In this week’s mental_floss video, John Green tells us about how sports have changed over time by giving us the rules that were in effect early in their histories. In fact, there are 29 real rules and one lie in this video. I know which is the lie because I read the YouTube comments, which is always risky. Otherwise, I would have never known, because I know doodly-squat about sports.
The video series Smarter Every Day visits a tattoo parlor to find how it’s done. We get an explanation of how two kinds of tattoo machines work, and then see a closeup of the process in slow motion. Our host Destin even gets a taste of the process, without ink, just to see what it feels like. This is pretty interesting, but I still don’t think I’ll ever get one. -via Digg
If a community abandons a town and leaves no written records behind, it can’t help but be a mystery to us. And the older the community, the less likely we’ll find any documents telling us about it. That doesn’t mean we can’t figure out a lot of things, but there are quite a few ancient abandoned cities that leave us with more questions than answers. Çatalhöyük, Turkey, is one of the oldest.
In 7,500 BCE, this city in the Mesopotamian region (now Turkey) held thousands of people and is believed by many to be one of the world's earliest urban settlements. But the culture of the people here was unlike anything we know today. First of all, they built the city like a honeycomb, with houses sharing walls. Homes and buildings were accessed by doors cut into the roofs. People would stroll on the streets across these roofs, and climb down ladders to get to their living quarters. Doorways were often marked with bulls' horns, and dead family members were buried in the floor of each home. It's not clear what happened to the culture of the people who lived in this city. Their architectural style seems to be unique, though archaeologists have found many fertility goddess figurines in the city that resemble others found in the region. So it's likely that when the city was abandoned, its culture radiated outward into other cities in the Mesopotamian region.
My guess would be that these folks realized there’s a better way to build a city, and did so elsewhere. But what do I know? They didn’t leave a note when they left. It’s the same for the other seven cities in this article from io9. -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Franck Goddio)
No one can pinpoint exactly what will cause your death, but there are statistics that can give us an educated guess. Do you really want to know? Of course you do, because there are things we can do about the causes of death, for ourselves as well as for those things that cause other people to die -often prematurely- around the world. NPR tells us the most likely death scenarios. -via Everlasting Blort
The quickest way to find out what people are thinking is to check Google autocomplete, not that these search terms are representative of the general public. At least we hope not. These results were compiled by Jorge Cham at PhD Comics.
When you want to find a person, and all you have is one of their possessions, what’s the fastest way to identify them? A sniffer dog! In this case, an adorable little beagle named Sherlock who works for Dutch airline KLM at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. It’s an ingenious idea, but don’t make your plans now to leave something behind on KLM. Sherlock, as the program’s mascot, doesn’t work all the time, and he has other duties to look after in addition to finding passengers to return their belongings: mainly, promoting KLM’s Lost & Found team and their 80% record of returning lost items to their owners. -via reddit
This intriguing idea plays upon a most outlandish insecurity that you probably never even considered. While it's true that your garbage collector knows a lot about you, like what you got for Christmas, what kind of pets you own, and when your child was toilet trained, it's highly unllikely that any of the neighbors ever look at your garbage. My town even has a regulation that all household garbage be tied in bags. My guess is that few, if any, customers expressed interest in paying for this service. Found at Bad Newspaper.
Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh altered the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, for educational purposes only, to study the staging of the film. He had it rendered in black and white, and removed the soundtrack. Then mood music was added that has nothing to do with the original soundtrack. The result is an amazingly beautiful version of the movie, reminiscent of a silent film or one of the old-time serials it was designed to imitate.
So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).
It’s hard to actually think about all those things when you’re just enjoying the movie. You already know the story well enough that you don’t need the dialogue, but someone who’d never seen it before would still enjoy Raiders without color or dialogue. -via Time
However, Bonten was told that he could only get his amputated leg back after it had been buried to follow the letter of the law, which was costly never mind a bit ridiculous. Bonten refused and was initially refused the amputation by the hospital. It was eventually sorted out, but Bonten had to fight for a right he already had to keep his own leg and make the lamp he wanted. “The hospital didn’t have a leg to stand on,” says Bonten jokingly.
