Debby Witt of the blog VA Viper spotted this article published a year ago in The Atlantic. It refers to a now legendary incident in which a drunken college student attempted to launch a rocket from his bottom. Witt suggests that author Caitlin Flanagan may have composed one of the best opening paragraphs ever. I’m inclined to agree. Behold Flanagan’s genius:
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
Examples abound of elephants and their caring, nurturing behavior, especially toward their young. This video shows two adults rushing to the aid of a baby who has lost his footing and lays on his back, struggling to right himself. The footage was shot by a visitor to the Zurich Zoo. It's hard to fathom the poaching and cruelty with which these noble, intelligent creatures are targeted. -Via Tastefully Offensive
Global warming: a topic that is often hotly contested. Science video blog Veritassium has compiled this video to present some facts for perusal. At the very least, it might be handy to bookmark for when the holidays hit and you're looking to cool down the arguments between your relatives who are political polar opposites, before they come to blows. -Via Science Dump
Today is the bicentennial of a seminal event in the formation of the American national identity. Two hundred years ago today, Americans at Baltimore halted a foreign invasion of their nation while standing beneath a flag that would become known as the Star-Spangled Banner.
This is my third post on thebicentennial of the War of 1812--a war that some historians refer to as America’s second war of independence. Although Britain did not want to completely conquer and rule its rebellious colonies once again, it hoped to reduce America into a shadow of its former self--one that could be more easily coerced and managed from across the Atlantic.
(The burned White House by George Munger, White House Historical Association)
The British grand strategy was to tie down America’s limited military resources on the Eastern seaboard and New Orleans while driving a decisive blow down the Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor. In August and September of 1814, the British acted on their plan. First, they burned down the capital city of the United States. Then they moved into Lake Champlain in the direction of New York City.
(Major General Robert Ross and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, respectively)
In this post, we depart from the wilderness of northern New York and return to Chesapeake Bay. Major General Robert Ross, the British Army commander, and Admirals Cockburn and Cochrane, had torched Washington, D.C.--an act that both humiliated and enraged Americans. They had hoped that burning the capital would make the American people despair of the struggle and give up the fight.
They were wrong.
(Modern replicas of two War of 1812-era privateers, The Pride of Baltimore and the Lynx, photo by the US Navy)
So Cochrane, as the senior British officer in the theater, had to decide where to strike next. He seriously considered an invasion of Rhode Island. But nearby Baltimore, then one of the largest cities in America, was a more promising target. During the war, it was a major base of operations for American privateers. Approximately 500 captured British merchant vessels had been sailed into its harbor, which is why Cochrane’s subordinate, Admiral Cockburn, described Baltimore as a “nest of pirates.” Destroying Baltimore would do serious harm to the American economy as well as avenge what the British perceived as a grievous wrong perpetrated by the Americans. And after so easily destroying Washington, why not continue their campaign just a bit further north?
John McCormick of Baytown, Texas was mowing his lawn when he had a heart attack. His family summoned emergency responders. A fire truck followed the ambulance, which took him to the hospital. The firefighters could do nothing to immediately contribute to McCormick's health. But they could finish what they started. So the firefighters quietly mowed the lawn, locked the mower away in the garage, then left the key in the mailbox.
The firefighters also left a note expressing their sympathy. It's pictured above. Sadly, McCormick did not survive. But the firefighters' simple act of kindness meant a lot to the family:
"I just couldn't believe it," said Patsy McCormick of the firefighter's gesture. "I just couldn't believe they took the time to do that."
"It just speaks to their character," said son-in-law Dan Blackford. "They say honor is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. That's a fact," he said of the firefighters who didn't know someone captured their gesture on camera. "They were very honorable."
"This just shows just exactly how special they really are," said Jeana Blackford who, despite the grief over losing her father wanted to publicly thank the men of Station 4 for showing everyone the impact a single random act of kindness can have. And for showing everyone that going above and beyond the call of duty, whether a firefighter or a civilian in everyday life, often just takes a few more steps.
"I think we all need to do random acts of kindness every day, every day," she said.
