Alex Santoso's Liked Blog Posts

The Origin of Halloween and Trick or Treating

How did Halloween come into being? And when did we start dressing up and going trick and treating anyhow?

Today I Found Out's newest YouTube clip explains it all:

The practice of wearing costumes or masks during this sort of end of Autumn celebration probably comes from a Celtic New Year’s Samhain tradition.

During Samhain, young men impersonated evil spirits by dressing up in white costumes with blackened faces or masks. It was believed that during the transition from one year to the next, the realms of the living and the dead would overlap, allowing the dead as well as evil spirits to roam the Earth. By dressing up as spirits, hopefully the real evil spirits would leave you alone, rather than rip out your entrails or otherwise harass you.

Watch the clip or go to Today I Found Out on the Origin of Halloween and Trick or Treating - Thanks Daven!

Love Halloween and cosplay? Check out our Halloween Blog!

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Texting while Driving: How Much Getting Caught Will Cost You in Various States

While fatal car crashes are on the decline, fatalities due to accidents involving cell phones - including talking on the phone and texting while driving - are on the rise. In fact, texting while driving is now the leading cause of death for crashes involving teenage drivers.

Forty seven out of 50 states in the United States have now banned texting and driving, with a wide range of fines. Mother Jones magazine has put together a map of how much it will cost you if you got caught, depending on the state. The fines range from $20 for first time offender in California (the fines go up for subsequent offenses) to a whopping $10,000 (and up to a year in prison) in Alaska.

Some states (Montana, Arizona and South Dakota), however, do not have any legislation banning texting and driving, whereas others impose the ban only on new drivers (like Texas, for example). In Florida and Ohio, drivers can be fined for texting but cannot be pulled over unless they break other laws first (like speeding, for example).

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Hipster Riding a Camel

John posted about the story of how Ashlee Owens rode her horse to the DMV to get her driver's license back - and that was hard to top, but I think I've found a mode of transportation that's even stranger. Behold, a hipster riding a camel in Södermalm, Sweden.

What can I say, dromedaries rule (even if it's an ad campaign for a comedy show making fun of hipsters. Heck, the camel even has his own Facebook page.)

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Nicholas Cage Morphsuits

Your Halloween costume may be cool, but it's not Nicholas Cage cool. Like the actor once said about his movie Face/Off, "Without tooting my own horn - I think it's a masterpiece." We wholeheartedly agree, Nick.

Imgur user RubberDogTurdsGIFS (what a name) uploaded these photos of what is probably one of the strangest Halloween costumes we'll see this year. Behold, the Nicholas Cage themed Morphsuits.

You can't put that bunny of awesomeness back in the box!

More Halloween Costumes over at our Halloween Blog

Love Halloween and cosplay? Check out our Halloween Blog!

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How Exactly Does the Tea Kettle Whistle?

Image: The Aeroacoustics of a Steam Kettle, The Physics of Fluids

Fresh from solving the mystery of why coffee rings form, physicists were eager to tackle life's next big question - one that has been puzzling scientists for over 100 years - namely, how does the tea kettle whistle?

In a basic sense, the reason why a tea kettle whistle when the water inside it reaches boiling temperatures, is obvious (it's the steam, duh!) But the physical source of the noise and the specific reason for the whistling sound had been unknown - until now.

Cambridge physicists Ross Henrywood and Anurag Agarwal made a series of simplified kettle whistles in a rig, then tested them by forcing air through them at various speeds and recording the sound they made. Here's what they found about how the tea kettle whistles:

Their results showed that, above a particular flow speed, the sound itself is produced by small vortices – regions of swirling flow – which at certain frequencies can produce noise.

As steam comes up the kettle’s spout, it meets a hole at the start of the whistle, which is much narrower than the spout itself. This contracts the flow of steam as it enters the whistle and creates a jet of steam passing through it. The steam jet is naturally unstable, like the jet of water from a garden hose that starts to break into droplets after it has travelled a certain distance. As a result, by the time it reaches the end of the whistle, the jet of steam is no longer a pure column, but slightly disturbed.

These instabilities cannot escape perfectly from the whistle and as they hit the second whistle wall, they form a small pressure pulse. This pulse causes the steam to form vortices as it exits the whistle. These vortices produce sound waves, creating the comforting noise that heralds a forthcoming cup of tea.

Well, that's neat, you may say, but what's the big deal about figuring that out? Henrywood explained that the whistling effect is actually quite common and figuring out how the sound is made is the first step toward getting rid of it. "The effect we have identified can actually happen in all sorts of situations - anything where the structure containing a flow of air is similar to that of a kettle whistle."

"Pipes inside a building are one classic example and similar effects are seen inside damaged vehicle exhaust systems. Once we know where the whistle is coming from, and what’s making it happen, we can potentially get rid of it," he added.

