This cat is named Nico "El guapo," and he has his own Instagram account. Not only does he have wonderfully expressive eyes, he loves a good bath. That is a little odd for a housecoat, as most cat owners will tell you. But while Nico is in the minority, he’s not alone. Buzzfeed rounded up pictures of 17 Cats Who Actually Love Being In The Water. You’ll enjoy seeing the rest of them, too.
Enjoy a collection of Japanese prints from the 1800s that depict cats in human situations, mostly having a grand old time. The picture above jus a pun, as the title Roku kesen (猫の六毛撰) can mean either Six Immortal Poets or Six Cats with Fur of Different Colors.
Other images have cats at festivals or at tea ceremonies, playing games, dancing, lounging, acting out classic plays, flirting with each other, and generally being LOLcats. -via Everlasting Blort
Peter Cohen is a home builder, so he can fix his house any way he wants to. What he wanted was to make his cats safe, healthy, and happy. One thing led to another, and now he has 15 cats and a house custom-designed for their pleasure. There are catwalks, tunnels, staircases, beds, a koi pond, ventilated litter box closets, and Roombas. So far, he’s spent almost $40,000. These cats have it made! -via Tastefully Offensive
The Locally Laid Egg Company puts their name right their on cartons of their eggs, which are available only in northern Minnesota and parts of Iowa and Indiana. In December they received a letter from a man who was offended by the name. How do you respond to that? Lucie B. Amundsen, the company’s “marketing chick,” wrote, in part:
Here’s why we named our company, Locally Laid. First off, it’s completely demonstrative of what we are. We are the first pasture-raised egg company in the Upper Midwest providing you with eggs which are laid locally. More on the sassy part of the name in minute, but let’s look at local. It’s important.
She goes on to explain the importance of free-range, organically-raise chickens and how they differ from nationwide factory farms. She also explains how important mid-sized farms are to preserving local economies. It’s pretty interesting, in a post that's all due to a customer with a dirty mind. -Thanks Carol Anne!
The most predictable thing in the universe is still clouded by human perception. The biggest days of the year for a child become mundane occurrences when you are an adult. How many years did you wonder if you’d still be alive when the 21st century arrived?
My kids consider all the Star Wars movies to be ancient. They had seen the earlier movies by the time Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005, but I thought they were still too young to see that one in a theater. When they finally watched it, it was already an “old movie” in their eyes. This Star Wars tipping point is brought to you by Randall Munroe of xkcd.
While I check out Facebook links to bring you interesting posts, I try to stay away from my personal feed for just this reason. The people you know are always posting the best parts of their lives, which will only make you feel worse about yours. What’s more, your friends’ posts lead to you to notice other friends, and before you know it, your day is gone and you're still depressed. Yes, I’m all for posting pleasantness, but among friends it can become a game of one-upmanship or trying to keep up with the Joneses, even if it’s only in your head. This song is from comedian Pat Regan. I'd link to his Facebook page, but it's surprisingly inactive and the banner pic is NSFW. -via Viral Viral Videos
Pollsters asked French citizens who contributed the most to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. The poll was conducted in 1945, then repeated in 1994 and 2004. As you can see in a graphic from Olivier Berruyer, the results changed over time. Of course, most of the people polled in 1994 and 2004 were not around during the war, and what they know was learned in classrooms and movie theaters. The movies aren’t necessarily wrong, but the Hollywood film industry tells stories they know, that are available in a language the industry speaks.
In another graph at the same post, Berruyer shows us that 11 million soldiers of the Soviet Union died in the war, and as least as many civilians, making the USSR the country with the highest casualties of all. China was second, as Chinese civilians bore the brunt of Japanese atrocities. The United States lost 184,000 soldiers in the European theater, and 407,000 when you include the Pacific theater.
The effectiveness of the USSR in defeating the Nazis is colored by the utter brutality of the Stalinist regime, and clouded by the secrecy of Soviet isolation over the ensuing 50 years. However, the sheer numbers have a tale to tell, and we haven’t been telling it as well as we could. The post at Les-Crises has more graphics on World War II, which are all in French but pretty easy to understand. -via reddit
(Image credit: Olivier Berruyer)
A couple of years ago, we linked to a story about how the variety of apples diminished to just a few kinds, and the efforts of one man to bring back their glorious diversity. The same fate has befallen potatoes. Thanks to market forces, particularly the demands of the French fry industry, the overwhelming majority of potatoes available in the U.S. are Russet potatoes. Contrast that with the many kinds of spuds that are still grown in South America. Potatoes were first cultivated thousands of years ago in the Andes mountains, on the border of what are now Peru and Bolivia.
