Sooner or later, just about every family takes a road trip to Six Flags, Disney World, or some other large theme park to show the kids a good time. That means standing in line for a hour to ride a one-minute ride, paying out the wazoo for lunch, and dealing with tired, cranky kids (or even worse, bored teenagers) and sunburn. There's a price to pay for everything.
Around 4,000 people around the world die from lightning strikes every year, but about ten times as many are hit by lightning and survive. For those who survive a strike, the experience is so memorable that they've formed an international survivors group. Some only have memories of the experience, while others face lifelong effects and health issues, both mental and physical. Their stories are always scary.
A crashing boom. A jolting, excruciating pain. "My whole body was just stopped — I couldn't move any more," Justin recalls. "The pain was… I can't explain the pain except to say if you've ever put your finger in a light socket as a kid, multiply that feeling by a gazillion throughout your entire body."
"And I saw a white light surrounding my body — it was like I was in a bubble. Everything was slow motion. I felt like I was in a bubble forever."
A couple huddled under a nearby tree ran to Justin's assistance. They later told him that he was still clutching the chair. His body was smoking.
When Justin came to, he was looking up at people staring down, his ears ringing. Then he realized that he was paralyzed from the waist down. "Once I figured out that I couldn't move my legs, I started freaking out."
The family at the core of The Simpsons has been around for thirty years now, and in that time we've gotten to know dozens of the other residents of Springfield as they came and went, and came back again. However, there are a few characters that only appeared on the series once. Whether that's because the voice actor didn't want to repeat a performance, or there just wasn't a story fit for them, they became one-hit wonders. If you can recall the one episode these characters were in among the hundreds that have aired, then you're in rarified Simpsons fandom territory. Meet five of those characters at TVOM.
The latest hipster food obsession is the "avolatte," a latte (which is a fancy term for coffee with milk) served in an avocado shell. Developed at the Truman Cafe in Melbourne, the idea has spread through the internet and around the world, pretty much instantly.
It appears to be an eco-friendly way to add a bit of avocado flavor to the drink, but not everyone likes the idea. Personally, I do not like avocado, and I do like having a handle on my coffee cup. -via Laughing Squid
Jürgen Horn and Mike Powell continue their adventures in Vietnam, where they've been exploring villages on their own, without guides, away from the tourist spots. They'd heard that Tan Chau was where Vietnamese black silk was produced, so they set out with a map and their motorcycles -after three ferry trips across the river.
Properly motorized, we headed off in search of silk, stopping in a few towns where, to judge by the dumbfounded stares we received, foreigners are not an everyday occurrence. And nobody could help us. In fact, the famous black silk of Tan Chau didn’t seem to be all that famous in Tan Chau. Scouring the map, we decided to head to Long Chau, which looked like the region’s largest town. It was also the furthest away; if we struck out here, we agreed to give up.
Pressed right up along the river, Long Chau was cute, but we weren’t here to see the sights, dammit. We directed ourselves to the town’s central market, to look for silk vendors. If anyone knew where to find a silk manufacturing center, surely they. The owners of the first silk store were friendly but weirdly insistent we go to “Tân Châu Xứ Lụa”, which Google identified as a restaurant. “No, you must misunderstand us. But thanks anyway!”
If we're going to have triangles, we may as well go whole hog with the geometry analogies. I think we cam all relate to the anxiety fractals more than the rest, amirite? This is the newest comic from John McNamee at Pie Comic.
If you didn't learn to swim as a child, it can be pretty difficult -and downright embarrassing- to ask someone teach you as an adult. What do you do? You buy a backyard pool like this guy and try to figure it out on your own.
However, it can be a traumatic experience, from the blowing up part, to the hose that doesn't work, to remembering why you never learned to swim in the first place. He should have invested in a lifeguard, too. -via Viral Viral Videos
Research about mechanisms to reduce a particular kind of noise compiled by Nan Swift, Improbable Research staff
Engineers dare to take on tasks that nature may have neglected. Here are four attempts to solve the noise-related problems arising from human sneezes or coughs.
Apisa’s Simple Sneeze Catcher “Sneeze Catching Method and Apparatus,” US patent 8910312, issued to Joseph Apisa, December 16, 2014. Apisa specifies:
An apparatus for catching bodily fluids ejected during a sneeze or cough, said apparatus comprising: a sleeve having a first open end... a closure being mounted on said sleeve and releasably retaining said frame in said closed position; a pad being removably positioned in said receiving space, said pad having anti-bacterial properties; and wherein said sleeve is configured to be worn on an arm of a person such that the person may sneeze or cough into said pad and that said pad captures and destroys bacteria exhaled by the person.