Holly Springs is a photographer in Auckland, New Zealand. Her daughter was born without a left hand and has struggled with Hirschsprung's Disease. She's an inspiration to her mother, who describes the child as "my muse and my heart." To share her muse with the world, Springs photographs her at play in worlds both real and fantastic. The bottom image is particularly impressive, so it's not surprising that it won Springs an Iris Award from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography.
YouTube member CycleJack was pedaling through Romford, Essex, UK on a wet day. He was traveling about 22 MPH. A car cut across his path and he hit the fender. CycleJack flew over the car, head over heels, but landed neatly on his feet. It was an impressive bit of unintentional acrobatics caught on camera.
And it's a good thing that CycleJack was wearing a camera. The driver tried to dispute that she was at fault. The video footage took care of that problem:
Safe to say the video has saved me a lot of hassle and 3 weeks later the cheque has already arrived from the insurance company.
Content warning: CycleJack uses a bit of foul language when the car hits. But who can blame him?
Great graffiti happens when the artists don't get stumped. Instead, they go out on a limb to incorporate site-specific elements into their artwork (What? Yew don't like tree graffitis or tree puns? Ya poor sap - Just leaf now)
Here are some poplar examples of great tree graffiti (or should we call them graffitree?)
Nuxono Xän, Fort de France, Martinique
Forget comb! If you have hair this big, you'd need a rake! Street artist Nuxono Xän added a humorous touch to this wall in Fort de France, Martinique. Photo by Rosali Rodriguez - via Street Art Utopia.
2nd Lt. Taylor Batye is a recent graduate of the US Naval Academy and a newly-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. The Naval Academy maintains certain traditions for the first salute of a graduate. Batye wanted her first salute to go to her grandfather, retired Army Sgt. Maj. David Teufel.
Unfortunately, Teufel was too ill to attend Batye's graduation in Annapolis. He was in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Missouri. So Batye drove 16 hours from Maryland to Missouri to exchange her first salute with her grandfather. The Marine Corps Times reports:
On Sunday, Batye’s mom, Marty Teufel, snapped a photo as the newly minted Marine officer got the salute for which she had waited.
“I wish you could’ve seen the emotion when she walked in in uniform and said, ‘Give me my salute, grandpa,’ ” Marty Teufel told Marine Corps Times.
When Batye arrived, three of the nurses on staff in the ICU joined the family to see the exchange. Teufel has since requested that the photo be blown up and framed so he can keep it by his bed, Marty said.
This is what you may call old school vs. new school in the Epic Rap Battles of History series when Sir Isaac Newton raps against Bill Nye the Science Guy with help from Neil deGrasse Tyson. No matter how much you like Nye and Tyson, they are operating under a handicap here because Newton is played by Weird Al Yankovic, whose musical talent and experience give him quite the edge in a rap battle. Or something like that. -via Geeks Are Sexy
In March, Curt and the RN Case Manager, Leigh Gardner, accompanied Ed and several members of the Snohomish County Fire District on an outing to Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds. Ed was picked up and transported in the EMS vehicle; other members of the fire department traveled in a fire truck.
Together, the group took Ed up and down the trails, bringing him the scents of the forest by touching the fragrant growth and bringing their hands close to Ed’s face.
Ed was delighted. So were all the professionals who accompanied him.
Guitarist Mariusz Goli plays on the streets of Katowice, Poland. According to his biography, Goli plays in clubs and does concerts, but prefers busking because he gets the greatest satisfaction by direct contact with the audience. You can see plenty more videos of Goli’s music at his Facebook page or his YouTube channel. -via Viral Viral Videos
Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog
Tulle is a sheer mesh fabric generally used for various crafts, or sewing projects where a bit of sheer color is needed, but an industrious artist named Benjamin Shine has discovered another good use for this niche fabric- he uses tulle to create detailed portraits.
Benjamin creates highly detailed, and incredibly realistic, portraits using a single folded sheet of tulle, creating the shadows on each portrait by layering the fabric and ironing it down in all the right places.
It's amazing what Benjamin is capable of creating with just one sheet of tulle and a regular old steam iron!