Back then, the potato was synonymous with diversity. The Andeans inhabited a mountainous mosaic of microclimates in which one plot of land presented a very different set of growing conditions than its neighbor. No single variety could survive in such a heterogeneous landscape, so the Andeans diversified — to the extreme. Farming so many different types of potatoes also provided a more interesting and enjoyable diet, a tradition that is still alive today. “If you go to a typical Andean household,” explains Stef de Haan, a researcher at the International Potato Center in Lima, “they will eat what is called chajru, which means ‘mixture’ in the Quechua language. They sit around a big bowl of potatoes. And the joy of eating those, the culinary delight, is that every time you pick a potato, you pick a different one. In Quechua, especially when it comes to the taste of potatoes, they have this whole unique vocabulary — almost like somebody from France would tell you about the taste of wine.
Now a few folks are trying to bring back potato variety in the U.S. One is helping chefs develop ways to harness different tater flavors, colors, and textures, while another is encouraging diversity on farms. Read about the many types of potatoes we could be eating soon at Modern Farmer. -via Digg
We’ve posted about the annual Robocup meet a few times before, but here is the funniest video yet from the annual soccer tournament for robots. This team from the 2012 meet can barely stay upright, much less catch each other. They altogether suck at the sport. But what makes it special is the exciting play-by-play commentary from Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen. -via The Daily Dot
Reggie is a very patient and long-suffering cat. He’s well aware that these Australian terriers are puppies and don’t know any better, but he isn’t enjoying their company. He finally gets up to leave, but hesitates while he gets one last puppy scratch. Oh, don’t miss the half-hearted foot push at :50. -via Metafilter
A court case in Germany pitted a tenant against a landlord on the proper way for men to urinate. The landlord had confiscated €1,900 of his tenant’s €3,000 deposit due to damage to the marble bathroom floor, which he says resulted from urine splash. The tenant sued. Instead of arguing just on the responsibility for the floor damage, the court case focused on a man’s right to be a “Stehpinkler,” or standing urinator, when the landlord wanted him to be a “Sitzpinkler.”
While Düsseldorf judge Stefan Hank found the pro-sitting landlord's arguments "credible and understandable“, he said that he could not side with the landlord.
"Despite the increasing domestication of men in this regard, urinating while standing up is still widespread", he wrote in his judgement.
The landlord should have warned the renter of the floor's "sensitivity" to potentially damaging bodily fluids beforehand, the judge reasoned.
P.S. The source of this and many other weird news stories, the blog Nothing to do with Arbroath is celebrating ten years of blogging today. Please go and leave a message of encouragement for the tired blogger.
You recall how Toyota added a recorded sound of an engine to its Prius models because people thought it was creepy and dangerous for a car to move silently when it was in electric mode. But apparently they weren’t the only ones. If you step on the accelerator of a fairly recent Ford F-150 pickup, or a Mustang, the satisfyingly powerful American ‘vroom” you hear is deliberately amplified or digitally enhanced.
Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away.
Softer-sounding engines are actually a positive symbol of just how far engines and gas economy have progressed. But automakers say they resort to artifice because they understand a key car-buyer paradox: Drivers want all the force and fuel savings of a newer, better engine — but the classic sound of an old gas-guzzler.
While we can understand adding noise honestly as a safety feature, it seems foolish to do it as a sales gimmick -and even worse to act like “the mating call of the Mustang” is produced by a V8 engine instead of a digital recording. Read how Ford, BMW, Porshe, Volkswagen, and other companies enhance engine sounds, at The Washington Post. -via Boing Boing
(Image credit: Ford)
Can you teach the concept of futility to a dog? No, he’ll have to learn on his own. Buddy found a rock he particularly liked, but the sidewalk is not level and the rock is just too round. Will he continue to fetch it for eternity? Will he give up? Or will he figure out a way around this predicament? No matter what happens, that's a good dog. -via Tastefully Offensive
The golden burial mask of Egypt’s King Tutankhamun was broken off during an attempted cleaning at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo sometime last year. Under orders to fix it quickly, curators used epoxy glue to reattach the beard. Epoxy sets very quickly. The beard ended up slightly crooked, with a visible gap between the face and beard, and some epoxy showing. What’s more, an attempt to remove the excess glue with a spatula ended up scratching the mask.
Three of the museum's conservators reached by telephone gave differing accounts of when the incident occurred last year, and whether the beard was knocked off by accident while the mask's case was being cleaned, or was removed because it was loose.
