11 Filibusterous Facts About Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Frank Capra's 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a dark but eventually triumphant movie starring Jimmy Stewart -just like It's a Wonderful Life would be a few years later. While politicians of the time didn't like it, for many people the movie was a simplistic yet dramatic introduction to the world of Washington politics. We can't imagine anyone but Jimmy Stewart in the lead role, but he wasn't yet a big star at the time, and wasn't Capra's first choice for the role. Here are some other things you didn't know about the movie.

3. JIMMY STEWART CALLED IT "THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME."

Having declared the part "the role of a lifetime," Stewart was determined to make sure he completed the film. "He was so serious when he was working on that picture," Stewart's co-star, Jean Arthur, recalled. "He used to get up at five o'clock in the morning and drive himself to the studio. He was so terrified something was going to happen to him, he wouldn't go faster."

4. STEWART WAS GIVEN PERFORMANCE-DIMINISHING CHEMICALS.

To make his voice hoarse, as if he really had been filibustering for 23 hours, Capra wrote that, "Twice a day Jimmy's throat was swabbed with vile mercury solution that swelled and irritated his vocal cords. The result was astonishing. No amount of acting could possibly simulate Jimmy's intense pathetic efforts to speak through real swollen cords."

Read the rest of the trivia about Mr. Smith Goes to Washington at mental_floss.


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Weekdays Vs. Weekends

Mike Reno of Loverboy claims "Everybody's working for the weekend", but what about all those people who have to work on the weekend, and those who hardly work at all?

Which days do they get to look forward to on a weekly basis?

Some of the comparisons from this comic strip by Jacob Andrews won't make much sense to them unless we change the title from "weekdays vs weekends" to "work days vs days off".

There, isn't that better? Now it makes a whole lot more sense!

-Via CollegeHumor


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1941 Haka

The Māori Battalion fought in Greece, Italy, and North Africa during World War II. Here they are performing a Haka for George II, the King of Greece, who was living in Egypt in 1941 after his country fell to the Nazis.  

In total, almost 3,600 men served overseas with the Māori Battalion between 1940 and 1945. Of these, 649 were killed in action or died on active service – more than 10% of the 6,068 New Zealanders who lost their lives serving with 2NZEF in the Middle East and Europe. In addition, 1,712 men were wounded and 237 were prisoners of war. In the words of Lieutenant-General Bernard Freyberg, who commanded the 2nd NZ Division: “no infantry battalion had a more distinguished record, or saw more fighting, or, alas, had such heavy casualties as the Maori Battalion”. This sacrifice did not go unnoticed. The unit was among the most highly decorated for individual bravery of all the New Zealand forces.

See more pictures of the Haka at Rare Historical Photos. -via reddit


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Photographer Digitally Removes The Tattoos Of Ex-Gang Members

Gang members get tattoos on their necks and faces to intimidate their enemies, show allegiance to their set at all times and to prove they're thugging for life.

The rest of their tats likewise show a lifelong commitment to the gang, but those can be covered up when need be and don't necessarily affect their daily lives.

So what are former gang members to do when they're trying to go straight but their face and neck tats always make them look crooked?

Eventually they'll be able to afford laser tattoo removal, but for now they'll have to settle for seeing themselves without tats in these perception altering portraits by photographer Steven Burton.

Some of the former gang members featured in Steven's "Skin Deep" series say they've been tattooed for so long they've forgotten what they look like without tats.

Steven hopes his portrait series will help ex-gang members remember who they really are beneath all that ink:

‘I was inspired by the homeboys/girls trying to change there lives against the odds,’ burton recalls. ‘the concept came to me when I watched the homeboys going through the tattoo removal process. the idea was to digitally remove the tattoos, present the before and after photos to the subjects and see how they would react. I knew that the subjects would be shocked by the images, and probably amused, but I didn’t realize the full impact these photos would have on them, nor was I aware of the kind of impact their reactions would have on me. it was a little surprising for everyone.’

See Steven Burton Digitally Deletes The Tattoos Of Ex-Gang Members here


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Before Helen Keller, There Was Laura Bridgman

Helen Keller was famous for her writing and advocacy, but she was not the first person to receive an education despite being both blind and deaf. The first was Laura Bridgman, who was born in 1829, over 50 years before Keller. Bridgman lost her sight and hearing at the age of two. When she was seven, she was brought to the attention of educator Samuel Gridley Howe, who founded the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Howe was determined to teach Bridgman to communicate with words.

