The festival known as Up Helly Aa happens in Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland, on the last Tuesday in January, which was the 29th this year. The celebration is led by the elected Guizer Jarl, or head Viking, and his Jarl Squad, clad in different historic uniforms each year. The squad performs various ceremonial duties during the day, and at night the town's lights are turned off while they lead a procession of up to a thousand men carrying torches while thousands more watch. The public is not allowed to watch the end of the procession, in which the torches are used to ceremoniously burn a Viking galley. After the boat is burned, the guizers return to the village for parties and merrymaking. The festival began in the 1800s as rowdy street parties around Christmas evolved into more civilized rituals. A group of young men introduced the Viking theme into the celebrations around 1870. The oldest and biggest Up Helly Aa is at Lerwick, but other towns in Shetland carry on the rituals as well. There is yet no video of the 2013 fire procession on YouTube, but this report from the BBC from Tuesday gives you a good idea of what happened. Link -via the Presurfer
Is there intelligent life in TV's outer space? You decide.
"Is there anyone on this ship, who, even remotely, looks like Satan?" -Kirk
Tuvok: "The phaser beam would ricochet along an unpredictable path, possibly impacting our ship in the process."
Janeway: "All right, we won't try that."
"Mr. Spock, the women in your planet are logical. That's the only planet in the galaxy that can make that claim." -Kirk
"I'm a doctor, not an escalator." -McCoy
"I must say, there's nothing like the vacuum of space for preserving a handsome corpse." -Doctor
"I'm attempting to construct a mnemonic memory circuit, using stone knives and bearskins." -Spock
"The best diplomat I know is a fully-loaded phaser bank." -Scotty
"Mr. Neelix, do you think you could possibly behave a little less like yourself?" -Tuvok
"What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?" -McCoy
"Time travel, from my first day on the job I promised myself I'd never let myself get caught up in one of those God-forsaken paradoxes. The future is the past; the past is the future. It all gives me a headache." -Janeway
"It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent." -Q
Data: "Tell me, are you using a polymer-based neuro-relay to transmit organic nerve impulses to the central processor of my positronic net?"
Borg Queen: "Do you always talk this much?"
"The weak innocents …they always seem to be located on the natural invasion routes." -Kirk
"I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer." -McCoy
These quotes reminded me of a video. Continue reading to see it.
They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs till you find your prince. Or, you could skip the whole kissing and just get the Magic Frog to Prince from the NeatoShop. Just open the cap, fill with cold water, and watch the frog turn into a prince. If only everything in life were this simple.
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Are you looking for the perfect apron to show off your flirty side? Don the Be My Valentine Bib Bombshell Apron from the NeatoShop. This fetching apron features a pocket and has adjustable ties at the waist and neck. It is practical and fun.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Aprons.
Are you looking to create the ultimate weapon against a warm beverage? Arm yourself with the Death Star Ice Cube Tray from the NeatoShop. This formidable tray makes an ice sphere in the shape of the Death Star. It makes a wonderful addition to your empire.
See more Star Wars Ice Trays. Buy one or collect all 7!
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more fantastic Star Wars items.
Are you looking to pick up the perfect Valentine's Day treat for your sweet? Let your love shine through with the Heart Tongs from the NeatoShop. This lucious kitchen gadget is perfect for serving up some food for the soul.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Kitchen Stuff.
In 1949 Charles and Ray Eames constructed Case Study House No. 8. This beautiful landmark of modern architecture still stands on the 1.4-acre property in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles on which it was erected. The Eames house is regarded as a structural masterpiece. One that integrated a concept of harmony between the live and work home.
Now, with the Eames House Blocks set from the NeatoShop, you can inspire your budding architect to build equally impressive and striking structures. Structures that provoke a love of language, mathematics, and a unity with the playtime environment.
Thirty-six blocks are included in this striking set. Twenty blocks for the house and 16 blocks for the studio. They are handcrafted from sustainable Michigan basswood and hand painted with non-toxic ink.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more stimulating Educational & Science Toys.
Jonty Hurwitz's three-dimensional objects look like amorphous blobs or a random assortment of objects. But when viewed from certain angles and often in mirrors, their intended impressions suddenly become clear. Hurwitz begins the creative process by scanning a three-dimensional object, then uses computational software to work out alternate physical forms. You can view many more examples at the link.
