The a cappella group Straight No Chaser teamed up with actress Kristen Bell to bring us a Christmas song for the interconnected wireless gadget generation. "Text Me Merry Christmas" works on two levels: on the one hand, it’s a sly poke at modern communication customs. But it’s a catchy tune that totally speaks to those who would cherish the perfect text from someone they love. Whether this makes you laugh or makes you share your earbuds will all depend on how old you are. That said, Kristen Bell should look into a career as a pop singer; between this and Frozen, her voice is shining brightly. The song is available for download on iTunes. -via Buzzfeed
There are many ways to hide the body, but passing a murder victim off as 2,600-year-old royalty is one few would have thought of. In 2000, a dealer was trying to sell a mummy for $11 million. It had a sarcophagus and engravings in an ancient Persian language declaring the body to be that of a Persian princess, the daughter of King Xerxes. But if was a hoax.
The mummy of the Persian Princess generated a lot of international interest because no remains of the Persian royal family had ever been found and mummies are not generally found in Iran. At one point the mummy caused diplomatic tensions between Iran and Pakistan because both countries claimed ownership. But months later, after examinations by experts in ancient Persian script, CT scans, chemical testing, and carbon dating, the mummy was not only declared a fraud, but there was also evidence that she may have been a modern murder victim.
Read how they came to that conclusion, and what they know about the body so far, at Atlas Obscura.
George Corney built a fluid dynamics simulator that makes for a beautiful web toy. Just run your cursor across it, as you’d run your finger trough a tray filled with liquid. You can change some parameters if you want to experiment. Wait long enough and more colors will appear. Just don’t stare at it too long, or you’ll suddenly be late for something! -via Boing Boing
(Image credit: Skunk Bear)
The things you do when you think you're all alone? Your cat sees all, knows all. Their redeeming factor is that they don’t speak human languages, so your secrets are safe …for now. If that ever changes, you better be ready to pay the price. The is a cautionary tale from Lunarbaboon.
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
by Laura E. Campbell, Shields Library, University of Califonia, Davis, Califonia, and
Morgan T. Lockwood, Davis, Califonia
The napkins provided in fast food restaurants vary in their abilities to sop up stains. As a service to both the public and the restaurants, we measured the sop-up efficiency of the napkins provided at these establishments.
Assessing the Napkins
We tested napkins from five competing fast food establishments:
Jack in the Box
Kentucky Fried Chicken
The tests used maraschino cherries, the juices of which produce red rings on napkins. These rings are easy to measure and compare.
Figure I. Napkins from Carl's Junior. Taco Bell (T), Jack In The Box (J ), McDonalds (M). Burger King (B) and Kentucky Fried Chicken (K ). Each napkin Sopped lip the juices from four half-cherries. For each napkin, the four radius lengths were averaged. The average sop area was then calculated and compared with the total napkin area to obtain the napkin sop factor.
We used cherries that were 19-20 millimeters in diameter. Each cherry was hCllved at its equator. We used a Solingen 20 centimeter French-bladed kitchen knife. When this was completed, 2 cherries- that is, four cherry halves-were placed on each folded napkin (see Figure 1). After 5 minutes had elapsed, we measured the size of the circles of red moisture that had soaked through to the back of each napkin. (see Table 1).
As a counterpart to the supercut of Kids Dancing to Taylor Swift's “Shake It Off,” Robert Jones has compiled a video of older people dancing, this time to “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake & Lil Jon. Some are classic clips you’ve seen before, while others are just found footage that works. If you want to see more, there’s a list of all the source videos at the YouTube page. -Thanks, Robert!
The 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey gets a kaleidoscopic techno remix by Eclectic Method.
This mix contains almost every scientific prediction in the film mixed with the space age synth sounds that were just around the corner. Much that Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke predicted has come to pass - touch screen portable computers, video phones, Space Stations, in-seat video entertainment, computers beating humans at chess. So far though, Siri hasn’t switched off anybody’s life support.
