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Bloody Ludlow

Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre in the coal mining region of Colorado. In the fall of 1913, 11,000 miners went on strike, protesting dangerous work conditions and low pay. Evicted from company housing, they set up a tent city for months. The mining company, CF&I, responded by patrolling with an armored car with a mounted machine gun, shooting at the strikers occasionally. There was violence on both sides, with company officials and strikebreakers also fired upon. The National Guard was called in, to the relief of the strikers. But instead of providing protection from violence, the Guard was used to escort scabs into the mines and confiscate striker’s firearms. Matters came to a head on April 20, 1914.

No one knows who fired the first shot. Some soldiers would later testify that the strikers’ bullets were already whizzing at them when an officer set off the three explosive charges that had been prepared as a signal for battle. Others would recall hearing the explosions before any shots. Witnesses on both sides remember a lone figure, Louis Tikas, waving a white handkerchief and running frantically back to the tents, trying to head off disaster.

It was already too late. The militia opened fire on the men in the railroad cut. Linderfelt arrived, and the machine gun was installed on a slight rise overlooking the colony. As the day wore on, shots issued from the tents, and the militia returned fire. Officers would later testify that they’d seen women fleeing earlier and didn’t know there were any noncombatants left in the colony, but it seems hard to believe that the soldiers weren’t aware that the flimsy tents contained scores of the defenseless and unarmed.

As troops tried to close in on the shooters in the railroad cut, Private Alfred Martin was shot in the neck — the first and only militia fatality of the day. A passerby, trying to negotiate the road between the colony and the militia, was killed instantly. Eleven-year-old Frank Snyder, who’d left the protection of a cellar during a lull in the shooting, caught a bullet in the head as he sat in his family’s tent.

That night, the tent city burned, and two women and eleven children were found dead of suffocation in a cellar. In response, the miners went on a ten-day rampage, dynamiting mine facilities and shooting. Six strikers and 24 mine employees were killed during this period before President Wilson sent in federal troops. Somewhere between 69 and 199 people were killed over the course of the strike. Read an account of what happened at Ludlow at Westword.  -via Metafilter


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Houdini Honey Badger

(YouTube link)

Honey badger will not be contained! Stoffel the honey badger was raised in captivity and cannot fend for himself in the wild. He now lives at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa. But he’s too dangerous to let roam around the other animals, and he’s a master of escaping any enclosure they design for him. This is a clip from the BBC2 series Natural World.  -via Daily Picks and Flicks

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

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The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum

May 23rd will mark the 80th anniversary of the ambush in which Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were gunned down by police in Lousiana. In Gibsland, Louisiana, the son of one of those police officers runs a museum called The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum. There, you can see photographs and exhibits from Bonnie and Clyde’s career in crime and of that day in 1934 when they died.

“There’s actually no tellin’ how many times they were wounded,” said “Boots” Hinton, son of Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Ted Hinton, the youngest of six law enforcement officers who ambushed Bonnie and Clyde. Living in Gibsland, Louisiana, where he runs the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in the rundown town eight miles north of the actual ambush site, Boots insists it was an old school method of detective work that brought the outlaws down: a prescription bottle in the floorboard of an abandoned car in Michigan; testimony from waitresses and store clerks; and major highways and back roads canvassed to catch the gang on the move.

Today, Boots is happy to talk about what he knows with anyone who stops in the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum. He recalls stories his father told him in the years after the final shootout, and he sees his place at the museum as a testament and honor to his father’s wishes: to tell what really happened not only on that fateful day in rural Louisiana, but across the timeline of the Barrow gang’s reign.

You can learn quite a bit of that story without even going to Gibsland, in an article with plenty of pictures at Atlas Obscura.


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College Professor Suspended Over GOT Quote on Daughter's T-shirt

Francis Schmidt is an art and animation professor at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. He is also a Game of Thrones fan, as is his family. In January, Schmidt posted a picture of his 7-year-old daughter doing a yoga pose while wearing her father’s t-shirt to Google+. The t-shirt had a quote from Game of Thrones printed on it:  “I will take what is mine with fire & blood.” The college dean saw the picture and called Schmidt in to speak to college officials, who asked if the photograph “represented a threat against the dean.”

