Professor Fukanō is going to circumnavigate the globe in his airplane, but his tank doesn't hold enough fuel for the entire trip. He has support planes of the exact same model which can refuel him in the air, but none of the planes can land anywhere except the starting point airport. How can he get around the world without crashing from lack of fuel? There's some math involved. If you want to try this on your own, keep in mind that only Professor Fukanō's plane needs to go all the way around. Good luck.
I didn't even attempt to figure this out on my own, but the answer is rather simple when you start thinking in the right direction. It's that initial thinking in the right direction that's so daunting. Students of British military history have an edge, in that this kind of thing has been done before. Operation Black Buck during the 1982 Falklands War saw RAF bombers fly 12,600 kilometers, and had to refuel from support vehicles. The refueling scheme had to be explained in a diagram. -via Viral Viral Videos
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.
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
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
Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog
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.
A couple hundred years ago, before aspirin and drugs that dealt with specific health problems, people could seek relief from not only physical pain, but also stress and depression with laudanum. It's easy to see how, as the drug was a tincture of opium in alcohol. In the first half of the 18th century, you could get it over the counter. Laudanum gained a reputation as the answer to everything.
Laudanum became widely used throughout Victorian society as a medicine, and soon many writers, poets, and artists (along with many ordinary people) became addicted. Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and many others were all known to have used laudanum. Some managed to take it briefly while ill, but others became hopelessly dependent. Most famously, the English writer Thomas De Quincey wrote a whole book—Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821)—on his use of opium and its derivatives. The book proposed that, unlike alcohol, opium improved the creative powers, an opinion that only served to make the drug more appealing to those searching for artistic and literary inspiration. A number of other writers also played on the perceived glamor of the drug, praising its ability to enhance the imagination.
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?”
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
This video is remarkable in several ways. First, there is no blood involved. Two, Simon is actually happy with his cat for a moment or two. And surprisingly, we get to hear Simon speak, even if it's only one word.
Alfred Carlton Gilbert was an extraordinary man. He set a world record for chin-ups, won an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault, earned a medical degree, and invented the Erector Set. The toy company he built around it was so respected that Gilbert was elected the first president of the Toy Manufacturers of America trade group. And that's when he ran into his biggest challenge.
It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.
Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.
Gilbert managed to convince the committee not to cancel toys for Christmas, which worked out well as the war ended that November. Read what he said to convince them at mental_floss.
Abby Jo Hamele is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She got her wisdom teeth removed last week. Hamele emailed her philosophy teacher about an assignment that she was afraid she'd miss. Because she remembered the deadline wrong. Heres the text of that email.
I believe that i relmebmer you said we, as us students, would be able to send you our papers for classss for you to look at over before we turn them in to cColin if we got them to you by the 22nd of Novermber.
I unfortmately got my wisdom teeth sliced outr and have not not been reacting very well to the surgeryy nor the medicatioon i were given/ so I do not thimk that I will be able to habe my paper finisherd by Tuesday at all.
Is tehere any way I would be able to send you my paper at any later date??? I wnt to do very good on this paper you know becayse i like to do well in my classes.
please sir I workled very hard and thouught that I would be abel to finish it on timme but my doctor said I will most likelly not be normal again until at least Thanksginvg turkey. If you say no then that is okay but i would be sad and i would reallyyyy lik e it if you said yes. Thank you Kevin, my dude.
Abby Jo Hamele (pronounced hah-mil-lee) (if you were wondering)
P.S. I will answer youpr questions in class forever so theere are not any more awkard silence. and i will buy you expo markers that work (even thougjh our tuition should pay for markers that work)
love you bye
Hamele later Tweeted the email and blamed it on her pain medication. I don't think so. She was obviously still under a cloud of anesthesia, which can take quite a few hours to wear off. Kevin Patton, the philosophy TA, reacted exactly as the rest of us did, by laughing hysterically. And he answered the email. See more of Hamele in her drug-induced state at Buzzfeed.