It strikes me as the other end of the spectrum from sitting through two hours and twenty minutes of bafflement; in this version, you get a all the bafflement in only three minutes. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Italian chef Pasquale Sciarappa speaks English much better than I speak Italian, but his struggle with the pronunciation of Worcestershire sauce is priceless. The sauce is named after the county in England, Worcestershire, meaning the shire of Worcester. An American would sound it out as written if they didn’t know the British pronounce it “WOOStershur.” However, the Italian pronunciation of the phonemes as written is quite different. After Sciarappa struggles with the common pronunciation, he gives us a rundown of how it would sound in Italian.
Chef Pasquale has a recipe website and a YouTube channel devoted to Italian recipes plus a series on Italy. -via Tastefully Offensive
If you want to provoke an argument, just try to tell someone that their favorite video game didn’t make the top 50. Business Insider took that chance, and presents a ranked list.
We did have some parameters, however, when choosing the games: This list includes console video games, spanning from the 1980s to today, and includes only games from more-modern consoles (sorry, Atari and ColecoVision fans!). In most instances, we chose an entire franchise or series of games, rather than just one, as our favorite.
We also took into consideration Metacritic scores, user reviews, as well as our own personal experience to choose the games on this list.
Not being much of a gamer myself, I don’t have specific quibbles with the list. The games at the top (which are at the bottom of the page) are long-lived franchises that people still play like crazy. The comments at the post, of course, contain angry gamers pointing out the omissions. You might have some opinion on the list yourself.
(Image credit: Flickr user Ricardo Alguacil)
The annual Leonid Meteor Shower is taking place most of the month of November, but peak activity, with around 15 visible meteors an hour, will be tonight between midnight and daylight Tuesday morning.
The Leonids are best viewed starting after midnight. Find an area well away from city or street lights. Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Orient yourself with your feet towards east, lie flat on your back, and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors. Be patient -- the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.
The moon is waning, so that light shouldn’t interfere too much with stargazing. It’s raining today where I am, so clouds may obscure the view. And of course, laying on the ground for hours is not as easy in November as it would be in June. If you can’t get out to see the meteor shower, the Slooh Space Camera will be streaming the event live. -via HuffPo
(Image credit: Flickr user Ed Sweeney)
You’ve heard it said that the U.S. and England are two countries divided by a common language. You can says that the U.S. and Australia are divided by a common language plus 12,000 miles. Mark and Christi Brown are a bicontinental couple -she’s American, he is Australian- who are teaching us the different words of their different languages. “Australian” as a language is close to British English with some colorful additions and wide-open pronunciations. The words can get confusing sometimes. In the followup video, they address common phrases as well, and we get some stories from their cross-cultural relationship.
-via Viral Viral Videos
Some mothers in Japan make creative bento lunches for their children every day -and they make them for their husbands, too. Every once in a while, married people are not on the best of terms with each other. A woman who gets up to make bento for a man she is angry with may make a lunch that differs from the usual creative, lovingly-packed lunch. The blog IroMegane collected some examples of Shikaeshi Bento (仕返し弁当) or “revenge lunchbox,” for which you can imagine a salaryman opening his lunch in front of his co-workers and finding out exactly how angry his wife is with him.
Some have snarky sayings cut from seaweed, in Japanese, so you have to read the captions. Some are illustrated, like the cockroaches at the top. Others are just difficult, like the corn. All he has to eat it with is chopsticks! See more of these at IroMegane. -via Metafilter
In this TED-Ed animated lesson, Sarthak Sinha of the University of Toronto explains the process that goes on under our skins when we have a wound to the skin. Sinha thought the lesson was incomplete without explaining the process of scarring. Continue reading to see the followup video.
You knew it was coming sooner or later: a mashup of Breaking Bad and Frozen. This animated parody from animeme revisits Walter and Jesse in their later days, to the tune of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” The lyrics are at the YouTube page. But the question remains: does Jesse want to build a meth lab?
This article started off as a short list of facts about the Mayflower, the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America in 1620. But after doing a little research, we found ourselves immersed in a much more fascinating story than we anticipated -the tale of the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World and religious freedom. Here’s part one, which begins more than a century before the Pilgrims ever set sail.
Most modern democracies regard freedom of religion as a basic human right, but if you lived in Europe in the late Middle Ages, it was a very different story. The Roman Catholic Church was the state church in most of Western Europe. Although there were periods of tolerance for other religions scattered throughout the era, intolerance was largely the norm. But by the 16th century, things were beginning to change.