Schmidt said the Human Resources and security officials who interviewed him seemed unfamiliar with the show, so he searched for the quote on Google and came up with 30.8 million hits.

He said the interview, however, led to his suspension without pay and a trip to a psychiatrist before he was cleared to return to campus.

Schmidt said he asked the officials why they thought the slogan was threatening, and one said “when you see the word fire, then someone shows up with an AK-47 here shooting everybody,” he said.

“I had no idea what to say to that. For God’s sake, I’m a middle-aged art professor,” Schmidt said. “I don’t own any firearms.”

For one thing, the shirt is obviously mass-produced. For another thing, there was no mention of the college or the dean in the Google+ post. And the shirt was worn by his child! One explanation is that the college is going through some struggles: the faculty is working without a contract and have cast a no-confidence vote against the school’s president. The labor dispute must have the entire administration on edge -so much that none of them can watch TV or read about pop culture. Schmidt has since been reinstated, and given back pay for missing the first week of the semester. -via Uproxx


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22 Fun Facts About Clueless

The 1995 film Clueless was a favorite coming-of-age film for a large section of the internet generation. It made an entire cohort think of “Cher” as a different person from who the rest of us think of. But as for any movie, there are a lot of fun facts behind the scenes you probably didn’t know. For example, as much as writer-director Amy Heckerling studied teenage girls to write the dialogue, not all of the humor came from the script.

3. The "Haitians" Mispronunciation Was All Silverstone.

You know how Cher rallies for America opening its borders to the Haiti-ans? The script read "Haitians" and Silverstone made an honest mistake. But before producers could rush in and correct her, Heckerling demanded they let her go. "I had to stop them," she remembers. "It was much funnier the way she said it. That was Cher."

4. Reese Witherspoon Could Have Been Cher.

Witherspoon already had a few film roles to her credit in The Man in The Moon, A Far Off Place and Jack The Bear. Silverstone only had the Lolita-horror feature The Crush on her filmography. But with no pressure from the studio to cast stars, Heckerling picked the ingénue who she felt had "that Marilyn Monroe thing" that captured "a vague notion in my head of Cher as a pretty, sweet blonde, who, in spite of being the American ideal, people still really like."

There are plenty of video clips to accompany 22 Fun Facts About Clueless at mental_floss.


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A Princess & A Guy Like Me?

James Hance gives us a peek at a painting in progress called "A Princess & A Guy Like Me?" You have to admit, these two seem made for each other, even if they are from two different worlds. You can see the various stages of this painting and others at Hance's Facebook page. -via Geeks Are Sexy

See also: More art by James Hance.


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Dancing on a Street Corner

(YouTube link)

Andrew Wilcox lost a basketball game to his brother, for the first time ever. They had a bet on the game that the loser had to dance on a street corner in Provo, Utah, to whatever music the winner selects. He thought it was going to be humiliating, until people started joining him! The obvious reaction: “And that, kids, is how I met your mother.” -via reddit


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Reservoir to be Drained Due to Urination (Again)

The Mount Tabor Reservoir in Portland, Oregon, has been taken offline because a man was seen on security video urinating into it Wednesday morning about 1AM. Two other men were seen trying to scale the fence, one successfully. As a result, 38 million gallons of water will be flushed from the reservoir

“That water goes directly into people's homes," David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator said. "There is no way to re-treat it."

The three teens were cited for trespassing and one for public urination. Additional charges could be filed as the investigation continues.

"We are not in the arid Southwest," Shaff said, "We have hundreds of millions of gallons available, so that makes it an easy call for me" to discard the water. He estimated the cost of cleaning and replacing the water at several thousand dollars.

This is not the first time the Mount Tabor reservoir has been drained because a man peed in it. An incident in 2011 caused 7.8 million gallons to be flushed. Federal regulations now say that water reservoirs must be covered, a project that Portland will complete in 2015. -via Arbroath


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ALT/1977: We Are Not Time Travelers

Alex Varanese designed a very peculiar ad campaign based on a very particular premise.