Having accomplished that seemingly impossible task of learning words before letters, Bridgman eventually became proficient in language. But her education was uneven—despite being able to, say, point out a distant country on a globe, she was kept from learning about much of the world around her. Howe focused on abstract knowledge more than real-world experiences and used the glittering success of Bridgman’s education as a kind of proof of the validity of his educational theories. Howe, who was against rote learning and espoused liberal religious views, seems to have thought that Bridgman was a kind of specimen of pure humanity, unsullied by the vagaries of the world. Indeed, writes Freeberg, Howe wrote of her as “perfectly holy” and “as pure as Eve.”

But Bridgman had her own ideas about that. Once someone learns to communicate and read, it's impossible to control what they learn. Read about Laura Bridgman at Jstor Daily. -via Digg


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Awesome Math Tips To Aid You In Your Everyday Life

Do you have a hard time multiplying large numbers without pencil and paper? Are you always getting tripped up by those pesky fractions and percentages?

Want to learn some simple methods that will help you tackle the math problems thrown at us in our everyday lives?

Then you'll agree these math trick infographics created by Bright Side add up to awesome, because they present simple and fairly easy to understand methods for solving pesky math problems in your head.

Or maybe you prefer to count on your fingers? Now you can multiply on your fingers too, as long as the numbers you're multiplying are between 6 and 9!

If you're looking for math party tricks rather than actual equations then memorize this sentence, count the letters in each word and wow people with your ability to recall the first seven digits of Pi- "How I wish I could calculate Pi". Now you kinda can!

See 9 Awesome Math Tips That Will Help You Out In Everyday Life here


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Moving Castle Grayskull - Sorceress, Is This Your Doing?!


Moving Castle Grayskull by Dann Matthews

Wasn't that old He-Man cartoon a real howl to watch? It was so well done compared to most of today's cartoons that it almost feels like it has more in common with anime than your average Saturday Morning Cartoon. Sadly, Masters of the Universe was pulled too soon, and even the reboot hardly had time to really get moving, but I bet if a studio like Ghibli got their hands on the license they could really go places with it! sigh A geek can dream, can't he?

This Moving Castle Grayskull t-shirt by Dann Matthews is a mashup made in heaven, or rather Eternia, and is sure to give the wearer the power to wow people wherever they go!

Visit Dann Matthews's Facebook fan page, official website, Twitter and Tumblr, then head over to his NeatoShop for more fantastically geeky designs:

Who's Your Friend Who Likes To Play? Mickey Mouser Cry A Lot Order-66

View more designs by Dann Matthews | 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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Common Ground, a Long-Distance Rube Goldberg Project

Common Ground is a "collaborative kinetic art installation about connecting America." The project was spearheaded by Jason Naumoff and AJ White of the design company New Creatures. They got teams together in five different cities to create a mega-Rube Goldberg chain reaction that would connect the five teams long-distance. Each team highlighted their city and the issues it faces. The project was also about the communication between the teams, which was crucial in making it work. See, each section had to trigger the next section, no matter how far away it is. The result is pretty neat.  

(YouTube link)

They were all awesome, but you have to admit that Detroit won this one. Read more about the project at its website, and keep up with the group's activities at Facebook.  -via Uproxx


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Fun Facts Only Huge Disney Nerds Know About

How much do you know about Disney World? Unless you're a mega fan, chances are you don't know all the trivia bits on this fascinating Travel and Leisure article. Even if you know all about the secret tunnels, the basket ball court, the suite in Cinderella's castle and Club 33, you will probably be surprised by at least a few of the facts. For example, I had no idea that the presidential seal in the Hall of Presidents was such a big deal:

It took an act of (the real) Congress to install the Presidential Seal in the carpeting inside the rotunda of Disney’s Hall of Presidents” attraction. There are only three such presidential seals in the world: one in the Oval Office, one in Philadelphia next to the Liberty Bell, and one in the “Hall of Presidents.”

I admit I also didn't know that Disney World has only closed down three times in history, but you'll have to read the article to find out why it closed those three days.