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Baby's Dream Adventures

Inspired by the creative works of Adele Enersen, Anna Eftimie and Anne Geddes, freelance artist and mother-of-three Queenie Liao imagines the dream of her child Wengenn. In her album Wengenn in Wonderland, Liao composed more than 100 creative photos of her then-three-month-old son.

Liao's imagination seems boundless - she's dressed up her sleeping son using readily available things in her home - to create the various themes of the photos. Liao said to Bored Panda, "Every day just before Wengenn's nap, I would imagine him being the main character in one of my favorite episodes, and 'paint' a background setting with plain clothes, stuffed animals, and other common household materials, just like how an artist would with her paint brushes."

Liao has published a book in Taiwan titled "sleepy Baby" that provided step-by-step details of how some of her pictures were taken, and is working on the English-version of the book.

Bored Panda has plenty more neat photos - via My Modern Met

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See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Nail Salon for Guys Wants to Put the MAN back in Manicure

A nail shop in Los Angeles is putting the "man" back in manicure. The HAMMER AND NAILS (hah! Get it?), which will open in November 2013, is unlike any other nail salon. The macho man cave decor with big, manly leather chairs should tell you one thing straight: this is a nail shop for guys.

Screenwriter Michael Elliot (who wrote the 2010 romcom Just Write, starring Queen Latifah and Common) got the idea when he went to a nail salon in LA and struck up a conversation with the only other guy there. "It was just clear that we both felt uncomfortable, and we talked about how uncomfortable this is. I asked a lot of my other guy friends about their experiences and realized I wasn’t alone,” Elliot told Cheryl Wischhover of Fashionista. “I have always hated going to get a mani just because of that feeling of walking in the door and it seems like all the women kind of look at you like, ‘What are you doing here?’ and it’s just awful.”

How did the saying go again? Oh, yeah: "I don't always get a mani pedi, but when I do ..."

Elliot has got an ambitious goal: he wanted the average American man to be his customers, and to make manicures for dudes as common as haircuts. "There’s this misconception that only metrosexual men would get a mani or pedi, or only gay men,” Elliot said. “I want to make nail care as common as getting a haircut and I feel like creating the right environment is key to that."

We'll see if he can, ahem, nail it soon. Thanks Travis!

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The Great Showdowns

Can't we all just get a long? Illustrator Scott Campbell (AKA Scott C.) of Pyramid Car shows how all of us can come together and live in harmony in his series The Great Showdowns.

"Since the beginning of time, there has been struggle," Campbell wrote in his blog, "The epic clash of being against being. Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Triceratops. Giant Squid vs. the Sperm Whale. The Circle vs. the Square." So he decided to chronicle some of the greatest confrontations ... the greatest showdowns, in movie history. Except, instead of anger and violence, Scott depicted these encounters with smiles and cuteness.

The Verge asked Scott why he depicted the characters as happy, even though they are antagonists in the movies. Scott replied, "I suppose that brings them all onto the same level no matter how terrifying or sad the conflict in the film actually is. I like [it] when people are feeling pleased. They all look pleased as if they were all enjoying each other's company at a party and reminiscing on great moments together."

And on that note, here are some neat examples of Campbell's The Great Showdowns. See if you recognize the characters and the movies that inspired them:

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Disney Imagineers Tested the Haunted Mansion Special Effects on the Unsuspecting Night Time Cleaning Crew

Note: We're happy to introduce a new experimental feature on Neatorama! Our NeatoFacto blog features self-contained "neat fact" graphics that's easily shareable on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

We hope you like it! And remember, please share it along!

It took twenty years for Walt Disney to create the Haunted Mansion. The whole thing actually began well before Disneyland came into being. Disney had always wanted a spooky haunted house attraction for the theme park (he even commissioned Disney Legend Harper Goff to draw some sketches), but Disneyland opened in 1955 without it.

Three years later, Disney decided to expand Disneyland and the effort to create the Haunted Mansion began in earnest. The first plan for the mansion called for an old New Orleans-style antebellum manor with boarded doors and windows and overgrown with weeds and dead trees. Disney, however, didn't like the idea of a run-down building in his park and said, "We'll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside."

Neatorama Facts: Haunted Mansion

Disney put Imagineers Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey in charge of building the Haunted Mansion special effects. The two had plenty of ideas and apparently often left the special effects running all night long. The night cleaning crew were spooked and complained to the management, who in turn, asked Crump and Gracey not to scare them off.

But instead of leaving the lights on and the special effects off, Crump and Gracey decided to connect their "spectral effects" to a motion-detector switch. When the duo came in the morning, they found a broom hastily left in the middle of their studios. The Imagineers had to clean their studios by themselves from that point on, as management told them that the night cleaning crew were never coming back.