They agree however that orders came from above to fix it quickly and that an inappropriate adhesive was used. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of professional reprisals.
(Image credit: Jon Bodsworth)
We know enough about the royal couple, Will and Kate. England is majestic for at least ten other reasons.
1. The Cabbies Are Smarter Than Google Maps
London has the most informed cab drivers in the world—and they’ve got the diplomas to prove it. To become a certified taxi operator in London, a driver must first pass “the Knowledge,” an extraordinarily difficult exam that involves the detailed recall of 25,000 streets within a six-mile radius of London’s Charing Cross railway station. But that’s just the beginning. Cabbies must also memorize the locations of clubs, hospitals, hotels, parks, theaters, schools, restaurants, government buildings, and churches. Plus, they have to be fluent in English.
Most drivers take three years to master the Knowledge, and many practice by tracing the routes on a bicycle. It’s not uncommon to see future cabbies pedaling through the city in the early morning with plastic-covered maps clipped to their handlebars. Drivers must know their directions backwards and forwards, which is a complicated task in the maze of London’s one-way streets and blocked-off pedestrian zones.
(Image credit: Dian Savitri)
The testing process isn’t quick, either. The exam comprises a six-month series of evaluations that includes written, oral, and practical tests, and only one-quarter of the candidates make it through. But there’s an additional benefit for those who pass. In 2000, researchers at the Wellcome Trust in London scanned the brains of 16 London taxi drivers and found that each cabbie’s hippocampus—the area of the brain associated with memory—was larger than those of control subjects. Scientists believe that the hippocampus grew larger as the drivers spent more time on the job. Storing and retaining that much information could actually be a prescription for avoiding dementia.
2. The Swans Never Miss a Census
(Image credit: Philip Allfrey)
The royal family provides a full range of curiosities beyond extravagant weddings. Consider the tradition of England’s annual swan census. Officially, the Queen owns all of the mute swans along the Thames River. But determining just how many birds are in Her Majesty’s flock takes work. So, every July, the royal family conducts a “Swan Upping,” when an armada of skiffs row up the Thames looking for baby swans. When the rowers spot them, they shout, “All up!” and get into formation surrounding the tiny birds. Then the swans are meticulously examined, weighed, measured, and banded by the Queen’s Swan Warden, a Professor of Ornithology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology. Adult swans are examined and counted, too.
When Juergen Horn was in Iceland for the For 91 Days project, he and Mike Powell visited as many natural wonders as possible, including waterfalls. Now he’s posted breathtaking photographs of a dozen of them, all with links to more information. The waterfall above is Svartifoss, which inspired the design of a landmark church in Reykjavík. Below is Glymur, Iceland’s tallest waterfall.
You’ll also see the waterfall in the movie Prometheus, one you can walk behind, another that looks like lightning hitting the village below, and the one where they saw the Game of Thrones cast working, all at Random Good Stuff.
A "lost film" is one for which there is no known print in existence- anywhere. A great majority of the lost films are the early silents, but films were lost up until around the 1950's.
Why did films become "lost"? Early film stock was highly flammable and film warehouse fires were not that unusual. Incredibly, sometimes studios would deliberately destroy their own films. (These films would nowadays, of course, be classified as "priceless"- both literally and figuratively.)
The deliberate destruction of these gems is on a par, although not with the same evil intention, with the Nazi book burnings of the 1930's. Actually the book burnings were better, in a way, because the books the Nazis tried to destroy still had copies in other locations and complete destruction was much harder to achieve.
Sometimes the loss was caused by simple neglect, as early cheap film stock was just left sitting around for decades and simply turned to goo. Luckily, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel & Hardy, each only have one or two lost films. Happily, sometimes lost films turn up in basements, attics, closets or motion picture theaters.
Let's take a look- sadly and regretfully- at some of the greatest-ever "lost films.”
* Saved From the Titanic (1912)
The first-ever film made about the sinking of the Titanic. Incredibly, this film was made in the same year the Titanic sank. Doubly incredibly, one of the cast members was Dorothy Gibson, who was an actual passenger and survivor of the Titanic's ill-fated voyage.
* The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908)
The first film ever made about The Wizard of Oz. The film actually features an appearance by Oz author L. Frank Baum. The film was only shown in road shows as part of a theater presentation. The paint decomposed and it was discarded.
* We Must Do Our Best (1909)
Moe Howard, later the leader of the Three Stooges, did this silent Vitagraph film. He was 12 years old at the time. Billed as “Harry Moses Horwitz" (his real name), Moe plays "a bully.” Talk about prophetic!