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Why Some Songs Get Stuck In Your Head More Than Others

You know what an "earworm" is- it's that song you can't get out of your head. The scientific term for an earworm is "involuntary musical imagery." Anyone who watched The Walking Dead this week knows how horrible an earworm can be if it's not a song you would normally listen to. Many people have a default earworm, which you keep in your head when other songs aren't stuck there. Mine is "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven, with or without lyrics. But most earworms are temporary, caused by listening to the actual external music. However, if you listen to a variety of songs, say, on the radio, some are much more likely to get stuck in your head than others, and it doesn't necessarily follow that you particularly like those songs. What makes the difference? That happens to be the subject of a research project, in which common earworms were identified and compared to non-earworm songs.   

What the researchers found was that earwormy songs are generally faster than non-earworms, had “unusual” intervals (unexpected leaps or more repeated notes than usual), and followed “global melodic contours,” which means that they have melodic shapes that are commonly found in Western pop music. They also tend to be the songs that are being played the most on the radio and TV.

An example of one of the most common melodic contours cited by the researchers is ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ where the first phrase rises in pitch and the second falls in pitch. This melodic contour is also found in the Maroon 5 song ‘Moves Like Jagger,’ the fifth most cited earworm in the study. A little closer to home is the so-called “Millennial whoop,” which alternates between the fifth and third notes of a major scale and is featured in songs like Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ and Twenty-one Pilots’ ‘Ride.’

You can read all about the study at Motherboard. I apologize if this post has caused a song to lodge in your head.


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Creative Weapons Of The Medieval Era

Advances in weaponry during the Middle Ages made it easier for humans to slash, stab, flay, crush and chop each other into bits on the battlefield, which is why fantasy and history nerds still think medieval warfare is king.

Of course, those knights riding around all super shiny help sell the cool, and armies laying siege to castles with catapults and stuff, now that must have been really cool to watch...as long as you weren't inside the castle.

Sam O'Nella Academy made a video dedicated to the cool and creative weapons and tactics conceived during the medieval era, it's crudely drawn yet totally worthy of huzzah. (NSFW due to language)

(YouTube Link)

-Via Tastefully Offensive


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This is How You Get Aliens

This UFO was spotted flying over Jibbon Beach, just south of Sydney, Australia. If you look closely, you might see a yowie hiding in the forest. Remember this photograph, because you may see it on conspiracy websites in the future. There's a perfectly logical explanation.

Senorwest got this photograph while taking long exposure night shots. The lights in the sky are a police helicopter that was circling, looking for a fugitive. It has that shape because Senorwest set up a 30-second exposure and caught most of the circle, which gave it a perfect "U" shape. The dots along the shape are the pulsing of the spotlight. Cool picture.  

Or maybe that's what they want you to think.

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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This Home-Wrecking Penguin is Breaking Our Hearts

Penguins are generally monogamous, but not always -and this poor guy found out the hard way that his wife fell into the "not always" category. When he fights the "other bird" to futily try to win back his wife it's sad, but when he desperately tries one last time to get her to come back to him, it's utterly heartbreaking -and Twitter agrees with me:

Via Distractify

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

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Kissing Left Versus Right

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Investigating osculatory laterality
compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Improbable Research staff

Kissing is sometimes a matter of choosing sides. There is mystery as to which side, when, and why (if there is a why). These studies come at the matter from various directions.

Laterality in Cheek Kissing in France
“Can Population-Level Laterality Stem from Social Pressures? Evidence from Cheek Kissing in Humans,” Amandine Chapelain, Pauline Pimbert, Lydiane Aube, Océane Perrocheau, Gilles Debunne, Alain Bellido, and Catherine Blois-Heulin, PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 8, 2015, e0124477. (Thanks to Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the Université de Rennes, France, report:

We showed that: a) there is a population-level laterality for cheek kissing, with the majority of individuals being aligned in each city, and b) there is a variation between populations, with a laterality that depends on the city.

Continue reading

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Fascinating Facts About Every United States President

Today we go to the polls to elect a new president of the United States. In honor of the occasion, Daven Hiskey and Simon Whistler of Today I Found Out bring us obscure trivia on all 44 presidents. It's pretty interesting, telling us things like how John Tyler kept trying to avoid politics, even though he was vice-president, president, and then a member of the Confederate congress.

(YouTube link)

It's a long video, so you may want to watch it in pieces. If you want to see the part about a particular president, the YouTube page has links to the time codes in the video for each one. -Thanks, Daven!