Bonus Fact: The Real Ghost that Visited Haunted Mansion Creator Yale Gracey

When they were working on the Haunted Mansion special effects, Crump asked Gracey whether he had any experience with the supernatural. "Oh yeah, I had a ghost read to me when I was 10 years old," Yale replied without hesitation, as reported by Disney History Institute.

Crump told the story, which went like this: When Gracey was a child, he and his mother went to visit relatives on the East Coast for the summer. They lived in a big old house, and Gracey and his cousins would sleep together in a large bedroom, with an old lady who lived in the closet. The lady would come out and read stories to the kids, under the condition that the children do not talk about the lady to the grownups or she'd disappear forever.

At the end of the summer, Gracey's mother asked him what he liked best about the vacation and the small boy replied, "The little lady that lives in the closet that reads to us every night." Gracey's mom was surprised and the children were mad at him, saying "No, no, Yale, she'll never come back."

Crump said that Gracey's mother was so concerned that she went to the local history society and found a photo of the woman who lived there. When she showed it to the kids, they said that she was the lady that lived in the closet.

Did Gracey make the whole thing up? Disney History Institute reported that Crump swore that this was exactly as Gracey had told him. "Yale would never make anything up. He was about as straight as they come," Crump added, "As far as I'm concerned it's true. It can't be any truer than that."

Love trivia? Find more neat trivia over at NeatoFacto

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Real Life Postman Pat and His Black and White Cat

YouTube clip - via Arbroath

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will prevent your loyal postman from delivering mail, but a friendly black and white cat can most definitely delay it a little bit!

Here's postman Patrick McIntyre, who was delivering a parcel when he knelt down to write out a card for a customer when a neighborhood cat decided to make friends.

Okay. A postman. Named Pat. With a black and white cat. Now that can't be a coincidence! Amirite? Special Delivery Service!

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Ben & Jerry's Anchorman Ice Cream: Scotchy Scotch Scotch

If you love scotch - Scotchy Scotch Scotch like Ron Burgundy of Anchorman and you want it to go down, down into your belly - well, you're in luck.

Ben & Jerry's, which is kind of like a big deal in the ice cream business, is releasing a new flavor of ice cream, named Scotchy Scotch Scotch, as a tie-in to the sequel movie Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. It's Butterscotch ice cream with Butterscotch Swirls. By the beard of Zeus, noo actual Scotch, sadly. But still, don't act like you're not impressed.

The flavor was unveiled in an event kicked off with - what else? - a performance by Nutty the Waterskiing Squirrel, followed with a Ben & Jerry's ice cream truck decked out to look like Channel 4 News truck (complete with blazer-wearing Ron Burgundy look-alikes).

Burgundy himself was pleased that Ben & Jerry's released the new ice cream flavor. "I hope [they] consider my other suggestion. Malt liquor marshmallow, well liquor bourbon peanut butter, and cheap white wine sherbert," he added.

We're not sure whether the ice cream comes with its own trident spoon, but it should. And kudos to Ben & Jerry's, who stayed classy, for creating this. They're so wise. And Jerry Greenfield - the Jerry in Ben & Jerry's - is actually like a (not so) miniature Buddha, covered in hair. After all, 60 percent of the time, limited edition movie tie-ins like this works all the time.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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5 Fun Facts about Mole Day

The Scientific Mole T-Shirt by Nathan Mazur from the NeatoShop

Today, October 23 (or 10/23, as it's written the American way), from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm, is Mole Day. No, it's not a day for freckles, spies, Mexican sauce, or cute little burrowing mammals. Rather it's the day to celebrate the chemical unit the "mole."

What is a mole, you ask, having forgotten high school chemistry. A mole of something is 6.02 x 10^23 of it (kind of like a dozen of eggs is 12 eggs, a mole of eggs is 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 eggs*.)

*okay, technically, it's 602,214,129,270,000,000,000,000 eggs (give or take a few quintillion - scientists can't agree on the exact number).

So, with that out of the way, here are 5 fun facts about the mole and Mole Day:

1. The mole is attributed to 18th century Italian scientist Amedeo Avogadro, whose full name is Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro di Queregna e di Cerreto.

Man, that's a long name, but it somehow fits the long number that now bears his name (6.02 x 10^23 is called Avogadro's Constant). His parents called him Amedeo Carlo Avogadro.

We won't get into the technical aspects, but in 1811 Avogadro proposed a law (now known as Avogadro's Law) stating that equal volume of all gasses, at the same temperature and presssure, have the same number of molecules.

As with many scientific accomplishments of that age, Avogadro's findings were promptly ignored. It took about a hundred years for the scientific community to get around to appreciating what he's done. In 1909, French chemist and Nobel laureate Jean Baptiste Perrin proposed that quantity of molecules be called "Avogadro's Constant."

2. Mole Day was proposed in an article in The Science Teacher in early 1980s. Inspired by the article, Maurice Oehler, a chemistry teacher (now retired) in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, created the National Mole Day Foundation in 1991.

