The puppet is a rather complicated construction, but as before, his skills in operating it make it something special. -via Tastefully Offensive
Treehotel in Sweden has just launched its 7th room, which they call the 7th Room. The luxury suite is a 600 square foot living space (two bedrooms, one bath, and a common area) perched 33 feet up in a clump of trees! It has plenty of outdoor deck space and it is enclosed by glass to allow for spectacular views of Swedish Lapland. The suite is open for rental beginning today, although it is probably booked up for a while. Dtaying there would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. See a collection of gorgeous photographs of the 7th Room at Uncoached.
My stepdad used to be a baker in an authentic recreation of an 18th century New French fortress. Because they sell bread to the public, the health inspector came by, and she was ripping into my stepdad for violations like the stonework walls, the doorless entranceways, or the lack of a mosquito zapper. He pointed out that they were following the highest standards except for things that would destroy the authenticity of this 18th-century bakery. The health inspector relented and agreed to give him a pass after verifying the food storage area was secure. They went to the shed, which was a doorless building attached to the bakery. As the health inspector went in, there happened to be an escaped cow licking all of the loaves. My stepdad could only say, "Honestly, this never happens." They passed the health inspection.
In response, redditor Poem_for_your_sprog (Sam Garland) wrote an amazing poem.
my name is Cow,
and wen its nite,
or wen the moon
is shiyning brite,
and all the men
haf gon to bed -
i stay up late.
i lik the bred.
That started a meme that spread way beyond reddit, as others contributed poems recited by the dog, the cat, the calf (with a reply from the cat), the goat, the bread, and more from the cow. And more here and here. So when you run into more poems of the same type, you'll know where they came from.
-via Metafilter, where you'll find more poetry.
Space Jam is a movie about neither space nor jam that combined Warner Brothers cartoon characters with the NBA stars of the '90s, so it was destined to become a classic among a certain age group. That cohort holds the 1996 film on a sacred pedestal. But here comes Screen Junkies to take it down a notch with an Honest Trailer.
There's plenty to mock here, and this Honest Trailer makes it clear that to love Space Jam, you pretty much had to be there. If you were, it was perfect. -via Uproxx
Conor Knighton is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning. During the course of 2016, he visited all 59 U.S. national parks in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. At every park, he stopped and recorded himself singing “America The Beautiful,” and made this compilation video in which you can get a glimpse of them.
In this segment from the show, he tells us about his tour. You might want to enlarge this one, because the scenery is lovely.
Superman has a lot to say, and he's probably counting the steps until someone wakes up and smells the ...coffee. You have to wonder how many more "nice things" he had on his list just in case no one called him out on it. This is new material from Kerry Callen. We're just glad everyone got a laugh out of it. -via Geeks Are Sexy
See more of Callen's best comics, previously at Neatorama.
Cats, as a group, had a bad reputation in the 1800s. There were so many superstitions centered around cats that many people saw them as downright evil. English cartoonist Charles Henry Ross noticed that books about cats were obviously written by people who didn't know much about them, since they repeated the superstitions. So he wrote one himself: The Book of Cats. A Chit-Chat Chronicle of Feline Facts and Fancies, Legendary, Lyrical, Medical, Mirthful and Miscellaneous, published in 1868. In it, he promotes cats in many ways, including confronting the superstitions head on.
The Book of Cats addresses the wild, popular fears regarding cats—rumors flying that their scratches were venomous and that their breath sucked the life out of infants. In comparison to the smooth cut left from a knife, the thin scratch from a cat’s sharpened nail often festered, leading people to believe their claws were venomous, Ross explains. In addition to avoiding their claws, some would lose their wits at the mere sight of a cat. Conrad Gesner, a 16th-century botanist, documented men losing their strength, perspiring, and fainting when they saw a cat. A few have reportedly fainted after seeing a picture of a cat.
Pepsi Cola was originally called "Brad's Drink" and marketed in Bern, North Carolina in the early 1890's by pharmacist Caleb Bradham. Bradham = "Brad's Drink," get it?
By 1898, the name Pepsi was officially adopted. The name "Pepsi Cola" is derived from the pepsin and cola nuts in the recipe. Pepsi was originally marketed as a cure for stomachaches or dyspepsia.