* The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1914)
What’s better than a happy baby laughing? TWO happy babies laughing! So here we have two minutes that are guaranteed to ease the stress of your long day. Ann D’s 9-month-old twins have learned to play peek-a-boo with each other. They’re having a great time. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
An elderly bell ringer at All Saints Church in Brailsford, Derbyshire, UK, was injured while performing her duties on Sunday. She was caught in the rope and lifted off the floor, and then she landed hard, injuring her hip and arm. The spiral stairs leading to the 11th-century bell tower are too narrow for an ambulance crew to carry out the injured woman. So they called out the experts: the Derby Mountain Rescue Team, composed of unpaid volunteer mountain climbers trained in rescue operations. A spokesman for the team said,
"A local team member was first on scene and provided medical attention whilst other team members arrived to evacuate the casualty.
"She was placed in a vacuum mattress - effectively an all-body splint - and carried down the stairs to be handed over to an EMAS ambulance crew.
"As we say these days, mountain rescue - more than just mountains."
Mark Methot (Image credit: Flickr user 5of7)
Something I never knew, or even thought about: hockey teams have their own dentists. Hockey arenas have dental chairs, ready for emergency work. And a dentist who takes the job is liable to see things he’d never see otherwise.
No other sport has a job quite like a dentist in the NHL. In some games, these dentists simply sit and watch, usually using season tickets provided by the team, waiting for a problem that never happens. In other games, they leave those seats and jump right into medical emergencies the likes of which they would never see anywhere else.
Some team dentists enjoy the game and turn back into dentists when they’re needed. Others watch with trepidation, always worrying about a pending dental disaster. One hit looks brutal and it’s nothing. Another hit looks like nothing, and it breaks a jaw. In the wild nights of NHL dentists, nobody ever knows what’s coming next.
Bleacher Report talked to several NHL dentists about their jobs and some of the emergencies they’ve seen. Some have attended injuries way beyond teeth, because they were there and ready when other medical personnel weren’t. The article is fascinating, but not for the faint of heart. (via Digg)
Prepare a coelacanth? Surely people don’t eat the most ancient of all fish species -they are so rare that we once thought they were extinct! No, that’s not what this preparation means. The American Museum of Natural History’s series Shelf Life shows us how science labs and museums prepare specimens of coelacanth to preserve them for scientific study. Ichthyology Curator Melanie L. J. Stiassny takes us through the process as it has been done for various purposes. -Thanks, Julia Kramer!
Avid Star Wars fans Tony Giordano and his wife Stefaney are expecting a baby soon. They got artist Nick Wolfe to paint Stefaney’s expanding belly with R2D2’s dome! They surprised the obstetrician with the artwork, then visited fellow fan Daniel Deutsch (previously at Neatorama) and his personal office droid.
It was a great opportunity for photographs! You can see there’s a distinct likeness between the two. -Thanks, Daniel!
(Images credit: Daniel Deutsch)
While movies are filled with situations in which a bystander, played by one of our favorite action heroes, must rise to the occasion and take out the bad guys single-handed, we often look at those stories as if they’d never happen in real life. But they do. Cracked has six stories of extraordinary events and the ordinary people who performed in a manner you wouldn’t even believe in a movie. Tom Bennett was one of them.
Tom R. Bennett was the copilot on Trans Australian Airways flight 408 in 1960 when his flight faced the first midair hijacking in Australian history. The hijacker, Alex Hildebrandt, methodically checked off pretty much all of the villainous movie hijacker boxes by being a disgruntled Russian with a sawed-off rifle and a bomb that he had assembled in the bathroom, presumably after disabling the smoke alarm, which is also strictly against air safety regulations. He whipped out his lethal gun-and-bomb combination and began threatening everyone on board.
First Officer Bennett, rather than instantly cave in to Hildebrandt's demands, calmly approached the man and asked him to knock it off, which, while brave, is not a tactic that generally works on hijackers. Hildebrandt responded by firing a warning shot into the ceiling, to show Bennett he meant business. Bennett responded to that by punching Hildebrandt directly in the face with one hand while simultaneously ripping wires out of Hildebrandt's bomb with the other, disarming it.
There’s more to that story of bravery, and five others that will make you believe in ordinary heroes.
In the small town of Wolhusen, Switzerland, a funeral home chapel sits as it has since the 17th century. Its walls are decorated with a wraparound mural depicting the Dance of Death, in which corpse-like death figures come to claim the living. What makes this particular mortuary chapel different is that, from the entryway to the murals, real human skulls are part of the decor.
