To the folks who live there, these rites seem normal. But to the rest of us, but staging a buffet for monkeys is just strange. In this week’s mental_floss video, John Green tells us about the weird local traditions that may even be worth traveling for. Most of these traditions have been on Neatorama at one time or another, but some have been a long time ago. You can use the search function at the top to look them up.
Go, dog, go! Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington, held a Wiener Dog Race sponsored by the local radio station. Among the dachshunds was the delightfully-named Anderson Pooper, who is disabled and uses wheels. Anderson Pooper didn’t win, but he made it to the finish line (which is more than you can say for some of the racers) and won the hearts and minds of the spectators. And now the internet. That’s a good dog. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Bonus: Here’s another video of Anderson Pooper competing in an earlier race while wearing a GoPro on his harness.
“I always wanted to be an eccentric millionaire.” So stated John Lennon in his first official Beatles biography. And thus, after achieving this wish, John set about accumulating all the trappings that he assumed come along with the package.
On June 3, 1965, a brand new Rolls-Royce was delivered to John Lennon. The Phantom V model had been fitted with a limousine body and was finished in Valentines black. The car's license plate was FJB111C. A guarantee was issued to John on June 10, 1965. The car was 19 feet long and weighed three tons.
A notoriously bad driver himself, John seldom drove the plush car himself, instead preferring to employ a chauffeur. John had two different chauffeurs during his Beatle years- Bill Corbett and (more frequently) Les Anthony.
John and his fellow Beatles were driven in the vehicle to the premiere of their second movie Help! in July of 1965. On October 26, '65, a very ambivalent John and his three comrades were chauffeured in the car to Buckingham Palace to receive their MBE medals from the Queen. While being driven, John loved to lie on his back and play with the car's various control buttons with his feet.
In 1966, John had the back seat converted to a double bed. Later, a Sony television, a portable refrigerator, and telephone were installed. A "floating" record player (with perfect balance so it could be used without being effected by stops and bumps while driving) was also fitted inside. An interior and exterior sound system was included. John added blacked-out windows and was the first person in England to have this feature in his car.
A found pet ad was posted at Craiglist for Richmond, Virginia. If it’s yours, you should go get it. The accompanying text:
Found (assuming) pet. Some sort of cat snake? Long and nimble but with dryish fur and cat teeth. Seems to like cat food, but isn't a cat. Please come take this off my hands it smells weird.
Sure, it could be a prank, but even so, it made me laugh. Or maybe it’s possible that someone could attain adulthood without ever hearing about ferrets. And monkeys might fly out of my butt. -via Uproxx
Here’s the simplest idea for a theme park ride yet. In fact, it’s not even a “ride” at all, unless you count the elevator trip up. The Sky Tower in Tivoli Friheden, Denmark, is an actual free fall, with no ropes or kill switch. You go up 100 feet, get strapped into a safety harness just for the short time it takes to get from the platform to a hang over the edge, then the harness is unhooked. It takes a mere second to get back down. Guaranteed to cure you of ever thinking about what it would be like to jump from a building. This video shows the experience from all angles. -via Viral Viral Videos
Ed Yong tells of a case in which a species leapfrogs thousands of years of evolution by getting microbes to do it for them. A certain population of the desert woodrat eats the creosote bush, which contains a deadly toxin, and thrives on it. The woodrats themselves did not develop immunity to the poison, but have gut microbes that break down the creosote. Microbiologist Kevin Kohl ascertained this by comparing desert woodrats who live where the creosote bush grows and woodrats who live where there are no such plants.
To confirm that these microbes are important, Kohl killed them with antibiotics. Afterwards, the woodrats could all still eat normal laboratory chow. But when they were fed with creosote, they couldn’t tolerate the resin and lost a lot of weight. Within two weeks, all of them had lost 10 percent of their weight and were removed from the experiment. When Kohl removed their microbes, the experienced woodrats couldn’t even handle the tiny levels of creosote that their naive cousins can. “[It] effectively removed 17,000 years of ecological and evolutionary experience with creosote compounds,” he wrote.
