All things bright and beautiful; all creatures great and small. They are wonders to behold, including the majestic hippo butt leech. It burrows into a hippopotamus anus, plants itself deep inside its rectum, then feeds on the blood vessels along the wall.
Like the yeti, the hippo butt leech was once a creature of mystery. It was in only 2003 that explorers in South Africa confirmed the existence of the Placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi. You see, the hippo butt leech has very specific tastes. It will not live in any rectum, but only hippopotami rectums. Wired describes how these adventurers tracked down the hippo butt leech in its lair. The hunt reached its conclusion with the help of a local game warden:
Every year, in the Niigata Prefecture of Japan, people build enormous, often frightening creatures made of straw. It's part of the Wara Art Festival. Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku has a roundup of some of the best and most ferocious straw monsters now menacing Japan. They include a giant crab, dinosaurs, a cobra, and a praying mantis. In short: choose another vacation spot.
Corporal Che Atkinson of Prince George's County, Maryland was at his police station doing paperwork when he learned that a homeless woman and her baby were in the lobby. There was no shelter available for them and they had nowhere to go. So Atkinson contacted a social worker and headed out on patrol.
When he got back, he found the mother and baby still there. There had been no progress on finding them shelter. So Atkinson packed them and their belongings into a patrol car and took them to a hotel. He paid for the room out of his own pocket.
While he was doing so, his sergeant surreptitiously photographed him. Then he posted the photos with the story on Facebook. The public response has been, to say the last, positive. WUSA9 reports (auto-start video):
"I'm a little overwhelmed and shocked. And the reason why is it didn't seem like a big deal to me because I see other officers do stuff like this all the time,” Atkinson said "It's not a big deal."
People online said what he did was far from ordinary, they say it was a "beautiful act of kindness."
"This is a helpless child so it's our duty to help and that child was definitely in need," Atkinson said.
Police said the woman and her child are now with relatives.
Sophie Flynn, 5, met her great-grandmother for the first time. Her parents, Sarah Miller and William Flynn, were worried about the encounter. Their beloved grandmother has dementia and is easily startled by unfamiliar people. Would she become anxious or withdrawn around Sophie?
Not a bit! Sophie sat next to her great-grandmother and sang "You Are My Sunshine." As she did so, the woman turned to her and maintained a full smile, clearly enjoying the experience. Sarah Miller told The Mirror:
"Sophie brought her back to life. It was amazing, we just couldn't believe it. When they were together it was like they were the only two people in the room.
"Nana isn't very responsive, she doesn't know who I am or who my mum Yvonne, her daughter, is most of the time.
"She only remembers her husband Joe and he is the only one she talks to but straight away she started engaging with Sophie.
"Nana is very scared of new people but she was completely at ease with Sophie. She kept asking for Sophie for the two days we stayed in Norwich."
Pictured above are a few of the members of the First Company of the Governor's Foot Guard of the Connecticut State Militia. It is now a ceremonial unit. But when it was formed in 1771--while Connecticut was a colony, not a state--it was trained and equipped to protect the Governor and capital city of Hartford.
In 1775, then Patriot leader Benedict Arnold led a mob into the Foot Guard's armory, demanding arms necessary to raise a second company to defend the state against the British menace.
Little Emmett Stevers loves books! And like all bookworms, he finds the end of a great story to be a very sad moment. Whenever his parents finish reading I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom and Richard Scarry, Emmett cries out in anguish. All of us bookworms feel the say way, Emmett. The only comfort is in reaching for a new book.
Allain assumes that Dagobah has the same gravity as Earth, that Luke Skywalker is 5'9" and weighs 150 pounds, and that The Force is not in play against gravity while Luke is carrying Yoda. You can read all of his equations and rationale here. Yoda, Allain argues, weights 43.7 kilograms.
70 years ago today, the bloodiest, most destructive war in all of human history ended.
After the destruction of 2 cities from atomic bombs and reason to believe that even more were coming, the government of the Japanese Empire communicated on August 15, 1945, that it would surrender. The free world responded with a jubilation known as V-J Day--Victory over Japan.
Formally, though, the surrender would take place more than 2 weeks later. On September 2, 1945, the battleship USS Missouri steamed into Tokyo Bay with Allied emissaries. Japanese representatives boarded and signed the formal capitulation. You can read the document here.