A church across the street from Bradham's drugstore claimed the name Pepsi Cola was an anagram for "Episcopal." But Pepsico, the company that manufactures Pepsi, discounts this theory. (And remember, just because Britney Spears is an anagram for Presbyterians, it doesn't mean this fact has any other significance.)
Pepsi actually fared better than its main rival, Coca-Cola, in its early days. (Coca-Cola was invented a few years earlier, in 1886.) It sold briskly until 1923, by which time Coke had built a huge empire.
Pepsi, meanwhile, went broke. Sugar prices had gone up as result of World War I, and the company couldn't pay to make it's own beverages. Eight years later, the company went bankrupt again.
Ironically, the Great Depression did not bankrupt it a third time. If anything, it helped. Pepsi introduced a 12-ounce bottle in 1934 at the height of the depression. Coke bottles were only half that size, a fact Pepsi capitalized on. Its marketing team wrote the words to the world's first jingle to go on the radio:
Photographer and filmmaker Chris Burkard records surfers and other extreme adventurers. Surfing in Iceland is definitely an extreme adventure. In this video from The Big Story, Burkard talks about what he does and about how a severe storm in Iceland led to an amazing opportunity to photograph a surfer under the Aurora Borealis.
That one scene we all remember so well from The Empire Strikes Back is now available with an all-cat cast! Pasdidée set up the frame and then had to be very patient for his two cats to get their parts right. Here the human version and cat version are shown side-by-side, or rather, top and bottom, as it were.
In fact, they may have even switched roles in the middle, but it's hard to tell. Even for the director. -via reddit
Lucas Peterson at Lucky Peach made us all a graph that sorts Hostess snacks by not only taste, but by how easily each one's name can be given to a pet. As someone who named a cat Marshmallow*, I heartily approve. -via Digg
*Someone in my family actually suggested SnoBall.
Most of us end up doing something for a living that we didn't plan for as kids. But there are jobs out there that are rare, odd, and probably difficult to get into unless you just happen to fall into them. Can you imagine majoring in French literature and then getting a job as a professional bridesmaid?
Most people believe that in order to be a bridesmaid, you must be close friends with a bride. This is not the case. There is a company called Bridesmaids For Hire, where the bride-to-be can hire a woman to be her bridesmaid. Some women don’t have many women friends, which can make the wedding party uneven. Some women don’t have responsible friends. The bride needs a bridesmaid who is willing to do the work on the big day. She needs someone there to handle problems when they arise and to make her day easier. If a bride doesn’t have any friends who can handle the job, she can hire a bridesmaid. Bridesmaids For Hire offers a variety of packages, and the cost ranges from $300 to $2,000, depending on the package that you choose.
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!
compiled by Tenzing Terwilliger, Improbable Research staff
Poets, since ancient days, have suffered (and in some cases, also celebrated) a reputation for being sufferers. Several researchers have tried to assess how, what and whether poets suffer. These four studies present compelling evidence for or against the prevailing beliefs.
Possible Pathology for Poets
“Poetry or Pathology? Jesuit Hypochondria in Early Modern Naples,” Yasmin Haskell, Early Science and Medicine, vol. 12, no. 2, 2007, pp. 187–213 (http://dx.doi. org/10.1163/157338207X194686). The author, at the University of Western Australia, Crawley, explains:
In their didactic poems on fishing and chocolate, both published in 1689, two Neapolitan Jesuits digressed to record and lament a devastating ‘plague’ of ‘hypochondria’. The poetic plagues of Niccolò Giannettasio and Tommaso Strozzi have literary precedents in Lucretius, Vergil, and Fracastoro, but it will be argued that they also have a real, contemporary significance. Hypochondria was considered to be a serious (and epidemic) illness in the seventeenth century, with symptoms ranging from depression to delusions. Not only did our Jesuit poets claim to have suffered from it, but so did prominent members of the ‘Accademia degl’Investiganti’, a scientific society in Naples that was at odds with both the religious and medical establishments.
Possible Immunity for Poets
Digitalsoju TV took some people who escaped from North Korea years ago to one of the best barbecue restaurants in South Korea. They also recruited a master barbecue chef and flew in a variety of American barbecue sauces. The people who were trying all these cuts of meat and sauces for the first time were quite impressed (as I'm sure anyone would be).
