How Cults Brainwash their Members

Cults, totalitarian governments, abusive marriages: what they have in common is that someone gains total control over someone else through psychology. The shortcut term for this is brainwashing. Alexandra Stein was a member of one such cult, and later wrote about the process of brainwashing. Her PhD dissertation examined the tactics of a political cult called the Newman Tendency, which was run by Fred Newman.

Newman had controlled the group for more than 40 years before his death in 2011. After interviewing former members, I learned that group members were brought in through the various programmes, but were all mandated to enter therapy that they had to pay for. Gradually, they abandoned outside jobs and worked for the group, often off the books. They shared apartments, attended meetings late into the night, and restricted relationships with outsiders. Instead, many were set up in casual sexual relationships with other followers in a practice called ‘friendosexuality’. They were also assigned a ‘friend’ whose role was to monitor and criticise to keep them in line. Those with money were soon parted from it. Some women in the group were told by Newman to have abortions, and few had children while involved.

The Newman Tendency, like The O, fit the five features of a totalist system I had identified based on Arendt and Lifton’s work.  The first of these characteristics is that the leader is both charismatic and authoritarian. Without charisma, the leader would be unable to draw people to him or herself. Without authoritarianism, leaders would lack the internal motivation and the ability to bully and control followers. ‘Yeah, somebody taught him how to abuse people,’ a former follower said of Newman. ‘He’s charming, too … If he sat down right there next to me, I’d say: “Hey Fred, how are you doing? Are you still corrupting people? … Are you still screwing 18 women at the same time?” … But you know, he was a likeable guy!’

Not all leaders want to get rich, gain sexual favours, or grab political power. But all want utter control over others. Money, sex, free labour or loyal combatants are all fringe benefits, and certainly most leaders take advantage of these, some in a big way. But absolute control over their relationships is the key.

Stein addresses the other four features of a totalist system that yields compliant followers at Aeon. And ways of breaking out of such a system. -via Digg

(Image credit: Roman Harak)


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Journalists Mistake College Professor For Fashion Mogul, Their Pics Help Launch Her Modeling Career

Sometimes when we're dressed to impress, looking good and feeling fine we project an air of success that people mistake for actual success and fame, which may make journalists take notice.

A few years back a professor from Fordham University named Lyn Slater experienced the effects of fabulousness emissions when she was noticed by a photographer while she waited for a friend near Lincoln Center.

This was during Fashion Week, so journalists were out in full force covering the event happening at Lincoln Center, and when they saw Lyn they felt sure she was a fashion industry bigwig:

“The photographers surrounded me and began taking pictures,“ recalls Lyn. ”Two Japanese journalists began asking questions. Tourists started gathering and taking videos and photos on their phones, thinking they had come across a major figure in the fashion industry. I was confused, but it was at that moment that my friend arrived, and we started laughing at the situation. She said to me, ’Wow, you’ve unexpectedly become a style icon.’ “

Red. Enough said.#AgeIsNotAVariable #internationalwomensday #girlpossible #iwd2017 #womenfashion #woman #red

A post shared by Accidental Icon (@iconaccidental) on Mar 8, 2017 at 5:39am PST

Now the 63-year-old professor is also a professional model represented by Elite London and she has her own fashion blog called Accidental Icon, where she teaches young people "age is not a variable" when it comes to looking good.

-Via design you trust


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29 States with Weird Nicknames for their Residents

(YouTube link)

Arizonans, have you ever been called a "sand cutter"? Did you ever find out why? Many states have weird nicknames for people who call that state home, and each has a story behind it, whether we know what that story is or not. John Green fills us in on some of the weirder state nicknames for residents in the latest episode of the Mental Floss List Show.


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Former Disney Employees Discuss the Craziest Things They Saw on the Job

Disneyland may be the "happiest place on earth for visitors," but for employees, things are different. Over on Reddit, past Disney park employees recently discussed the most outrageous things they ever saw on the job. For those who think the Mouse represents a squeaky clean image, you might be surprised what those employees have seen. For example:

I worked on a ride where there was a holding area before the main room and ride. One night before close, apparently a guest had taken a shit in the holding room and everyone else tracked it through out whole queue and ride. We had to close early and every inch of our whole ride was sanitized that night. A guest seriously asked me, "There's poop on my flip flops... what do I do...?"

