Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

What the World Eats

National Geographic brings us an interactive data visualization project that breaks down world food consumption. As you can see, globally, we consume more grains than anything. The staff of life, you know. At the site, you can mouseover the graph and break these categories down further: rice beats out wheat, just barely, with maize (corn) a distant third. But the United States’ graph is quite different, with sugar and fat taking up 37% of our diet! There are also plenty of graphs on meat consumption, which has grown considerably per capita over the past few decades. Not so much in the U.S., as we always ate more meat than other countries, and not so much in India, where meat eating is still relatively rare. There are plenty of graphs to explore and compare at NatGeo.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872

The following is an article from Uncle John's Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader

(Image credit:  Flickr user  kawaiikiri)

 Most stories have the moral at the end. But we’ll put it right up front: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

NIGHT DEPOSIT

One evening in February 1871, George Roberts, a prominent San Francisco businessman, was working in his office when two men came to his door. One of them, Philip Arnold, had once worked for Roberts; the other was named John Slack. Arnold produced a small leather bag and explained that it contained something very valuable; as soon as the Bank of California opened in the morning, he was going to have them lock it in the vault for safekeeping.

Arnold and Slack made a show of not wanting to reveal what was in the bag, but eventually told Roberts that it contained “rough diamonds” they’d found while prospecting on a mesa somewhere in the West. They wouldn’t say where the mesa was, but they did say it was the richest mineral deposit they’d ever seen in their lives: The site was rich not only in diamonds, but also in sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and other precious stones.

The story sounded too good to be true, but when Arnold dumped the contents of the bag onto Robert’s desk, out spilled dozens of uncut diamonds and other gems.

PAY DIRT



If someone were to make such a claim today, they’d probably get laughed out of the room. But things were different in 1871. Only 20 years had passed since the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California spiked the greatest gold rush in American history. Since then other huge gold deposits had been discovered in Colorado, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. A giant vein of silver had been found in the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1859, and diamonds had been discovered in South Africa in 1867- just four years earlier. Gems and precious metals might be anywhere, lying just below the earth’s surface, waiting to be discovered. People who’d missed out on the earlier bonanzas were hungry for word of new discoveries, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 opened up the West and create the expectation that more valuable strikes were just around the corner. When Arnold and Slack rolled into town with their tale of gems on a mesa and a bag of precious stones to back it up, people were ready to believe them.

OPEN SECRET

The next morning the two men went to the Bank of California and deposited their bag in the bank’s vault. They made another big show of not wanting anyone to know what was in the bag, and again they let some of the bank employees have a peek. Soon everyone in the bank knew what was in it, including the president and founder, William Ralston. He had made a fortune off the Comstock Lode, and had his eye out for the next big find. Ralston didn’t keep the men’s secret, and neither did George Roberts: Soon all of San Francisco, the city built by the Gold Rush of 1849, was buzzing with the tale of the two miners and their discovery.

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A Tale of Momentum and Inertia

(vimeo link)

A rock creature does what he has to do in this really short story from House Special. I love how expressive his face is; it's the exact opposite of the “stone face” you’d expect. And since it’s just animation, you can laugh without feeling guilty. -via reddit


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Finnish Cough Drop Ad

(YouTube link)

This is an ad for Zyx, a brand of cough drops sold in Finland and Sweden. You can see what’s going to happen a mile away, but it’s still amusing. It makes a strange kind of sense, since every time I listen to black metal singing, it makes my throat hurt. Just watching this on TV could sell a lot of cough drops!  -via Daily Picks and Flicks


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America’s Favorite Sandwich Fillings

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, 49% of American will eat at least one sandwich on any given day. That’s really not so shocking; I eat one most days, if not two. And why not? A sandwich is easy to eat while working, requires no dish or utensil, and you can put just about anything in it. Most can be eaten with one hand. That’s why the sandwich was invented in the first place! What is a little surprising is the findings about what Americans put in their sandwiches.

As you can tell from the graph, lettuce is on more sandwiches than any other ingredient. That’s because it automatically goes on so many store-bought sandwiches of all kinds, and there are no other vegetables that produce as much crunch. However, if you look closer, you can see that “Cheddar or American cheese” shows up three times in the graph, depending on how it was described. If those were combined, they would be at the top. Personally, I’m surprised that peanut butter isn’t much higher on the list. You can read more about the study, and see what kind of breads we’re using on sandwiches, at FiveThirtyEight. -via Digg   

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Whodunit: An Attack of Gas

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Ann Fisher)

The island of Canary Rock had no police force and none was really needed—not until the fateful morning when Gerald Espy was found dead in his bed. The millionaire had been laid up with a broken leg, and although the local doctor was adept at setting bones, he was not well versed in murder. It wasn't until he saw the dead cat curled up in a corner that he even suspected foul play.