3. Did you know that the Mole Day has annual themes? Here they are:

1991 The Mole The Merrier
1992 Go For The Mole
1993 Mole Out The Barrel
1994 An Ace in The Mole
1995 Moledi Gras
1996 Molemorial Day
1997 We Dig Chemistry
1998 Ride the Molercoaster
1999 It's A MOLE World
2000 Celebrate the Molennium
2001 Molar Odyssey
2002 Molar Reflections
2003 Rock 'n Mole
2004 Pi a la MOLE
2005 Moles-Go-Round
2006 Mole Madness
2007 Secret Agent Double Mole Seven in Moles are Forever
2008 Remember the Alamole
2009 Molar Express
2010 Moles of the Round Table
2011 Molar Eclipse
2012 Animole Kingdom

4. To help you celebrate, here's the Molemorial Day song by Michael Offutt (that's the theme of the Mole Day in 1996, when Offutt recorded the song). Actually Offutt created a whole album, titled "Molennium," filled with songs about the mole.

(YouTube clip - via Metafilter)

5. As you can probably guess, a mole (6.02 x 10^23) is a VERY large number. But, what does a mole of moles look like? What if we release a mole of moles onto our planet? xkcd explains:

An eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) weighs about 75 grams, which means a mole of moles weighs (6.022×10^23)×75g≈4.52×10^22kg.

That’s a little over half the mass of our moon.

Mammals are largely water. A kilogram of water takes up a liter of volume, so if the moles weigh 4.52×10^22 kilograms, they take up about 4.52×10^22 liters of volume. You might notice that we’re ignoring the pockets of space between the moles. In a moment, you’ll see why.

The cube root of 4.52×10^22 liters is 3,562 kilometers, which means we’re talking about a sphere with a radius of 2,210 kilometers, or a cube 2,213 miles on each edge. (That’s a neat coincidence I’ve never noticed before—a cubic mile happens to be almost exactly 4/3pi cubic kilometers, so a sphere with a radius of X kilometers has the same volume as a cube that’s X miles on each side.)

If these moles were released onto the Earth’s surface, they’d fill it up to 80 kilometers deep—just about to the (former) edge of space:

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Why Batman Broke Up with Catwoman

Poor Batman. It's no wonder that the Dark Knight is so gloomy - he's just no good at relationships.

First, it was Julie Madison who broke it off with him after his father died at the hands of Sal "The Boss" Maroni (who threw acid at Harvey Dent, turning him into Two Face).

Next was Silver St. Cloud, who discovered Bruce Wayne's secret and dumped him because she didn't want to live with the constant fear of losing him (she later reconnected with Batman after her fiance was killed by the Joker, but in a twist of fate, she was herself killed by yet another one of Batman's enemies).

Then, there was Rachel Caspian, the woman for whom Batman was willing to end his crimefighting career to marry. But she turned out to be the daughter of the murderous Reaper, and as penance for her father's crime, she became a nun.

Oh, and who can forget Sasha Bordeaux, who helped Batman fight crime but was framed and put in jail for a murder she did not commit. There, she was injured by other prisoners and was turned into a cyborg by a secret governmental spy agency.

The list goes on and on, as explained over at DC Comics Database, and as you can see, being Batman's girlfriend is often dangerous to a woman's health. So, if the Caped Crusader asked you to be part of his Dynamic Duo, the right answer is to run away as fast as you could.

In any case, Dan Piraro of Bizarro managed to get the scoop on the reason for Batman's latest flameout with Catwoman.

Previously: Robin's Costume and Batman, Master of Disguise by Bizarro | More Bizarro Comic on Neatorama

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Pig Chair

Meet Hillhock, a hand stitched, dusty pink velvet and pink satin-upholstered chair, with two hand carved walnut hooves and two glass taxidermy eyes.

The oink-worthy porcine furniture, made by Philadelpia-based Etsy seller Pavia Burroughs, is comfy enough for your tush and is definitely easy on the eyes. Why, it's perfect for any decor! (Can't you imagine yourself sitting comfortably in the pig chair, eating strips of bacon?)

View this and more animal-inspired furnitures over at io9.

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Willie Nelson Cake

America, country music legend Willie Nelson once said, is freedom. Freedom to make a cake bearing his likeness, that is.

Natalie Sideserf of Sideserf Cake Studio in Austin, Texas, really takes it to the limit with her Willie Nelson cake. She won "Best of All Divisions" in Austin's "That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show" by Capital Confectioners back in February 2013. The half a man cake features Nelson's signature bandana and braided hair. Words don't fit the picture, but you can almost taste Willie's guitar twang just lookin' at the cake.

Oh, cake. I love you a thousand ways.

Via Laughing Squid

Previously on Neatorama: Cakenweenie: Cakes for Tim Burton's Birthday, also by Sideserf Cake Studio.