Many employees start off innocent when they come in, but then things like this change that:

[My] manager that told me I wasn't happy or cheerful enough so I should come in early to do a line of "pixie dust" before work. I showed up early to be a smartass, walk into her office and found her and a server doing lines of cocaine off the counter. I transferred as soon as I could but it was the same stuff in all the other areas as well. Disney still holds the title of most exciting job I've had. Over those 6 years I was assaulted, groped, bribed, spit at, whored out, and drugged. It was my sex, drugs, rock and roll experience.

You can read the full list of Reddit stories here, but be warned that many of the stories are NSFW.

Via Distractify


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Awesome Selfies for National Selfie Day

June 21 is National Selfie Day, an unofficial holiday founded in 2014. National Geographic is celebrating by sharing a gallery of selfies from their photographers and explorers. You can't beat selfies taken in a wilderness, jungle, or war zone, selfies taken with Vikings or pandas, or during death-defying activities. Strangely, there are two taken during haircuts! Shown here is photographer Gerd Ludwig, who visited a cosplayer couple in Moscow who have a friendly pet owl. See the amazing gallery of selfies at NatGeo.


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Wayward Black Bear Breaks Into Home, Inadvertently Plays The Piano

Animals who play instruments on purpose are cute, and some of them seem to have genuine musical talent, but it's even cuter when a critter accidentally plays an instrument because they don't know what it is.

Security cameras caught this video of a black bear breaking in to the Vail, Colorado home of Katie Hawley, and the scene was not very fun or amusing to watch at first.

But then the bear inadvertently tickled the ivories and made the whole thing adorable again, although the humor was lost on homeowner Katie, who still fears another ursine home invasion.

(YouTube Link)

-Via The Washington Post

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

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When the Bus Stop Button is Broken

Some municipal buses just drive by a bus stop if there's no one waiting to get on. If you need to get off the bus there, you ring a bell or push a button to let the bus driver know. This bus in Halifax, Nova Scotia, had a non-functioning button, so they installed temporary workaround.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, this technology has been in use longer, so they know they should install the chicken out of reach of children. Genius!

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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A Spaghetti Western Score Style Cover Of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"

"Billie Jean" is one of Michael Jackson's most well known songs, and the music video for the track is still considered one of the most iconic music videos of the 1980s.

Like all classic songs from the 80s "Billie Jean" is just begging to be remixed, revisited and covered in a different musical style, maybe big band style?

Nah, that would never work, but guitarist Steve Onotera shows us "Billie Jean" sounds really cool when covered in the style of a Spaghetti Western score!

(YouTube Link)

-Via Laughing Squid


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Hell's Kitchen Devil - He'll Be Coming Back To Save Us All Soon Enough


Hell's Kitchen Devil by Harantula

Only those who live their lives on the wrong side of the law need worry about the Devil lurking in Hell's Kitchen, because he has sworn to rid the streets of the wicked and return order to the neighborhood. So if you're losing sleep because the Devil of Hell's Kitchen is out there you might want to check your moral compass and make sure you're headed in the right direction, because if not then it's only a matter of time before the Devil comes looking for you...

Do you dare to wear this Hell's Kitchen Devil t-shirt by Harantula? Of course you do, because it's one of the most kick ass designs ever created!

Visit Harantula's NeatoShop for more mighty geeky designs:

Harry's Nightmare Lucas' Balloons Dancing forces Fuusion

View more designs by Harantula | 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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A Surgeon's Secret

Dr. Mary Austin of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, performs surgery on babies still in the womb, in order to correct a birth defect before birth. The surgery is delicate, as the patient is unbelievably tiny and the organs and nerves can be like tissue paper.    