How can you pass a straight rod through a curved hole? No, neither of the two are pliable. This demonstration at the Science Museum in Valencia, Spain, shows you in just a few seconds. This reminded me of a hyperboloid, which I discovered when writing about math shapes.
What mathematicians call a hyperboloid of one sheet is a really cool structure that is made up of many (actually an infinite number) of perfectly straight lines that look to us like a curved structure. First, imagine that you have a cube. Stand it on one of its corners and spin it like a top, then look at it from the side -the sides seem to be curved, but you know they aren't. Now, take a handful of uncooked spaghetti noodles. Use two hands, and twist the strands loosely. It forms the shape of a hyperboloid structure, which looks like a cooling tower at a nuclear reactor. All the spaghetti noodles are still straight, but the shape of the handful is curved. In architecture, this idea enables builders to produce curved structures by using straight line supports.
The museum display is the same thing, only they are using one straight support in motion instead of an infinite number to build a structure. The animation here helps to connect the two concepts. -via Viral Viral Videos
College Hunks Hauling Junk is a moving company based in Tampa, Florida. While on the job, employee Cesar Larios found himself in a stuck elevator. This caused great concern to an elderly woman on that elevator. She couldn't stand for a long period of time.
A Russian father and his baby daughter are having a seriously heated discussion. The little girl most likely only understands a few of the words, and she can’t reproduce them coherently, because she’s a baby. She can, however, reproduce the cadence, emphasis, and body language to an amazing degree, which is adorable. If I understood what she was arguing about, she’d have me convinced. According to the comments at reddit, he is chastising her for throwing her pancakes on the floor. That means that her side of the argument is a vigorous defense. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
The riots in Kiev, Ukraine, which subsequently turned into a full blown revolution, weren't started by soldiers or police officers, they were started by average people willing to fight for their rights against a corrupt government.
DIY weaponry is the norm among the freedom fighting citizen soldiers that form the front lines, and these weapons look like something straight out of a post apocalyptic movie.
It's your lucky day: you've just found a $20 bill. What would you spend it on? Would you get yourself a hot lunch? Maybe a video game?
Eight-year-old Myles Eckert was so excited when he found a $20 bill in the parking lot of his neighborhood Cracker Barrel restaurant. "I kind of wanted to get a video game," the young boy told CBS news, "but I decided not to."
Myles changed his mind when he saw Lt. Col. Frank Dailey in uniform, having an early lunch at the same restaurant. The soldier reminded Myles of his late father.
"Because he was a soldier, and soldiers remind me of my dad," Myles explained why he wrapped the $20 he found with a green note that said:
Dear Soldier -- my dad was a soldier. He's in heaven now. I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It's your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.
After lunch, Myles asked his mom to make one more stop. "He wanted to see his dad," the boy's mom Tiffany said, "And he wanted to go by himself that day."
The Ladybird Book line still exists, but in the traditional sense, the name refers to a line of British children’s books that were published from the 1940s through 1970s. The had a standardized format including a listing of key vocabulary words on each page.
Miriam Elia, a writer and artist, has released the book We Go to the Gallery. It's a satire on modern art that in the form of a fake Ladybird book:
“I thought it would be humorous to see Mummy, Peter and Jane going to a really nihilistic modern art exhibition”, she says. Among the works confronted by the trio on their cultural outing are pastiches of Emin, Creed and Koons, through which they learn about sex, death, nothingness “and all of the debilitating, middle-class self-hatred contained in the artworks.”
Meet Mercury, the kitten that gets around on his two rear legs, like a T. rex. He was found in September, when he was only about four days old, having already lost his two front forelegs and most of the toes on one back leg. Neighbors suspected it was due to a weed whacker. After veterinary care, he was placed with an Oklahoma foster family even before his eyes opened. Mercury learned to get around one two legs as he first learned to walk, and now he runs, jumps, climbs stairs, and holds his own with the other cats. His foster family decided to make him a permanent member of the family. Here’s a video that shows how he moves around on two legs. You can see more pictures and videos at Mercury’s Facebook page. -via Fark
Jonathan Thorpe is a photographer in the Washington, D.C. area. His friend, Heather Byrd, is a model. She has leukemia. But that hasn't stopped her professional life. Thorpe wanted to work with her to show "beauty through a troubling time." So he created a carefully-staged shot of her in a hospital scene modeled after Sandro Botticelli's famous painting "The Birth of Venus" (above).
