This is a Star Wars story. Or, more specifically, a story of a young Star Wars fan. Did you ever know a kid who would wear a superhero costume or a tutu to school every day? Alex is that obsessed with a galaxy far, far away. The stormtrooper helmet is a dead giveaway.
For 27 years, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, had a temporary hotel built out of ice that lasted from December through April. But now a new design will allow the hotel to remain open year round! The new ICEHOTEL 365 has concrete outer walls with pipes running through it to bring refrigeration to the ice that covers them, sustaining it through the summer by solar power.
With an eye toward research, ICEHOTEL founder Yngve Bergqvist knows that Sweden will have shorter winters in the future. He also has had visitors every year asking if they could visit his creation during the summer and autumn months. It was important that ICEHOTEL become sustainable year-round, so the 2,100-square meter ice experience was designed and built. It now includes 11 art suites, 9 deluxe suites with private bathrooms and saunas, an ice gallery and an ice bar. In keeping with tradition, the structure was hand carved by global artists, hand selected for the project.
Read more about ICEHOTEL 365, and see lots of pictures at Money Inc.
We heard hype about the movie Suicide Squad for what seemed like years before it actually opened. It was teased for quite some time before I figured out it was a Batman movie -or at least took part in the Batman/DC Comics universe. It did not fulfill expectations. Screen Junkies had an easy assignment with this Honest Trailer.
In fact, Suicide Squad had plenty of problems that weren't apparent in the finished film, but they sure contributed. They threw everything but the kitchen sink into this film, and it didn't help. What they really needed was some lighting.
Winter is definitely here. A snowstorm in Montreal Monday left a super-slick surface on Côte du Beaver Hall, which is a steep street. Why hadn't they plowed or salted it yet? Because the snowplow is having trouble getting around, just like everyone else. This is what you call a "slippery slope."
I bet you were watching this video thinking of what could possibly be coming down the hill next. Digg has a second video that has live commentary in a colorful mixture of French and English.
Say it with me now: "A slippery slope on a super slick surface on a steep street."
Stargazing is good for the soul, but if you want to see the real glory of the cosmos above us, you need to get away from light pollution. And the clouds, of course. Just getting out of town is a good start, but if you want the view of a lifetime, you might think about planning your next vacation around the view of the stars at night. One place to see amazing stars capes is Chile.
Chile may be known for being one of the driest places on earth, but it is also a destination known for great wine, great beaches and great skies. Described by many as an astronomers’ paradise, Chile is an ideal stargazing destination due to its lack of precipitation, clear skies and low-to-zero light pollution. The near-perfect visibility gives stargazers crystal-clear views of Southern Hemisphere sky legends- including the Tarantula Nebula and the Fornax Cluster of galaxies. In fact, the northern part of the country experiences more than 200 cloudless nights each year!
When you’re there, don’t forget to visit renowned astronomical observation sites such as the Paranal Observatory- home to the Very Large Telescope (the largest in the world), and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, the world’s most powerful radio telescope.
Read about other awesome stargazing locations at Money Inc.
Haines, Alaska, has a population of 2,508 people, but the town boasts five museums. One of them is the Hammer Museum. It's a museum dedicated to hammers. There are more than 2,000 hammers on display, for every use you can imagine, including historical hammers and the 20-foot-tall hammer that stands outside.
The museum also holds special events like the Art & Hammer series and the annual Blacksmithing Workshop. The Hammer Museum is open from May through September, so make your summer road trips plans accordingly. Meanwhile, you can explore the museum through Facebook and Instagram. -Thanks, John Farrier!
Artist PJ McQuade (previously at Neatorama) has unveiled his new pop culture Christmas cards! From Die Hard to Lord of the Rings, there's at least one that will tickle your fancy. More likely, you'll have trouble selecting among them.
These original artworks feature your favorite movie and TV characters in quirky holiday scenes. They are sure to stand out among all those generic cards displayed on the mantle. Continue reading to see more of them.
