Librarians Versus the NSA

The American Library Association listed privacy as one of its core values starting in 1939. Occasionally, that value gets tested, as in the case of a librarian who went to jail in 1972 rather than testify against anti-Vietnam War activists. But the war between government sleuths and privacy advocates at your library has ramped up exponentially in the 21st century.

Under the Patriot Act, the government can demand library records via a secret court order and without probable cause that the information is related to a suspected terrorist plot. It can also block the librarian from revealing that request to anyone. Nor does the term “records” cover only the books you check out; it also includes search histories and hard drives from library computers. The Muslim-American who uses a library computer to correspond with family abroad, or the activist planning a demonstration against police brutality—those digital trails are vulnerable to surveillance, along with everyone else’s.

That part about not revealing the request tells us that more has been going on in the privacy wars than we know, but there have been several high-profile cases in which librarians refused to comply with orders. And librarians are at the forefront of implementing privacy technology on behalf of all their patrons. Read about the struggle between government surveillance and the privacy of your use of the public library at The Nation. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Jessamyn West - CC)

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Seriously Crazy Children's Toys

We all know that kiddos love potty humor, but that doesn't mean you need to encourage their dirty obsessions. If you're so inclined to entertain your child's love of poop and fart jokes though, you won't want to miss this great InventorSpot list of 10 crazy kid's toys. Of course, they don't all relate with bodily functions, there is also the Adolf Hitler action figure as well as a killer unicorn. The bottom line is that they probably aren't things your youngster really needs.

Warning: Some of the toys might be considered moderately NSFW, but keep in mind, they are all just toys.

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3D Printed Ultrasound Image Lets a Blind Mother See Her Baby Before He's Born

For expectant parents, a sonogram visit is a time of joy and anxiety. It's the earliest opportunity to see a child waiting to arrive.

Tatiana Guerra, 30, will soon give birth to her son, Murilo. She's blind, so she can't see the fuzzy results of a sonogram. To promote the Huggies diaper brand in Brazil, the ad agency Mood created a 3-dimensional model of her son as he appeared in a sonogram. It then surprised Guerra with the model, giving her a wonderful glimpse of her son that she could touch and study with her fingers.

(Video Link)

-via Visual News

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The Extreme Sport of Mermaid Swimming

(Photo: Alastair Scarlett/The Guardian)

You may have seen a mermaid show at an aquarium. What sets this sport apart from those performances is that this kind of mermaid swimming is combined with freediving: swimming into very deep ocean waters for extended periods of time--without dying.

Freediving looks beautiful, but it's also dangerous. Highly skilled, trained swimmers without breathing equipment reach depths of up to 253 meters. Ian Donald, a freediving instructor in Cornwall, UK, teaches people how to do this while wearing mermaid fins over their legs. Susan Greenwood of The Guardian describes the training:

The key to being happy under water for long periods is, I discovered – after panicking – not to panic, to keep the heart rate low by “breathing up” or belly breathing for two minutes before submersion, and to know that humans take a breath long before we need to. It’s the rule of thirds: for the first third of the time underwater, people are happy; the second brings the urge to breathe and it’s at this point most of us surface. But, resisting this urge means entering the third phase – the spleen will release more red blood cells, the diaphragm will stop juddering and this is followed by the discovery that the body has more oxygen than imagined. […]

Just as things were getting serious, Lissie lined up the mermaids’ tails, handed me a seashell necklace and informed me my name was now Sue-Sea. And this is when things got gnarly. Professional mermaids wear tails that can weigh up to 40kg and cost over £2,000. Have you tried swimming with a small child holding onto your legs and making it look effortless?