What would you do if you could travel back in time? Assassinate Marilyn Monroe? Go on a date with Hitler? Obviously. But here's what I'd do after that: grab all the modern technology I could find, take it to the late 70's, superficially redesign it all to blend in, start a consumer electronics company to unleash it upon the world, then sit back as I rake in billions, trillions, or even millions of dollars.

The products are a cell phone, an mp3 player, a laptop, and a handheld game system. These would floor anyone in 1977, not only for how well they perform their tasks, but by how amazingly small they are. But the ad style, and even the overly-orange redesigns would be feel right at home in 1977. I never even saw a computer, a mobile phone, or a Walkman until the 1980s, and the game system would have been like some alien technology to me back in college. See the rest of Varanese’s ads at his website. -via Metafilter


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Target Practice: Easter Candy

(YouTube link)

Richard Ryan, who posts shooting videos under the YouTube channel RatedRR, lets loose with a .50 caliber rifle on hundreds of marshmallow Peeps, chocolate bunnies, and plastic eggs. And you’ll see it in slow motion. What else are you going to do with all that leftover Easter candy? You’ve got to be sick of eating candy from Halloween through Christmas and Valentines Day already. It’s time to switch to ice cream instead! -via Tastefully Offensive


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Hang On, We're Going Downhill

(YouTube link)

Take a ride with biker Geoff Gulevich as he takes what I’d call an extreme downhill run with a camera attached to his helmet. He calls it “taking it easy.” You might want to take a dramamine, or even a valium first. This POV video may make you feel a bit lightheaded, or possibly terrified. If you enjoy that sort of thing, watch it in full screen. This was recorded during a Red Bull-sponsored event in Utah last fall.  -via The Chive

Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog

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The Plastic Foods of Kappabashi

Juergen Horn and Mike Powell are exploring Tokyo for 91 days, and bringing us reports on what they find. One thing that impressed them was the plastic food in every restaurant.

We love plastic food. When deciding between restaurants, we’ll always choose the one with the most plastic food in its windows. No, it’s not some strange new diet. It’s just that, in Japan, menus tend to be written in Japanese and only Japanese. (The nerve!) Frequently, the plastic foods in the window are the only way for us to know what’s being offered. They also provide a convenient way to order. Rather than attempting to mime “Curry Udon”, we can just drag the waitress outside and point.

Recently, they found a street called Kappabashi-dōri, where the restaurants buy their supplies, including plastic food of all kinds. Read all about it and see lots more pictures at Tokyo For 91 Days.  


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5 Legendary Art Trials

Taking masterpieces to court is a tradition as old as the legal system. So is letting them off the hook.

1. India Balks at Arundhati Roy’s Matchmaking

Released in 1997, Indian writer Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things won Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize. It also won the attention of outraged locals. But it wasn’t the scenes of incest or pedophilia that offended these critics. Instead, the book—a complex tale involving multiple time lines and generations along with plenty of political intrigue—drew jeers because it told a love story between members of different castes.

Roy, an outspoken political activist, was accused of “corrupting public morality” and faced obscenity charges in her home state of Kerala. According to Roy, while the judge didn’t want to punish her, he also couldn’t ignore the local government, which found the book offensive. So he put off making a decision—for 10 years!

THE VERDICT: When a new judge finally took on the case, he dismissed the charges. That may seem like a victory, but Roy’s fiction career ground to a halt in the interim, and she still hasn’t produced a follow-up novel.

2. The U.S. Government Confiscates Underwear

American artist J.S.G. Boggs makes money. Literally. Boggs draws intricately detailed bank notes, crafting whimsical takeoffs of actual U.S. currency. Unlike legal tender, however, Boggs’s bills feature his own signature as “Secret of the Treasury.” One of his works is worth “tan dollars.” Sometimes the bills are bright orange and issued from the Florida United Numismatists (they have FUN scrawled across them in giant letters). Others bear the portraits Boggs believes they should have—Harriet Tubman is featured on one, while Boggs’s self-portrait modestly graces the $5,000 bill.