The birth defect is called spina bifida. Untreated, it can cause a range of disabilities, from incontinence to learning difficulties to an inability to walk. But the surgery carries some risks, too; it can send the mothers into premature labor, months before their due dates — and there’s no guarantee it will prevent physical disabilities in the baby.

Austin, a pediatric surgeon, helps counsel couples through that agonizing decision. She walks them through the potential risks and benefits. She describes each step in the hours-long surgery, from slicing open the uterus to closing the gap around the spinal cord with tiny stitches through developing fetal tissue so fragile, it’s almost “like tissue paper,” she said, vulnerable to tearing.

What she doesn’t tell them: She herself has spina bifida.

Austin kept her spina bifida a secret from most people until now. At one time she was expected to never walk, and although she proved the experts wrong, she does still suffer some disabilities from the defect. Knowing what spina bifida can mean for her patients gives her some insight into what parents go through when they find out their child may have it, but she does not pressure anyone into prenatal surgery. She doesn't even reveal her own spina bifida to them. Read about Mary Austin, her life with spina bifida, and her work to fix it for others, at STAT. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Michael Starghill Jr. for STAT)


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Bodybuilder Shot With Over 1000 Paintballs

Contrary to popular belief not all bodybuilders are macho meatheads, but those who fit the stereotype seem to think increasing muscle mass through intense exercise makes them invincible.

These beefcake brutes soon discover they're still human after all when they do something incredibly dangerous and dumb- like letting people shoot you with over 1000 paintballs.

But Houston Jones doesn't (just) do it all because he's a meathead- he does it for the thrills, and the subscribers.

(YouTube Link)

-Via IHeartRadio


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5 Reality Shows That Screwed Over Their Contestants

Queen for a Day was a show that began on radio in 1945, and jumped to TV from 1956 to 1964. It was revived in 1969-70, and had a couple of specials and a movie in between. The idea was heartwarming: to give a down-and-out woman her dream come true. But the reality was that several women competed for the worst hardship story, and the audience selected a winner, who received gifts from sponsors, such as modern appliances, money for medical care, or a vacation. It was essentially the beginning of "poverty porn."   

So debasing yourself for a chance at a better life is nothing new. This show asked women, working housewives, what they would wish for in order to make their lives and those of their families better. Women would break down sobbing and go so far as to beg just to procure amenities for their family that were desperately needed while being viewed by a studio audience. Mothers and wives are usually willing to do what it takes to keep their family safe and secure, but banking on human misery seems to be pushing it too far.

But Queen for a Day was way back when. Since reality shows took over TV, there have been many reality game series that left their contestants worse off. Read about four more at TVOM.


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A Video Analysis Of Whether The Human Centipede Is Meaningless Or Meaningful

Fans praised The Human Centipede for its unique concept and fresh take on body horror, but the film's gimmick was too disgusting for many people to handle- and the next two films were even grosser.

So film analyst Georg Rockall-Schmidt couldn't help but wonder- did The Human Centipede trilogy actually have something to say, or were they made for pure shock value? (NSFW material)

(YouTube Link)

-Via GeekTyrant


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Angry Neighbors and the Notes They Write

Unless you live out in the country, surrounded by empty land, you have to be considerate of your neighbors. Failing to do so may lead to someone leaving a note or sign, especially if they aren't sure who the perpetrator is. Check out the variety of angry notes left in public to address these concerns. The biggest part of them deal with people who don't clean up after their dogs, but noise and parking space disputes are common. Some notes contain NSFW language. Read 34 of them all at Some ECards. And take a hint on how to be a good neighbor, or deal with someone who isn't. -via Boing Boing


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An Animated Fan Film For The Pot Smashing Rupee Collector In All Of Us

People have made all kinds of comics, short films and cartoons about the mighty Link and his quest to save Hyrule, and they're all great fun to check out- but they're also all missing a little something.

So which magical element of the Legend Of Zelda games do the artists paying homage to the games nearly always forget to include? The activity I spend hours doing every time I play a Zelda game- smashing pots for rupees.