-via Nag on the Lake

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Snake Steals Fish

(YouTube link)

Cindy Kruller took her kids fishing. Her son caught a small perch, which dislodged itself from the hook. A garter snake immediately snatched the fish up and ran with it! They chased the snake and scared it just enough to cause it to drop the fish, and they got the perch back into the water. The fish swam away in a flash, no doubt in a hurry to tell his school about his big adventure. Commenters at YouTube are quick to blame the family for depriving the poor snake of its meal. -via Tastefully Offensive

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Who Needs Magic? - Harry And His Little Friends

Who Needs Magic? by Winter Artwork Illustration

Harry had enjoyed learning new ways to zap his enemies into the ether from those old grimoires in his early days, but he'd grown tired of talking and needed a new outlet for his magical angst. One day he met a boy named Hunter in the woods around Hogwarts, and Hunter showed Harry the virtue of superior firepower. Soon Harry had ditched the dusty tomes in favor of a pair of .45s, ready to make the Dark Lord of the Death Eaters pay for his transgressions....

Cast a spell on your fellow Potterheads with this Who Needs Magic? t-shirt by Winter Artwork Illustration, it's one dangerously cool design!

Visit Winter Artwork Illustration's Facebook fan page and Tumblr, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more spellbinding designs:

Tiger! 12th Of Hearts Gentleman T Kweh!

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Cel-shaded Jeans

These cool pants, made for cosplay but could/should be worn anywhere, look like they just popped out of the page of a comic book! 

Hand painted in the Borderlands style, each pair of these cel-shaded skinny jeans are custom made-to-order and are available for $114 a pair at the DejaNeufHeures Etsy shop. 

What I'd like to see is a whiter version of these cel-shaded jeans, to look like the characters in A-ha's "Take on Me" music video. Now THAT would be some cosplay I could really get behind.

via Geekologie

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Whodunit: The Gypsy Thief

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Michael Maggs

Dahlia shuffled the deck, making the bracelet of coins tinkle on her right wrist. Dealing out the first card, she smiled. "You had good luck," she said, pointing to the Queen of Cups.

Marco patted his leather purse. It looked heavy with coins. "I had a good morning at the fair. No one sells like a Gypsy."

It was a tranquil afternoon as they sat around the embers of a fire in their small encampment. The sound of horse hooves and jangling spurs announced the arrival of Renard. Seconds later, Carmen's earrings, as melodious as wind chimes and almost as large, told them that their fourth friend had also returned.

The tiny Gypsy tribe exchanged tales of their morning escapades. Dahlia had told fortunes at the fair. Carmen had begged on a street corner. Renard had traded horses with local farmers. But the only lucky one was Marco, who had sold copper pots to housewives and made an enviable profit.

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Love games and puzzles? Visit NeatoPuzzles for more!

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A Cross Bladed Axe Splits Wood Faster Than Ever Before

Instructables member KH4 isn't sure whether he should call his invention the cross bladed axe or the crossed blade axe. He cut an axe blade in half, then welded those pieces to opposing sides of another axe blade. Now when he splits a log, it breaks into four pieces instead of just two:

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Awesome Home Design Illusions

Last week, Rusty found some amazing 3D-looking floors that could seriously terrify certain guests. That charming flooring inspired us to look up some more interior designs that incorporate optical illusions and what we found was pretty much incredible. That's why we did a full round up of these impressive, mind-bending creations over on Homes and Hues.

From warping wallpaper to impossible-looking bookcases, these designs are sure to keep your guests on their toes while they wonder at the illusions hidden in your home. 

Don't miss the full list at Homes and Hues: 10 Cool Home Design Illusions

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"We Are Not Amused"

The following is an article from the book Uncle John’s Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader.

What was frowned upon in Victorian-era England? Pretty much everything.


During the 1837– 1901 reign of Queen Victoria, Britain’s upper classes prospered, the nation’s population doubled, and a sense of romance and dignity prevailed. It was also a period marked by widespread child-labor abuse, unbridled poverty, horrifying poor-houses, overcrowded and unsanitary cities, and rampant prostitution. It was an era of great innovation in art and industry but also an era of strict moral values and adherence to propriety.

The rigid morality modeled by Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, may well have been a reaction to the previous monarch of Great Britain, Victoria’s uncle, King William IV. While the king never managed to produce any legitimate heirs with his wife, Queen Adelaide, he did father ten illegitimate children with actress and courtesan Dorothea Jordan, who was his mistress for 20 years.

Here are a few of the things that displeased proper Victorians:

• The word “leg.” It was considered too sexy and, thus, too vulgar. At the time, the preferred term, if one absolutely had to refer to a lower extremity, was “limb.”