Conversely, Kohl managed to transform naive woodrats into creosote-busters by infusing them with the microbes of their more experienced cousins. He did this by grinding up the faeces of the experienced individuals and feeding it to the naive ones, mimicking what the rodents naturally do in the wild.
The beauty of this discovery is how one can instantly turn a woodrat into a poison-eating machine just by introducing the right microbe. There are other cases where gut microbes allow an animal to eat something they normally shouldn’t be able to, including commercial livestock. How long will it be before we begin farming all sorts of designer microbes for our own biomes, for purposes we can’t even conceive now? Read more about this research at Not Exactly Rocket Science.
(Image credit: Kohl et al, 2014)
Owen Mundy of Florida State University created the website I Know Where Your Cat Lives, which is a lot like Cat Map, a now-defunct site that proved popular last year. You can look at a random cat and see where it’s from, or scan the map for cats near you. The cats on the map were found on the internet. And that’s the lesson behind the project. The cat’s location were found using the photograph’s metadata embedded at Flickr or Instagram.
“I was using Instagram to photograph my 3-year-old and one day I realized that the app had been recording and embedding the geographic coordinates in my backyard,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘I don't recall being asked by the app if I wanted to share this data.’ It was a creepy experience that I wanted to translate in a way that was equal parts scary and fun, but technically harmless.”
And since cats absolutely don’t understand the concept of privacy, this makes I Know Where Your Cat Lives an interesting test case for other areas of data analysis and visualization.
See, it’s a slightly less creepy way of letting you know how easy it is to track people from their online information. To that end, Mundy has made it very easy to remove your cat if you like, but he has also received submissions from people who want to add their cats. Read more about Mundy and his map at the daily Dot.
The final of the eight music videos released in eight days from Weird Al Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun album is here. “Mission Statement” is every business meeting you’ve ever attended, full of gobbledygook that means nothing you can’t say in less than a minute. It’s all set to music reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Carry On” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Yes, yesterday was the eighth day for the eighth video, but the Wall Street Journal had an exclusive and embargoed it for 24 hours. You can read about the making of the video there.
Oh, while, we’re at it, let’s go back and see the one that Pop Crush debuted and embargoed for a couple of days. Here’s “First World Problems.”
You can now see all eight videos anytime you like, and buy the album, at Weird Al Yankovic’s website.
Chris Grava did a semester abroad at Cape Town University in South Africa. When his term was almost up, his brother Nick went there to spend two weeks. Nick ended up staying permanently to work at the Home of Safety in Khayelitsha, a foster home for orphans and vulnerable children, where he is now managing director. Chris and his parents visit when they can, and when Chris recently went for a visit, he was wearing his GoPro camera. The joy on the kids’ faces at seeing their old friend is a treat, and pretty soon the youngsters had to try out the camera for themselves. Learn more about Nick Grava’s work in South Africa at Intsikelelo. -via reddit
Senior Living Communities is a chain of retirement homes with facilities in several states. They came together to produce an 18-month calendar featuring residents recreating their favorite movies, TV shows, and album covers. Proceeds go to the various communities’ local charities.
You can order yours through their website, and you can even designate which community the charity portion will go to. All 18 photos are posted there. You can also vote for your favorite of the 18 photographs at Facebook. -via Buzzfeed
Nathan Yau at Flowing Data takes a turn to the weird side for a list of 19 maps. I love this one.
4. Changes over time and space
Several mini-explosions are going off in your head at this very moment, so brace yourself for what comes next. The most telling of maps is the one that ebbs and flows with the people who reside in the area. The data flows like water in a bendy river with a lot of rocks. This is a picture of life as we know it — random, unorganized, and unpredictable. When life gives you lemons, you make a map of those lemons, because the result blows your mind every single time.