But the food is mainly a starting point for a discussion about the difference between North Korea and the rest of the world. They tell us about the food, the farms, and the customs they grew up with, and especially the North Korean government that takes everything from the people to feed the administration and military. It's all in Korean with subtitles, but well worth the watch. -via reddit, where two of the video producers answer questions.
Warning: if you watch this, you will end up hungry.
This is one of the reasons you waste time: you have so much to do, you don't know what to do first. That can lead to nothing at all getting done! But as you make your to-do list, put your priorities in order. The you'll have a clear idea of what's most important. In this comic from Chris at Lunarbaboon, the process resembles getting your ducks in a row, even if they are shaped like little devils.
I'd heard of the writings of Dr. Samuel-Auguste Tissot, but I had no idea his 1760 book on masturbation was still in print! The 2015 edition of Diseases Caused by Masturbation was originally titled L’Onanism. Dissertation sur les maladies produites par la masturbation.
The book recounts stories from his own patients and from the patients of other renowned European doctors to support his claim that masturbation is deleterious to a person’s body and mind. Tissot also uses quotes from the ancient physicians, such as Galen and Celsus, as well as the most noted doctors of his day, such as Herman Boerhaave, to further strengthen his claim.
It's pretty easy to see how he might come to those conclusions. First off, everyone who went to the physician for treatment had a physical illness. Secondly, not only did everyone masturbate, in the 16th century most of them felt guilty about it, and it was easier to confess to the doctor than to the priest. The correlation was clear. You can read quite a few pages of the book, but the reviews are the best part of the Amazon page, even though most reviewers admit that they have already gone blind. Now I can look forward to weird contextual ads following me around the 'net. It's an occupational hazard. -via Blame It On The Voices
Why you should always wear a harness. pic.twitter.com/fIF0wGB7yS— Work Safety Fails (@FailsWork) January 13, 2017
I just found a new Twitter account that I will have to bookmark. Work Safety Fails collects cringeworthy images, videos, and gifs from workplaces all over the world. Some are scary, like the guy above who should have worn a harness while cutting a tree, and some are just dumb.
Meanwhile outside Walmart. pic.twitter.com/ZYWX4cB1R2— Work Safety Fails (@FailsWork) January 7, 2017
You Had One Job! pic.twitter.com/YQqYSAr7f8— Work Safety Fails (@FailsWork) January 9, 2017
But occasionally there's a sequence that works amazingly well if you ignore all standard procedures and safety rules. These are labeled "like a boss."
Like a boss. pic.twitter.com/d8OoIB2cQc— Work Safety Fails (@FailsWork) January 10, 2017
Follow Work Safety Fails here.
Officials with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced that the circus will close down in May of 2017. They cited declining ticket sales, operating costs, and changes in audience taste as the reasons. The circus was a combination of several earlier circuses that merged, with the oldest going back 146 years.
The circus, with its exotic animals, flashy costumes and death-defying acrobats, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States since the mid-1800s. Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals.
By midcentury, the circus was routine, wholesome family entertainment. But as the 20th century went on, kids became less and less enthralled. Movies, television, video games and the internet captured young minds. The circus didn't have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image.
Cost aside, audiences decided that carting wild animals from town to town for live performances is not right, clowns are scary, and its easier to watch other acts on video. However, more modern traveling live shows such as Cirque de Soleil continue to draw audiences. -via reddit
Allstars Sports Bar in Bristol, UK, set up what they call a trick shot that takes advantage of a stairway, a dozen or so pool tables, the bar itself, and a mini-golf green. They obviously were inspired by Rube Goldberg.
From the Facebook post about it, we gather that they usually do one of these elaborate videos every year for Christmas, and this one finished a bit late. Maybe they had to do it a few dozen times to get it right. -via the Presurfer
For thousands of years, humans have used the extracts of the poppy plant for pain relief. In the last 200 years, opium and the more refined morphine and its derivatives have been the go-to medicine for pain relief, particularly after surgery. But the side effects are horrendous. While nothing better for pain relief has been found, scientists are working on opioids to separate the painkilling effects from the other effects.
Traditional opioids—including morphine, the potent synthetic fentanyl and the Vicodin you get from your dentist—all work by binding to opioid receptors in the nervous system. These receptors come in three flavors: mu, delta and kappa. It’s at the mu-opioid receptor that opioids work their magic, activating a cascade of cellular signaling that triggers their pain-relieving effects. In the language of neuroscience, opioids are mu-receptor “agonists,” as opposed to “antagonists,” which are compounds that bind to a receptor and block it, preventing cellular signaling. When an opioid binds with the mu-opioid receptor, it ultimately turns down the volume on the nerves communicating pain. This, of course, is the desired effect.