Get your hankies out, this is a sweet story about a Polish man learning to speak English. It's two steps forward and one step back, which gives us some funny moments, but he is determined to communicate in English. Contains a very little NSFW language.
This is an ad for Allegro. It took some digging to find out what they sell. It's a buying site, sort of a Polish eBay. -via reddit
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London made Big Ben, the Liberty Bell, and the Bells of St. Mary's. It has sent bells all over the world since the business opened in 1570. The foundry has been at the same Whitechapel location since 1783. But now owners Alan and Kathryn Hughes have announced that they will no longer take new orders, and the firm will close down next May.
It has been several centuries since the boom years of bell making, yet the foundry has found ways of adapting to modern times by making traditional doorbells, popular among people restoring Victorian properties.
The Downton effect has seen a third of its business exported overseas.
However, quality craftsmanship takes time. The average time from enquiry to order is 11 years, and the longest commission in the foundry’s history took 100 years to produce.
Order to installation takes another year, and a major project could cost as much as £250,000 to produce.
It's still possible that someone else will purchase the equipment and keep producing bells at another location. Read more about the oldest bell foundry in the world at the Telegraph. -Thanks, John Farrier!
(Image credit: ceridwen)
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!
(Image credit: Drew Fairweather at Toothpaste for Dinner)
Research about business and business-like odors
compiled by Grover Dunn, Improbable Research staff
Corporeal Porosity in Office Work
“Smell Organization: Bodies and Corporeal Porosity in Office Work,” Kathleen Riach and Samantha Warren, Human Relations, epub October 9, 2014. The authors, at Monash University, Australia, and the University of Essex, UK, explain:
The First Amendment to the Constitution begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" and goes on about freedom of speech, the press, and assembly. How does that translate to state and smaller governments? The Kenai Peninsula Borough is an area, like a county, south of Anchorage, Alaska. the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is its governing body. In June, one member of the Assembly proposed a new rule that would do away with a prayer before opening Assembly meetings, but it wasn't passed due to lack of interest. So they opened up the invocation to anyone who wanted to give it on a first-come, first-served basis. In August, Satanic Temple member Iris Fontana opened the meeting with a prayer that invoked Satan. At another meeting, an atheist spoke for the invocation.
In October, the Assembly changed the process of selecting who gives the invocation.
As the new resolution spells out, those eligible to recite an invocation include religious associations "with an established presence in the Kenai Peninsula Borough that regularly meet for the primary purpose of sharing a religious perspective, or chaplains who may serve one or more of the fire departments, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, or other similar organizations in the borough."
In November, the rules were changed again to re-open the invocation to anyone who wanted to give it. That happened after they started thinking about possible lawsuits.
An ordinance that would have appropriated $75,000 in borough money to fight future court battles over the religious rule was withdrawn as a result of the Assembly approving the amendment. Decker said in the past that while the ACLU hopes not to sue, it wouldn't rule it out, "if that's what upholding the Constitution takes."
However, the reversion to the open rules has not yet taken effect, so the story is not over. The simplest thing would be to do away completely with an invocation before Assembly meetings. There's nothing wrong with a good "I call this meeting to order." -via a comment at Metafilter
Bear with me here. I saw the new video at the Presurfer, and thought it was neat. But the next video that YouTube loaded for me was from 2014, and I realized that the new video is a sequel to this one, so watch the first video first.
Two years later, we get an update to the story, this time in animation.
Three Ireland commissioned both videos, and there's a children's book that tells the same story. Proceeds from the sale of the book go to Barnardos, a children's charity in Ireland. I don't see a way to order it online, however. -via the Presurfer
Ocean's 11 was a 1960 Rat Pack film that was popular, but not as big as the 2001 remake, which spawned two sequels with another related movie now in development. Whether you're already a fan or plan to watch them all someday, you'll want to check out some trivia about those three films.
The cast had to accept a lower salary for the first movie in 2001.
As there were so many A-list stars featured in the first film, they all had to accept a lower pay check if they wanted to be involved. They all agreed eventually as they all wanted to be on the film together.