The animated map above is only a snapshot of the millions of lives that the lines and shapes represent. The animation likely shows something interesting. Sometimes a state turns orange, others turn black, and the rest turn white. What will happen in the next frame? It is hard to say. Just like tomorrow.
Other maps detail which states end with the letter “a” and what letter each state’s name uses the most (in which Kentucky is the most interesting). They are all U.S. maps, for simplicity, I guess.
Knowing a little something about what I would see at this link, I thought for sure it would be at Clickhole. But Clickhole’s humor was spawned from the recent prevalence of overhype in the desperate scramble for clicks and pageviews illustrated by sites like Upworthy, and that backlash can be grounds for brilliance in other corners of the internet. -via Metafilter
Here is a list of the ten most peculiar plants and trees in the world from The Best Book of Lists Ever compiled by Geoff Tibballs.
(Image credit: Jessp)
1. The Sausage Tree of Africa (Kigelia Africana) gets its name from the long, thick fruits which hang from the tree like sausages. The fruits have a different connotation to the Ashanti people of Ghana, who call it the “hanging breast tree,” comparing it to old tribeswomen whose life of unremitting breastfeeding results in very long breasts.
(Image credit: Rod Waddington)
2. The Starfish Flower (Stapelia variegata) from Africa looks like a brown and yellow starfish nesting in the sand. It also smells like a dead animal, as a result of which flies, thinking it’s a lump of rotten meat, decide it is the perfect place to raise a family. As they lay their eggs on the surface, they inadvertently pollinate the flower at the same time.
In regards to the story of Ryan Block and the recording of his request to cancel cable service, Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica has some advice for how to get through to the right people and get a cancelation without having to go through endless badgering from a rep who needs to retain the account. It involves losing your temper -or at least acting as if you have lost it.
Here is where a bit of unreasonableness will go a long, long way toward getting what you want. Politeness has its place, but this is not that place. To get pushed immediately through to retention, get mad. You don’t have to swear at them—cursing at a call center rep at any point is a great way to get them to hang up on you—but anger will serve you a lot better here than being nice.
"Look," you can say, "I was just talking with the retention group about canceling and we got disconnected. I don’t have time for this today. I am extremely frustrated and angry and I need you to put me back through to them right now."
If they try to guide you back to a script, get angrier and interrupt them. Raise your voice and talk over them. Demand an immediate escalation to retention—or, if you don’t want to be so exact-sounding, demand to be escalated "to the people who can cancel my account right now." You often won’t even have to give the representative any personal details. Enough bluster and bluff will almost always get you pushed through within thirty seconds. The trick is to be exasperated, angry, and frustrated—but not so angry that you’re yelling or threatening. If you have a good extemporaneous reading voice, it might be helpful to write down a quick script.
The advice is specifically for people trying to cancel their service. I’ve tried canceling a few times, but I’ve never really wanted to cancel the service -I just wanted my bill lowered, and the only way to do that is to request your service to be canceled. But in 2008, I had one truly horrific experience with the cable company (not Comcast) that caused me to lose my temper in the worst way. I took at least 12 hours of the runaround before I let loose, and I truly regret that my children witnessed it. The lesson they learned was that being civil doesn’t get results, but acting like a pure maniac gets the job done quickly.
(Image credit: Dave Winer)
The seventh of eight daily Weird Al Yankovic videos is here, from his new album Mandatory Fun. “Lame Claim to Fame” examines the everyday person’s brushes with celebrities, however tangental they are, that highlight the way we worship celebrity and the people we call celebrities. Everyone’s got at least one of those stories. But all that aside, the video itself is a work of art. Directed by Tim Thompson, it consists of a dizzying sequence of moving collages.
What's your lame claim to fame? My great-great-grandfather was married to Pocahonta's granddaughter. If that's not lame, I don't know what is. Can you top that story?