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The Chinese Don't Understand Why the French Don't Like to Work

As the saying goes, hard work never killed anybody, but the French aren't taking any chances*. The country's left-leaning government is famous for instituting a controversial 35-hour workweek and a ban on stores from opening on Sundays. (*kidding - no hate mail, please!)

There is one segment of the French population who's perplexed at the notion that working less is good for you: the Chinese immigrants, who are taking over France's "bar tabac" (basically a small pub/shop selling tobacco and other small items) businesses through hard work.

"As I see it, when you work, you're paid. So why stop at 35 hours?" Zhang Chang, owner of Cafe Le Marais in central Paris, said to Reuters. "We the Chinese think all the unemployment is because people can't work enough," added Xiao, a restaurant owner nearby.

Native French bar-tabac owners are being outcompeted left and right. Patric Loubiere, who runs a bar-tabac that his parents started a generation ago lamented, "I'm the only one left. The younger generation doesn't want to do it. It's too early in the morning for some, too late at night for others. They're getting lazy."

But not everyone admires the Chinese immigrants' work ethics. French authorities pointed to a report that shows while some entrepreneurs are enjoying economic success, many immigrants are actually being exploited - they're forced to work long hours for little pay in restaurants and sweatshops. Some accuse Chinese bar-tabac owners of not paying taxes.

According to Reuters, conservative magazine Le Pointe published an article asking "How the devil do they do it?" and answered it with these "five commandments":

1) work 80 hours a week 2) sleep in your shop 3) don't pay your employees as they are family members 4) don't contribute to the system and 5) don't pay taxes.

Do the conservatives have a valid point here? Or are the Chinese beating the French by working harder? What do you think?

Alexandria Sage and Nicholas Vinocur has the full story over at Reuters. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

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Autocomplete Truths about Gender Inequality

Christopher Hunt of Ogilvy & Mather Dubai used Google autocomplete to bring attention to gender inequality in this print ad campaign for United Nations Women.

Hunt noted that the advertisements, titled Auto Complete Truth, used actual Google search autocomplete results, as queried on March 9, 2013. While different Google users in various countries may see different results, some of the autocompletes referenced in the ad showed in our own quick test (see below for the different autocomplete results for search queries for the exact term, but using "men" instead of "women.")

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40 Year Old's Temper Tantrum

No, that's not the Tea Partiers throwing a temper tantrum.

Kathy Sterner was getting fed up that her 6-year-old daughter was throwing a tantrum in her room. Thankfully, dad was there to provide a bit of comic relief: he lip-synched the kid's tantrum and mom captured the whole thing on video.

Oh, and for the record, Sterner said that her daughter is "not typically a beast child - she's actually a pretty awesome little kid who was having a rough day." Make that an Internet-famous little kid who just had her tantrum broadcast for the entire world to see.

View the video clip over at YouTube - via Tastefully Offensive and Laughing Squid.

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Doctor Who 50th Episode Trailer Featuring All 11 Doctors

To celebrate 50 years of time travel, BBC is releasing a special episode of Doctor Who, titled The Day of the Doctor starring Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor, of course) and David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor), with Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), and John Hurt (Doctor Who? That's part of the mystery).

To whet your appetite, the BBC has released this minute-long trailer, featuring all 11 Doctors:

(This trailer does not include any actual footage of the 50th episode)

Doctor Who writer Steve Moffat told Digital Spy, "Most things that have been said about the 50th are not true ... Normally I am responsible for the disinformation and the rubbish rumors - I usually put them out myself, but I haven't needed to for this one" He added, "People are spinning off the most amazing things - it's absolutely mental!"

Matt Smith, on the other hand, teased Doctor Who fans with just one word: "Paintings. That's all I'm saying."

Well, we'll find out on November 23, 2013.

Doctor Who items on sale at the NeatoShop - save up to 40% off (while supplies last)

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The Public Urinal That Proved Paris is the World's Most Modern City

Photo: Charles Marville/Musee Carnavalet/Roger-Viollet

Well, in 1876 when the photo above was taken by photographer Charles Marville, Paris certainly was the most modern city in the world.

In the early 1850s, Napoleon III commissioned urban planner Baron Georges-Eugene Haussman with the task of making Paris the most modern city in the world. Back then, the city was just as it was during Medieval times. It didn't have a sewer system, so people would simply throw waste out onto the street.

As part of the modernization effort, Haussman installed outdoor facilities including pissoirs or public urinals for men shown above. These crude structures don't look like much today, but it got the job done. It had no roof, but it provided privacy where it was needed, and it was certainly better than urinating on the streets.

Charles Marville, the photographer who snapped the photo above, was commissioned to document Haussman's transformation of Paris. His photographs are currently on display National Gallery of Art. Curator Sarah Kennel talked to Susan Stamberg of NPR about the photos that Marville took - read and listen to the story over at NPR's The Picture Show.