• Calling an aristocrat by his first name.

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Cadbury is Making Vegemite Milk Chocolate Bars

cadbury milk chocolate with Vegemite

No joke, in June, Cadbury Australia is coming out with a milk chocolate bar infused with delicious, creamy caramel...and, Vegemite. While not popular in the United States in any way, the dark, concentrated yeast spread is a food staple in Australia. 

However, in my opinion, it has no business being anywhere near chocolate. Am I right?

And, if you're wondering if this is a real product. It is, it really is. Cadbury has confirmed it. 

Would you try Vegemite chocolate? Get ready, it hits the market on June 1st.

via BuzzFeed

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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The World's Most Pathetic Vending Machine

(YouTube link)

This “hi-tech” vending machine tries to snag ice cream treats for you by lowering a wand with a vacuum pump to grab the packages. However, it appears to work more like a claw machine, in that it’s weak, clumsy, and you take your chances on whether you actually receive anything for your money. The laughs here could easily be worth $3, but I think he got his money back eventually. -via Digg

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Colorful Pencil Shaving Pictures

South African artist and teacher Megan Maconochie wanted a novel 365 art project--a medium or theme that she would work in every day for a full year. She found the perfect approach: pencil shavings. Moconochie grinds colored pencils, then arranges the shavings into collages showing animals, cartoon characters, and people.

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11 Super-Cool Science Photos From The Past Decade

This picture looks like some tube-shaped creatures caressing a ball. They are caressing, alright, but they aren’t even living things!

An electron microscope photograph shows self-assembling hair-like polymers around a polystyrene sphere, about two micrometers in diameter. It won first place in the National Science Foundation's 2009 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Self-assembling plastic is a pretty far out concept, but the detail and color in a microscopic image is amazing in itself. This is just one of a collection of fascianting scientific images, one for each year going back to 2005, covering a wide variety of disciplines, at HuffPo. Some you' ve seen here before, but are worth a sescond look.

(Image credit: Sung Hoon Kang, Joanna Aizenberg and Boaz Pokroy; Harvard University)

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Chinese Company Gives More Than Half of Its 12,000 Employees a Vacation in France

(Photo: Moyan Brenn)

To create a collegial atmosphere, some companies provide free coffee for the office coffee pot. Others don't dock your time for restroom breaks. Similarly, the Tiens Group gives its employees vacations in France.

The Chinese firm employees about 12,000 people. It recently gave 6,400 of them a vacation in France, including a mass tour of the Louvre in Paris before a visit to the lovely Riviera city of Nice. The Guardian reports:

A huge Chinese company, Tiens Group, is treating more than half of its 12,000 employees to a four-day holiday in France and has booked up 140 hotels in the capital Paris as part of the package, a French foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday.

According to Le Parisien newspaper, the trip by the 6,400-strong group includes a mass visit to the Louvre museum, and they are expected to spend €13m euros (US$15m) in total.

This is a forward-thinking move by billionaire company chairman Li Jinyuan that will no doubt enhance the performance of his employees and therefore massively increase profits. Surely other enterprising and visionary corporate leaders could do likewise to benefit their companies--for example, Alex Santoso, the owner of Neatorama.

-via Marilyn Terrell

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Really Got To Go - If It's Yellow Let It Mellow...

Really Got To Go by Coinbox Tees

Thor never grows tired of making poor Deadpool's life a living hell, and although their paths hardly ever cross the God of Thunder is always plotting the next prank he'll pull on Wade. Whether it's a lightning bolt to the butt, a strong acid rain that melts Mr. Wilson into a pile of goo, or simply using Mjolnir to block the toilet when Wade's really gotta go, nothing puts a smile on Goldilock's bearded mug quite like messing with the merc!

Add some superheroic humor to your geeky wardrobe with this Really Got To Go t-shirt by Coinbox Tees, it's sure to make you number one among your fellow comic book fans.