The leg was preserved by pathologist Frank van de Goot, and make into a lamp by designer Willem Schaperkotter. You can see it at Improbable Research. They also have a screenshot of Bonten’s eBay ad for the leg lamp (he said he was in dire financial need), but it was pulled because the eBay forbids the sale of human body parts. There's also a TV show with a discussion of the medical ethics in the story, if you understand Dutch. -via Metafilter
Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth have been working on a woodcut called Overlook for two years now.
A dense forest huddles tight, with groves expanding outwards, upwards, growing ever further away. The trees move with the motion of a wind, or not; some are rigid & straight, some rustling & reaching. At the middle of the print, the treeline dips down and spreads up and out into a great stretch of rolling fields and forests.
The original artwork is finished, and they are working on carving the “key” woodblock. Next, an additional three or four woodblocks will be carved for the different print colors. Limited edition color prints are available for pre-order from Tugboat Printshop. -via Laughing Squid
Pulp Fiction was released in the United States in October of 1994. Can that movie really be twenty years old? Why yes, as a matter of fact, it debuted at Cannes in May, and was released in several countries before Americans saw it. Want to know some other cool facts about Pulp Fiction? Here’s a sampling:
6. THE MOVIE COST ONLY $8.5 MILLION TO MAKE.
Five million went to the actors’ salaries. It made that all back in its first week at the U.S. box office (the film pulled in $9.3 million the first weekend of release).
20.TRAVOLTA DIDN’T REALLY INJECT THURMAN IN THAT SCENE.
The infamous scene in which Mia is stabbed with a very necessary adrenaline shot was stressful enough, so Tarantino took off some of the pressure: the needle was inserted, and then Travolta pulled it out. The scene was reversed in post-production so it looks as if Vincent Vega really is plunging that syringe into her. Movie magic!
The rest of the list is at mental_floss.
Grant Snider of Incidental Comics continues to enjoy and share the intricacies of life with a toddler. It’s astonishing to watch them develop and become distinct personalities, and so many of them follow the same path that other parents can remember and relate. The process of seeing them learn about the world around them and discover their ability to manipulate it is almost magical, but at the same time chaotic and exhausting for parents.
This is a really simple game. You know that is a loaded statement. Just because a game is simple doesn’t mean it can’t be maddeningly difficult to win, or finish. I’m not sure this game even has a finishing, or winning, point. All you do is click the tile that is a different color. But the further you go, the less contrast there is in the tiles. Eventually you will be seeing waves of color and changing tiles, although that’s in your head. How far will you go? I made it to level 23 once, although I stumbled at 18 the first time around. -via Metafilter
Back in the day, medicine didn't fool around, not even for a cough. This picture shows the alarming active ingredients in One Night Cough Syrup. I’m sure anyone that took this got their money’s worth. It would certainly stop your cough, or at least make you forget you had one. It’s nice that they assured us the alcohol was less than 1%, as if that was the scariest ingredient.
I found a legal case from 1934 involving this cough syrup, in which the FDA ruled that the claims of its therapeutic properties were misleading, and a few dozen bottles that had been shipped across state lines were destroyed.
-via Boing Boing
An artist who goes by the name Wake takes custom action figures and creates entire 1/6 scale scenes from movies and TV shows to showcase them. Some are pretty near indistinguishable from the source material!
Wake posted many pictures of his dioramas at the action figure forum Sideshow Freaks. You’ll find an index with a photo from many of his collections here, and you can follow the page numbers to see more of each collection. However, as the forum thread grows, the page numbers are a bit skewed, and you may have to look around a bit to see them all. Because there are a lot of pictures.
-via the A.V.Club
Remember the research we posted that proved that Kansas is indeed flatter than a pancake? Geographers Jerome Dobson and Joshua Campbell took exception to the methods used in that study, and indeed it is a case of comparing apples and oranges. Still, the two things being compared came straight from the old adage. Dobson and Campbell did their own research into the matter.
