Dave Belisle is the coach of the Cumberland American Little League team of Rhode Island, the New England regional champions. They were eliminated from the Little League World Series regional finals by a team from Chicago. The coach gave the kids a speech they will always remember. Tom Hanks said there's no crying in baseball, but you may feel a little sting behind the eyes. This is what Little League should be. -via reddit
Monsieur Caron of BrickFun spent all summer working on a LEGO movie version of Ghostbusters. Now that school is about to start, he must go back to teaching history. But what a great project to show his students! And you may be surprised and delighted by who gets to play the role of Slimer in this. The behind-the-scenes video is pretty cool, too! -via Geeks Are Sexy
This kid they call Nut is not very good at playing the guitar and singing, but he tries so hard. Is he just a loser? Will he ever make friends playing music? This is a Thai life insurance ad, so you know there’s a lot more involved. Get your hanky out. This one is based on a true story. -via Viral Viral Videos
The academics are miffed that they spent the whole day on admin and got no research done at all. Ultrarealistic Lego. pic.twitter.com/XDUAUM17Xe— Lego Academics (@LegoAcademics) August 8, 2014
The LEGO Research Institute, featuring three females scientists and their gear, is now available in stores and online. Donna Yates, an American archaeologist in Glasgow, Scotland, bought one of the first sets as soon as they went on sale -plus a few extra pieces for creativity’s sake. She recreates scenes from her own life in archaeology and academia and posts them to her new Twitter account, Lego Academics. Although the account only went live on Friday, Yates already has thousands of followers, as so many scientists and academics can relate to her LEGO scenes. The most popular, shown here, is about dealing with paperwork. Yates told the Washington Post the real-life story that inspired it.
“This scene was ripped from real life: the Lego set was delivered to my office right when my office mate (another female academic) and I were filling out our performance evaluations: a slow, frustrating task which was keeping us from what we really love, namely our research. I think that scene struck a chord with other academics because it was brutally realistic. We’ve all been there, and been there more often than we want.”
Other vignettes deal with drinking as stress relief and a dinosaur fossil that wants to be the boss. Yates says she’s been a LEGO fan since childhood, and will continue to post such scenes “as long as it’s funny.” -via Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader
Tom Fonder is finding out what it is like to be old and logical. This is the kind of conversation I have with my kids all the time. The truth is, in today’s high tech world, it doesn’t matter whether a new application or social media platform makes any sense. It only matters whether young people use it, because when young people gravitate to one thing, they use it constantly -until something else comes along. If I were in charge, I would have taken that three billion dollars, because you never know when the next big thing will come along and burst your business bubble. See this comic full-size at Happy Jar.
Take a quiz to see how well you know countries around the world and their capital cities. In some of the twenty questions, you’ll be given a country and must select the capital city; in others, you’ll be given the city and must select the country. They start off very easy, but begin to get harder as the quiz goes on. I missed a couple toward the end and ended up with a score of 18, which disappointed me. Try it yourself! And then tell us how you did.
(Image credit: Flickr user sciencesque)
The time of death was firmly established. At 10:06 P.M. all three suspects said they heard a gunshot echo through the house. The house was shared by four graduate students; three, if you no longer counted Harry Harris, the victim who lay in his second-story bedroom, a bullet in his chest.
Harry, it seemed, had been a ladies' man. He had even bragged about seducing the girlfriend of one of his housemates. Unfortunately, the police didn't know which one. They separated the three remaining housemates and interviewed each one.
"I was working on my car," Bill Mayer insisted. "I plugged an extension cord into an outlet behind the house. Then I took a work light around to the side driveway, in front of the garage. When I heard the gunshot, it took me a second to realize it came from the house. Then I ran inside."
Witold Pileki was a leader in the Secret Polish Army, a resistance group that operated under the radar after Hitler’s troops occupied the country. In 1940, they knew that the Nazis were rounding up Jews and others they considered undesirable and sending them off by train. Pileki hatched a plan to be arrested and start an uprising among the prisoners. September 19, 1940, Pileki made sure he was among a group of 2,000 to be arrested, and he was sent to Auschwitz.