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This Isn't Living, Dammit!

Did that hit too close to hom? NeatoShop artist and cartoonist extraordinaire Mike Jacobsen drew a panel that tells it like it is: we're just moving pixels around, folks - for a living and for entertainment alike (where day is like "Good bye Excel, Hello Xbox!")

View more of Jacobsen's bitingly funny webcomics over at his blog See Mike Draw, then head on over to his NeatoShop catalog to see some of them in T-shirt form. (Go buy something, so he doesn't have to spend all day in his cubicle coming up with cartoon ideas wontcha?)

Some of Mike's designs from the NeatoShop:

Iron Droid Battle Damage When Worlds Collide You Are What You Eat

Links: T-Shirts by Mike Jacobsen | Funny T-shirts

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The Office Hobo

Image: Evan Hughes

My kids call my office "the place where Daddy lives," and judging by the amount of hours that I spend at NeatoHQ, they're technically correct. But I do go "home" to shower and sleep - not so for The Office Hobo, who lives - and we really do mean live - at his office.

One day last winter, The Office Hobo stopped by his office late at night after running errands to find that the place is nice and quiet - "No thumping bass from the upstairs neighbors. No security guard manning the premises, either. Someone could be here all night ... and not a soul would be wiser," he wrote in a blog post over at LA Weekly. Someone, in theory, could live in that office.

Then, over the summer, after a series of financial setback and the general feeling of being tired of paying rent, The Office Hobo revisited the idea of living in his office:

This is my experiment. It is rent boycotting. It is selective homelessness. I prefer to call it "home-free" living.

On Aug. 1, 2012, I packed my bags, secured a gym membership for shower access, and moved into my office. Save for a short hiatus of apartment living during the winter, I have been living there since.

I've chosen to remain anonymous to protect my company. None of my co-workers knows I'm living here. The people I work with are wonderful people; I want neither to accept their sympathy nor take advantage of their kindness. This presents a series of obstacles, and yes, I expend great energy to accommodate their schedules.

So far, The Office Hobo has been living in his office, secretly, for over 260 days.

But how does he do it? Where does he sleep? The Office Hobo offered a set of FAQs:

1. Where do you sleep?

I sleep on the floor behind my desk.

Initially, I had a twin-sized air mattress that fit perfectly behind my desk. But that mattress has since popped. For a while, I had been using my inflatable backpacking sleeping pad, but that became more trouble than the inch of cushion was worth. So instead of purchasing a replacement air mattress, I’ve been sleeping on some couch cushions. Since I’ve done so, I’ve had no back pain and have slept like a baby. A baby in an office.

As a backup plan, I sometimes take this setup to the walk-in storage closet. While hardly ideal, this lowers the likelihood of being caught in the act of not being awake.

2. Doesn't sleeping in your office suck though?

Yes and no. There is very little traffic in the office and the hours are generally predictable. The office has its own dedicated entrance, free parking, and is located near to the necessities. It has a sink and toilet, as well as a kitchenette. But it is a shared office. There are a series of cubicles and a handful of coworkers’ schedules to keep track of. So practically it requires some flexibility on my part. But so did paying over a grand per month in rent.

It's not all easy livin', though, like when his co-worker stopped by unexpectedly:

... back in March, when my co-worker stopped by unannounced to drop off a tray of files on a Sunday. Somehow, I managed to tidy my cubicle and bolt to the staff bathroom in a matter of seconds.

It was a close call. And hiding in a unisex washroom is, admittedly, a humbling experience. But the way I see it, inconveniences like these constitute my "rent." What others pay in earnings from countless hours of labor, I forfeit in sporadic exercises of self-deprecation. Having experienced both, I can't say my situation is any worse.

My situation just requires a little extra attention to detail. When I wake up in the morning, I always return my triple-sofa-cushion bedding to the same spot, zippers facing in. My belongings — the ones I haven't given away — are stuffed in odd corners of the office, placed one at a time over the first few weeks with frog-in-a-frying-pan success. I keep the fridge clear, opting instead to over-frequent the local sandwich shop and burrito stand. Sometimes I'll even run morning errands and show up "late for work."

The Office Hobo was content and happy to live the rent-free life, but then one day, he met a woman. A woman that he wants to be with ... and wants to be with him that night. Read what happened next over at LA Weekly's Arts & Culture Blog Public Spectacle, where The Office Hobo guestblogged.

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Gravity vs. Gravity Poster

via Accordion Guy

Newton wins again!

I can't say anything about the movie as I haven't watched it (the only thing I know about it is that @HardSciFiMovies debunked it as such, "While repairing the Hubble Telescope a small group of astronauts encounter high-velocity cloud of debris. They die.")

So, Neatoramanauts, is Gravity worth watching? (and if Gravity let you down, did you, ahem, deserve what you got?)