Brad Pitt ate 40 shrimp while filming for the scene where Rusty eats a shrimp cocktail.
It was actually Brad Pitt’s idea that his character should be eating all the time to show that the Ocean squad were pushed for time, meaning they had to grab food whenever they could.
Read the rest of the trivia list about Ocean's 11 and its sequels at Unreality.
I gave one of my daughters her first taste of eggnog (store-bought) when she was maybe seven years old. She sipped it and said, "Oh Mom, that's disgusting. Why did you give me that?" I thought, "sez the kid who eats sardines in mustard sauce." That's eggnog for you; people either love it or hate it. Eggnog is a real American drink, from our colonial history when milk, eggs, and rum were plentiful here compared to Europe. The real pull was that the original drink had more alcohol than milk or cream, which conveniently preserved the milk and eggs. We've refined our recipes considerably since then, and egg nog connoisseurs agree that homemade is better than store-bought. Uproxx has three different recipes for your holiday eggnog, including George Washington's popular recipe that produced the drink by the gallon.
The following article is from the new book Uncle John’s Uncanny Bathroom Reader.
Do you remember when microwave ovens became standard fixtures in American homes of the 1970s? If you do, you may also recall how cookbooks of the era were filled with recipes for dishes that really had no business being cooked in a microwave. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…
Microwave oven technology has been around since 1947, but it took 20 years for manufacturers to figure out how to make microwaves small enough and cheap enough for the home kitchen. The earliest models, sold to restaurants and commercial kitchens, cost $5,000 ($52,000 in today’s dollars), weighed more than 700 pounds, and were as big as refrigerators. Many of the restaurants that bought microwaves used them to reheat already-cooked dishes that had gone cold.
By the mid-1960s, microwaves were small enough to sit on a kitchen counter and cost around $500 ($3,400 today). That was still a lot of money (a 1967 Ford Mustang cost just $2,400), and to entice consumers into buying them, manufacturers and appliance dealers promoted them with a lot of hype. They claimed that microwaves could do anything that conventional ovens could do, in only a fraction of the time, and with much greater convenience. An entire industry of microwave-related products—including cookbooks, cookware, and specially formulated mixes for pies, cakes, casseroles, and other foods sprung up to feed the public’s fascination with these new devices.
This comic from Emily McGovern at Emily's Cartoons sent me down an internet wormhole, but I learned a few things. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is indeed in Scotland. And indeed, it makes no sense that students from Scotland would have to travel to London to catch a train to school. But as the wiki states, "The precise location of the school could never be uncovered because it was rendered Unplottable." Maybe the roundabout route for Scottish students is a way of keeping the location a secret, you think? That may be it. The Hogwarts Express train was inaugurated in the 1850s as a way to transport students to the school without drawing the attention of Muggles.
Could a parent in Scotland just drive their student to Hogwarts? No. According to the wiki, "the Ministry decreed that students would arrive to school on the train or not attend at all." Just like Muggle schools, there are rules that don't make sense. But a dedicated train doesn't conceal the fact that on September first, a large contingent of schoolchildren arrive at Hogsmeade Station in Scotland and are whisked away to the school. Apparently, the folks in Hogsmeade do not travel all that much. Check out McGovern's Tumblr site, where you'll find a substantial series called My Life as a Background Slytherin. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Americans, and indeed the Supreme Court, have been arguing for two hundred years about the Founding Fathers' original intent when interpreting the U.S. Constitution. The truth is that the language of the Constitution is rather vague in some areas, and not easy to apply to modern scenarios that the writers never dreamed of, such as the use of the internet. They also probably never envisioned that the U.S. would grow to over 300 million people. The weird ways of the Constitution have already given us some "what ifs" in our TV shows, like Scandal, Veep, Designated Survivor, and House of Cards. But there are other scenarios and crises to explore. Someone should write a movie.