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Weird and Fascinating Deep-Sea Creatures

The GEOMAR research center in Germany went on a deep-sea mission to study biodiversity off Cape Verde. Photographer and marine biologist Solvin Zankl set up a shipboard studio to photograph creatures brought up from the depths, so we can get up close and personal with them, and learn a bit about them. For example, you might think this viperfish would have trouble chomping down with those teeth, but he has a terrifying way of coping.

Like many other deep-sea fishes, the Sloan’s viperfish (Chauliodus sloani) uses light-producing cells called photophores to lure unsuspecting prey toward its mouth. Once it catches its victim, the viperfish’s hinged teeth rotate inward to trap the animal and force it inescapably down the predator’s gullet.

See an entire gallery of weird deep-sea creatures at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Solvin Zankl)  


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Mistaken Maps

There are certain uncomplete maps of the known world that we keep because of their value in the history of exploration, or how we learned about the world. Then there are those that you don't see all that often, because they are just plain wrong. Before sophisticated measuring instruments, much less aerial views, mapmaking involved a lot of guesswork, and some cartographers were better than others. Consider this map of the island of California, published by Johannes Vingboons in 1650. What's weird about it is that even earlier maps showed California as part of the mainland. Read about it and several other mistaken maps at the Economist's 1843 magazine. -via the Presurfer


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Zoidberg Santa Claws - I Never Made This Much Money When I Was A Doctor!


Zoidberg Santa Claws Christmas ugly sweater by NemiMakeit

Here comes Sandy Claws, here comes Sandy Claws right down Transcontinental Underground Railroad lane. Leela and Fry and some robot guy are driving him insane, crones are cackling, Scruffy is spackling, Slurm is in the air, and even though he's all dressed up ol' Santa Claws doesn't care. Enough with the song already, Zoidberg doesn't need musical accompaniment, he's already dressed like Santa Claws, what more do you want from the guy? Wait, you say that Santa gets free sandwiches? And people will bring you dumpster juice whenever you ask for it? Move over fat human guy, Zoidberg is swelling with holiday cheer...and mucus!

This Zoidberg Santa Claws Christmas Ugly Sweater t-shirt by NemiMakeit puts the oddest spin on the holidays we've ever seen, and we used to know people who actually celebrated Festivus!

Visit NemiMakeit's Facebook fan page, then head on over to her NeatoShop for more ridiculously cool designs:

Chubby penguin The Slow Lois is DEAD My triforce

View more designs by NemiMakeit | 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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How Famous Acquitted Defendants Spent Their Post-Trial Lives

Going through a high profile court trial can be a nightmare for everyone involved, but they're especially trying for the defendants.

And when the media goes out of their way to paint a defendant as guilty it can be mighty hard to shake off the stigma of guilt, even when they're acquitted of all charges.

But there's another thing many famous acquitted defendants have in common besides this stigma- bankruptcy.

Casey Anthony was made (in)famous by her 2011 court trial, and has therefore tried to stay out of the spotlight, but debt has a way of finding you no matter where you hide- Casey filed for bankruptcy in 2013 claiming she owes three quarters of a million dollars in liabilities.

Robert Blake was a huge Hollywood star before he was accused of murdering his wife in 2001, and although he was found not guilty of murder he was ordered to pay $30 million to his wife's children in 2005, which caused him to file for bankruptcy in 2006.

Blake was recently spotted signing autographs at a memorabilia show, but that's hardly going to earn him tens of millions of dollars, so chances are he'll spend the rest of his life in debt.

But how about OJ Simpson, the (arguably) most famous acquitted murderer in the history of the American legal system?

While OJ's not technically bankrupt (morally maybe but not financially) he's probably going to spend the rest of his life in Nevada's Lovelock Correctional Center- where he's currently serving a 33 year sentence for armed robbery.

See How 9 Famous Acquitted Defendants Spent The Rest Of Their Lives at mental_floss


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Snakes Chase Baby Iguana

In this clip from the BBC series Planet Earth II, Sir David Attenborough narrates a life-and-death action scene. On Fernandina, one of the Galapagos Islands, most baby marine iguanas are eaten by racer snakes as soon as they hatch. Of course, enough iguanas survive to lay more eggs. Will this one?