Filmmaker Richard Linklater (previously at Neatorama) appeared in a promotional video for Alamo Drafthouse, where they take disruptive behavior seriously. If you think he’s being hard on people who talk or text during a movie, put yourself in the shoes of the people around you who are trying to enjoy a movie. They paid just as much as you did to be there, and there’s a lot more of them. It would be to your great advantage to turn off the phone and put it away. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Tech workers who produce motherboards sometimes have a little fun, even though the odds are high that their work will never be seen by anyone. Redditor jazzmonster posted a picture of a motherboard and said, “I opened my broken Trace Elliot amp to have a look at the PCB and there was a hidden message printed underneath.” Now, this is no good reason to start tearing your electronic equipment apart, but if you ever need to, check for hidden messages while you’re there.
Guy Mantha and his wife Linda Jardine-Mantha of Toronto had their air-conditioning unit changed out in June. It was about that time that their cat Stuffi went missing. Stuffi usually hides from strangers, so they assumed she was hiding from the A/C guys and would come back eventually. But she didn’t, and Jardine-Mantha posted notices about her missing cat. After a few days, she started hearing noises coming from inside the house, but could not find the source. Even a search with an infrared camera detected nothing.
Last Friday, Jardine-Mantha could hear sounds inside the house again.
"She called me at work and she said I think I heard it inside the wall ... oh my god, I said," Mantha said.
They called the friend with the infrared camera and began another search.
They broke a hole in the wall in the closet, and they put a light in there. Her husband's friend looked in and saw the cat.
"So they ripped out the wall and sure enough she was in there, all scrunched up, where she'd been for three and a half weeks, and so we rushed her to the hospital," she said.
YouTube member Omer Barnea caught the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace last week and was surprised to hear the Queen’s Guards playing the theme from Game of Thrones. They did a good job, although it would have probably been easier on the audience if the musicians had all been facing the same direction. -via Viral Viral Videos
See also: The Guard playing The Imperial March.
It was 45 years ago today, July 20, 1969, that a human being first stepped onto the moon’s surface. I remember it well, because I was one of the billion Earthlings who watched it happen, as TV broadcast images of Neil Armstrong stepping off the lander onto the lunar surface. Space reporter Jay Barbree covered the Apollo missions as they happened, and now has a biography of Armstrong called Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight. Astronomy magazine has a five-page excerpt from the book in honor of the moon landing’s anniversary. Highlights include:
Armstrong wasn’t sure what he would say when he stepped on the Moon: “For some time, he had been thinking about what he would say when he actually stepped on the Moon. He had thought about one statement he judged had meaning and fit the historic occasion, and he ran it by his brother, Dean, and others close. Neil had not made up his mind. He told me he was undecided until he was faced with the moment.”
What Armstrong thought about the Earth as he stepped on the moon: “In this neighborhood of the universe, it was life’s only world. It was encased in diamond-hard blackness, and Neil recognized it mattered little if we were Republican, Democrat, Independent, apolitical, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, or who the hell we liked or disliked. We live on a vulnerable world where we must take care of its very finite resources — on a world where we all would suffer terrifying consequences if we drained it of its ability to sustain us — its ability to foster and nurture the very life we now threaten to contaminate.”
President Nixon’s words to Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin: “I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you are doing for every American. This has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world.”
Read the rest of this fascinating account at Astronomy.
(Image credit: NASA)
You know how they make video ads in Thailand, so go ahead and get your hanky ready. This one won’t tear your heart out over someone’s horrible plight, though -it’s a simple vignette featuring an adorable baby and his/her parents. And even though it’s from a mobile phone company, the tag line is killer. -via Boing Boing
It’s a sure-fire formula! This comic at Doghouse Diaries is accompanied by the observation that McDonalds Coke has an apple pie taste that bottled Coke does not. I don’t drink Coke, so I don’t know. The discussion is here.
Artist and photographer Henry Hargreaves made a “moving portrait” of cake maker Amirah Kassem from Flour Shop. He wanted to incorporate cake frosting into the scene in a big way. Hargreaves (previously at Neatorama) had the idea to recreate the iconic moon landing scene from the 1902 special-effects film Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) by Georges Méliès. Continue reading to see how he did it.