Suggested title: Reprisal
Suggested plot: After the military finds itself stymied while fighting a group of terrorists in international waters, Congress decides to authorize a privateer—essentially a government-approved pirate who can go after the bad guys for his own gain.
Dream casting: Nicolas Cage
The constitutional background: Article I, Section 8, Clause 11. The Constitution allows Congress to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,” which are basically permission slips for private boats to fight pirates on behalf of the United States.
What scholars think: “I could imagine a show about some new pirate threat somewhere and the government deciding to fight them with these private boats, which of course would have charismatic and daredevil captains,” said Jay Wexler, a constitutional law scholar at Boston University.
Spoiler alert: Letters of Marque were more important before the U.S. had a standing navy. Then-Rep. Ron Paul floated the idea in 2009 when Somali pirates were a problem, but even if Congress went along it would probably decide pretty quickly to go back to using the military.
There are six other potential movies, each dealing with a Constitutional loophole laid out at TIME. -Thanks, John Farrier!
Why are these window labeled as Ancient Lights? You can see the signs in quite a few places in London, and other cities in England. The reason is an urban planning law that dates back to 1663.
‘Ancient Lights’ or the ‘Right to light’ is an English property law that gives house owners the right to receive natural light from and through a window if that particular window has been receiving light uninterrupted for 20 years. Once a person gains the right to ancient lights, the owner of the adjoining land cannot obscure them, such as by erecting a building, raising a wall or planting trees. In the past, neighbors with right to light have sued neighbors on grounds of ‘nuisance’ for obstruction of light, and have won in courts of law.
The law has gone through changes, and in modern times the amount of natural light a person is entitled to has been a subject of study. But why are the signs mounted on the windows? Considering the value of property in London and other cities, you can imagine that the lots adjoining these buildings have been considered for building purposes many times. A sign deterring such plans is much easier than having to go to court again and again. Read about Ancient Lights and see more pictures at Amusing Planet. -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Mike Newman)
People Are Awesome looked back at all the great videos of folks doing impressive things over the past year and put them all together together for you. These athletic young people show off amazing skills while having the time of their lives.
The activities themselves are pretty offbeat. There are two guys playing ball while skydiving. A fellow hits a golf ball, aiming for his buddy's mouth. Several people, unaware of each other, use inner tubes as targets of one sort or another. Some I can't figure out what they're doing, but they are all awesome. -via Tastefully Offensive
Throwing a going-away party for an employee who quit is a nice gesture. Getting a cake specially decorated is even nicer. But those cakes don't always have nice things to say. Yeah, it's all in fun, because if the quitter's colleagues were really angry, they'd throw a party and not bother to invite him. Take a look at 30 clever going away cakes that range from sweet and sentimental (those are in the minority) to rude to bordering on vicious. Some contain NSFW icing text. -via Pleated-Jeans
Professional boxing, professional football, professional basketball, professional wresting. One of these things is not like the others. Pro wrestling is performance art, following a script for the audience's entertainment. It wasn't always like that. In the early 20th century, wrestling was a legitimate competition like any other, with rules and challengers hoping to beat the champions. And it wasn't nearly as fun as the modern version.
But professional wrestling began to change in a way unlike anything ever seen in sports history. While boxing had known to be fixed from time to time, and the “Black Sox Scandal” had briefly tarnished Major League Baseball, no legitimate sport had ever made the full transition into what the WWE now calls “sports entertainment”—fully scripted, predetermined matchups, with chosen champions.
That change didn’t happen overnight. But wrestling historians look to one match, which completely altered pro wrestling’s history: Lewis vs. Munn, Kansas City, Miss., Jan. 8, 1925.
“That really kind of put the stamp on it,” [National Wrestling Hall of Fame director Kyle] Klingman said. “This completely changed the landscape of professional wrestling.”
So what happened at the match between champion Ed “Strangler” Lewis (pictured above) and college football star Wayne “Big” Munn? Read the story of the wrestling match that changed everything, and how it played out over time, at Atlas Obscura.