This news anchor at the Russian channel MIR 24 is telling us about the planned renovation of some areas of Moscow, when she's interrupted by a Labrador retriever that had snuck behind the desk. It was startling.
She tries to keep her cool and continue with the news, but all the attention is on the dog. Finally, she ends this clip by explaining that this is why she is a cat person. It's not nice to be upstaged. -via Tastefully Offensive
You can always find an argument somewhere on the internet about what is and what is not a sandwich. With new food items constantly being developed, the line has grown quite thin. Is a hot dog legally a sandwich? It depends. How about a corn dog? A burrito? An ice cream sandwich? A Pop Tart? It all depends on who you ask, and why. For some jurisdictions, whether a food item is a sandwich makes a difference in how it is taxed or zoned. Some definitions come from courts, others from organizations. Mental Floss dug up five definitions of a sandwich from different governing bodies, which should be enough to keep the arguments going for a while.
The word "brainwashing" came about because of the Cold War. In the 1950s, Americans were shocked when thousands of soldiers captured by North Korea eventually confessed to war crimes they hadn't committed, and some even refused to return to the US when the war was over. That was unthinkable.
Suddenly the threat of brainwashing was very real, and it was everywhere. The U.S. military denied the charges made in the soldiers’ “confessions,” but couldn’t explain how they’d been coerced to make them. What could explain the behavior of the soldiers besides brainwashing? The idea of mind control flourished in pop culture, with movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Manchurian Candidate showing people whose minds were wiped and controlled by outside forces. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover referred to thought-control repeatedly in his book Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism in America and How to Fight It. By 1980 even the American Psychiatric Association had given it credence, including brainwashing under “dissociative disorders” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III. Had Chinese and Soviet Communists really uncovered a machine or method to rewrite men’s minds and supplant their free will?
The short answer is no—but that didn’t stop the U.S. from pouring resources into combatting it.
“The basic problem that brainwashing is designed to address is the question ‘why would anybody become a Communist?’” says Timothy Melley, professor of English at Miami University and author of The Covert Sphere: Secrecy, Fiction, and the National Security State. “[Brainwashing] is a story that we tell to explain something we can’t otherwise explain.”
Brainwashing seemed like mystical mind-control magic to the American public, although psychological change can be readily explained by simpler concepts, from persuasion to indoctrination to torture. The US government went into overdrive to research brainwashing in the 1950s, which you can read about at Smithsonian.
The Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul is now in its third season. Fans are trying to put clues together to figure out where the story is going, and how it will all tie together. Since Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are behind both shows, it only makes sense that all the elements of Better Call Saul will come together to lead into the Breaking Bad series, and elements that appear to have no significance at first will eventually be meaningful. This leads us to fan theories about how the story will play out. Some are pretty bizarre, but so is the world in which these shows exist. Read the bare bones of five widespread fan theories about Better Call Saul that may or may not pan out at TVOM.
This coming Friday, May 26, will be the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Atlantic takes a close look at one of its most memorable songs, "A Day in the Life." It's no sing-along, but more of an anthem that reflects the many changes the Beatles had gone through since finding fame in the early '60s. For example, John Lennon makes himself into an observer of life from inside a bubble instead of a participant.
That’s how he was writing, beachcombing inspiration from headlines and news briefs in the January 17 Daily Mail, which he had open at his piano (for this song); from a circus poster hanging in his home (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”); from a cereal advertisement (“Good Morning Good Morning”); from his child’s drawing (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”). In the song, the young man whose death gets noticed in the newspaper references an acquaintance of the Beatles, a Guinness beer company heir named Tara Browne, who crashed his Lotus sports car at high speed. Lennon reimagines Browne into the half-recognizable, presumably upper-class man who has it made and then throws it all away. What does it say that one crowd is transfixed by a privileged stranger’s grisly demise, but another crowd rejects a film about the achievement of a generation, the world war won? Only the singer of the song is willing to go back there, and only because he’s read the book.