(YouTube Link)

Animator Callegos Yavolitak created this fan film for the pot smasher in all of us, which focuses on the greatest pastime in Hyrule and shows us we're not alone in our obsession to destroy and collect gems.

-Via Dorkly


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The Love Life of W.C. Fields

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

"Women are like elephants to me; I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one."

-W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield) 1880-1946

W.C. Fields is a comic icon in movie history. Critics rank him with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers in the upper echelons of motion picture comedy. His classic movies include Million Dollar Legs (1932), Tillie and Gus (1933), The Bank Dick (1940), My Little Chickadee (with Mae West) (1940) and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941).

W.C. Fields spent much of his boyhood in poverty and as an adult was constantly in fear of being broke. As a result, his girlfriends found him a tight man with a dollar.

On April 8, 1900, at the age of 20, Fields married for the first and only time. Her name was Harriet "Hattie" Hughes. Hattie worked alongside Fields in his vaudeville juggling act as his assistant. In the act, Fields would humorously blame her when he made a mistake.

Hattie was well-educated and tutored Fields in reading and writing (his own education had been very limited). The couple had a son together in 1904 named William Claude Fields, Jr. Although Fields was devoutly anti-religion, because of Hattie's influence, he agreed to have his son baptized.

Continue reading

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This Photo Series Breaks 43 Of The Most Ridiculous Laws In America

You don't have to be a total rebel to know stupid and incredibly outdated laws are made to be broken, and in times when the powers that be keep trying to make laws to limit our personal freedoms it's time to resist.

Photographer Olivia Locher wants her rebellion against dumb, antiquated laws to be on the record, so she created a series called "I Fought The Law" which illustrates how utterly moronic these laws are.

At the top we have Alabama's law against having an ice-cream cone in your back pocket, above we have Ohio's law against disrobing in front of a man's portrait, and below we have Oklahoma's crazy law against people making love to their cars.

Lawmakers have way too much time on their hands if they think these laws need to be on the books!

See more from Photographer Breaks 43 Of The Most Ridiculous Laws In America here (NSFW-ish)


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An Honest Trailer for Power Rangers

Did anyone go see the movie Power Rangers when it was released back in the spring? I guess so, since the movie performed a little better than expected, but it was never expected to be a blockbuster. Critical response was meh. Screen Junkies knows what the problem was: the movie was too serious about the adventures of five teenage superheroes in matching costumes.

(YouTube link)

The producers didn't seem to realize that the franchise's silliness was a big part of its draw. Too bad. Instead of a action-comedy, they ended up with a teen drama crossed with a doughnut ad. Enjoy some hard-hitting criticism of Power Rangers in the latest Honest Trailer. -Thanks, Jill!


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Incredible Examples Of Animal Camouflage

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Animals and insects have an amazing array of offensive and defensive tools at their disposal, and whether predator or prey they all try to maintain a low profile when they're hanging out in the wild.

The best tool to use when you want to remain unseen is natural camouflage, so you blend in with the plants and trees and coral reefs around you.

(Image Link)

Natural camouflage works so well it even hides creatures from our scrutinizing human stare, making it really hard to tell whether that's a tree bark colored owl or a chunk of tree bark pretending to be an owl.

See 13 Incredible Examples Of Animal Camouflage That Will Make You Look Twice here

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

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Make Cola Great Again! - And Make Sure You Vote Slurms MacKenzie For VP


Make Cola Great Again! by Punksthetic

Politics have become a sour and tasteless affair, with hatred and ugliness making America awful again, so maybe it's time to do away with the serious candidates and elect a corporate schill? It's not like they would do a worse job than the present administration, and if we were to elect someone who was sponsored by a beverage company then at least we'd all get free drinks! So when you're deciding which evil is lesser in the future and you're about to mark that ballot remember- corporate schills give the best schwag, so you might as well vote for Slurm instead of Slime!

It's time to change the face of politics in America, and this Make Cola Great Again! t-shirt by Punksthetic will help, plus you'll get free cans of Slurm wherever you go!