Oh, and talking about Newton and gravity, here's a tidbit from Neatorama's popular post Ten Strange Facts About Newton:

3. Newton and His Apple: The True Story

The story (popularized by Voltaire, no less!) said that Newton was inspired when he saw a falling apple while walking around his family's garden at Woolsthorpe Manor, to formulate his theory of universal gravitation (some version even claimed the apple fell on his head!).

Newton himself actually said that he was staring out the window in his house when he saw an apple fall from a tree.

Whatever happened to the tree? The King's School in Grantham, Linconshire, England, where Newton went to school, claimed to have purchased the tree and moved it to its garden. Naturally, this is a bone of contention with the Woolsthorpe Manor people who are currently in charge of the upkeep of Newton's home (now a historic site). (Source: Newton's Apple [wiki])

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Zombie Car

What's underneath this massive, overgrown, pile of leaves? Believe it or not, it's a car. A zombie car, actually.

The abandoned old blue van was found parked on a street in Huayang village, China. Residents of the neighborhood called it the "zombie car" or "jiangshiche" a term that has been used to call abandoned vehicles in China. Photo of this particular zombie car went viral on China's Weibo social network.

See also: Houses Covered in Kudzu

Hello! Who's in there?

When police officials tracked down the owner, he told them that he sold the car three years ago but didn't remember anything about the buyer. Police tried to remove the vines but soon gave up. Instead, they opted to tow the whole thing as is:

NBC News's Behind The Wall has more on this nifty story.

Photos: CFP

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IBM's New Computer is Powered by "Electronic Blood"

A supercomputer that is fueled with blood? It's coming! IBM scientists have created a new supercomputer inspired by the human brain and is powered by what they call "electronic blood."

Patrick Ruch and Bruno Michel of IBM Research lab in Zurich, Switzerland, wanted to "fit a supercomputer inside a sugarcube." But in order to do that, they'd have to model it after the human brain, which is 10,000 times more dense and efficient than any computer today. "The brain uses 40% of its volume for functional performance - and only 10% for energy and cooling," said Michel to the BBC. Compare that to the world's fastest current supercomputer, which uses 99% of its volume devoted to cooling and powering, and only 1% for processing information. The human brain is made possible, Michel added, "because it uses only one - extremely efficient - network of capillaries and blood vessels to transport heat and energy - all at the same time."

So, the pair have created a "bionic" computing architecture, which uses "electronic blood" of charged electrolytes to provide fuel and cooling to computer chips.

Read more over at this intriguing article by James Morgan over at the BBC.

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Yeti is Polar Bear Hybrid, According to Genetics Study

I Heart Yeti from the NeatoShop

Darn you, science! First, it ruined the dinosaurs, and now, it's ruining the yeti.

According to Oxford University genetics professor Bryan Sykes, hair samples discovered in the Himalaya mountains attributed to the cryptozoological beast actually belong to a real biological ho-hum animal: a polar bear/brown bear hybrid.

LiveScience reports:

... using DNA analysis from two different hair samples — one from a strange animal shot by a hunter about 40 years ago in northern India's Ladakh region, and a second sample found in a Bhutan bamboo forest 10 years ago — geneticist Bryan Sykes of the University of Oxford claims to have linked those samples to the jawbone of an ancient polar bear found in Norway.

Sykes speculated that there could be a subspecies of the brown bear in the High Himalayas that is the descendant of the ancestor of the polar bear, or a recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear.

Well, there is a silver lining in this discovery. For one, it suggests that the Yeti is quite real. Sykes told The Telegraph, "This is a species that hasn’t been recorded for 40,000 years. Now, we know one of these was walking around ten years ago. And what’s interesting is that we have found this type of animal at both ends of the Himalayas. If one were to go back, there would be others still there."

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Why Texas is America's Future

Oh, Texas.

The largest state in the 48 contiguous United States and the second most populous is often the bottom of jokes (what's the four seasons in Texas? Drought, flood, blizzard and twister). Sure, it's got terribly hot and humid weather, relatively high crime rates, not-so-great schools, and cowboys.

But the Lone Star state has a lot of things going for it (besides having our very own John Farrier as a resident), like plenty of land, oil, low taxes and of course, cowboys.

And what's more, Texas is going to be the future. More exactly, the future of the United States of America will look more like Texas than any other place in the nation. Tyler Cowen, economist and author of the book Average is Over, explains in this week's cover story of TIME Magazine:

Texas is America's fastest-growing large state, with three of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country ...

As an economist and a libertarian, I have become convinced that whether they know it or not, these migrants are being pushed (and pulled) by the major economic forces that are reshaping the American economy as a whole: the hollowing out of the middle class, the increased costs of living in the U.S.'s established population centers and the resulting search by many Americans for a radically cheaper way to live and do business.