What makes his art dicier is the performance component. Boggs barters with people, offering to pay for goods and services with his hand-drawn bills but only for items of lesser value—a $10 bill for a $9.75 meal, for instance. Change and a receipt must be provided. He also trades exclusively with people who are unfamiliar with his legend. Unfortunately for Boggs, U.S. law forbids color illustrations of currency unless a big NONNEGOTIABLE is slapped across the front in quarter-inch-tall letters. From 1990 to 1992, Secret Service agents raided exhibits in Boggs’s study, his home, and his Carnegie Mellon University office. They seized more than 1,000 pieces of his artwork. And not just bills—they also took “rugs, cakes, cookies, and underwear with images of money on them,” Boggs says.

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Have You Hugged Your Chicken Today?

(YouTube link)

Aww, all this hen wants is a little love! It just makes you want to run out to the barnyard and hug a few chickens, doesn’t it? Chicekens can be really neat birds -just ask Gonzo. Remember, these two probably know each other. Your mileage may vary. -via Daily of the Day

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

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Comedy Club Wish Fulfilled After Man’s Death

Kevin Dorothy wanted to perform on the comedy club stage at the Pavilion Bar in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, he died at age 53 before he got the chance to do so. But his friends made it happen. Monday night, Stephen Mullan took an urn of Dorothy’s ashes to the stage where it sat while he read five years worth of jokes Dorothy had texted to his friends.

"Kevin had a habit of texting the most cringe-inducing jokes to all his pals," said another of Kevin's friends, Tom Sweeney.

"I always read them, groaned and deleted them right away - they were awful. Stephen, however, kept them - five years' worth. And that's what the audience was treated to.

"And do you know something? Kevin's jokes weren't that awful after all on hearing Stephen deliver them.

"Nobody had seen anything like it. You hear about comedians dying on stage. Well, Kevin jumped the gun."

As they say, no one appreciates an artist during his lifetime. -via Arbroath


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Flying Firefighter

(YouTube link)

A Russian fire department found a unique way to pass the time. How many fire hoses does it take to levitate a flying carpet? And what could possibly go wrong? I have to wonder how many videos were recorded before they got this one. And how many bumps and bruises were involved in the research. -via The Chive


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The Original Predator Look

(YouTube link)

The original design for the alien in the movie Predator was not the look that ended up in the film. It was not amenable to an actor actually walking around it, much less performing martial arts, as Jean-Claude van Damme thought he would. Ultimately, van Damme was replaced by 7’ 2” actor Kevin Peter Hall, not only because of his disgust with the role, but also because he was so much smaller than Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. Let’s get another look at that costume. 

   

See more pictures from the Predator set, and the full 3-hour interview, at the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. -via Metafilter


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Google’s Software Outsmarting Itself

They say when you build a better mousetrap, someone will come along and build a better mouse. That seems to have come true, except in this case, the builders are the same company.

You are familiar with reCAPTCHA, the security system that makes you decipher a distorted word to prove you’re not a bot. One of the words is a security feature; the other word is one the software does not know the answer to, but is crowdsourced through reCAPTCHA to find out what it is. The purpose is to improve optical character recognition (OCR) in order to digitize printed books. So while one screwy word is there to deceive bots, the other is there to teach bots how to read screwy words. That in itself foreshadows the rest of the story. Google bought reCAPTCHA in 2009.

Google Street View has been working on improving its OCR to read house numbers, allowing it to map addresses better. You may have noticed that some of the Blogger sites (Google owns Blogger), you have to interpret a photographed house number to leave a comment. Those house numbers are from Street View. You can see where this is leading.

Advances in the house number recognition project are such that Google’s software can recognize a single digit in a photograph 97.84% of the time. Since most street addresses are more than one digit, the actual address accuracy is 90%.