Inside, the mural is comprised of a series of figures in the classic Dance of Death motif, showing people from all walks of life (kings, bishops, musicians, and peasants) being led away by dancing skeletal figures, each of which has a real human skull set in the plaster where its head should be. The skulls are even situated to match the angle of the skeletons' poses, with one set in the plaster face first to show the skeleton with its back turned to the viewer.
Take a mini-tour of the Wolhusen Totentanz in text and pictures at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Michael Bukowski & Jeanne D'Angelo)
An artist in Tasmania is altering discarded Bratz dolls. He/she gets them from second hand shops, repaints their faces with more realistic features and no makeup, and gives them new molded feet and new (often knitted or crocheted) clothing. The end result is a completely different doll on the same body. Whether this is an improvement or not depends on how you feel about Bratz dolls, but you have to admit, the work is well done.
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, which is now 206 years ago. We once looked forward to reports of the Poe Toaster, who used to delivered flowers to Poe’s grave early in the morning on his birthday every year, and drink a glass of cognac in his honor. No one ever know who the toaster was. The folks at Atlas Obscura pay their respects with a strange little tribute video to Poe and the Poe Toaster. -Thanks, Dylan!
Chris at Lunarbaboon has the right attitude. So do his fans, half of whom obligingly left plenty of comments under his latest comic that said, “I hate your comic... You should kill yourself because your comic sucks so bad.” They said that because they want to make him feel good.
Others praised his comic …because they also want to make him feel good.
French professional skier Candide Thovex (previously) gives us his point of view as he jumps, flips, and schusses down Le Clusaz mountain at terrifying speeds. Do NOT try this, at home or anywhere else. The video shoot was meticulously planned, staged, and edited. A normal skier trying this would at least be banned from the slope, if he didn’t die or break every bone in his body. If you’re wondering about the title, the previous video is here. -via Metafilter
The following is a list from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader History's Lists.
Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first prime minister) once said, “All my major works have been written in prison. I would recommend prison not only to aspiring writers, but to aspiring politicians, too.” Here are some other notable jailhouse jotters who seem to agree with that advice.
1. SIR THOMAS MALLORY (1405-71)
LE MORTE D’ARTHUR
The English legends of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, and the Knights of the Round Table have been around for centuries, and no one knows for sure who actually invented the tales. But we do know that Sir Thomas Mallory wrote the legends down, added some of his own flair, and published them in a collection that is today’s best-known telling of the Arthurian legend. Mallory was a soldier and Member of Parliament, but went on to a life of crime and was in and out of prison. Ironically, many scholars believe that Mallory wrote the tales of knights and chivalry while awaiting trial for theft, extortion, home invasion, banditry, and rape.
2. NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI (1469-1527)
Niccolò Machiavelli lived during a time of great plotting and political upheaval in Italy. Initially, he aligned himself with a government that expelled the ruthless and powerful Medici family, which had ruled Florence for 60 years. But when that government fell apart and the Medicis came back with a vengeance, Michiavelli was tossed into prison and tortured. Behind the bars, he wrote The Prince, a philosophical treatise on politics that said leaders should rule by force instead of by law. In The Prince, Machiavelli wrote, “Anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” It was from this book that the term “Machiavellian” came into use to describe a ruthless, deceitful, and cunning leader. Reportedly, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was a fan of The Prince and kept a copy next to his bed.
3. SIR WALTER RALEIGH (1552-1618)
HISTORY OF THE WORLD
Sir Walter Raleigh was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and made two trips to the New World to try to colonize Virginia. Although those settlements failed, they paved the way for future colonies. He alienated the queen, though, by secretly marrying one of her ladies-in-waiting, and in 1591 Elizabeth had Raleigh imprisoned in the Tower of London for about a year.
After Elizabeth died in 1603, her successor, King James, tried Raleigh for treason and sent him back to the Tower of London for 13 years. It was there that he wrote the first volume of his History of the World, which recounted the histories of ancient Greece and Rome. In 1616, James granted Raleigh a release from prison in order to search for El Dorado, the legendary city of gold, in Venezuela. Instead, Raleigh looted a Spanish settlement there. To keep the peace with Spain, James had the explorer beheaded. Ever the writer, Raleigh left the world with a quotable quip- after inspecting the executioner’s axe, he remarked, “This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physciian for all diseases and miseries.”
4. DANIEL DEFOE (1660-1731)
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