At the time, no one knew (or believed) that the Nazis were systematically murdering Jews and others in concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Pilecki and TAP were no exception. But Pilecki’s ability to infiltrate the camp began to change that. He managed to organize a small resistance group within the death camp, focusing mostly on increasing morale — any attempts to forcibly resist the Nazis would have certainly failed. Similarly, his ability to communicate with those outside of Auschwitz’s walls was limited, to say the least. So Pilecki did what few others were able to do: he broke out.
After two-and-a-half years in the concentration camp, that was no small feat. And it was only the beginning of the efforts in which Pileki spent the rest of his life to free to people of Poland. His story remained unknown outside of Poland until the fall of communism in 1989, but now you can read about him at Boing Boing.
August 17 is Black Cat Appreciation Day! Black cats, like black dogs, are often passed over for adoption, possibly because of outdated myths, or possibly because their color makes it difficult to see their facial expressions. But black cats need homes, too, and they can be wonderfully loving pets.
Furball Fables celebrates with a video highlighting their favorite black cats: Kitten Gunnar, Buddha, Spooky, Squiggy, Ziggy, Lucky and Miss Blacat.
There’s a Facebook page called For the Love of Black Cats where you can plenty more black cats on Black Cat Appreciation Day -or any time.
And here’s a “now and then” picture of my black cat Gogo as a kitten and fifteen years later.
Greenpeace was working on a video about coal mining on public lands, which features a time-lapse nature sequence. Filming such a sequence doesn’t always go smoothly, though. This one was photobombed by a marmot, who not only screwed up the possibility of converting the video to a time-lapse, but also got so friendly with the camera that it was knocked off balance! That’s a good marmot. -via Metafilter
Remember when you were a kid and watched Batman and Superman on TV and tied a towel around your shoulders for a cape and pretended you were a superhero? Liz Climo’s latest comic shows us how TV can influence our fantasies. Or mthe honor of having a week named after you just goes to one’s head. She had another ominous shark comic a day earlier.
After 41 years, first-grade teacher Mrs. Flexer is retiring. That’s 41 years of little kids she’s influenced, and they love her. With the help of the production team behind Kid President, former students of all ages gathered to honor Mrs. Flexer with a surprise party. They gave testimonials of of how their teacher inspired them to future success. You can’t watch this without getting at least a little choked up. How many of us will be able to retire and see how many lives we’ve influenced for the better? -via Viral Viral Videos
Goussainville is a village just north of Paris with a peculiar history. Once it was a perfectly normal small French town -up until just 40 years ago. It is now a group of abandoned homes showing some signs of decay, along with relatively modern touches that show it was not long ago that child grew up here. What happened? The short answer is that the Charles de Gaulle Airport was built.
Goussainville-Vieux Pays was once a postcard perfect town, but less than a year before CDG opened in 1974 a plane crashed into it, destroying several houses and killing six crew and eight locals. The destruction caused many of the townspeople to evacuate immediately, with others following over the course of the subsequent year as the sound traffic from the airport and sorrow for the devastation of their town became too much. Now only a few residents remain.
The result of this recent abandonment is a scene that resembles a post-apocalyptic movie set. See a collection of pictures of Goussainville as you take a short tour at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Ophelia Holt)
The city of Berlin had a particularly gruesome 20th century: World War I, the Holocaust, World War II, the Berlin Wall. And within the city you’ll see plenty of remembrance, memorials, and reminders that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Even if you skip major tourist destinations like the Berlin Wall Memorial or the Holocaust monuments near the Brandenburg Gate, it’s nearly impossible to visit Berlin without feeling the city’s pain. You might hop a train at Nollendorf Platz, encountering the lone column erected for German transit workers killed during World War I, or the triangle-shaped plaque dedicated to LGBTQ people executed by the Nazi regime. Perhaps you’re shopping along Kurfürstendamm, passing by the ruined steeple of Kaiser Wilhelm Church, whose bombed-out shell has been preserved as a memorial after it was destroyed in 1943. Maybe you head to an art exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau, a few steps from the Topography of Terror, where the excavated basement of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters serves as the backing for a timeline of Nazi persecution. Or you opt for a walk along the city’s quieter residential streets, and come upon small markers placed into the sidewalk denoting the names and dates of those deported and murdered by the Third Reich.