Look at this homemade cardboard cat castle! Just look at it! It's got rooms, stairs, a ramp, a balcony, plenty of holes and doors (some even slide), drawers, a basement to crawl under, and a turret that's shaped like a dragon's head, teeth and all!
Dinni the cat loves his new digs! Sam and Natalia, together called prefabcat, have closeup photos and more details about the Cat Ark at their website. Previous towers Sam built for Dinni are impressive, too. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Here's a story about a high school student who may have found a kindred soul, but doesn't know who it is and time is running out because it's the end of the school year. What can you do? Also, there's something going on in this story that might surprise you, a twist ending, as it were.
Redditor boomboomsaIoon found this light bulb in the attic of his workplace. It's an Aerolux neon bulb, the light rose model. Aerolux bulbs were manufactured from 1938 to 1974, and this one is estimated to be from the 1940s. Here what it would look like in a working lamp.
Commenter syco54645 has an Aerolux model with violets inside.
See a video of the bulb in action here. You can still buy new light bulbs with sculptured filaments, but they don't have that lovely vintage look.
Now admit it, you knew all those scary things in the Star Wars universe had to have some embarrassing failures, off-duty goofiness, and hobbies. We won't see them the movies, but when we get a glimpse, it's golden. -via Tastefully Offensive
What most Americans remember of the Black Panther Party are the stars of the group: Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver. But of the thousands of Black Panthers, two thirds were women, working behind the scenes, running the social programs of the party. Author Judy Juanita was one of those women. She joined the Black Panther Party in its early days in the mid-1960s, and tells us what drew her to the group.
In the ’60s, people were looking at end-of-the-world scenarios with the atomic bomb and the Cold War. “Tricky Dick” Nixon got elected during this period, and the Vietnam War was ongoing. Women who were graduating college, Hillary Clinton’s generation, were saying, “I’m not going to have any children because I don’t want to bring a child into this world.” That was the most popular type of valedictorian speech at the women’s colleges at the time.
People had a very anti-government sentiment—we weren’t expecting the government to respond. No, all of those changes happened gradually over the next couple of decades. They didn’t happen right away. Instead of being frustrated, people had an attitude of resistance. The government was the antagonist. The American counterculture, we were the protagonists.
That’s really what the ’60s were about: We were good students. We said, “Wait a minute, something’s not right here. We’re not getting the complete story.” The desire to get the complete story came from the Civil Rights Movement and then the Vietnam War. Blacks wanted to investigate, “What’s happening with our civil rights?” And the white kids were coming out of the “Mad Men” era and saying, “Something’s not right here. We’ve been carrying on war like this continuously, using the great phrase ‘Manifest Destiny,’ and we’ve been slaughtering people since forever.” After World War I and World War II, we could question, “Wait a minute, what was so great about the war? What about the people who died?”
Get a short course on the Black Panther Party from insider Judy Juanita, in an interview at Collectors Weekly.
DJ Earworm is back with his annual mashup of the biggest pop hits of the year. The 2016 version continues a trend that aging folks know well -every year the music gets less recognizable. But it's got a good beat; I can dance to it.
If you don't know the individual songs, it sounds like one coherent song, which just speaks to DJ Earworm's editing skills. If you know them, you can easily hear his editing skills. The song list is at the YouTube page. -via Metafilter
The top ten baby names of 2016 are nothing to write home about, as they are very close to the lists for 2015. The top six girls names ranked the same, and the top eight boys names are the same, but in a slightly different order. But that's not the big story here. Let's take a look at what names a little further down the list gained popularity in 2016. According to Buzzfeed, it appears pop culture played a part, because Tyreese, Hershel, and Carol all rose in popularity, thanks to The Walking Dead. The Netflix show Stranger Things may have played a part late in the year, as Dustin, Mike, and Joyce all rose. Banner and Harley made astonishing leaps in popularity. But it's not just pop culture: Hillary rose 64% and Ivanka was up 39%. See the top 100 names of 2016 for both boys and girls at BabyCenter. -via Uproxx
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