To test the algorithm, Google also let it loose on its own reCAPTCHA puzzles. There, it is 99.8 percent accurate on the hardest reCAPTCHA puzzles. Given that the whole idea of CAPTCHAs is that they are too hard for computers to solve, that’s a pretty stunning number and the accuracy is likely better than that of most humans (at least I know I don’t get anywhere close to 99.8 percent accuracy when I try to solve CAPTCHAs…).

That’s obviously a problem for reCAPTCHA because developers who are less interested in the science behind this could exploit this to spam blog comments, for example. Google, however, says that its CAPTCHA system is now less dependent on deciphering the distorted text than ever before. Instead, reCAPTCHA now looks at a broader range of clues. Entering the text is just one clue, but Google now looks at it as “a medium of engagement to elicit a broad range of cues that characterize humans and bots.”

So while Google is working on helping its bots to read real-world words and numbers, they also have to scramble to find other ways to prove who is human and who is software. We don’t know what that “medium of engagement” really is, because if they told us, the bots would know, too. Read more about the research at TechCrunch.  -via Digg  


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Student Records Bullies, Gets Hauled into Court

An unnamed sophomore at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pennsylvania, was tired of being bullied every day. His mother thought he was exaggerating his reports about the treatment he received at school. So the teenager took matters into his own hands and gathered evidence by recording an incident on his school iPad. Guess who got into trouble for that.

Instead of questioning the students whose voices were recorded, school administrators threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping before eventually agreeing to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct. On Wednesday, March 19, the student, whose name we have agreed to not include in this story, was found guilty of disorderly conduct by District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet.

The student deleted the recording under orders from school administration, although his mother had already made a transcript. The alleged bullies heard on the recording were not disciplined. South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta defended the charge of disorderly conduct, saying the student “engaged in actions which served no legitimate purpose.” The student’s family attorney thinks that destruction of the evidence may also be a crime. The unnamed student is appealing his conviction. -via The Daily Dot

(Image credit: Tom Morris)

Update: Since the story made national news, things have changed. The charge against the student was rescinded on appeal.

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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A Few Facts You May Not Know About Mickey Rooney

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

Sadly, the passing of movie legend Mickey Rooney (on April 6th) truly brought the end to an era. Born Joseph Yule Jr. the Mick, all 5' 2" of him, was really the last of the genuine "movie stars" from  Hollywood's golden age. He had, without a doubt, one of the most amazing career runs in the history of show business. Mickey kept coming back and entertaining us again and again.

His films numbered 340. Yes, you read that right, 340 movie credits, according to IMDb.
 
Of course, the Andy Hardy films (16 of them) and his legendary MGM musicals (with his beloved co-star Judy Garland) were his personal trademarks, but the Mick also had unforgettable roles in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Captains Courageous (1937), Boys Town (1938), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Black Stallion (1981) and on and on.

Okay, let's take a look at a few facts you may not know about Mickey Rooney.

* He helped bring Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe together. In 1952, Joe and Marilyn were set up (at DiMaggio's request, after seeing the young starlet's photo) on a date. The date was dullsville and was dragging along, when Mickey, who happened to be dining in the same restaurant, spotted DiMaggio and (like any guy) started fawning over him, regaling Marilyn with stories of his baseball exploits and records. Marilyn was not a sports fan at all, but she had done a movie with Mickey just two years previously, The Fireball (1950). When she saw Mickey's awed reaction to DiMaggio, her interest immediately perked up and the date heated up too. Joe and Marilyn soon became an item and were married less than two years later.

* He was the first choice to play the role of Archie Bunker on All in the Family. When he met with producer Norman Lear about the role, he was told that Archie was "a bigot and a racist.” He replied, “‘They'll kill me in the streets,’ and turned me down flat,” according to Lear.

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Cannabis Under The Microscope


Neatorama is happy to bring you some of the fascinating images from the book Cannabis Under The Microscope: A Visual Exploration of Medicinal Sativa and C. Indica by Ford McCann. The ebook is available for all Kindle devices and applications from Amazon.

You’ve seen plenty of pictures of marijuana buds, plants, and crops on the web. Ford McCann wanted a closer look, down to the microscopic level. Images at that level are amazingly otherworldly, artistic, and well worth sharing. The 170 images in the book were taken over the course of a year with both optical microscopes and electron scanning microscopes.

