-via Ace of Spades HQ


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10 Facts About the Original 'Trial of the Century'

In 1907, Harry Thaw went on trial for murdering Stanford White. Thaw was the paranoid heir to a Pittsburgh railroad fortune, and White was a renowned architect and playboy in New York. Both were obsessed with model Evelyn Nesbit, who was much younger than either man and was the model for the “Gibson Girl” look. White deflowered Nesbit in a date rape when she was a young teen; Thaw married her after stalking her at her workplace and years of abuse. In 1906, Thaw shot White in front of a crowd during a performance at Madison Square Garden. The ensuing trial, involving three celebrities, was a media sensation.  

Newspapers had a segment of reporters dismissively called “sob sisters” or “the pity patrol.” These were female journalists whose only career path in a male-dominated field was reporting stories of wronged women for female readers, the more melodramatic the better. The story of the deadly love triangle with an abused starlet at one corner was exactly what they sought. According to American Eve, Hearst and Pulitzer both assigned sob sisters to the story. Papers in Pittsburgh, home of the Thaw family, also ran daily coverage. According to Lloyd Chiasson in his book The Press on Trial, a Western Union office was opened in the courthouse just to help reporters wire dispatches.

Soon, reporters uncovered past exploits of the man they dubbed “Bathtub Harry” for his habit of scalding women (and apparently, once, a bellboy whom the Thaws paid hush money). There was a counter-effort, financed by Mary Thaw, to portray her son as a defender of womanly virtue. Letters to the editor praising Thaw as such started appearing in newspapers. According to The Press on Trial, Mary Thaw even commissioned the writing of a three-character play based on the events (two of the characters were named Harold Daw and Stanford Black), portraying White as a perverted hedonist.

It was the first time the term “Trial of the Century” was used. Read about the trial, the characters involved, and the precedents the legal proceedings set at mental_floss.


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Dog Is Fascinated with iPad Game


(Video Link)

Maya the Golden Retriever loves to play games on her iPad. Here she is, fascinated by a little bird that flies back and forth on the screen. She pauses now and then to howl in delight.

Her less--shall we say--intellectual sibling prefers a squeaky toy.

-via Tastefully Offensive

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

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The 9-Year-Old Wedding Photographer

Wedding photographers try to document a couple's special day without being too disruptive, moving around to capture the scene without getting on everyone's nerves.

Easier said than done for normal sized adults, but this is where a kid's lack of height is actually an advantage, allowing them to slip around virtually unseen while shooting.

9-year-old Regina Wyllie recently shot her first wedding along with her dad Kevin, who has been showing her the ropes for years, and if she were old enough to work she'd now be considered a pro.

Regina shot totally unassisted during the wedding, capturing around 400 photos, but this isn't her first time going pro- because two years ago this photo was chosen over her dad's shots by a camera bag company.

So Regina was a published photographer by age 7 and could be a pro wedding photographer at age 9...this kid's going places!

Read This 9-Year-Old Wedding Photographer's Skills Will Give You Hope For The Future here


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We're No Angels - Some Guys Are Suckers For A Good Lookin' Gal


We're No Angels by Aaron Morales

They may have the faces of angels and the bodies to match but Wasp, Scarlet Witch and Black Widow aren't the golden girls you wish they were. There's something about pretty girls that make men go all gaga and start to see them as untarnished little porcelain dolls, prim and proper and capable of doing no harm. But as annoying as this assumption is these women of action like to use it against guys, and with a little flirtatious smiling and eyelash batting they can butter up any man they're battling, making it so those chumps don't see what's coming...

Support the female superheroes who rock our world, wear this We're No Angels t-shirt by Aaron Morales and make hearts soar wherever you go!

Visit Aaron Morales's Facebook fan page, official website, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more mighty geeky designs:

Mjolnir Calling Henchman Forever. Forever? Forever Ever. Forever Ever? Avengers Rhapsody A Snake, Am I?

View more designs by Aaron Morales | More Comic 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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How to Make a Car Ad Without the Car

Why would you bother trying to make a car ad without the car itself? Well, ad producers will tell you it’s not always easy to get a few vehicles of the latest model with every style change, especially on short notice. But more often, you’ll spend time and money making a great ad, and then one of the suits will insist you reshoot with a different color car. You can change that with computer graphics now, but wouldn’t it be even more cost-effective if they allowed for those expected alterations at the beginning, and dispensed with the real vehicle models from the start?   