Unfortunately, that’s not all it does. Opioids also release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes euphoria and can lead to addiction. These compounds also inhibit nerve cells from firing more generally, including in parts of the brain that regulate breathing—which can be dangerous. Take too much of an opioid and you stop breathing and die; that’s what it is to overdose. The CDC estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The side effects go on, from constipation to nausea to the rapid development of tolerance so that ever higher doses are needed for the same effect.
But what if we could refine opium to only effect the mu receptors and not the others? That would kill pain without the high? Or that wouldn't inhibit respiration? Several new formulations are in the works, including Oliceridine, which works even faster than morphine and is now in Phase III clinical trials. Read about the research into a better painkiller at Smithsonian.
(Image credit: Louise Joly)
Outside of the war, the entire plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens led to Luke Skywalker being reunited with his personal lightsaber that was lost when Darth Vader cut his hand off in The Empire Strikes Back (yeah, his hand was lost, too, but we don't want to see that after all this time). I hope that doesn't count as a spoiler. But that reunion happened in real life, too, as Mark Hamill is shown what happened to the lightsaber he used while filming Return of the Jedi.
Eighteen-year-old Claudia Vulliamy applied to Oxford University and was rejected, which puts her into a group comprising the majority of those who apply to Oxford. But she promptly made use of the rejection letter by creating a collage that incorporates it! This piece is not for sale; her mother says it will be framed and kept in the family. Vulliamy will probably attend Durham instead, and you can see her other art at Instagram. -Thanks, John Farrier!
Now, there's a headline that can induce nightmares. There are three species of vampire bat (that we know of), and only one of them, the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), is known to drink the blood of mammals -mostly livestock. The white-winged vampire bat (Diaemus youngi) and the hairy-legged vampire bat (Diphylla ecaudata) target birds for their blood. At least until now. Hairy-legged vampire bats have been drinking human blood in Brazil. That shocked scientists who know how chemically different bird blood and mammal blood is.
As Sandrine Ceurstemont reports for New Scientist, previous experiments have shown that when only pig and goat blood was made available to bats that were used to bird blood, many of them opted to fast rather than diversify their diet - and sometimes even starved to death.
But when Bernard and his team investigated the diets of a colony of hairy-legged vampire bats in the Caatinga dry forests of northeastern Brazil, they found something strange.
Genetic analysis of 15 faecal samples contained bird DNA as expected, but 3 of those samples contained a mixture of human and bird DNA - evidence that these particular individuals had been feeding on both.
This switch in diet could be due to the depletion of some wild bird species, plus farmers locking up their chickens at night. The implications are frightening, as bats have been known to spread hantavirus. Read more about the research that led to this discovery at Science Alert. -Thanks, John Farrier!
(Image credit: Gerry Carter)
NoZb2k ordered a new monitor from Korea. It was shipped via UPS, and this is the route it's taken so far: Korea to Alaska to Korea to Great Britain (where they wanted a duty paid) to Louisville to Philadelphia to Germany. The package still hasn't made its way to NoZb2k, who is in Ireland. The tracking list makes no sense because the tracking app lines up the stops chronologically, while the stops are reported in local time. This package has been to more countries in two days than most people see in a lifetime. You can enlarge the image to read it here. -via reddit
Jesse took his cat Weston up a mountain so they could sled down together. You might think that's a crazy idea, but Weston seemed more calm than Jesse was on the downhill. How would your cat react? -via reddit
In 1954, Soviet KGB agent Nikolai Evgenievich Khokhlov was sent to Germany to assassinate the leader of an anti-communist group. Instead, he defected and surrendered to U.S. agents. Khokhlov was glad to share the Soviet Union's spy secrets with America, including the loaded cigarette case he was to use in the assassination. But the KGB did not forget him.