Brandon and Veronica Phillips are expecting a baby soon. The problem is that Brandon is deployed far away, so Veronica took one of his Air Force shirts to her maternity photoshoot to wear in order to incorporate him into the pictures. Photographer Jennifer McMahon of Jennifer Ariel Photography was touched, and found a way to get Brandon into this picture -with Photoshop! McMahon said,
This mommy was so sweet, and her story touched my heart. Her husband is thousands of miles away serving our country. He is missing his beautiful wife's pregnancy, and will be missing the birth of his baby. Thank you to our military for sacrificing for our country.
It's prom season, and a group of students from the Catholic boy's school Vancouver College were taking photographs by the Stanley Park seawall in Vancouver with their dates before the dance Friday. A jogger went by, providing quite a contrast with the group in formal dress. But this jogger was Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau! When the teenagers yelled at him to stop for a minute, he posed for a picture with the group.
If you've ever heard of the Nazca lines, you have this woman to thank for preserving them for posterity. And if you've ever doubted that one person can make a difference, think again…
In 1932, a 20-year-old German woman named Maria Reiche answered a newspaper ad and landed a job in Peru, tutoring the sons of the German consul. After that, she bounced from job to job and eventually found work translating documents for an archaeologist named Julio Tello.
One day she happened to overhear a conversation between Tello and another archaeologist, Toribio Mejia. Mejia described some mysterious lines he'd seen in a patch of desert about 250 miles south of the capital of Lima, near the small town of Nazca. He tried to interest Tello in the lines, but Tello dismissed them as unimportant. Reiche wasn't so sure. She decided to go to Nazca and have a look for herself.
Gazing across the desert floor, Reiche was amazed at what she saw: More than 1,000 lines crisscrossing 200 square miles of desert, some as narrow as footpaths, others more than 15 feet wide. Many ran almost perfectly straight for miles across the desert, deviating as little as four yards in a mile.
In the 21st century, we are so used to computers being able to create an image of anything that we forget what a hassle that used to be. For 2D logos, that meant drawing, paste-ups, and photography. For film, it was more complicated because you wanted a 3D effect, or at least some hint or possibility of movement. Co.Design put together several videos and discussions of how TV logos were made of actual physical objects created to brand the channel, then filmed to give them an identity that everyone would recognize. See how the logos of RTF, BBC, and HBO were created.
Neatorama has featured many articles about patent medicine, snake oil, quackery, and dangerous cure-alls from the past. Those stories make us feel thankful to be living in the present, where modern medicine is working miracles. In 1881, the Dutch society Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK), translated as The Society Against Quackery, formed to fight the unscientific hucksterism that promised cures for a small fee. All these years later, the society is still doing that work!
The VtdK formed around the same time that modern medicine began to be professionalized in the late 1800s. According to a history on the Society’s website, the Dutch Society for the Advancement of Medicine, which was founded in 1849, was having trouble policing the unlicensed and unqualified medical practitioners of the day. In an effort to raise awareness of the growing number of quacks operating in the Netherlands, they published a pamphlet in 1878 detailing how to identify a quack, and what to do about them. From this initial bit of literature, the Society Against Quackery was born.
Toy Story 4 is planned for 2019. That's 24 years after the first movie. You have to wonder how long they can keep it up. This comic from Berkeley Mews gives us an idea of how the story might be ultimately wrapped up. Too bad it's an animated horror film. -via Geeks Are Sexy
When Hugh Jackman was first cast as the X-Men character Wolverine, he went to work researching the animal. But he did that research on wolves.
“I didn’t even know there was a wolverine. I literally, embarrassingly did about two weeks of research on wolves. I was rehearsing for three weeks and I was shooting, so I was kind of on my own. I remember going past an IMAX in Toronto, and there was an IMAX documentary about wolves, and so I thought, ‘I’ll go and see that,'” Jackman said Wednesday.
When they stared shooting 2000’s “X-Men,” director Bryan Singer noticed something wasn’t right with Jackman’s performance.
“He said, ‘Are you sort of walking funny, what’s going on?’ And I said, ‘I’ve been doing this thing with wolves,’ and he goes, ‘You know you’re not a wolf, right?'” Jackman recalled.
Singer found out that Jackman didn't know wolverines existed as their own species. A trip to a zoo was in order. To be fair, there are no wolverines in Australia. That was 17 years ago; we can assume that Jackman knows all about wolverines now. Read the entire story at Page Six. -via The A.V. Club
Mason the feral cat was ill, injured, and infected when he was taken in by Tinykittens feral TNR program (previously at Neatorama). Because of his condition, he was placed in a home instead of being returned to the feral colony. Mason is only semi-tamed; he still won't let anyone pet him.