Visit Punksthetic's Facebook fan page, official website and Twitter, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more tastefully tasteless designs:

Magical Minimalism Wild City (Color) I AM KOROK! I'm Wubba Lubbin' It

View more designs by Punksthetic | 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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New Ken Dolls Come in All Flavors

Mattel gave Barbie a variety of body shapes, skin tones, and styles last year, and now Ken has them, too! The new Ken dolls were introduced this morning on Good Morning America.

Mattel has just rolled out a brand new line of Ken dolls — fifty years after the eponymous blond-haired, blue-eyed, perpetually tanned figures were first introduced — only now sporting three body types (regular, slender, and the delicately put “broad”), seven skin tones, and nine hairstyles. The first 10 dolls, which were unveiled on Good Morning America Tuesday morning, hit stores today — while the following five will be released in the coming months.

One of the new styles has a man bun. But no beard. My 16-year-old nephew stated clearly the other night that a man must have a beard if he is going to wear a man bun. That's a new one on me. The new selection of Ken Dolls are available in some stores now, and should roll out nationwide by July 8. See more images of the new dolls at GQ.


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Totally Brilliant Ideas That Will Change Our Lives

(Image Link)

If I had a buck for every half-baked idea posing as a life hack or product innovation I'd be drowning in dollars, but then I'd come across one of these genius ideas worth a million and I'd have to give the creator all my bucks!

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Seriously, who doesn't think a vertical chessboard you can hang on your wall, a fry basket that fits on top of your soda or a yogurt lid that folds into a spoon aren't million dollar ideas?

(Image Link)

If you answered "I don't think these ideas are utterly brilliant" then tell me this- got a better idea than putting a two way mirror in the bar bathroom so you can keep an eye on what's happening while you're "indisposed"? Neither do I...

(Image Link)

See These 21 Things Are So Freakin' Genius here


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Reinventing the Toilet

Worldwide, 2.4 billion people don't have access to toilets, and a billion don't even have latrines or outhouses. Plumbing and sewer systems are expensive to build, and many places either have too little water to run them, or too much water, which makes it hard to keep sewage out of the freshwater supply. The answer may be a new technology that uses no water, and even recycles human waste. Virginia Gardiner designed the toilet called the Loowatt.

In Loowatt’s waterless flush design, the waste is sealed into a biodegradable bag underneath the toilet with not a drop of water being spilled. Once full, the bag is replaced by a service team, and the waste is brought (yes, hand-delivered) to Loowatt’s pilot waste-processing facility, where it’s converted to fertiliser and biogas.

This very manual setup sounds very archaic compared to the slick and convenient arrangements of the Western world. But sanitation experts think that in the era of climate change, when droughts and floods are becoming increasingly common, the West may have something to learn from the little waterless loos piloted in penniless Madagascan neighbourhoods. With the world’s population ever-increasing, places that historically relied on water for sanitation may have to reconsider how they flush.

Read how the Loowatt was conceived, and how it could change people's lives. -via Digg

(Image credit: Tomasz Kuran aka Meteor2017)


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Playboy Playmates Recreate Their Iconic Covers Decades Later

Many Playboy playmates have overcome the stigmas associated with being a nude model and turned their Playboy shoot into a springboard for their career.

But, like it or not, the most memorable playmates who posed for the most iconic covers will always be associated with Playboy Magazine, so why fight it?

Playboy asked Kimberley Conrad, Cathy St. George, Lisa Matthews and four other former Playmates to come back into the studio and recreate their classic covers.

And even though decades had passed since the original shoot the Playmates proved they still have what it takes to make Playboy magazine look good.

See 7 Playboy Playmates Re-Enact Their Iconic Covers here (NSFW-ish)


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Real Life Heroic Teachers that Need Movies about Them

We love a feel-good movie about folks who made sacrifices to improve the world. As a group, teachers fit under that category more than the rest of us as a whole, but even among teachers, some stand out. For example, Emma Willard, born in 1787, started teaching early as a teenager and never stopped advocating for her students.