Continue reading
See more featured images over at Spotlight

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Learning to Love Death: New Museum Takes a Walk on the Shadow Side

You may be familiar with the blog Morbid Anatomy, but now it’s much more than a blog. It has expanded into a library and a museum with a lecture hall. The Morbid Anatomy Museum is set to open in Brooklyn in May. Collectors Weekly talked to founder Joanna Ebenstein about the new museum.

Morbid Anatomy started out about death, but now it’s expanded now to be about a lot of things that fall through the cracks, things that we don’t talk about in a dignified discourse. So the fact that the history of paranormal research has been swept under the carpet interests me, in the same way we choose not to think about how Sir Isaac Newton was as interested in alchemy as he was in mathematics. I’m interested, too, in the fact that humans are essentially non-rational beings, but we want to be rational. We try, right? Death, the paranormal, alchemy, belief, faith, saints, and relics—these things all speak to something else that we need to have answered.

Ebenstein talks about how her interest in death and its incarnations began and how it grew into a career, and she tells us about some of the unique exhibits we can see when Morbid Anatomy Museum opens

(Image credit: Joanna Ebenstein)


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Cats vs. Dogs

Dogs score higher on most of the parameters in this graph from Doghouse Diaries, which is what you’d expect from a webcomic that names itself so. You may agree or disagree with any of them. Personally, I know some cats that are off the scale in neediness. Still, both animals have their charms and you should have at least a couple of each.


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Meet Little Miss Sunshine

(vimeo link)

The hen they call Little Miss Sunshine was a egg-layer in an industrial egg farm before she was rescued and retired to Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary. Now she’s a star, having been selected as a “spokeschicken” for Animals Australia to show how intelligent hens can be. I have my suspicions that other chickens aren’t quite as smart as she is. -via Everlasting Blort

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

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28 Birthday Traditions From Around the World

(YouTube link)

Since the mental_floss YouTube series a year old now, John Green is celebrating by examining birthday traditions around the world in this week’s mental_floss video. We make a wish and blow out candles on a cake, but while cakes are common, that’s not a universal custom. Some countries have other tasty treats, and a lot of places have customs involving smearing food on the honoree.  


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Les Pyramides d'Égypte

(vimeo link)

There are more ancient Egyptian secrets than we can imagine waiting to be discovered underneath the sands of time. If only we could find the remote control! This video from Kheops Pyramides lets us in on one story that no one ever believed because there was no hard evidence to be found. -via Kuriositas


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Nine Legendary Ship's Cats

Having a cat aboard a ship is good luck, they say. It’s certainly good for keeping vermin under control lest they endanger precious food supplies. Some ship’s cats were so well-known or beloved that they are part of history. Blackie, renamed Churchill, became famous not because he did his job well (which he did), but because he charmed the Prime Minister.

Blackie was the ship's cat of the Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales. In August of 1941, the ship conveyed British PM Winston Churchill to Newfoundland for the Atlantic Charter conference with FDR. As Blackie ambled over to the battleship's gangplank, Churchill restrained him by gently petting his head – a moment caught on film for posterity.

Blackie's encounter with the great man resulted in his receiving new name, “Churchill”. Although the re-monikered mascot survived the sinking of the Prince of Wales later that year and managed to make it to Singapore, he could not be found when the order came to evacuate the colony's naval base in early 1942.

Read the stories of eight other ship’s cats at Pets Lady. -via the Presurfer

(Image credit: The Imperial War Museum)

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

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Does a Bear Fall in the Woods?