It all began with the Protestant Reformation, which traces it roots to the German monk Martin Luther, who in 1517 mailed his 95 Theses do the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. Sharply critical of the corruption of the Church, Luther’s writings (which spread throughout Europe thanks to another new invention, the printing press) ignited the growing contempt for the Church in other countries. By 1534 the discontent had spread to England, where King Henry VIII cut ties with Rome and founded the Church of England, also known as the “Anglican” Church.
But Henry had a personal reason for the break. Luther and the other Reformers broke from Rome on religious principles -they wanted a Church without a pope, or bishops, not to mention corruption. The Bible was supreme, they said, and wanted it translated into common German (instead of Latin) so that common people could read and interpret it for themselves.
Henry’s reason: The pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce. His aging wife, Catherine, hadn’t given birth to any male heirs, so the king wanted to divorce her and marry his “consort,” Anne Boleyn. Henry defied the pope: he divorced Catherine and married Anne anyway… and was promptly excommunicated. So in 1534, he created a new state religion, the Church of England, proclaiming himself as its leader.
PURITANS AND SEPARATISTS
Queso is a pit bull with some issues. He suffers from phobias. According to his owner, he is afraid of “the kitchen floor, the printer, and doorways” among other things. Oh, he can face his fears; he just can’t face them head first. Speculation is that he ran into a glass door a few too many times in the past. Queso has figured out a workaround for getting through doorways, as you’ll see in this video. -via Tastefully Offensive
If you’ve surfed the internet at all in the last couple of days, you’ve seen references to Kim Kardashian’s photo spread in Paper magazine. The cover shows a rear view of her most prominent asset. It’s been discussed and passed around so much that LEGO artist Ochre Jelly (Iain Heath) couldn’t resist recreating it in LEGO.
I get the impression that Heath didn’t have enough bricks to accurately recreate the magazine cover image. However, his completely plastic version looks more natural. -Thanks, Iain!
With so much publicity for Kim Kardashian’s butt on the cover of Paper magazine and Nicki Minaj’s music video for “Anaconda,” Jezebel takes the opportunity for a look back at the original booty queen, a 19th-century woman billed as “The Hottentot Venus.” Saartjie Baartman grew up in what is now South Africa, a member of the Khoikhoi people, who the Dutch called Hottentots. Her remarkably generous backside gave her employer the idea of taking her to Europe and exhibiting her for the masses who’d never seen such a thing.
Like Kim, Saartjie (pronounced Sar-key) was voluptuous but tiny. She stood four feet, seven inches to Kim's purported five-three. Unlike Kim, she didn't just have her sizable assets in the way of talent. (Whether 'balancing a champagne glass on your ass' is a talent remains up for discussion.) She had learned and practiced multiple instruments in her native land (in what is now South Africa). On the stages of London and Paris, she regaled packed audiences with singing, dancing, and instrumental routines. When it comes to her contemporary booty-sisters, she is less Kim Kardashian, more Nicki Minaj.
"She had enormous skills," says Tamar Garb, professor of art history at University College London and a native of South Africa. "She spoke many languages—Dutch, English, some French, and her maternal tongue. She was very literate and sophisticated. The show she put on was very much a performance, even if the role she was required to play was that of a 'savage' femininity."
Baartman became the toast of Europe, both as a curiosity and as a performer. And unlikes many people exhibited in the freak shows of the time, she was a willing participant in her show business career. Read Baartman’s life story, and the account of how she finally returned to South Africa, at Jezebel. The article contains nude illustrations.
For some time, the common image of antique collectors was overwhelmingly feminine, the kind of person who collected old furniture, glassware, china, and jewelry. But that was just the popular image. There have always been men who appreciate the quality of things made long ago. However, men tend to collect more varied objects, such as gadgets, military memorabilia, tools, toys, and things that are hard to classify. A new word sprang up to describe these antiques: “Mantiques.” Collectors Weekly talked to Eric Bradley, author of Mantiques: A Manly Guide to Cool Stuff, about the new crop of male collectors.
Collectors Weekly: Do mantiques collectors skew younger than regular collectors?