"Poison gas," the inspector guessed when he arrived. An empty glass container on the table was the primary evidence. "Pour one chemical on another." He pointed to the dead flies on the windowsill at the east end of the room. "In less than a minute everything in the room would be dead."

The body had been discovered by Espy's son, Melvin. "I was out with some friends on my boat. I dropped them off at about midnight, then motored back to Canary Rock. There were no lights on at the house, but every now and then the moon would peek through. I figured Dad was asleep. So I locked up the house and went straight to bed. This morning, I went to check up. He was dead."

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Love games and puzzles? Visit NeatoPuzzles for more!

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The Immune System

That’s a very succinct and understandable way to explain what your immune system is doing to you. If you ask me, it’s a fairly decent tradeoff for not dying of the flu or an ingrown hair. A little Benedryl should help. This is the latest comic from Tree Lobsters.


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Working with Cats Around

(YouTube link)

Working at home is wonderful, but it has its drawbacks. My kids have been on fall break this past week, which makes getting anything done difficult. However, they did clean up the house. The cats won’t do that. They just want your undivided attention while you’re home with them. Cole and Marmalade (previously at Neatorama) demonstrate exactly what working around cats is like. At least I’m in a position to put all the cats outside when they get too annoying. -via Fark

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Throwing Paint at a Ferrari

We’ve seen artist Fabian Oefner do some amazing things with space, time, and paint. His latest project involves a wind tunnel, UV paint, and a Ferrari. Yes, he threw brightly-colored paint at a Ferrari, to illustrate the feel of driving one. First I thought, “Cool!” but then the Mom in me wondered if it was washable paint. There were plenty of cameras rolling during the paint process, which were turned into videos of various lengths to be used as Ferrari ads. See those videos, and more pictures, too, at PetaPixel. -via mental_floss


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I've Fallen, and I Can't Get Up!

(vimeo link)

This is an animation test. Yes, none of these lemmings people exist in real life (not even Waldo), so no one was harmed in the test. Creator Dave Fothergill vfx says,

Crowd dynamics test using Miarmy for Maya.
Shows the new servo force feature which allows struggling animation once the agent has become dynamic

Which means nothing to me, but digital animators will recognize the terms. If you are interested in the technical aspects, there’s more in the comments at vimeo. To most of us, it’s just a hilariously goofy sequence that you shouldn’t feel bad about laughing at. -via Metafilter 

Update: And now there's a looping version with sound effects and music.


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The Hobbit in 72 Seconds -in LEGO

(YouTube link)

You could invest nine hours or so into watching the The Hobbit movies (after waiting for the last one to be released in December), or you could watch the condensed version in this stop-motion LEGO video from BrotherhoodWorkshop. I tried to read The Hobbit about 40 years ago and couldn’t finish it. I haven’t seen any of The Hobbit movies, either. So I watched this and laughed because even at the breakneck speed of the condensed story, there was still time for jokes. Spoilers? I don’t know; I really don’t feel I’ve been spoiled watching this. One who knows mentioned in the YouTube comments that this was more faithful to the book than the Peter Jackson films. -via Geeks Are Sexy


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Police Hunt Man in Spotty Onesie

Do you know any adult who wears a polka-dot onesie (footed pajamas) and has a friend with pink-purple leggings? A pair wearing this clothing was captured on CCTV footage at the Dewsbury train station in West Yorkshire, England. They were recorded taking a computer monitor from the station on October 6th, and are suspected of taking two others on October 5th. 

“We are releasing their images in that hope that, despite their faces being covered, someone may recognise their distinctive dress.

“We believe they may be able to assist our enquiries into this incident and are investigating whether they are linked to the other two thefts.”

The publicity should also serve as a warning to anyone thinking of attending a Halloween costume party in these getups. It could lead to your arrest. -via Arbroath


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How to Dance to AC/DC

(YouTube link)

A group of Bulgarian folk dancers hoof it to the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck.” It works, because they are obviously having a great time! Whatever this dance is called, it sure looks like old fashioned hillbilly clogging to me, which is probably as universal as AC/DC music. -via Daily Picks and Flicks


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Have You Ever Seen a Lock Like This?