And those are just a few of the many memorials. But other countries have gruesome histories as well, expanded over time. Even the United States, a relatively young nation, has dark spots, but we don’t have daily reminders as we go about our business. Those who live in Berlin cannot escape the meaning of the markers, the monuments, and the preserved ruins of the past. Learn more about them, and what they mean to Berlin’s residents today, at Collectors Weekly.
When Nuseir Yassin graduated from college, he wanted to travel the world, as many graduates do. He also wanted to chronicle his adventures of video, like many travelers do. To make his different, Yassin took along a Rubik’s cube, and asked people along the way to help him solve it by giving it one move each. Eleven countries and 84 movies later, the Rubik’s cube is solved, and the video is ready. The result is like some combination of Flat Stanley, and Where In The Hell Is Matt? -via Time
It’s your brain’s fault! Maybe if we could turn off that troublemaking brain of yours, we wouldn’t have all these overweight fees and you might even have some room for souvenirs in that bag! This is the latest from Doghouse Diaries.
You’ve read about parasites that take over an animal and change its behavior for its own purposes. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. But humans aren’t as immune to these shenanigans as you may think. Carl Zimmer tells us about research into how the trillions of bacteria and other microbes we carry around with us every day may be influencing our behavior -and we’d never know it. Germs in our guts that help us digest food can manufacture chemicals that communicate with each other, and these chemical signals may influence the brain. Studies of mice show that it’s possible.
A number of recent studies have shown that gut bacteria can use these signals to alter the biochemistry of the brain. Compared with ordinary mice, those raised free of germs behave differently in a number of ways. They are more anxious, for example, and have impaired memory.
Adding certain species of bacteria to a normal mouse’s microbiome can reveal other ways in which they can influence behavior. Some bacteria lower stress levels in the mouse. When scientists sever the nerve relaying signals from the gut to the brain, this stress-reducing effect disappears.
Some experiments suggest that bacteria also can influence the way their hosts eat. Germ-free mice develop more receptors for sweet flavors in their intestines, for example. They also prefer to drink sweeter drinks than normal mice do.
Scientists have also found that bacteria can alter levels of hormones that govern appetite in mice.
So far, it sounds pretty benign. After all, microbes who live in us depend on our continued well-being, right? So far, research shows that behavior that benefits microbes doesn’t always benefit the host, but when they harm us, we go full-throttle after them. However, knowing about this mechanism may one day lead to humans being able to control what microbes do in our bodies to our benefit. Read more at the New York Times.
(Image credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Duke is a 7-year-old Great Pyrenees who lives in Cormorant, Minnesota. He was elected mayor of the town by a landslide over his opponent, store owner Richard Sherbrook. The exact vote count was not revealed, but Duke got the vast majority of the twelve votes cast, each backed by a one dollar fee. Sherbrook even voted for Duke.
“I’m going to back the dog 100 percent,” said Sherbrook. “He’s a sportsman and he likes to hunt. He’ll really protect the town.”
Sherbrook, who voted for Duke, himself, admitted that the town thought it would be “pretty cool” to have its first mayor be a dog.
The tiny town was established in 1874, but has never had a mayor before. The new mayor will be sworn in Saturday. As for his salary, he will be paid in dog food, a year’s supply donated by Tuffy’s Pet Food. -via Warming Glow
Video game characters often look impossibly extreme, with bodybuilder physiques and perfect hair. They are supposedly drawn that way because the players want to be those guys, you know, identify with them. But when does identification and admiration go just a little further than you might be comfortable with? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, female game characters are also a fantasy, but there’s no pretense that they aren’t drawn to be attractive to the game player. The Warp Zone had fun with that idea in this parody of “She Looks So Perfect” by 5 Seconds Of Summer. -via Geeks Are Sexy
(Image credit: NASA/ESA)
1. July 4, 1054 -- Day the Sky Got Brighter
This 2005 NASA's Hubble Space Telescope image of Crab Nebula shows the remnant of star's supernova explosion.