Visit Coinbox Tees's Facebook fan page, Twitter and Tumblr, then head on over to their NeatoShop for more delightfully geeky designs:

We Can Shake It Soldier Champloo Shinra Beware! Showtime

View more designs by Coinbox Tees | 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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Cats vs. Socks

YouTube Link

Is there anything more ambiguously evil and threatening than a sock? Not to these cats. They recoil in horror, try to capture and conquer, stalk and pounce, but still, they don't appear to be winning the battle. Imagine their disgust during the holidays when their humans open up package after package of brand new terror. Oh, the humanity. Via Tastefully Offensive

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

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Astronaut Shows How to Use the Space Station Toilet

(Video Link)

Samantha Cristoforetti is an Italian astronaut currently on board the International Space Station. She recently made headlines for cosplaying as Star Trek's Captain Kathryn Janeway while there. Later, she donned the same uniform and drank espresso while quoting the coffee-loving Janeway.

But you never actually drink coffee-you just hold it for a while. Cristoferetti made her way to the ISS toilet and explained to viewers how it works. You'd never guess that it's a toilet from just looking at it. Both excretory functions are handled by suction tubes. There's not actual seat. Astronauts just float in the very low gravity and rely on the suction tubes to do their jobs.

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The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad

It was 146 years ago today, May 10, 1869, that the ceremonial spike (actually more than one) was driven into the meeting point of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad. That’s when it became the transcontinental railroad, and traveling across the country no longer meant months in a wagon or on a ship sailing around South America. The transcontinental railroad was a great idea, but making it into a competition had some unintended consequences.  

Congress made the fool's mistake of assuming some motivating rationality on the part of the railroad companies, and not just base greed, so they didn't dictate just how, when, or where the rails must meet. When Central and Union crews ran into each other in northern Utah, instead of merging the lines right away, they set off building miles of parallel grading, with each company hoping to acquire more mileage and thus more of the reward money. With a kind of paternal exasperation, then, Congress had to set a junction point; and they chose Promontory, Utah—a little tent town of railroad workers and prostitutes just north of the Great Salt Lake.

The ceremonial joining of the railroads didn't go as smoothly as you might have heard. It was a publicity stunt, and it also meant the end of a job for those who built the railroad. Read about what really happened on that day at mental_floss.

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This Guy Built a 9-Hole Mini Golf Course in His Backyard!

Behind the unassuming Los Angeles home of vlogger Adam Kontras is a 9-hole miniature golf course...that he built! It's called GolfKon and he originally turned his 7,000-square-foot backyard into a mini golf course for his kids. These days, he primarily hosts private charity mini golf events on its synthetic grass play-ways. 

Of note, GolfKon's seventh hole is called "Golf to the Future Hole" and it's inspired by the 1980s hit, Back to the Future, and it is complete with a 1/24 scale replica DeLorean "time machine." In fact, two of the movie's actors, Don Fullilove ("Gordie Wilson") and Claudia Wells ("Jennifer Parker"), have played the course!

You know what's even better? He owns a real DeLorean car and has it tricked out to look like the one from the movie. His "DeLorean Time Machine" is for rent and with one of the packages he offers, you can get picked up and dropped off in it to play mini golf at his place. How amazing would that be? (Hint: REALLY amazing!)

Gets some tips on how to maneuver "Evil Elvis" and the other GolfKon holes in this video:

See photos of all the course's holes at the GolfKon website, and don't forget to check out his DeLorean Time Machine.

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The Curse of Pinocchio

(Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

I love the work of Zach Weinersmith, a webcomic artist who combines absurdity, intellectual sophistication, and occasional puns. One of his common approaches is to take a simple idea and extend it to extreme conclusions.

Recently, he retold the story of Pinocchio, giving it a very dark ending. The wooden puppet's nose would grow whenever he told a lie. He found a loophole: he didn't necessarily have to tell the precise truth to avoid growing his nose. Read the rest of the story here.

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Time-Lapse Video: Doomed Puppy Grows to Adulthood

Dave Mienert, a filmmaker, discovered a 4-week old Great Dane puppy. She was the handiwork of a backyard dog breeder. She had a genetic disorder that would leave her blind and deaf eventually. All of her littermates had died or been born deformed.