(Streamable link)

It gets pretty intense. If you prefer, you can watch the Benny Hill version. Planet Earth II will air in the United States beginning January 28th. -via reddit


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Hilariously Hideous Men's Fashion Ads From The 1970s

(Image Link)

There is one word which is often used to describe 70s fashion, home decor, and the overall visual aesthetic of the era- hideous.

Visually there was lots to love about that era too, but it remained hidden behind the brown and orange interior paint schemes, polyester leisure suits and all that god awful macrame.

(Image Link)

But if you want to see the impact those hideous styles and color palettes had on society then check out the men's fashion ads found in magazines, where even the models don't know how to react to that gruesome garb.

(Image Link)

Fashion ads tried to sell the 70s fashion dream to dumb guys who didn't know better than to wear a belted sweater, and those who survived the decade swore to burn those clothes and never look back.

(Image Link)

See 30 Hilariously Hideous Ads of Men's Fashion from the '70s here


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Carrot Returns Lost Wedding Ring

An elderly man in Germany lost his wedding ring three years ago, not long after he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. He was working in the garden at the time. Despite a thorough search, the ring was not found. His wife said it would turn up someday. She did not live to see it, as she died just a few months ago. This fall, the now 83-year-old gardener was harvesting carrots and one of them was wearing his wedding ring!

Read the story in German or the Google translation. -via Arbroath


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Live As A Human

Our spoiled little housecats have no idea how good they've got it in life, nor do they understand how hard their humans have to work so their prissy little kitties can use the finest litter and eat tinned meat.

But if they walked in our human shoes for a few excruciating days they would see the true cost of these luxuries, and maybe they'd start cleaning up after themselves once in a while.

So if your cat starts acting all loud and uppity show them this Anything About Nothing comic, set the job listings by their food bowl and ask them to sign a rental agreement- that oughta shut them up!

-Via Geeks Are Sexy

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

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Snowglobes

Every year we look forward to British department store John Lewis' Christmas ad campaign. These ad campaigns are centered around a beautifully-animated video that tells a heartwarming or tear-jerking Christmas story. This one is no exception.

(YouTube link)

Except it's not a John Lewis Christmas ad. This one was created in two weeks last spring for a class assignment by Nick Jablonka, a British teenager with a computer.

Viewed more 375,000 times on YouTube by Sunday evening, the advert was produced by Nick Jablonka, an A-level media student, who had studied the mini-movies for his coursework.

“It was a very rushed piece, I’ve left it till the last month to do it … Creating a short film is a lot of work especially when it’s CGI. I was responsible for things outside of my comfort zone like character animation and lighting,” he said.

The real John Lewis campaigns cost millions of pounds and take months to create. Yet thousands of people were convinced that this was their 2016 ad. Good job, Nick! He's got technical information about the project at the YouTube link. Oh yeah, the real John Lewis ad is expected to debut Thursday. -via Nag on the Lake


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Anthony Kiedis Saved A Child's Life During The Filming Of Carpool Karaoke

James Corden has welcomed lots of interesting guests into his car for the Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden, but he's never had a hero like Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in his car.

Of course, James didn't know Anthony was a hero when he invited him to sing and get silly in the car, but a dire circumstance presented itself during filming and Anthony sprang into action:

We danced off, we tied and then we were going to celebrate with some Mexican food on the corner. And a woman came out of her house, holding a child saying ‘My baby, my baby, my baby can’t breathe!’ We all ran across the street, the woman thrust the baby into my arms, the baby was not breathing and I thought ‘I’m gonna try and do a little baby CPR real quick, see if I can get some air in this kid.’ Tried to open the mouth, [it was] like locked shut. So I started rubbing the belly, bubbles came out of the mouth, the eyes rolled back into place, the ambulance showed up and I handed the baby over, who was now breathing and fine, and we went back to Carpool Karaoke.

(YouTube Link)

Looks like Anthony is familiar with Californication and Californichildcare, oh, and CaliforniCPR too!

-Via Uproxx


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Woman Gives Birth While Enduring Her Boyfriend's Punny Sense Of Humor

Women understandably have little patience for joking around while giving birth, but Tanya Ferguson's goofball of a boyfriend wasn't going to stop being punny just because Tanya was about to have a baby.

In fact, her boyfriend James Riley sees childbirth as the perfect time to test out his new extra punny material on poor Tanya, who keeps on smiling even though you know she's dreaming about strangling James.