Self-inflicted torture? Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno are the hosts of the Dutch TV show Guinea Pigs. Last week they explored what women experience (sort of) by submitting to simulated labor pains via electrodes, to the delight of the audience and women who administered them. The difference is that they only did it for ten minutes, and they did not simulate the actual birth. See the video (in Dutch) at Time. Link
President Obama took the oath of office for his second presidential term this afternoon, even though Inauguration Day with all its festivities is tomorrow. Why? The 20th Amendment to the Constitution says that a president's term ends on January 20th. This date falls on a Sunday every once in a while. Obama will be sworn in again tomorrow for the public, which will be his fourth swearing-in.
Of course, what would happen if the President, perhaps due to religious convictions, refused to take the oath on a Sunday. Well it happened before, perhaps. Outgoing President James Polk’s term ended on Sunday, March 4, 1849. His successor, Zachary Taylor, refused to be sworn in on a Sunday. Same for incoming VP Millard Filmore.
So who was the President on Sunday, March 4, 1849?
Under the Presidential Succession statute at the time (the Presidential Succession Act of 1792), after the Vice President, the Senatore Pro Tempore was in line. Under this theory, Senator David Atchison of Missouri would have been the President for the Day. However, Atchinson, was the President Pro Temp during the Thirtieth Congress. This position expired when that Congress adjourned on March 4.
Athcinson was in fact sworn in as President Pro Tempore on Monday before either Taylor or Dallas took the oath, so in theory, he was President for a few minutes.
Find out how Atchison spent his day as president at Josh Blackman's Blog. And that wasn't the only time such an anomaly has happened. Blackman has some other odd details of presidential succession and some discussion on the Sunday exception in the Constitution. Link -via Digg
The following is an article from the book History's Lists from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
They came in all shapes and sizes, and we gawked and gasped, just like we were supposed to do. Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages: our list of the top ten circus attractions ever to grace the sawdust stage of circus big tops and sideshows!
P.T. Barnum brought Jumbo the elephant to New York City on Easter Sunday 1882, just in time for the annual opening of "the Greatest Show on Earth" at Madison Square Garden. In the first six weeks, Jumbo helped the show gross $336,000. Twelve feet tall at the shoulders and weighing in at six and a half tons (in fact, the word "jumbo" as we use it comes from his name), he's considered the greatest circus attraction in American history. Jumbo traveled like royalty in a private railroad car called "Jumbo's palace car," a crimson-and-gold boxcar with huge double doors. Unfortunately, popularity and size were no match for a speeding freight train that took Jumbo's life on September 15, 1885, in St. Thomas, Ontario, as he was being loaded onto his palace.
2. EMMETT KELLY
Emmett Kelly's best known routine was trying to sweep a spotlight onto a dustpan on the Ringling circus stage. From 1942 to 1956, he appeared as a classic tramp clown called "Weary Willie," his version of a Depression-era hobo. Kelly's style was different from his flashy peers: he wandered around the arena dressed in tattered clothing, using pantomime instead of words to connect with the crowd. He died, aged 80, of a heart attack in Sarasota, Florida- the longtime winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailer Circus.
3. GENERAL TOM THUMB
In 1842, Barnum hired four-year-old dwarf Charles Stratton, who soon became famous as General Tom Thumb. Only 25 inches tall, Stratton started touring the United States with Barnum's circus, impersonating characters like Cupid and Napoleon Bonaparte. He also sang, danced, and participated in skits. Barnum took him on a European tour, where he appeared twice before Queen Victoria and became an international celebrity. But it was his wedding (by which time he'd grown to his adult height of 2' 11") to 2' 8" Lavinia Warren, in 1863 that drew the greatest public attention. Barnum charged $75 a ticket and 2,000 people -including congressional representatives, millionaires, and generals- attended. During their honeymoon, the little couple were wined and dined by President and Mrs. Lincoln at the White House.
4. ZIP THE PINHEAD
Stop! Come back with that bar! We need it! Clet Abraham, a street artist in Florence, Italy, adds stickers of little people to street signs to alter their meanings. He writes:
My adhesives are developed to add a further level of reading [to street signs] constructed on the base of their original signification in order to maintain its utility but give it some intellectual, spiritual, or simply amusing interest. The final objective? That traffic keeps flowing without us feeling spoken down to!
If you've ever wanted to eat a Wookie, here's your chance! Jill of Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons has spent the past week making s'more pops that look like characters from Star Wars. Click through the gallery to see them all. At the link, you can find instructions on how to make your own.
Last week, Australian teenager Matt Corby uploaded a photograph showing an 11-inch Subway sandwich. The original Facebook post has since been deleted, but Subway did respond to Corby.
"Hi, Matt. Thanks for writing. Looking at this photo, this bread is not baked to our standards," Subway wrote on Thursday in response to his post.