(YouTube link)

Bosnian Bill has found a lock he cannot pick. Just wait until you see why not! This clever mechanism works in a different way from most locks, as it’s not straight. It’s a rare, complicated, and presumably expensive lock for which most locksmiths could not duplicate a key. Lose or break your key, and the whole thing would be rather useless. I'd never let any of my kids near that key. -via reddit


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Inside a Pneumatic Tube

(YouTube link)

If you’ve ever dealt with pneumatic tubes, which are still used at many drive-through bank branches, you’ve probably thought about what it would be like to be inside one. What we have here is the next best thing. A couple of Norwegians YouTubers put a GoPro camera inside a canister and sent it on its way. For the first part of the trip, the camera is pointed out the back end, but the canister eventually reverses itself and we can see where it’s going. Yeah, I believe riding inside one of those would be a pretty dizzying experience. -via Metafilter


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X-Men have Vanity Plates

Now we know where Professor X is from, and what sweet ride he has! Redditor funboixero spotted this car in Houston. He saw the driver exit the parking lot in a wheelchair, but hasn’t yet mentioned whether he was bald, which is what everyone wants to know. You can get a closer look at imgur.

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Interplanetary Unusual Attacking Team

When Guardians of the Galaxy was translated into Chinese, they cut some corners. The title of the movie shown in China is now Interplanetary Unusual Attacking Team. The insults have been changed to endearments, and other lines just make no sense at all. Some examples:

  • Each time a character was meant to insult Rocket by calling him “rodent” or “weasel” it was translated into “small raccoon,” a term of endearment.
  • When Gamora says, “Your ship is filthy,” and Star-Lord responds “She has no idea,” the translation came out to “Your ship stinks” and “No culture is terrible.”
  • Star-Lord calling Ronan “turd blossom” translated to “big face.”
  • Gamora’s “I will not succumb to your pelvic sorcery!” became “I will not succumb to your rhetoric sorcery!”

There’s more at The Mary Sue, and even more criticism of the translation if you can read Chinese.


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Misconceptions You Learned in School

(YouTube link)

Mental_floss has launched yet another weekly video series, this one called Misconceptions. It’s about things that need to be put straight. In the inaugural episode, host Eliot Morgan goes over some things you may have learned in school that simply aren’t so. Most of these things were never addressed at my school at all. If you like it, watch for a new episode every Friday. -via mental_floss


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Hearse Chases Car Stolen During Funeral

Westhaven Funeral Home employees had just taken the deceased inside the St. Thomas Missionary Baptist Church near Jackson, Mississippi, for the funeral Thursday morning when a funeral director’s car was stolen from the church parking lot.  

"Once the funeral director went inside with the body to set up, he jumped in the car and took off," said Nathaniel Ford of Westhaven Funeral Home.

Westhaven officials, gave chase to their stolen car,

"High speed chase, 100 miles and hour," said Ford. "Our funeral directors jumped in the hearse, and tried to catch him and he was driving 90 miles and hour and the car went off and left him. Then Sheriff's department got in pursuit."

After a high-speed chase down I-20 into Jackson, the car was abandoned, and the car thief fled on foot. Devarous White was arrested later. Investigators say White signed the funeral registry before the car chase, which will be used as evidence against him.  -via Fark 

(Image credit: WLBT)


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The London Beer Flood of 1814

It was 200 years ago today that a neighborhood in London, England, was flooded by beer. The Meux and Company Brewery had several large brewing vats on the roof. The largest was a 22-foot-high vat to brew porter. It held 511,920 liters of beer, or enough to fill 20,000 barrels. On October 17, 1814, after fermenting for months, one of the metal hoops holding the porter vat together gave way, and the beer exploded out, causing the surrounding vats to fail as well.

A total of 1,224,000 litres of beer under pressure smashed through the twenty-five foot high brick wall of the building, and gushed out into the surrounding area - the slum of St Giles. Many people lived in crowded conditions here, and some were caught by the waves of beer completely unaware. The torrent flooded through houses, demolishing two in its wake, and the nearby Tavistock Arms pub in Great Russell Street suffered too, its 14-year-old barmaid Eleanor Cooper buried under the rubble. The Times reported on 19 October of the flood:

    The bursting of the brew-house walls, and the fall of heavy timber, materially contributed to aggravate the mischief, by forcing the roofs and walls of the adjoining houses.

Fearful that all the beer should go to waste, though, hundreds of people ran outside carrying pots, pans, and kettles to scoop it up - while some simply stooped low and lapped at the liquid washing through the streets. However, the tide was too strong for many, and as injured people began arriving at the nearby Middlesex Hospital there was almost a riot as other patients demanded to know why they weren't being supplied with beer too - they could smell it on the flood survivors, and were insistent that they were missing out on a party! Calm was quickly restored at the hospital, but out in the streets was a different matter.