This was not a healthy pup, but Miernet adopted her and named her Pegasus. He wasn't sure how long he would have with his new friend and so decided to record it all. 

(Video Link)

Pegasus often walks on a treadmill. Miernet compiled these scenes into a time-lapse video showing the weak puppy growing into a strong adult dog. He says, "I still don’t know how long she is going to live, but right now is pretty great."

-via Ace of Spades HQ

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

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A Reader's Manifesto

Grant Snider of Incidental Comics uses his typical witty delivery and illustrations to address the topic of bibliophiles. Are they partial to one kind of book? How could they resist the rest? How do booklovers love books? Let Snider count the ways.

Stop by Snider's website to purchase prints of his work. 

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92-Year Old World War II Fighter Pilot Flies a Spitfire Again

(Image: BBC)

Joy Lofthouse, 92, was a pilot with Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II. She flew the UK's legendary Spitfire fighter plane. A 2009 article in the Daily Mail describes her experiences. Women who flew for the ATA were known as the Attagirls. They transported aircraft and supplies throughout the UK during the war.

Lofthouse and her colleagues, which included her sister, flew many different types of aircraft, including the Spitfire. Recently, she got the chance to fly in one again (auto-start video) during ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

(Video Link)

-via The Mary Sue

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Exploration of Expiration: How Long Food and Other Storebought Items Last

YouTube Link

What is the difference between "Best By," "Sell By" and "Expires On"? How long do staple foods like eggs and milk last? What about coffee, frozen vegetables and non-food items like batteries? This "How to Adult" video addresses those topics and more. -Via Digg

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Cartoon Mom Impressions

(Video Link)

Brizzy is an actress and master impressionist. For Mother's Day, she invited her Twitter followers to suggest moms from cartoons that she should impersonate. Brizzy responded with the most famous drawn mothers from The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, Rugrats, Bob's Burgers, and more. Not only are her voices perfect, but so are her facial expressions.

-via Tastefully Offensive

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BeeBee-Ate - Droids Really Know How To Have A Ball

BeeBee-Ate by Captain RibMan

They see BB rollin', they hatin', but that's just cause they're jealous. BB can go places no R2 unit can, and his all terrain ball is both ruggedly constructed and pleasing to the eye. While C3s and R2s are being sent to Jawa scrapyards by the dozens, the BB-8 is spinning his shell and kicking up sand on those suckas from the prequels. Would you rather hang out with a total square, or a droid who knows how to roll with the best of 'em?!

Breathe some robotic life into your geeky wardrobe with this BeeBee-Ate t-shirt by Captain RibMan, it's the ultimate shirt for a baller to wear out to movie night!

Visit Captain RibMan's Facebook fan page, official website and Twitter, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more forceful designs:

The Powerful Mok-5 Smoldering Helmet Ovaries Before Brovaries San Angeles Replicants- "Blade Runner" Chess Team

View more designs by Captain RibMan | More Sci-Fi 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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Pineapple Picture Day

We don’t know what year or grade this is, but in a class of 56 students, 18 guys wore the same Hawaiian pineapple shirt for picture day. It wasn’t a club with uniforms; it was one shirt passed from student to student before they had their photo taken. That’s not the kind of thing anyone would notice (outside of the photographer) until the yearbook came out months later.

My husband’s senior yearbook (class of 1973) was a little like this. Seniors were supposed to dress up, meaning a jacket and tie for the guys. But he and five of his friends all forgot, and ended up wearing the same borrowed shirt, jacket, and tie. No one thought anything of it at the time, because they looked good, but forty years later, anyone who sees the yearbook has to comment that every longhair in the class dressed alike.

-via reddit 

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Hyperrealistic Animal Lollipops

(Photos: Ameshin)

Spoon & Tamago tells us that amezaiku--the Japanese art of lollipop making--has thrived since the Eighth Century. Shrinri Tezuka is a master of the craft. He owns Ameshin, a studio and workshop in Tokyo. There, he produces wondrously realistic and completely edible lollipops that look like animals. He combines sugar, starch, and food coloring into the forms of fish, frogs, and snakes.

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We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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