(YouTube link)

The Blackbird is a new vehicle from The Mill, designed to imitate the size and actions of any vehicle, which can be then be skinned by CGI to resemble any car, even one not yet on the market. This innovation will excite ad agencies way more than the car companies that hire them. It will also help us to convince our more gullible friends that you can’t believe everything you see on TV. -via Viral Viral Videos


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Birds in Scotland Are Stealing Skinny Dippers' Underwear

(Photo: Joe Pell)

A swimming hole in an isolated party of Angus, Scotland is popular with local skinny dippers. It's also a hunting ground for red kites who nest nearby. Lately, they've been waiting for the humans to get naked and into the water, then stealing their clothes. The Herald reports that these birds appear to have a special affinity for high fashion branded underpants, which they use as nesting material:

Gamekeeper Dave Clement last year found that a pair of red kites on his estate at Gannochy in Glen Esk near Edzell had stolen pants and socks from a popular local wild swimming spot, to to use in the building of their nest. […]

Dave Clement, member of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, said it appeared that the Kites had become more discerning in 2016, choosing branded undergarments.

“The licences ringer who went up the tree to the nest said there were Armani pants and another brand as well as socks, which they must have pinched off the swimmers at the local gorge.

“It seems they will take anything to line the nest, then lay the eggs on top, and someone must have gone home minus some underwear.

-via Nothing to Do with Abroath


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Sandwichboy

He may resemble a certain sponge we all know and love, but this is Sandwichboy! He lives under the sea, which is not the best environment for a sandwich. He spends his time trying to catch octopuses with a butterfly net! And he’s just one of a huge list of poorly-done knockoff items like Frans Tromers and Pubescent Frog of Silent War. See 24 of them at Buzzfeed.


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Creepy Images of a Doll Factory

 

Before they were dolls, they were doll parts, which are mass-produced. We know that, but seeing rows and rows of disembodied doll parts is still eerie. Mashable assembled a collection of 26 images taken in doll factories between 1931 and 1955 that are perfectly innocent but still inflict a feeling of dread. -via the Presurfer 

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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An Investigation of Asparagus Pee

It has been noticed for centuries -if not longer- that eating asparagus gives one’s urine a distinctive smell. Describing the smell is a problem, though. Some people (Proust) liked it, others didn’t (Ben Franklin), while some have never encountered the smell. Those who recognize it just call it “asparagus pee smell.” And there’s some difference in our knowledge as to whether everyone produces the smell after eating the vegetable, and whether everyone has the ability to detect it, particularly since smelling urine is a subject many people just don’t talk about.

One thing most scientists agree on: asparagusic acid (which, as its name suggests, is only found in asparagus) is metabolized into sulfur-containing compounds, like methanethiol—the most prominent smell in your asparagus pee. These chemicals usually have a low boiling point, becoming smelly gases at room temperature, and hitting us in the face with that familiar odor.

But who makes asparagus pee, and who smells it?

According to Professor John H. McDonald in the biology department at University of Delaware, a 1980 study found that all participants produced asparagus pee, but only some smelled it. A 1987 study found the opposite; only some participants produced asparagus pee, but everyone could smell the difference. And a 1989 study found that 103 French people all produced asparagus pee and all of them identified it as stinky.

Then there are the people who aren’t sure which category they fall in, because they don’t like asparagus and don’t prepare it for the family. Read more about the effects of asparagus on urine at First We Feast.  -via Metafilter


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How Dunkin' Donuts Changed the Dictionary

(Photo: QFamily)

The origin of the doughnut is shrouded in mystery, but it probably began in mid-Nineteenth Century America when a woman named Elizabeth Gregory made pastries, each of which had a single nut in the center.

These were doughnuts and not, I should point out, donuts. The alternate spelling "donut" may have been the work of the restaurant chain Dunkin' Donuts. Kate Taylor of Business Insider summarizes linguistic evidence that suggests that the popularity of the spelling "donut" follows the rise of Dunkin' Donuts as a franchise empire.

After Dunkin' Donuts began in 1950, the use of the alternate spelling of doughnut emerged. It tracks with the spread of the company across America. The spelling has become so common that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary now lists donut has a correct way to spell the word.

-via Ed Driscoll


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