Now that Disney owns Star Wars, we see the iconic Leia slave outfit crossing over into the Disney Princess universe. In the past, we've seen slave Leia versions of Tinkerbell, Ariel, and Elsa. Now the lineup is filling out even more, thanks to these ladies. That's Ashlynne Dae as Elsa, Elizabeth Rage as Belle, Rianne Synnth as Mulan, and Hendo as Pocahontas.
Ioana Vanc is an architect in Arad, Romania. When she's not building with steel and concrete on a colossal scale, she's making art with food on a tiny scale. Each of these food sculptures can fit within a spoon. You can find more of her work at Fubiz (translation).
If the internet is representative, then Thailand produces impressively dramatic and heart-wrenching commercials. In the past, we'veseenseveralthat advocate for a virtuous life of kindness, generosity, and devotion to family.
This one, like the others, sells a product--a rather unexpected one. It is revealed only in the last few seconds. But more than that, this story about a shopkeeper and a homeless man convincingly sells the idea that people can be more than they appear on the surface.
There's no comedy like The Onion and no drama like Star Wars. When the two combine, a space saga becomes filled with the funny anxieties and problems of everyday life. Lindsey, a Star Wars fan, illustrates that by combining headlines from The Onion with scenes from the 6 Star Wars movies. You can view them here and here. Content warning: foul language.
Julius Yego of Kenya didn't have a world-famous coach. In fact, he didn't have a coach at all. He got his start by watching YouTube videos and practicing what he saw. Yego made it to the 2012 Olympics, placing 12th, by teaching himself. At the time, he said, "My coach is me, and my YouTube videos."
Now, with a professional coach, he's refined his technique. At the recent world championships in Beijing, he threw a javelin 92.72 meters, which is farther than anyone else has in 14 years.
Hulk smash? Yes. But beyond that, Hulk save. The Hulk is male, but the original, real-life Hulk was a woman. Jack Kirby, the comic book artist who conceived of the Hulk, explained in a 1990 interview that an incident in which a mother rescued her baby by lifting a car off him was the inspiration behind the Hulk:
The Hulk I created when I saw a woman lift a car. Her baby was caught under the running board of this car. The little child was playing in the gutter and he was crawling from the gutter onto the sidewalk under the running board of this car — he was playing in the gutter. His mother was horrified. She looked from the rear window of the car, and this woman in desperation lifted the rear end of the car. It suddenly came to me that in desperation we can all do that — we can knock down walls, we can go berserk, which we do. You know what happens when we’re in a rage — you can tear a house down. I created a character who did all that and called him the Hulk. I inserted him in a lot of the stories I was doing. Whatever the Hulk was at the beginning I got from that incident. A character to me can’t be contrived. I don’t like to contrive characters. They have to have an element of truth. This woman proved to me that the ordinary person in desperate circumstances can transcend himself and do things that he wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’ve done it myself. I’ve bent steel.
Bekah Miles has depression. She’s trying to come to grips with the illness. As an expression of her efforts, she got this tattoo which beautifully illustrates how depression is experienced. When other people look at her leg, it says “I’m Fine.” When she looks down at her tattoo, Bekah sees “Save Me.” In a heartfelt Facebook post, Miles writes:
To me, it means that others see this person that seems okay, but, in reality, is not okay at all. It reminds me that people who may appear happy, may be at battle with themselves. […]
This is one of the most difficult things to open up about because it’s extremely hard for me to feel vulnerable…but this needs to be talked about. Mental illness is serious, but so shamed in our society. We care so much for our physical health, but hardly a thing about our mental state. And that is seriously messed up. Mental illness is not a choice and will likely hit everyone at some point in their life. If it’s such a huge issue, why aren’t we having this conversation about it?
That’s why I got this tattoo; they are great conversation starters. This forces me to talk about my own struggle, and why the awareness of it is important. You’d be surprised by how many people YOU know that struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. I may only be one person, but one can save another...and that's all I could really ask for.
It is truly the sport of kings! To the Maya living in the Sierra de los Cuchumantes Mountains in Guatemala, drunken horse racing is an important tradition. Unlike, say, the Kentucky Derby, the riders are absolutely smashed. In fact, some are so drunk that they have to be tied into the saddles by their alleged “friends.” Atlas Obscura reports on a race in the town of Todos Santos:
Predictably, a few riders flew out of their saddles, landing with a dull thud in the loose dirt. Others slowly slumped to the side before gently reaching terra firma and giving up, their relieved horses continuing on without them.