July 4th was a significant day long before America started celebrating it. It also marks the first time on record that a new object appeared in the constellation Taurus -- an object so bright it could be seen in the daytime sky. Not surprisingly, people around the world couldn't help but take notice. Chinese astronomers labeled it a "guest star" and noted that, at night, it shone almost four times brighter than Venus. They soon began speculating that its appearance heralded the Emperor at the time, Jen Tsung.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, the Anasazi Indians of western North America may also have noticed the star. Archeologists believe images carved into Arizona rocks from that era depict the same mysterious phenomenon. But one group of people left no record of having witnessed the "guest star" -- the Europeans. It's speculated they considered it heretical to suggest that anything in the night sky was not eternal.
The Chinese astronomers were right about the object being a star. More specifically, however, it was a star in the process of exploding, otherwise known as a supernova. When stars burst, they are momentarily as bright as a billion stars, so even though the phenomenon had occurred so far away from Earth, its brightness was still immense.
Now known as the Crab Nebula, this supernova remnant is hardly a distant memory. Today, it consists of an expanding shell of gas that's 10 light years across and is moving outward at about 700 miles per second. At its center is a dense remnant called a neutron star, which is about the size of Manhattan in radius and rotates roughly 30 times per second. As a result, the Crab Nebula sends out pulses of radiation that reach the Earth at that same rate. Scientists wondered about the source of this mysterious pulsing when it was first detected in 1968, but they quickly pinned it on the ancient Crab and not, say, alien civilizations trying to contact us.
2. November 11, 1572 -- The Day that Launched Tycho Brahe's Career
It's safe to say that Danish nobleman and amateur astronomer Tycho Brahe was familiar with the night sky. So it's no small deal that, on this date, he noticed "a new and unusual star, surpassing the other stars in brilliancy ... shining almost directly above [his] head." What Brahe was observing was a supernova in the constellation Cassiopeia, about 10,000 light years from Earth. Brahe's discovery catapulted him to astronomy fame. King Frederick II of Denmark was so impressed that he donated the entire island of Hven to Brahe, in order for Brahe to build an observatory. There, using carefully calibrated instruments (telescopes had yet to be invented), Brahe spent years observing the positions of the planets in the sky. Eventually, however, Brahe lost his privileged position on Hven and had to move to Prague when a new king took the throne. (Brahe spent so much time with his head in the skies that he ended up being a crummy feudal lord, and his peasants were vocally unhappy.)
His legacy hasn't suffered, though. Brahe's data provided the groundwork for the research of his assistant, Johannes Kepler, who used it to formulate his famous three laws of planetary motion -- which, in turn, allowed Isaac Newton to derive his Universal Law of Gravity. We should consider ourselves lucky for that new arrival in the sky on November 11, 1572. If it hadn't shown up, Brahe might have gotten bored and switched hobbies.
3. March 12, 1610 -- THe Day Galileo Revealed All His Secrets
Thomas Leveritt showed people what they looked like on video shot in ultraviolet (UV) light. You can see the changes your skin goes through by contrasting young children with adults. But UV light does not see through sunscreen, which is sunscreen’s entire purpose. In UV light, it looks black! But you can see how it protects your skin from the damaging sun’s rays. And it looks pretty funny, too. Want some sunscreen? -via Bad Astronomy
Once upon a time, salmon swam upstream to spawn on their own with no real problems. It was exhausting, but it was their natural life cycle. In modern times, dams and other manmade water barriers have caused the fish no end of problems, yet they still try their best by instinct. Some dams are so high that wildlife agencies have been trucking salmon around the barriers.
But now comes the salmon cannon from the appropriately-named company Whooshh Innovations. It’s a vacuum-powered tube that shoots the fish 100 feet or so uphill on their journey (they have a 500-foot tube, but so far that’s only for frozen fish). What fun! As soon as the tests are done, some enterprising engineer is going to adapt these for water parks, just you wait and see. Read more about the salmon cannon at The Verge. -via Daily of the Day
This is terrible! There’s a fox in the yard and he’s playing with MY TOYS! Get out of there, fox! Look at him. Stop having fun! If I weren’t cooped up inside the house, I’d show you what for! Yes, I would! Can’t you hear my bark? Get out of my back yard! That’s MY yard! -via Uproxx
Mulder is a clever cat. He’s not only figured out how to open a door, he works around a trap (a tray of water) to do it. This is why we went from latched doors to round knobs, although I suspect that bears had more to do with it than house cats. -via Daily Picks and Flicks, where you can see another video of Mulder’s cleverness.