At least eight people died from the flood: some drowned, other died of injuries, and one supposedly died several days later of alcohol poisoning, although that story may be apocryphal. Read the rest of the story at h2g2. -via Fark


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Frankenstein Pumpkins

Tony Dighera of Cinagro Farms devoted four years to perfecting his crop of Frankenstein pumpkins. They’re not cobbled together from different individuals like Frankenstein’s monster, but pumpkins grown in molds that have the shape of the monster’s head. Now that’s a fancy jack-o-lantern right there! This year, Dighera brought in a crop of 5500 pumpkins, and sold every one of them at $75 each. Next year, there will be a bigger crop, plus white pumpkins shaped like skulls. Yeah, you’ve seen molded fruit before, but I can tell you from experience, it’s not easy to get them to come out consistently right. See more pictures at Geekologie.

Love Halloween and cosplay? Check out our Halloween Blog!

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Drunk J. Crew

Have you ever noticed that the models in the J. Crew catalog look drunk? I haven’t either, as I don’t shop for clothing until I have no choice. But someone noticed, and with a few captions that had to come from first-hand experience, created the blog Drunk J. Crew. The blog is only a couple of days old, but I can see it growing because there’s got to be a lot of raw material available. -via Uproxx


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Igor’s Vacation Home

(YouTube link)

Kai Halvorsen loves his dog Igor. But when the family planned a trip to Thailand, they couldn’t take Igor along. He had to stay in a kennel. Kai decided he had to do something to make Igor’s time there a little better, since the dog had never been away from the home or the family overnight. You’ll love what they came up with… I sure did. It wouldn’t have happened if the stunt weren’t sponsored by a paint and tool company, which resulted in a great ad, but it’s an adorable idea for a much loved pet. -via Tastefully Offensive

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Skiing in a Lightsuit

(vimeo link)

Skiing at night in LED-suits makes for a beautiful film sequence. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it sure is pretty. I watched and hoped that the skiers could see as far ahead as they needed to. This video is part of the longer film Afterglow, made to promote Philips TV. It wasn’t easy to pull off, according to director Nick Waggoner.  

The technical production of the segment involved a MASSIVE amount of energy, 5 weeks of filming, 9,000 lbs of equipment, operating 70 miles from a road at times, in temperatures as cold as -15 in the deepest snow on earth.

It was definitely a logistical nightmare, but one tamed by our 14 person crew to produce what you see here. From Zac Ramras and Max Santeusanio working on the details of production to controlling the camera on the aerial cinematography, all the way to our lighting team, it was a disgustingly big effort. We [pored] over crazy lens diagrams for lights, read over their photometric charts and electrical currents for months, and finally came up with a system that involved 8 main lights, 8 generators, 16-20 light stands, miles of extension chords, colored filters, and a heap more of support equipment.

We topped that off with an optacopter carrying the weight of a Red Epic Camera slung on a Movi Stabilization system. If it sounds high-tech, that’s because it is.

You can read more about it at HuffPo. The full 12-minute Afterglow will be available on Sunday.


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Houdini's Greatest Trick

The magician is famous for his thrilling escapes. But the feat he should be known for is breaking into a seance.

On July 23, 1924, Boston was suffering from a brutal heat wave. The evening temperature hovered in the high 80s when the famed magician Harry Houdini trudged up to the fourth floor séance room at 10 Lime Street. With him were O.D. Munn, editor of Scientific American, and an esteemed panel of scientists. They had come to witness the psychic feats of the nation’s most credible spirit medium, a pretty 36-year-old flapper with blue eyes and a bob.

Her name was Mina Crandon. Followers called her “Margery”; detractors knew her as the Blonde Witch of Lime Street. And she was renowned for conjuring the voice of her dead brother, Walter, whose spirit rapped out messages, tipped tables, and even sounded trumpets. Even by ghost standards, Walter was unfriendly, answering questions and quoting scripture in a gruff disembodied voice. Margery, by contrast, was charming and attractive—at least when she wasn’t showing off her most convincing psychic talent: extruding a slithery, viscous substance called “ectoplasm” from her orifices. Photos show this otherworldly substance flowing from her nose and ears, but mostly it emerged from beneath a sheer kimono like a string of entrails—an “ectomorphic hand” that Walter used to carry out his commands.