"We have policies in place to ensure that our fresh baked bread is consistent and has the same great taste no matter which Subway restaurant around the world you visit. We value your feedback and want to thank you again for being a fan."
If it were just one sandwich, the picture probably would not have gone viral, but apparently it touched a nerve with sub sandwich eaters. Quite a few other Facebook users posted similar pictures of a Subway footlong as 11 inches or a bit less. By the time Subway Australia responded in the comments of this Facebook post, they could no longer pretend it was an isolated incident.
So if a Subway Footlong® is not intended to be a measurement of length, does the same logic apply to a 6-inch sandwich, which is made from cutting a Footlong® in half? And is the ® symbol a new version of "quote" marks in that when you see them, you automatically think that it doesn't mean what the words say?
I have not seen a picture of a 13 inch sandwich, at least not yet. A quick survey of New York City sandwiches found four out of seven at 11 or 11.5 inches.
Some say that the internet uproar over an inch of sandwich is silly. Others point out some of the greater implications of the controversy:
1. Will it still be silly when next year, the Footlong® is only ten inches? Or nine?
2. What if we decided the dollars we pay for the sandwiches are not intended to be a measurement of money?
3. Would it be silly to complain if a gallon of gas were to become 10% smaller?
So what do you think -is this a tempest in a teapot or a place where customers should draw the line?
Does your little one have trouble tearing themselves away from the iPad to go potty? Not to worry. CTA Digital has created a product just for you. It is a potty chair with built-in iPad holder. Now you can hook their iPad, or your co-opted iPad, onto the potty for more uninterrupted play time.
The iPotty comes with a removable seat for easy cleaning and a attachable splash guard for boys. But wait ... there is more. The iPotty also comes complete with a plastic shield to help protect the iPad from contamination.
Truly what will they think of next.
Does your feline companion spend his days sitting by the window gazing at far off snow capped mountains? Does he dream off having his very own ski chalet? Indulge your pampered pet with the Cat Cabin from the Neatoshop. This easy to assemble cardboard playhouse comes with 4 ornamental decorations for customization. The Cat Cabin makes a truly purr-fect vacation retreat.
Cat Teepee also available. Spoil your cat and get him both.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Pet Stuff.
Fletcher had never seen snow before. He is surprised and puzzled, but immediately takes full advantage of the fun things you can do with snow. Taste it! Dig it! Throw it! Run in it! Jump in it! Find joy in it! -via reddit
P.S. The reddit thread makes it clear this was recorded in the UK, where they believe a couple of inches is a lot of snow and businesses shut down. Scandinavians puzzle over that, while Americans tell stories of how different states handle snow.
Russell George was driving in Prestbury, South Africa, when he noticed a police van swerving. The officer would come to a stop and start off again, leading George to believe the driver was drunk.
George decided it would be best to call 10111. He was told the police would be there shortly.
“After five minutes, no one had arrived. So I jumped out of my car and I approached the driver’s side and asked him to come out. He looked at me and I could smell that he had been drinking.
“I asked him again, and he refused.
“I then grabbed his keys, pulled him out and locked him in the back of his own van,” George said.
He added that the police van was badly damaged, as if it had been involved in an accident.
The inebriated police officer was arrested and his firearm was taken away. There had been a report earlier that same evening of the cop pulling a gun on his girlfriend at a nightclub, and a motor vehicle collision in which witnesses reported a police van that had left the scene. The unnamed officer did not deny being drunk. Link -via Arbroath
Bee Wilson wrote Consider the Fork, a history of the technology of cooking and eating. The way we prepare and consume food has greatly changed over time and those changes have had an impact on the human body. For example, one anthropologist thinks that using the knife and fork to eat food leads to an overbite:
Until around 250 years ago in the West, archaeological evidence suggests that most human beings had an edge-to-edge bite, similar to apes. In other words, our teeth were aligned liked a guillotine, with the top layer clashing against the bottom layer. Then, quite suddenly, this alignment of the jaw changed: We developed an overbite, which is still normal today. The top layer of teeth fits over the bottom layer like a lid on a box.
This change is far too recent for any evolutionary explanation. Rather, it seems to be a question of usage. An American anthropologist, C. Loring Brace, put forward the thesis that the overbite results from the way we use cutlery, from childhood onwards.
What changed 250 years ago was the adoption of the knife and fork, which meant that we were cutting chewy food into small morsels before eating it. Previously, when eating something chewy such as meat, crusty bread or hard cheese, it would have been clamped between the jaws, then sliced with a knife or ripped with a hand -- a style of eating Professor Brace has called "stuff-and-cut."