I think that photograph is completely safe for work. It's non-erotic, like Botticelli's original. But on the off chance that you work in a profoundly conservative workplace, I decided to provide just a link. Go here to view the magnificent photo and Thorpe's description of how he shot it.
Jesse Cottle and his wife Kelly were on a family photo shoot when photographer Sarah Ledford suggested the couple take a picture in the water. That's when Jesse - a former Marine who lost his both of legs in Afghanistan - hopped on his wife's back.
It was on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009 when Jesse's life changed forever.
"About 5 hours into that patrol, into that mission, I was struck by an anti-personnel IED," Jesse said. "It was a pressure plate, I stepped on it and lost both legs right away."
One of his fellow Marines was wearing a helmet camera, and the explosion that injured Jesse was caught on tape.
"I remember most everything," he said "I was awake the whole time."
The couple's photo has now gone viral on Facebook, as explained by KTVB7: Link
Ah, this is so terribly sad. Redditor The MacMan posted this picture of the son of U.S. Army Special Forces Medic Benjamin Wise spending some time with his dad, as caught by his mom. The boy's father was killed in Afghanistan on January 15th.
Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise, 34, of Little Rock, was on his fourth deployment overseas when he was injured during an insurgent attack on his unit last week. He died from his wounds Sunday at a hospital in Germany, the Department of Defense said in a statement Tuesday.
His brother, 35-year-old Jeremy Wise, was killed in a terrorist attack on a CIA outpost in Afghanistan in December 2009. He was a former Navy Seal working as a security contractor.
Their brother, Marine Corps Cpl. Matthew Wise, is based in Hawaii but was in Germany to be with his brother, his wife Amber said. She said she was at Benjamin's home in Washington state watching his children, but she declined further comment.
The Army Special Forces soldier is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
The improvised campgrounds around music festivals are often covered with garbage when festival goers leave. To encourage tidiness and promote its new line of trash bags, the Glad company asked people to camp in tents made from those trash bags. When participants are ready to leave, they could pack their garbage into the tents for easy disposal.
Russians commonly use dash cams to record what happens on the road to defend themselves in case of accident fraud. That's why we have so much footage of the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk. The custom also records some wonderful instances of kindness. This compilation shows drivers and passersby helping drivers stuck in the snow, animals in the street, and many little old ladies terrified by traffic. -via Laughing Squid
In 1842 a twenty-two year old Catholic woman of nobility (J.W.C. van Gorkum) married a colonel in the Dutch Cavalry. He was not of nobility and was Protestant as well. That must have been the scandal of the century in Roermont. However, the marriage had lasted almost forty years, when the colonel died. Eight years later the woman past away also. She had refused to be laid to rest in the family's large tomb and, instead, had ordered the monument that you can still see today. She lies on one side of the wall, he on the other, still holding hands.
Apparently, while the church had rules about who gets buried where, there were no hard and fast rules about such monuments. Link -via TYWKIWDBI
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my
mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find
people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster,
I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing
that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
The well-known Serbian vampire Sava Savanović lived in a water mill near the village of Zarožje. The Jagodic family bought the mill and turned it into a tourist attraction. However, they neglected to keep the mill in good repair, because they were afraid of disturbing the vampire. Recently, the structure collapsed and fears that Savanović is looking for a new home have locals terrified. The local council advised citizens to guard against vampire attack.
Local mayor Miodrag Vujetic admitted: "People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened."
He added that it was all very well for people who didn't live in the area to laugh at their fears but he said nobody in the region was in any doubt that vampires do exist.
He confirmed that the local council had advised all villagers to put garlic on their doors and windows to protect them from the vampire as it was well known they can't stand the smell.
He added: "We have also reminded them to put a Holy cross in every room in the house."
Garlic has been selling like hotcakes in Zarožje. Link -via Arbroath