To a lot of Americans, Texas feels like the future. And I would argue that more than any other state, Texas looks like the future as well — offering us a glimpse of what's to come for the country at large in the decades ahead.

Cowen lists 10 reasons why Texas is America's future, as excerpted by Ryan Sager at TIME Ideas. For example:

5. Cheap land, cheap houses

So where can people go when their incomes aren’t keeping pace with the rising cost of living? We know they’re headed to Texas. And they’re headed there because land is cheap, and thus housing is cheap.

A typical home in Brooklyn costs more than half a million dollars (and rising rapidly), and 85% of these dwellings are apartments and condos rather than stand-alone homes. They don’t usually have impressive sinks and seamlessly operating air-conditioning fixtures. In Houston, the typical home costs $130,100 — and it is likely a stand-alone and newer than the structure in Brooklyn.

Housing is bigger — and cheaper — in Texas.

6. Cheap living generally

"The lower house prices, along with a generally low cost of living — helped along by cheap labor, cheap produce and cheap gas (currently about $3 a gallon) — really matter when it comes to quality of life … Texas has a higher per capita income than California, adjusted for cost of living, and nearly catches up with New York by the same measure. Once you factor in state and local taxes, Texas pulls ahead of New York — by a wide margin. The website MoneyRates ranks states on the basis of average income, adjusting for tax rates and cost of living; once those factors are accounted for, Texas has the third highest average income (after Virginia and Washington State), while New York ranks 36th."

7. Jobs

"In the past 12 months, Texas has added 274,700 new jobs — that’s 12% of all jobs added nationwide and 51,000 more than California added … In fact, from 2002 to 2011, with 8% of the U.S. population, Texas created nearly one-third of the country’s highest-paying jobs."

8. Low taxes

Texas has no income tax. Per resident, it collects roughly $3,500 in taxes overall (including all state and local taxes) every year. By way of contrast, California collects $4,900 per resident — New York collects a whopping $7,400 per resident. Both states, of course, have income taxes.

People are going to Texas because it’s a low-cost, low-tax state. But they’re also migrating to other Sun Belt states, like Colorado, Arizona and South Carolina, which have similar policy profiles.

Read the rest over at TIME Ideas

(Image: Sarah Illenberger for TIME)

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Red Hot Nickel Ball Has Finally Met Its Match!

Remember the video clip of the guy dropping a red hot nickel ball onto stuff?

We've featured a clip where the red hot nickel ball is put on top of a block of ice, but Youtube user carsandwater has put said nickel ball on things like meat, ballistic gelatin, a cup of water (nice!), watermelon and so on.

But the red hot nickel ball has finally found its match: a blob of Aerogel, the lightest man-made solid composed of 99.98% air is such an excellent insulator that the nickel ball did nothing to it!


YouTube Clip - via Gizmodo

Bonus: What would happen if you put the red hot nickel ball onto a bowl of pop rocks? Well, wonder no more!

Continue reading

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Which State Has The Best Food?

Image: Jim Cooke

Do you consider your hometown dish to be the best food in the United States of America? We'll see about that.

Albert Burneko wrote an article over at Deadspin where he ranked the best and the worst of signature food from all 50 states of the USA. Did your favorite food make the list? Did Burneko fail to rank your state's food appropriately? Why did he rank Ohio's Cincinnati Chili lower than "being hit by a car"? I mean, worse than Alaska's whipped seal oil and berries delicacy known as akutaq? And what happened to Nevada's state food, anyway?

But first, the 10 best regional food in America:

1. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (Illinois)
2. Shirmp and grits (South Carolina)
3. Mission-style burrito (California)
4. Crab cake (Maryland)
5. Peach pie/cobbler (Georgia)
6. Gumbo (Louisiana)
7. Key lime pie (Florida)
8. Fried green tomatoes (Alabama)
9. Stacked enchilada with green chile (New Mexico)
10. Marionberry pie (Oregon)

... then we'll skip down to the bottom 10:

41. Michigan pasty (Michigan)
42. Chislic (South Dakota)
43. Green Jell-O with carrots
44. Lutefisk (North Dakota)
45. Salt water taffy
45. Handheld meat pies (Nebraska)
46. Akutaq (Alaska)
47. Boiled dinner (New Hampshire)
48. Nothing (Nevada)
49. Steamed cheeseburger (Connecticut)
50. Cincinnati chili (Ohio)

What's your state food and did it rank correctly in the list? Read the full list over at Deadspin

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Twi-Am by Dann Matthews

How many horsepower is in that car again? Dann Matthews mashed up the magical power of ponies with America's favorite muscle car. Perfect for your favorite Brony!

Visit Dann at his official website and Facebook page, then check out his NeatoShop page for more neat shirts. Your purchase helps support indie artists as well as this blog, so thank you in advance for your support!

Snow-Am Flutter-Am Derp-Am Dash-Am

View more designs by Dann Matthews | More Funny T-shirts

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