What at first appears to be a couple of Japanese schoolgirls horsing around quickly becomes something much more -a ninja parkour sequence! A lot of this video of a freerunner’s point of view, so it may cause dizziness. The “punch line” reveals that it is an ad for soda pop. -via Viral Viral Videos
From my long experience with cats, I can assure you they will detect milk at a distance of about a half-mile, unless it's hidden in the refrigerator. This young cat wants her share, and she doesn’t want to wait for it! Watch her drink like a human baby, and when it’s gone, she has a hard time believing there is no more. The commentary is in Portuguese, I think, so I don’t know if there is any NSFW language. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
The proper etiquette after a tennis match is for the two players to greet each other, shake hands, or hug. During the Claro Open Colombia tennis tournament in Bogotá, Colombia, Croatian player Ivo Karlovic, who is 6’ 11”, defeated Israeli Dudi Sela, who is 5’ 9”. Sela found the perfect workaround for this situation. The fact that they are dressed just alike was a coincidence. -via Tastefully Offensive
Zoos find themselves in the strange position of buying animals for other animals. In this case, the Philadelphia Zoo got a shipment of live crickets for the Black-footed Cat kittens to play with. You remember when they were little. They’ve grown a lot, and now are almost as big as their mother! Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal are three months old now.
It seems weird to call them Black-foot Cat kittens, instead of just Black-footed kittens. But “Black-footed Cat” is the species. It’s like saying “Sand Cat cubs” instead of just Sand cubs. But wait- at what point do you classifying wild cats as cubs instead of kittens? Black-footed cats are smaller than domestic cats, but they are still wildcats! -via Uproxx
Today’s music video by Weird Al Yankovic’s album Mandatory Fun is a collaboration with Funny or Die. This one isn’t even a pop parody, but an original song (although quite close to many school's fight songs) you can use when trash-talking your school’s current sports opponent. A marching band is always handy for such occasions. -via Tastefully Offensive
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the movie Ghostbusters, artists from the LEGO company have built a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man our of LEGO bricks! The LEGO sculpture stands 25 inches tall and weighs 18 pounds. It will be on display at Comic Con, but you can see pictures of it now at Buzzfeed.
The caftan is a loose, body-covering garment that resembles traditional clothing from Asia and the Middle East. It invaded Western fashion in the 1910s and again in the 1960s. In both of those eras, it was a combination of exoticism and comfort that attracted wearers. Caftans were a welcome change from corsets at the turn of the century, and the bullet bras and tight girdles of the mid-century. Anna Yanofsky of Exhibiting Fashion tells us how caftans are so appealing even to women who are expected to show off their bodies.
“When Christina Hendricks is talking about it on a talk show, we’re all completely aware of how sexy she is,” Yanofsky says. “The caftan isn’t a burlap sack, it’s usually so diaphanous that it moves with the air and with the body, so it goes from hiding the silhouette to emphasizing it, based on the movement of the wearer.”
And the caftan’s ability to obscure so called “figure flaws” also has a great appeal to any celebrity who’s pregnant or carrying post-pregnancy baby weight. You’d think a bombshell like Hendricks would have nothing to hide, but her body is endlessly scrutinized in the media today, whether she’s being lusted after or insulted. A caftan must be liberating for any starlet who’s constantly being watched and picked apart.
“She has this gorgeous body, but it’s definitely not a high-fashion silhouette,” Yanofsky says. “We still are very much in the era of models as clothes hangers. There must be so much pressure on her, with everybody always commenting on her body, whether good or bad. But caftans are also just really comfortable. She talked about eating casseroles and putting on your sunglasses, just relaxing in her caftan. It’s not a shapeless muumuu or an ‘eating dress,’ but it definitely gives you a lot of breathing room.”
Learn about the history of the caftan, as well as how it’s been appropriated for the different generations of Westerners, at Collectors Weekly.
(Image credit: NBC)
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