Emma Willard was born in a time when women were permitted no more than basic learning. Fortunately, her father supported her interest in education, with the result that she became a teacher at the age of 17. In time, she went on to found the first school that offered higher education to women in the whole of the United States, which can still be found in Troy, NY under her name. Later, when she had entrusted her school to both her son and her daughter-in-law, she went on to promote education for women not just in the United States but also throughout Europe.

Read about other inspirational teachers who would make good movie subjects at TVOM. 


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Video Footage Of A Freaky Fish "Walking" Along The Ocean Floor

Watch a fish swim around under the sea and it looks like the most natural thing in the world, and the way they flop around after being stranded out of water looks totally natural too.

But seeing a fish "walk" along the ocean floor as it would on land seems like the most unnatural thing in the world because that fish should be free floating, not shuffling along the bottom like some bottom shuffler!

According to this National Geographic video this stingfish acting strangely was spotted off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, and it may be using the bony spines protruding from the bottom of its body to hunt for food.

(YouTube Link)

-Via Geekologie

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

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The Remarkable Life of Margaret Brown

When you hear the name "the Unsinkable Molly Brown," you might picture the character Kathy Bates played in the 1997 movie Titanic. Margaret Brown was a real person who led a charmed life that she made the most of. Brown married for love instead of money, but then grew rich anyway. She spent that money improving the world wherever she saw fit. Her personality made her a media darling after the Titanic disaster, and she leveraged her celebrity to promote various causes.

Mrs. Brown dove into high society, becoming a devotee of the arts and learning four languages. She raised funds for a cathedral in Denver, and helped establish the country’s first juvenile court. Two years after the Titanic, Brown ran for the U.S. Senate, but cut her campaign short to volunteer to help France recover from the first World War. She used her Titanic fame to work for workers’ rights, women’s rights, education, and historic preservation, before dying of a brain tumor at age 65.

Read more about the remarkable -and unsinkable- Margaret Brown at the A.V. Club.


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12 Fascinating Facts About Feminist Icon Nancy Drew

Fictional teenage sleuth Nancy Drew wasn't supposed to be a feminist. When publisher Edward Stratemeyer conceived the character, he was just adding to his empire of young reader book series that included The Hardy Boys, The Rover Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins.

The creator of the original Nancy Drew Series was actually a strident believer in “traditional” roles for women

While it’s no surprise that Edward Stratemeyer held these conservative views in the ’20s, he saw the success of the Hardy Boys series—in which brothers Frank and Joe Hardy solve mysteries—as an opportunity to develop a similar series for young girls. Previously, Stratemeyer’s former girl heroines were much more domestic, like Honey Bunch, a character, who the New Yorker points out, “knew exactly how to do a washing for she had watched the laundress many times.”

It was the authors who actually wrote the books who gave Nancy Drew the guts to do the things she did, particularly Mildred Wirt. Read about Wirt and learn a lot more about the history of the Nancy Drew mysteries at The Daily Dot.

(Image credit: Flickr user Abbey Hendrickson)


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Solar Eclipse on a Postage Stamp

The United States Postal Service is releasing a new stamp today that uses thermochromic ink to give us two different images on one stamp. The eclipse stamp is a commemoration of the total solar eclipse that will cross the U.S. on August 21.

The stamp image is a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, AZ, that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.

In the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink, the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamps will reveal a second image. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon (Espenak also took the photograph of the Full Moon). The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.

Stamp collectors (and people who take months to use a sheet of stamps) are warned to store the stamps away from sunlight to preserve the effect. You can buy a special envelope for them. The First-Day-of-Issue ceremony will be at the University of Wyoming library in Laramie today, during a summer solstice event. The eclipse stamps should roll out to post offices across the country soon. -via Metafilter


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Baby Enjoys a Rocking Horse

(YouTube link)

This horse knows what babies like! Just a slight push on the baby seat handle rocks the child and produces smiles and squeals of delight from 8-month-old Ruby. Her mother, Stacey Storer from Nottingham, England, said Ruby was tired and upset before Red started rocking her. That's a good horse. -via Tastefully Offensive

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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