More than ten years ago, we posted a story about 7' 9" Bao Xishun saving the lives of dophins by sticking his long arm down their throats to retrieve plastic they'd swallowed. It turns out there's precedent for this type of heroism. In 1978, Marine World called in Clifford Ray of the Golden State Warriors, famous for his long arms, in to save a dolphin that had swallowed a bolt! Read about the incident, and see a video, at Weird Universe.
The process of getting kids to read was addressed by Lunarbaboon the other day. Grant Snider takes it a bit further and plots out the way we relate to reading throughout our lives. This comic is from Snider's Incidental Comics. You can get this comic in print or poster form; it would be a great gift for a teacher or librarian.
Twenty years ago, the movie Titanic hit theaters, and suddenly the love anthem "My Heart Will Go On" was the most requested song at radio stations. That explains why I don't like it, as you can only take so many of those calls, and I didn't see the movie until years later. But you may be surprised that Celine Dion didn't care for the song much, either. Titanic director James Cameron didn't want to use it. The thought of it made Kate Winslet want to throw up. Even the song's co-producer thought it was dreary. But everyone else loved it.
“My Heart Will Go On” didn’t just take off -- it became synonymous with Cameron’s blockbuster movie, and a signature for Dion. Written by composer James Horner (who died in a 2015 plane crash at age 61) and lyricist Will Jennings, “My Heart Will Go On” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Feb. 28, 1998, buoying the Titanic soundtrack’s 16-week run atop the Billboard 200. The song also appeared on Dion’s late-1997 disc Let’s Talk About Love, and together, the two albums sold more than 60 million copies, according to Sony Music.
How did that song get so big? Or even get into the movie? Billboard presents an oral history of "My Heart Will Go On" featuring the recollections of Celine Dion, co-producer Simon Franglen, and various people from the Titanic production. -via Digg
When Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated in 2013, her son Willem-Alexander became king. Few people knew until this week that he was a pilot, and has continued flying Fokker 70 planes for KLM after he ascended the throne. Willem-Alexander has been a co-pilot on KLM flights twice a month for 21 years, yet passengers had no idea who was in the cockpit.
Willem-Alexander once said that if he had not been born in a palace, his dream would have been to fly a big passenger plane such as a Boeing 747, so it is no surprise that he intends to retrain for the updated plane.
He told De Telegraaf that he never used his name when addressing passengers and was rarely recognised in uniform and wearing his KLM cap. However, he admitted that some passengers had recognised his voice.
"The advantage is that I can always say that I warmly welcome passengers on behalf of the captain and crew," he said. "Then I don't have to give my name."
He maintains his flying schedule in order to keep his pilot's license. Read more about the king's second job at BBC News.
The latest movie version of The Great Gatsby came out, fashion historians set us straight about flapper fashions: they did not show off one's curves the way the movie costumes did. It turns out that the most iconic signifier of a flapper costume is also false: the fringe. It wasn't common at all in the Roaring Twenties. They didn't have the lightweight, synthetic fabrics that gave us fringe that swirled when dancing. So why do we always think of fringe when we think of flapper fashion? It was the movies.
“Hollywood began mining the 1920s in the 1950s, and order to make it work, they adapted the costuming of the period to look more like what people were actually wearing in the ’50s,” explains Jeanine Basinger, a film historian and the chair of Wesleyan University’s film department. The period setting, Basinger says, was less about what the ’20s were and more about what they weren’t: post-WWII. “The war was a shadow over film at the time, and to take the ’20s as a setting lifted that burden off.”
Several times a day, we get a new yet old obituary from a bot that Tweets reports of deaths at Medieval Death Bot. They aren't limited to royalty or any particular class, and include deaths from sources available on the web. The causes of death are intriguing, as they raise more questions than can possibly be answered.
William Bachelor, died 1396 when a sand pit he was sleeping under fell upon him and killed him by misadventure
The account, developed by Soren Häxan, also has a related Tumblr blog with information answering questions that arise about medieval deaths. For example, here's a post on why so many people were killed by "clerks."
A dead man, found in 1362 by John Atfield, who had not been wounded, but “somewhat lacerated by dogs.”