The 2014 winner has been crowned in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which writers compete to construct the worst opening line for a novel. The winner is Elizabeth (Betsy) Dorfman of Bainbridge Island, Washington, for this gem:
When the dead moose floated into view the famished crew cheered – this had to mean land! – but Captain Walgrove, flinty-eyed and clear headed thanks to the starvation cleanse in progress, gave fateful orders to remain on the original course and await the appearance of a second and confirming moose.
Dorfman received “about $150” for her prize. The contest site has winning entries in various categories such as children’s literature, fantasy, and crime, as well as runners-ups that are all hilariously bad. The contest takes its name from Victorian novelist George Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who started a novel in 1830 with “It was a dark and stormy night,” a sentence that has come to be shorthand for a hack novel. -via Metafilter
Fee Jeanes and her family moved to Bridport, Dorset, UK, 19 months ago, to a home near the bus station. Their 15-year-old cat Dodger quickly made friends with bus drivers and riders, who would even feed the cat occasionally. Jeanes recently found out her cat has been riding around on bus trips in his spare time.
"He is an old boy and is very friendly. At first Dodger kept going to the bus station because people there fed him tit-bits and scraps of food.
"But then he started climbing on board the buses because they are almost like greenhouses when it is sunny.
"Then last week I found out he had travelled to Charmouth and back, which is a 10 mile round trip.
"I hadn't seen him all morning until my daughter Emily told me one of her friends had just seen him on the bus at Charmouth.
The bus drivers know the cat well, and make sure Dodger gets off at his home stop when the day ends. The bus company says they do not encourage the cat to ride, but don’t mind if he does. As a senior citizen, he is eligible for free rides. -via reddit
(Image credit: Peter Willows/BNPS)
She was born Betty Joan Perske in 1924, but the whole world knows her as Lauren Bacall, the woman who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle. Bogie and Bacall only made four movies together, but shortly after she starred with him in her first film, To Have and Have Not, they married. Bogie was 45 and Bacall was 20. They remained together until Bogart’s death in 1957.
Working with Bogart, 25 years her senior, the 19-year-old was so shy that she was often photographed with her head down, her eyes cast up— but that pose became known as The Look, a sultry trademark gesture to go with the equally sultry Voice. The chemistry between the pair was evident, unfolding on-screen as it did in real life. Within three weeks, the stars were having an affair. Seven months after the picture premiered, Bogart split from his third wife (actress Mayo Methot) and married Bacall. Their marriage produced two children and the most productive period of her career, including three more pictures together. There was The Big Sleep, the Raymond Chandler mystery in which society dame Bacall send's Bogie's sleuth Philip Marlowe reeling. There was Dark Passage, an innovative thriller in which the first half of the movie is seen from Bogart's point of view, so that pretty much all you see is Bacall through Bogie's eyes. And there was Key Largo, a sort of rewrite of their first movie, with Bogart and Bacall falling in love while standing up to gangster Edward G. Robinson. And that was all, but those were enough to ensure that Bogart and Bacall topped the all-time list of couples who sizzled on-screen as much as they did in private.
Sir David Attenborough brings us a nature documentary like no other, as he observes and introduces us to the herd behavior of …the Fangirl. Warning: this creature can be terrifying. When asked about the full documentary, one of the subjects had this to say:
“OMG! I can’t even.”
How does a cat become a DJ? Practice! Although I think this one may be born to do it. There are training programs for kitten DJs, though, where they learn to scratch and mix. Here’s one session caught on video:
They are surely nightclub stars in the making! -via Metafilter
We often say, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” And that’s the case for Robin Williams, who died yesterday of an apparent suicide. From standup comic to TV alien to comedic movie star to dramatic actor, here’s a look at some of Williams’ most memorable roles. IMDb lists 102 acting credits, and his Wikipedia filmogrpahy lists 81 movies. There were so many, you probably couldn’t list them off the top of your head, so here’s a reminder. -via Digg
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