The majority of the riders somehow made it to the finish line, but even after several hours of watching, it was never exactly clear who “won” or what the prize might be. Advil? A heating pad? Exemption from next year’s race?
In Todos Santos, it was recently reported that the winner of the annual drunken horse race was given a live chicken and the title of El Capitan.
Past Me thinks that it’s super professional and organized to set reminders to accomplish important tasks—but only for Present Me. It’s just an orderly form of procrastination. This will be noted on Past Me’s performance evaluation.
Over the years, we've featured many of artist Dominic Wilcox's ridiculous and hilarious inventions. This series tops them all. Wilcox was commissioned by the Kellogg's cereal brand to develop 6 machines that make breakfast fun. Among them is this crane operated by hand controls. Wilcox uses it to scoop cereal, place it in his bowl, then add milk using a tube connected from the milk jug on his helmet to the end of the scoop.
I've never seen a railroad crossing like this one. Allegedly, this video shows two rail lines crossing in Bundaberg, Australia--a region noted for a large amount of sugar cane production. When the light cane train needs to cross the main Queensland Rail line, a drawbridge-like section of track lowers. After the cane train passes, the section rises again.
At 432 yards long, the newly-launched MSC Zoe is the Death Star of the transoceanic shipping business. It's no moon, but a fully operational station capable of moving the equivalent of 19,224 20-foot cargo containers. Appropriately, while in Hamburg, Germany, the ship's horn system played the title theme from Star Wars.
Isaiah Chute is 2 and 1/2. Kamoli the gorilla is about 1 and a 1/2. They're perfect playmates, as you can see in this video shot at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio. For about 6 minutes, they played peek-a-boo, hide-and-seek, and pounded their chests.
In the decades following the American Civil War, the South found demand for a new cash crop: virgin longleaf pine. In the era before steel girders became useful for construction, virgin longleaf pine was regarded as the finest lumber available. So the ancient forests of the South were cut down to build late Nineteenth Century New York City.
In 1938, the Great Southern Lumber Company sold its last log of longleaf pine. The US Forest Service estimates that only 3% of the original remains. That makes the wood left inside old buildings very valuable. So recovering it has become a thriving industry in New York City. Vivan Yee writes for the New York Times:
Some of the trees were three centuries old. Dense, durable and saturated with resin that made it unusually resistant to rot and insects, the timber proved rough work for builders to mill. But in the decades before steel began to dominate, longleaf pine was the strongest material around.
“Everybody in the wood business says the longleaf pine tree was the best wood the Lord ever made,” said Pat Fontenot, the owner of Olde Wood Accents in Washington, La., an antique pine dealer. “If it wouldn’t have been for the longleaf pine tree, we wouldn’t have been able to do the Industrial Revolution.” […]
The only way to find original-strength longleaf pine these days: Mine it from buildings like the Domino Sugar Factory or 443 Greenwich Street in TriBeCa, the brick and mortar vertebrae of northern cities’ industrial might.
“It’s a Southern tree that has been a part of New York City for 150 years,” Alan Solomon, the owner of Sawkill Lumber, who hunts down old lumber, from the Coney Island boardwalk to a Western Beef supermarket in the Bronx, said during a recent expedition to the TriBeCa building. “The city’s always reinventing itself. Stuff’s always getting knocked down.”
The Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis) is unavoidably cute! He can dance and stick out his tongue, so he's a natural performer. But that's only once he's ready. When caught unawares, the Dumbo gets shy. The oceanographers on board the exploratory vessel Nautilis discovered that while exploring the coast of central California. At the 1:34 mark in the video below, he covers his face when the camera zooms in on him.
Elijah Wood was in Back to the Future II. Denzel Washington was an uncredited criminal in Death Wish. Samuel L. Jackson was in Goodfellas. You may not have noticed them because they weren't famous yet. Screen Junkies brings us up to speed with this compilation of actors just getting started in film, often taking very minor roles.
One role that didn't make the cut is Liam Neeson in the underappreciated 1983 fantasy movie Krull. Neeson plays Kegan, a criminal who joins King Colwyn's quest to defeat the Slayers and liberate his planet.
The trailers forthe upcomingStar Wars movie The Force Awakens have a unique style noted for varied pacing and dramatic narration. They inspired Dan Flesher to edit scenes from The Empire Strikes Back into a new trailer. They make that movie look fresh, even at 35 years old. Compare it to this original trailer for Episode V.