For their study, The Flatness of U.S. States, the pair developed a measure of human-scale perception of flatness by creating an algorithm that approximated what a person of average height would see if they were standing in a given spot and turning around in a circle, taking in 16 different views in a revolution. Then they took elevation data for the country from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, divided the contiguous U.S. (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii, but they already figured you wouldn’t be the flattest) into 90-meter cells and ran the algorithm to get a flatness score for each cell (calculated by the number of views in the cell that appeared flat: 0-4 flat views was considered “not flat”; 5-8 flat views, flat; 9-12, flatter and 13-16, flattest). Each state was then measured in terms of percentage of land that was not flat, flat, flatter and flattest, and then ranked.
It turned out that Kansas is not even in the top five the flattest states in the States! Kansas actually came in seventh. Try to guess which state is actually the flattest in the union before you learn the answer at mental_floss.
(Image credit: Flickr user Patrick Emerson)
Caspar Babypants makes music for children. “Pretty Crabby” is the first song from the new album Rise and Shine. The video is a wonderful stop-motion animation featuring yarn crafts, by Charlotte Blacker and Mark Taylor. About the song:
This one started out as a really abstract song called PRETTY SPARKLE and I was trying to capture the wonder of being alive in a song. It turned out to be too abstract so I gutted it and made it about this wee crab that I met on the beach on an island a little while ago. It seemed like it was having a bad day and wanted to get me but it was also an amazing creature with its intricate shell. In the end you can listen to this song if you are feeling crabby and maybe it will cheer you up!
Well, it worked for me! -via Tastefully Offensive
Post-game interviews with football players mean nothing to non-football fans, because we don’t know the game well enough to follow their technical explanations of what happened. Now, if you take it down to the high school level, you run into players who are camera shy and suddenly don’t know what to say. Neither is the case with Apollos Hester, wide receiver for the East View Patriots of Georgetown, Texas. You’ll see why the Austin TV station didn’t go to the quarterback for a post-game interview. Hester might become a professional football player when he grows up, but if he doesn’t, he could be …anything he wants to be. His attitude, enthusiasm, and presence will open doors. -via Viral Viral Videos
This Russian security video in Lyubertsy, a suburb of Moscow, shows what appears to be a horrific accident in an intersection, but surprisingly, no one was injured. Oh, you think the guy on the bicycle bought the farm, but he eventually comes to his senses and gets up and walks out of the road. We don’t have a view of the lights, so we don’t know who had the right of way here, but did anyone get the plate number on that red car that blew through? -via Daily Picks and Flicks
The following is an article from Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.
You know what would be a great trip? A trip where you went to all these places. (With a boat full of money. So you could buy stuff -and have a place to put it all!)
DJEMA el-FNA (Marrakech)
(Image credit: Flickr user Philippe Mériot)
Djema el-Fna is the name of the square at the center of the old, walled section of this ancient Moroccan desert city- and it’s been the home of an outdoor market off and on for more than 1,000 years. Today it’s actually a collection of several souks -Arabic for “market”- overlapping in the quire and extending into the maze like alleyways around it. Fresh-squeezed orange juice stands and food stands are everywhere, intermixed with jugglers, musicians, storytellers, and merchants selling rugs, spices, brass work and a lot more. (The origin of “Djema el-Fna” is unknown; it means, roughly, “The Mosque at the End of the World.”)
(Image credit: David Samuel Santos)
Highlight: The snake charmers. Every morning there are dozens of snake charmers with live cobras at Djema el-Fna.
PLAKA MARKET (Athens)
(Image credit: Flickr user Robert Wallace)
Plaka is a neighborhood in Athens, Greece, located in the shadow of the city’s famed Acropolis. In the 1970s the nightclubs the neighborhood was known for began to close, and merchants moved in. Today it is a jammed-packed madness of thousands of shops and street side stalls selling too much to list. The market is especially known for its embroidered fabrics, amber jewelry, and musical instruments. There are also a lot of cafes, restaurants, and world class museums. Bonus: No cars allowed. It’s all foot traffic.
(Image credit: Badseed)
Highlight: Every Sunday (for the last 110 years), the Monastiraki Flea Market takes place just a few streets from Plaka. Great place to get Greek antiques, backgammon sets, religious icons, etc.