Today we remember the era’s jazz, speakeasies, and glitz, but the ’20s were also the zenith of America’s obsession with the spirit world. Reeling from losing an estimated 15 million people in the Great War and 21 million more to the Spanish-flu pandemic, people were searching for ways to connect with the dead. Spirit guides emerged to help the bereaved, usually for hefty fees. And as reputable magazines and newspapers increased their coverage of paranormal phenomena, mediums became rock stars. Margery herself had become a messiah to hundreds of thousands of Americans.

In the summer of 1924, Margery occupied the red-hot center in the raging national debate over Spiritualism, an 80-year-old religious movement that centered around the possibility of communicating with the dead. The most famous of its 14 million believers was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and a man of impeccable reputation. Witnessing a séance in his London home, he became convinced of Margery’s supernatural powers. Her refusal to be compensated for her miracles only added to her credibility. It wasn’t long before Doyle had recommended her to the editors of Scientific American, which was offering a $2,500 prize to the first medium who could verifiably demonstrate to its six-man investigative committee a “visual psychic manifestation.”

This was no fly-by-night group of spook hunters. Scientific American’s J. Malcolm Bird chaired the committee, which included psychologist William McDougall of Harvard, former MIT physicist Daniel Comstock, and two members of the Society of Psychical Research, Hereward Carrington and Walter Prince. Bird and Carrington had already examined Margery more than 20 times and were ready to hand over the money. The New York Times reported the development with a straight face: "'Margery' Passes All Psychic Tests Scientists Find No Trickery in Scores of Séances with Boston Medium."

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How to Move a Couch

(YouTube link)

Which would you prefer: carry a couch down two flights of stairs, negotiating tight corners, or would you rather just throw it off the third floor balcony and be done with it? These guys came up with an alternative scheme that’s somewhere in between those two extremes. What could possibly go wrong? I might call this Southern ingenuity, but the lack of accent in the narration makes it seem more like Yankee ingenuity. -via reddit


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The Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom

Well, the cloak of wisdom worked exactly as it should, but it didn’t do him much good at this late date, now, did it? He should have put on his thinking cap instead! This kid must be a sophomore, because that word translates to “wise fool.” Or something like that. The is the latest comic from Up and Out by Jeremy Kaye. -via reddit


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Bats: Wonders of the Night

(YouTube link)

Twenty million bats in one cave! Can you imagine being there and not knowing that until it happens? And did you know that a bat’s hearing has to be ignored while it uses its sonar trick, lest it drive them batty? This video from the PBS YouTube series It's Okay To Be Smart has all kinds of fascinating facts about the 1300 or so species of bats on earth. By the time you finish this, you’ll have a new respect of those fearful flying Halloween symbols. Read more about bats at Bat Conservation International, or any of the other links about bats you’ll find at the YouTube page. -via Everlasting Blort


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The Murderous, Sometimes Sexy History of the Mermaid

For many people, the idea of a mermaid is shaped by the 1989 Disney movie The Little Mermaid, or possibly the 1984 Tom Hanks film Splash. The myth of a half human-half fish creature wasn’t always as delightful. They were originally considered gods along with other strange chimeras. In the Odyssey, mermaids were deadly sirens that lured men to their deaths.

And so mermaids entered European mythology with conflicting personalities: Sometimes they were portrayed as beautiful, seductive maidens—almost goddesses like Atargatis—greatly desired by lonely sailors, while also being cast as siren-esque beasts that dragged men into the inky-black depths. But whatever the portrayal, mermaids wound their way deep into the nautical lore of the Middle Ages onward.

Really, it was best to avoid mermaids and mermen, just to be sure. Olaus Magnus, the 16th century writer and cartographer whose seminal map Carta Marina obsessively cataloged the many monsters of the seas around Scandinavia, noted that fishermen maintain that if you reel in a mermaid or merman, “and do not presently let them go, such a cruel tempest will arise, and such a horrid lamentation of that sort of men comes with it, and of some other monsters joining with them, that you would think the sky should fall.” Sea-people, it was widely held, were terribly bad luck to see or snag.

Plenty of seafarers saw mermaids, because the sea is full of strange unidentified creatures that are difficult to describe. You can read about quite a few of these sightings over the centuries that added to our mermaid myths at Wired. The linked article contains art nudity. -via Digg


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The Evolution of Music

(YouTube link)

The a cappella group Pentatonix (previously) sing a medley of familiar songs that span centuries. It’s heavy on music from the 20th century, of course, because we have a great archive of recorded songs since the phonograph was invented. There are more songs per decade in the 21st century, but the century is still young. Something tells me Pentatonix is gearing us up for new Christmas music, since that's what they've become most known for.  -via Metafilter


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