Brilliant! Apparently these things have been around since the 70s, but I've only now heard of On-Spot tire chains. These gadgets have short lengths of steel chain attached to a spindle. When the driver encounters heavy snow, s/he can lower them to tire level. The spindles spin with the wheels, driving the chains beneath the tires. When the driver turns them off, spring tension raises the spindles back up.
Felix Salazar, a photographer in Los Angeles, gets very close to his subjects. His images of the mysterious lifeforms found in coral reefs will mesmerize you with their colors and shapes. You can view many more at the link.
Dell, pictured above, is a professional model. Yes, really! He may be...uh, aesthetically challenged, but that's only to his benefit. Ugly Models, a London-based modeling agency, specializes in getting photographers models with unusual physical appearances. At their website, you can view their four categories: men, women, "specials" and Guinness World Records.
That last category is...wow. Just wow.
In the words of Vice President John Nace Garner, the vice presidency "isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss." That may be true, buit the characters who've held the job are definitely worth a few good pages of trivia. Join Neatorama and mental_floss in toasting 10 backup plans that made this country great.
1. Chester Arthur: Garfield's VP
Chester Arthur took office under the thickest cloud of suspicion. As a lieutenant in Senator Roscoe Conkling's political machine, Arthur held one of the most lucrative positions in government—collector for the port of New York. For seven years, Arthur raked in approximately $40,000 annually (about $700,000 today), running a corrupt spoils system for thousands of payroll employees. With so much money and power, Arthur developed an affinity for fancy clothes and earned the nickname "the Gentleman Boss." But his luck didn't last. President Rutherford Hayes eventually stepped in and fired him from the post.
Even with the kickback scandal and claims that he'd been born in Canada (which should've disqualified him for the vice presidency), Arthur still managed to get elected on James Garfield's 1880 ticket. After Garfield passed away 199 days into his presidency, Arthur didn't hesitate to sign the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Much to the chagrin of Conkling, the Act revamped civil service by effectively killing the same patronage system that made Arthur very, very rich. In cleaning up civil service, Arthur also cleaned up his reputation, and he exited the White House a hero.
2. William Rufus de Vane King: Franklin Pierce's VP
William R. King was sworn into office in Cuba, becoming the only executive officer to take the oath on foreign soil. King had gone to Cuba to recuperate from tuberculosis and severe alcoholism, but it didn't work. He died in 1853 after being vice president for just 25 days.
That might not be the most memorable thing about King, though. It's widely rumored that the former VP was homosexual. Further still, he's suspected of being James Buchanan's lover. Neither King nor Buchanan ever married, and they lived together in Washington for 15 years before Buchanan became president. Of course, King's predilection for wearing scarves and wigs only fanned the rumors. President Andrew Jackson used to call him "Miss Nancy," and Aaron Brown, a fellow Southern Democrat, dubbed him "Aunt Fancy."
3. Henry Wallace: FDR's 2nd VP
Henry Wallace was a dedicated devotee of Eastern mysticism. While serving as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the 1930s, he allegedly sent his guru to Mongolia under the pretense of collecting grasses that could withstand drought. In reality, Wallace was diverting funds to help his guru hunt for evidence that Christ had visited Asia.
But it wasn't Wallace's spiritual beliefs that landed him America's No. 2 job. Wallace was a big Franklin Roosevelt fan and supported his entire platform, which is why Roosevelt handpicked him as his third-term running mate in 1940. Wallace wasn't popular with the Democratic Party, but when Roosevelt made it clear he wouldn't run without him, the party acquiesced.
As vice president, Wallace made many international goodwill trips. Most famously, he traveled to the Soviet Union, where he experienced a political transformation that resulted in him becoming an avowed Soviet apologist. His communist leanings did nothing for his image, especially once he became secretary of commerce under President Truman. In 1948, Wallace unsuccessfully ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket, espousing views that sounded shockingly Marxist. He even described corporations as "midget Hitlers" attempting to crush the labor class.
Philips did not begin her professional career as a writer until she was 37 when she wrote to a newspaper complaining that she, a housewife and mother of two, could give better advice to the readers.
The editor of the paper apparently agreed. Her first "Dear Abby" column appeared in the San Francisco chronicle on January 9, 1956. It was syndicated that same year and went on to become the world's most widely syndicated column. Phillips continued writing the column until 2002 when it was announced that she suffered from Alzheimer's Disease.
Pithy advice seems to runs in the family. Pauline Phillip's twin sister was known by the pen name Ann Landers.
Phillip's daughter Jeanne Phillips has continued the legacy of writing the column known for its succinct, yet meaningful, advice.
What do you do -should you call an electrician or a plumber? Good luck getting either one to touch this! -via reddit
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