(YouTube Link)

Cracking a few punny jokes to ease the tension in the birthing room would have been fine, but James' comedic pun-ishment went on for five full days...I guess that's why his kid is already filing for emancipation!

-Via Laughing Squid

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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What The Actors from the Terminator Movies Look like Today

When a movie is as famous as the Terminator franchise, you forget the passage of time, especially when the latest sequel is from 2015. Holy moley, the original Terminator came out 36 years ago! What happened to the folks who starred in them from the beginning? Above you see Edward Furlong from Terminator II, one of the many actors who have played John Conner. Would you recognize him on the street? See the rest of the principle actors from the early Terminator movies at Unreality.


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Debunking 5 Election Fraud Myths

Thanks to a certain presidential candidate claiming that the election is "rigged," voter confidence in the election process is at an all time low. But the reality is that election fraud is actually incredibly rare, which is why anyone doubting the system should check out this Daily Dot article debunking four of the most common election fraud myths. For example:

While Trump is correct that there are 1.8 million dead people are registered as voters, he leaves out one critical fact: None of them actually voted.

So no matter how you plan on voting tomorrow, remember that your vote does count -and imaginary voter fraud isn't going to change it.


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Springtastic 5 - That Looks Like Stretch Dude, But Where's Clobber Girl?


Springtastic 5 by CoDDesigns

It seems like Homer is constantly getting his family caught up in fantastic situations beyond their control, and for some reason all of the freakiest and most far out stuff happens in Springfield on a weekly basis. But considering how often the Simpsons are able to make it out of said situations it might be good that they decided to stay in Springfield instead of moving to Shelbyville many years ago. Take the time that chunk of meteor landed in the Quik-E-Mart parking lot for instance- if the Simpsons hadn't been there to absorb all that radiation they never would have inexplicably gained super powers, and little Maggie would have taken over the town...Marge, you've done a marvelous job of raising that one up right!

Be adventurous with your geeky wardrobe, add this Springtastic 5 t-shirt by CoDDesigns to your collection and it'll become four times more fun to get dressed!

Visit CoDDesigns's Facebook fan page, official website and Twitter, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more action packed designs:

Get Schwifty Ugly Craft The Incredible Mitch It's Alright

View more designs by CoDDesigns | 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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Two Monkeys Go into a Bar

The following article is from Uncle John’s Factastic Bathroom Reader.

Primates are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. How close? According to some unconventional scientific research, we may have more in common with them than we thought.

(BBC via YouTube)

RAISING CANE

About 250 miles east of Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean called Saint Kitts. Today it’s a popular tourist destination, but for more than 300 years it was best known as a producer of both sugarcane and rum, the liquor made from sugarcane. The first cane plantations were established in the 1640s by England and France, which both had settlements on the island. In those days, France also had colonies in Africa, and when French colonists from West Africa came to Saint Kitts, they often brought monkeys called vervets with them as pets. Many of these monkeys escaped into the wild, where they thrived in the tropical paradise, free from predators and disease. The vervet population exploded in the years that followed. There were plenty of mangoes for them to eat, and when mangoes weren’t in season, the vervets happily devoured the sugarcane, as an English visitor named Lady Andrews observed in 1774:

They are the torment of the planters, they destroy whole cane pieces in a few hours and come in troops from the mountains, whose trees afford them shelter… When pursued, they fly to the mountain and laugh at their pursuers, as they are as little ashamed of a defeat as a French general.

MONKEY SEE

And just as vervets —like humans— acquired a taste for cane sugar, they also developed a taste for the rum produced from it. The monkeys probably got their first taste of alcohol by eating naturally fermenting cane stalks in the fields, then graduated to stealing rum whenever the opportunity presented itself. Islanders soon learned that an easy way to catch a vervet was to set out some rum in a bowl, then wait for one to come along and drink itself into insensibility.

As the years passed and Saint Kitts’s economy evolved from sugar and rum production to tourism, the vervets may have had an easier transition than the islanders did— at least as far as imbibing was concerned. Instead of heading out to the cane fields or into town in search of rum, the monkeys simply staked out the vacation resorts and stole drinks from tourists whenever their backs were turned. Some visitors found this annoying, of course, but for others, watching vervets steal drinks was —and still is— part of the experience of visiting Saint Kitts.

Continue reading

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