Bradley: I think so. An older generation took the approach that if you were going to start collecting, you itemized what you needed to acquire and then set about acquiring each piece to accumulate the whole set. Today’s mantiques collectors are a lot more laid back than that. They’re not so interested in being completists. Instead, they’re surrounding themselves with interesting things. Some of them are collecting strictly for décor and searching for objects that just look neat. Maybe you have a collection of three vintage typewriters, but you’re not going to necessarily fill your basement or try to obtain every typewriter that was ever made in Germany. But those typewriters look really cool on a shelf in your living room.
Read the rest of the interview, learn about some of the cool things that people collect, and see a gallery of awesome pictures from Bradley’s book at Collectors Weekly.
Ladies holding guns. Colorado. 1930s?
Joel Snow found a stash of unlabeled negatives at a flea market. He photographed them, scanned them, and used Photoshop to convert them to positive images. All that work revealed a treasure trove of historical mysteries. Where and when were all these pictures taken? What’s the story behind them? Were they taken by the same person, or even the same family or company? Snow created a website to share the photographs called Vintage Photo Finds, where you’ll see plenty more. Wherever the site or the pictures are shared, people come forward who recognize the place, if not the people, and Snow updates the information as it comes in.
Amazing shot of Nebraska potato farmers taking a break, or finishing up their day.
No idea where this was taken. However, I would guess it’s sometime in the early ’20s based on the cars in the background. Possibly Texas, based on names.
Joe Kramer's short film Running the Gammatar is a lovely story about a young couple trying to negotiate a relationship while their city is being terrorized by a giant fire-breathing monster. It’s like rom-com meets Japanese monster movie, except this behemoth is uglier than any version of Godzilla, and his name is Gammatar. -via the Presurfer
Texas Tech's new student political organization PoliTech asked man-on-the-street questions of students around the campus. Now, I see these kinds of videos often, and I have to assume that the vast majority of people who know the answers are all edited out. Still, you have to wonder how many students they had to quiz before finding this many who don’t know how the Civil War turned out. Honestly, the vice president changes every few years, and he doesn't make much news, so I can understand young people not coming up with his name. But American students should know who won the Civil War, and who ruled the Colonies before U.S. independence. Watch and weep for our educational system. -via 22 Words
Who is the saddest animated character of all? There are plenty to select from. The full title of the list is The Animated Movie Sadness Index: A Brief History of Dead Parents, Sad Robots, and Devastated Animal Children. Grantland ranked movie characters on their sad lives and backstories, so looking through the list may cause a bit of melancholy, particularly if you have vivid memories of the films. Few would argue with the highest-ranked sad character, but many believe that The Iron Giant rated way more than 23% sad.
A truly tragic character. He’s a Russian warbot who crashes into small-town America. He doesn’t remember who he is or even what he is. He befriends a 9-year-old boy, but is eventually cast out by ignorant people. He’s attacked by the Army after he saves the lives of two children. He tries to fly away, but is shot down by a missile. After he crashes, he thinks his young friend is dead. He blames the Army, so he starts destroying them. The U.S. Navy fires a nuclear missile at the Iron Giant, which will kill everyone in the city if it hits him there.
I left off the last line of the quote, since it tells how the movie ends, so be aware that many of these synopses contain spoilers for mostly old movies. -via Metafilter
(Image composite by Bob Dominguez)
Back in 2006, a research team headed by David A. Scholnick studied the effects of bacteria on crustaceans. The research was published in The Biological Bulletin under the title "Impact of Exposure to Bacteria on Metabolism in the Penaeid Shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei." However, once a video clip was introduced to the internet, the project became known as “Shrimp on a Treadmill.” In the years since, the study has become a go-to example for politicians complaining about wasteful government spending on scientific research. Sholnick took to The Chronicle of Higher Education to explain how much the treadmill actually cost.
To be clear, the treadmill did not cost millions of taxpayer dollars, the goal of the research was not to exercise shrimp, and the government did not pay me—or anyone else—to work out shrimp on treadmills.
Simply put, my colleagues and I were studying how recent changes in the oceans could potentially affect the ability of marine organisms to fight infections—an important question, given that the amount of bacteria a shrimp is able remove from its body is directly related to how much bacteria could potentially end up on seafood-filled plates. And since shrimp are active animals in nature, it was logical to study the immune response of shrimp during activity.