Khokhlov later testified before the U.S. Congress about Soviet intelligence activities and became something of a media star. His story inspired a four-part series in the Saturday Evening Post called “I Would Not Murder for the Soviets,” and in 1957 he published a memoir, In the Name of Conscience. That was also the same year the KGB made an attempt on his life. After giving a speech in Frankfurt, Khokhlov had been served a cup of coffee, which he wrote in his memoir “did not seem to me as good as usual.” Soon he felt tired, and a “strange weight oppressed” his heart and stomach. Khokhlov collapsed in a parking lot. He had been dosed with thallium, a slow-acting poison that causes considerable pain before killing its victim. Khokhlov was lucky, though, and ultimately recovered after weeks in the hospital. His poisoning had coincided with the successful launch of Sputnik, and he reflected upon this in his book. “I, too, was an exhibit of the achievements of Soviet science,” he wrote. “Totally bald, so disfigured by scars and spots that those who had known me did not at first recognize me, confined to a rigid diet, I was nevertheless also living proof that Soviet science, the science of killing, is not omnipotent.”
Khokhlov did settle in the U.S., at first studying at Duke University. That's where he met J.B. Rhine (previously at Neatorama), the founder of the Institute for Parapsychology in North Carolina. Something about Rhine's research spoke to Khokhlov, who knew of Soviet research into ESP and other parapsychological phenomena. Read about Khokhlov's extraordinary life at Atlas Obscura.
Time management is hard for kids. There's so many things you have to do, like learn all that stuff in school. So you make free time one of your goals. When I'm grown up, I'll finally be able to do what I want! Then when you grow up, you find that what you want to do has changed. It's kind of sad. This is the latest comic from Dami Lee at As Per Usual.
Tuesday night, students on the campus of Penn State were having a little trouble negotiating the icy sidewalk. It's not level, either. They really could have used some salt. Contains NSFW language.
They say the temperature was around 32; college students just dress like it's much warmer. One student who was out that night posted a picture of his scraped-up face after he fell in the Facebook comments. This is why my daughter got Yaktrax for Christmas. If the sidewalk is icy, put your phone in your pocket, keep your hands free, plant your feet a little further apart, and go slow. Better yet, stay inside! -via Digg
In the early 1960s, the record label Edison International was looking for unusual ideas for record albums. Photographer Murray Garrett recalled unknowingly being in a gay bar and hearing male performers sing songs with lyrics written for women. An idea was born. Love is a Drag was filled with soft jazz versions of standard love songs by an unnamed male vocalist. It was the first record album specifically produced for gay men, but it took 50 years for the origin of the album to surface.
“When Murray asked Gene Howard about recording the vocals for the album, he said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, my wife would have a fit,’” Doyle says. Howard’s wife eventually approved, but insisted that the recording had to be done with dignity, and she wanted to be in the studio when it was made. To back Howard’s vocals, Ames’ team at Edison put together a group of established studio musicians for the various instrumentals: Dick Shanahan on drums, Heinie Beau on flute, Bobby Hammack on piano, Morty Corb on bass guitar, and Al Viola on guitar.
Garrett supposedly also came up with the record’s title, “Love Is a Drag,” whose meaning is explained in fine print on the back of the album as “Drag: (in music vernacular, a bore, a headache).” It’s unclear if he ever acknowledged the more coded definition of the word “drag,” long used in the queer community to describe someone flamboyantly dressed as the opposite gender.
The album’s limited pressing was finished in 1962, making it the first complete album of gay subject matter in American music history. Despite its groundbreaking substance, the record received zero media coverage, partly because the producers agreed to keep all the musicians anonymous. “The mystery was supposed to sell the album in the first place,” Doyle explains. “Famous people like Frank Sinatra were trying to guess who the vocalist was, wondering, ‘Do I know this person?’ If they had credited Gene Howard originally, it would’ve been totally different."
Love is a Drag was a hit among gay men who knew about it (Liberace even stole a copy), but the record label didn't know how to market it, and then they went out of business. The album became a footnote in history until DJ and music archivist J.D. Doyle began playing it just a few years ago, and then learned the album's story from Garrett. Doyle explains how Love is a Drag came about at Collectors Weekly.
(Image courtesy of J.D. Doyle)
In this video, Tom Oye was snowboarding at Whistler, British Columbia, when an avalanche opened up beneath his feet. His helmet cam gives us his personal POV as he was tossed down the mountain.
But listen: that mechanical sound you hear is Oye's inflatable backpack airbag deploying, designed for just such an emergency. The bag helped keep him above the snow, and might have also helped if he were thrown into rocks or trees. They're not cheap, but could save your life. -via Sploid
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