It's spooky how much Facebook knows about you. And Google. And Twitter. And all those places that throw up ads for something you looked at for a brief moment. I sent my aunt an email and mentioned using a 20-foot pole with a feather duster attachment. When I hit "send," gmail said "Are you sure you're ready to send? You typed 'I attached' but there are no files attached." Wooo. You can see here how Facebook's facial recognition system could suddenly change everything in the DC universe. This comic is from Max is Drawing. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Has no one done this already? Chris Hallbeck at Maximumble should take this idea and run with it. I mean really, look how happy Whiskers is, and how the other guy is just floored with the genius idea of a subscription supply of cat boxes. The only thing cats love more than a box is a newer box. A "selection" of boxes every month should give a cat enough to sit in, explore, and chew on. And the facts that they are themed only gives us an incentive to take plenty of LOLcat pictures. Shut up and take my money!
Since so many people have a complicated relationship with their boss, it only makes sense to use a boss in a TV sitcom. They can be a caricature of how one sees their boss in real life, as a dictator, a buffoon, an inspiration, and/or a target of cathartic revenge. The best TV bosses are either extreme caricatures or complicated personalities.
For a lot of us who have exhausting and strenuous relationships with a real life boss, watching a memorable TV boss is therapeutic. It might even help us get along better with our own boss because we can always tell ourselves that no matter how bad our particular lot is, at least we don’t have to work with the incompetent fool on our favorite television show. If this sounds like you, then you’ll love this list.
Something everyone thinks about as they get close to retiring is “What am I going to do with all that free time?” Some people move to the country, others travel the world. Still others make a difference right where they are.
One of the perks that come with working in a swanky, well-run high-rise office building in cities like Seattle, Washington, is that you almost never run out of toilet paper. The janitors see to it. Each night they replace the old toilet paper rolls with new ones, whether the old rolls are used up or not. And what happens to the rolls that get replaced? In the old days, the janitors just threw them out, something that drove Allison Delong, the manager of several buildings in Seattle in the 1990s, crazy. She hated to see all that toilet paper going to waste, but what was she going to do with all those partially used rolls?
The problem continued until Allison’s father, Leon Delong, retired in 1999 and found himself with more free time than he knew what to do with. When Allison told him about all the toilet paper rolls that were being thrown away, he offered to collect them and donate them to area food banks. She instructed the janitors in her buildings to set the rolls aside, and every other week Leon would load them into his pickup truck and deliver them to the food banks. They packaged the rolls in groups of three or four and put them out for people who didn’t have enough money to buy toilet paper. “Putting out Leon’s toilet paper is like putting out T-bone steaks,” food bank manager Anthony Brown told the Seattle Times. “If we don’t hold some of it back, it’s gone in an hour.”
ON A ROLL
Seattle’s “Toilet Paper Guy,” as Leon came to be known, added one building after another to his paper route (so to speak) until he was collecting rolls from about a quarter of all the high-rent office buildings in Seattle. He collected some 2,000–3,000 rolls every other week— enough to fill the bed of his pickup truck three times. He kept at it for 15 years, until a bout with pneumonia over the holidays in 2014 forced him to hand over the route to other volunteers. By then he’d saved what he estimates as around one million rolls of toilet paper from the trash and made them available to people in need. “I’m amazed how much this mattered to people,” he told the Seattle Times in 2014. “To me, it was just a nice thing to do. Now it’s my claim to fame. You know, I’m sort of proud of it.”
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John’s Factastic Bathroom Reader. The 28th volume of the series is chock-full of fascinating stories and facts, and comes in both the Kindle version and paper with a classy cloth cover.
Police in Gardner, Kansas, got a report of a possible mountain lion sighting in Celebration Park. To determine whether it was true, they set up two wildlife camera traps in the park. Three days later, they were surprised at how many times the cameras were tripped. There were pictures of a skunk, a coyote, a raccoon, two gorillas, a ninja in a ghilly suit, a homicidal senior citizen, Man Bear Pig, and Santa Claus. Chief of Police James Pruetting saw the humor in the situation.
“They did a pretty good job of centering themselves and putting themselves in the camera’s view, because you can’t—it’s like a box and I wouldn’t have known where to stand,” Pruetting said. “We still don’t know who it is. The attention has been 100 percent positive but no one has come forward. I mean, how many people have two gorilla costumes?”