Exactly how much taxpayer money did go into the now-famous shrimp treadmill? The treadmill was, in fact, made from spare parts—an old truck inner tube was used for the tread, the bearings were borrowed from a skateboard, and a used pump motor was salvaged to power the treadmill. The total price for the highly publicized icon of wasteful government research spending? Less than $50. (All of which I paid for out of my own pocket.)
Sholnick still has the treadmill, which he is willing to sell for a million dollars, all of which will go to support marine biology research. But even better than that, it gives me an opportunity to repost the video that caused the controversy in the first place.
A new pangolin at the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan wouldn’t nurse from her mother, so zookeepers had to step in and feed the baby (yes, despite appearances, pangolins are mammals). The pangolin named Gung-wu also got washed and cuddled and photographed. See more pictures (and a video) at Laughing Squid
(Image credit: Taipei Zoo)
A squirrel finds a GoPro camera and decides it might be worth keeping. He takes it up a tree, but discovers that its machine-made surfaces aren’t so easy to balance on a tree branch. -via Arbroath
Matthew McConaughey’s monologue from Interstellar about why we go into space is the unifying factor in this supercut of movie scene set in space that you’ve probably seen many times -yet together they are quite inspiring. Now, where’s my NASA application? If there are any you don't recognize, you'll find a list of them at the YouTube link. -via Uproxx
Here’s a story that quite resembles the movie The Parent Trap, except that the parents aren’t really involved. French fashion designer Anais Bordier, who is studying in London, was shown a video of Samantha Futerman, an American actress who resembled her. Then things got weird. Bordier wrote to Futerman at Facebook.
My name is Anaïs, I am french and live in London,
About 2 months ago, my friend was watching one of your videos with Kevjumba on youtube, and he saw you and thought that we looked really very similar...
like... VERY REALLY SIMILAR...we were making jokes about it etc. (I'm always being violent with people and hitting them too hahaha)
Today, he saw the trailer of 21 & over and told me he saw you again, I then checked your name on the cast, stalked you A BIT, and found out you were born the 19th of november 1987.
I checked more of your videos (which are hilarious) and then came upon how it feels to be adopted'... and discovered you were adopted too.
So..I don't want to be too Linday Lohan,
well...but..how to put it..I was wondering where you were born?
I was born on the 19th of November 1987, in Busan but my papers were made at the Holt Chuldren's Institute, so "officially" I was born in Seoul. My korean name is Kim Eunwha. I arrived in France the 5th March 1988, so 3 months later.
You can check my facebook if you want to check the pictures and videos. It's more obvious on videos...
Let me know...don't freak out...
Lots of love
The two women met in London, and have since traveled to Korea together and met each other’s families. They wrote a book called Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited, and are working on a documentary called Twinsters. See a video news report on the twins at CNN. -via Metafilter
Hardly any of us get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet, but I can tell you from experience that making salad is expensive, time-consuming, and more complicated than a typical lunch. It’s not exactly fast food. Yes, you can get a salad at many fast food outlets, but have you seen the prices? A startup founded by Luke Saunders called the Farmer’s Fridge (previously at Neatorama) aims to change all that, by offering salad from vending machines, for as low as a dollar in selected low-income areas.
Most of Saunders’s machines are installed at private office buildings, food courts, and convenience stores, where the salads cost upwards of $7. Eventually, he wants to drive down the price to the point where anyone can afford them.
The Farmer’s Fridge machine at the East Garfield Community Center is his initial attempt to bring healthy food to a low-income area. The buck is a nominal fee—the salads are actually day-old donations that didn’t sell at the corporate locations. (All of the salads are perfectly good for up to three days.)
It sounds like a good idea, although you can see where the economics could be the project’s undoing. I would imagine there would be a great many salads not sold for $7, leading to plenty of $1 salads, but how could you sustain the project with such massive markdowns? The question in the article at The Atlantic is: would people eat healthier food if it were more convenient? There are some who will never eat fresh vegetables no matter how cheap and convenient they are. And although my family will eat salad, it has to be custom made or offered salad bar-style, as everyone hates some ingredient that the others love.
(Image credit: Farmer’s Fridge)
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