(YouTube link)

Animal welfare officials were called when a bear was spotted 30 feet up in a tree in Panama City, Florida. The 250-pound bear was shot with a tranquilizer gun. To catch the falling bear, the crew erected a tarp as a sort of net a few feet off the ground. But a tarp is not as strong as a 250-pound bear falling from a 30-foot height, as anyone should have figured out. The bear tore right through and hit the ground with a splat. The bear was uninjured, and fortunately, slept right through the ordeal. -via Arbroath

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

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The Vietnam War Draft Lottery

During the Vietnam War, the prospect of being drafted was an overwhelming part of being a young man. From 1969 to 1972, drafts were determined by lottery. Birth dates were drawn to see who would be called up first. The lower your draft number, the more likely you were on your way to Vietnam. Vietnam War Draft Lottery collects stories of what it was like to have your fate resting on a piece of paper drawn from a glass bowl. It was one lottery you did not want to win. Here’s one of the stories.

On the day of the lottery, I was in Biochemistry laboratory at university.  When I finished my lab I ran back to the dorm to watch the lottery with all my buddies.  We were all freaked out.  During the three years since I graduated from high school in 1966, I had gone to the funerals of 16 close and not-so close friends who had died in Viet Nam.  They had joined right after high school in the “Buddy System”.  I remember the ads: “Who better to watch your back than your buddy.”  
 
We were the war babies. Since we were kids we played war in our back yards.  We were given BB guns for Christmas and wore Army helmets we bought at Army Surplus stores.  We were raised on the stories, films and television shows of the heroics in the Second World War.  It’s almost like we were preparing for our own war.  Well, we got our war.  But, it wasn't a world war; it was a small war, against a small country that was having a civil war.  I think if it had been a world war…we would have all enlisted.  But it wasn't, and now it was our war nevertheless.

I arrived at the dorm and went to my friend’s room where 12 of us were watching the lottery.  I remember we had cases of beers to help us through.  We knew this day could forever change our lives.  When I came into the room I could feel the tension and see that the lottery had already started.  It wasn't a big show on TV; it was just a series of numbers scrolling across the bottom of the screen while “I Love Lucy” played above. I arrived at the drawing of the 21st number.  I had missed the first 20 numbers. Was my number one of the first 20? Of course I asked everyone if they saw my birth date come up, but everyone was concentrated on their own numbers and no one remembered the other dates.  I had no way to find out what numbers had already been drawn, so I had to watch the whole process and hope that I wasn't already chosen. By the time number 300 was drawn I was convinced I was going to war.  By number 350 I had accepted my fate; I had to be one of the first 20 numbers I had missed.

It wasn't that I didn't love my country, I did, but after so many of my friends dying, I wasn't sure that fighting a war over political ideals--communism vs. democracy--was as important as the government was saying.  Let them be communists if they want to be.  Who are we to force a political system on another country?

I was freaked out to say the least.  By number 360 I had decided that I would join the Marines.  If I was going to go, I wanted to go as the best. My birthday, February 26, was finally drawn at number 365.  I had won the lottery.  After three years of constant stress always hanging over my head, I relaxed.  I believe I stayed drunk for the next 2 weeks.  Three of my friends in the room that day died in the next two years in Viet Nam. It was a day I will never forget.  "

There are many submitted personal stories about the draft lottery. Read about how the first lottery was aired, and see a video here.  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: National Archives)


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It’s Not Nice to Mock Dear Leader

Mo Nabbach manages the M&M Hair Academy in London, England. After the story circulated about Kim Jong-un mandating that male North Korean students wear his haircut, Nabbach posted a sign outside his salon featuring a picture of the North Korean leader. The caption said, “Bad hair day? 15 per cent off all gent cuts through the month of April. Tuesday – Thursday." It was all fun and games until two men claiming to be from the North Korean Embassy visited the salon and ordered the sign removed.

Mr Nabbach's son Karim, 26, said: "We put up a poster offering a discount on men's haircuts.

"Then North Korean officials came in and asked for it to be taken down.

"My father told them: 'This is England and not North Korea' and he told them to get their lawyers."

His father removed the poster, but quickly put it back up after some of his clients urged him to demonstrate that Britain is a democracy.

Mr Nabbach said: "The two men were wearing suits and they were very serious. My father said it was very threatening."

Nabbach reported the incident to the police, who cannot do anything until a law is broken. The North Korean Embassy, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the salon, refused to comment on the incident. -via Uproxx


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