MARCHÉ BASTILLE (Paris)
The tarantula hawk is neither a tarantula nor a hawk. It’s a really scary Pepsis wasp. It can grow really large and has an extremely painful sting. From Wikipedia:
Commenting on his own experience, Justin O. Schmidt, entomologist and creator of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, described the pain as "…immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one's ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations." In terms of scale, the wasp's sting is rated near the top of the Schmidt sting pain index, second only to that of the bullet ant, and is described by Schmidt as "blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric".
The tarantula hawk is the official state insect of New Mexico. But they range all over, with around 250 species in South America alone. Redditor Gonolek found this wasp dead in the hotel he worked at in Brazil. You can put your hand up your screen with his to picture how big it is. I would hate to encounter a wasp that size alive.
Some people shake their heads at how far youth has fallen, with their selfies, lack of formality, and droopy pants. A couple of decades ago, it was video games and rap music. Before that, rock music and long hair. NPR looks at the phenomenon of moral panic by examining the song "Ya Got Trouble," from the 1957 musical The Music Man, which was set in 1912. In it, con man Harold Hill panicked the citizens of small town in order to sell them musical instruments.
A lot of folks are familiar with the "trouble right here in River City" refrain of the song, but when you look at this double echo of cultural fretting — 50 years plus 50 years on — it serves as an impressive reminder that nothing, nothing, is new about the raising of alarms about the decline and fall of culture.
Hill has noticed that people are peeking into the billiard parlor, and he learns that it's because they've got a new pool table in there. And these folks haven't had a pool table in town before — "Just billiards." And he instantly knows that just this, just change, change itself, is enough to plant the seeds of panic, no matter how little sense it makes to suggest that pool is wicked but billiards is noble.
Did you know there was a difference between billiards and pool? I didn't. Although we laughed about the sinfulness of pool and some boys' habit of rebuckling their knickerbockers below the knee, the song was a sneaky jab at contemporary folks who were easily stirred up about rock ’n’ roll and surfing. The article at NPR is actually a lot of fun. -via Metafilter
Queen Victoria had a tattoo? We may never know for sure, but tattoos were somewhat of a fad in Victorian society, after sailors came back from Polynesia with them. But tattoos go back as far as human civilization, for various reasons in various places. This TED-Ed animation skims over many of them briefly, and together they reminds us of how universal the art of tattoo really is. You can get the full lesson by Addison Anderson here. -via Digg
Julie Taylor couldn’t figure out how her Maltese Sophie was getting out of her kennel, but every time she was confined, the dog was soon seen playing with Twitch, the German shepherd. Setting up a camera was all it took to find out what happened. Overlooking the question of why a one-year-old dog would be confined to a small cage, they sure look happy to be out and about together! -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Does contextual advertising ever impress you? Or does it make you nervous? Ads targeted to you (or someone else who uses your computer) will trip you up as surely as forgetting to delete your browser history. At least for a normal internet user- contextual ads on my computer make no sense at all, just like my browser history. That’s just an occupational hazard. This is the latest comic from Owl Turd. -via Daily of the Day
The Mary Sue has a list that you’ll only want to read if you’re ready for a melancholy trip through your childhood, and maybe a good cathartic cry. Six Fictional Animals That Broke Our Hearts the Most is a reminder of how we get caught up in fictional stories and invest our emotions and loyalties in characters that are totally made up. That’s the sign of a well-told tale, although it can be traumatic. I won’t tell you who’s on the list (aside from the picture you may or may not recognize), because I don’t want the waterworks to start too early.
That said, the list is totally aimed at the internet generation. Personally, I was unfamiliar with most of the entries. If it were aimed at my age group, it would have contained certain characters from the movies Bambi, Dumbo, and Old Yeller, and from the books Watership Down and Charlotte’s Web. None of these made the list of six, although some are mentioned in passing.
What starts off as a cute video about a guy and his dog becomes an anti-drunk driving PSA. So prepare yourself -you might need a hanky. And surprisingly, it’s a tearjerker from Budweiser that doesn’t involve a Clydesdale at all. See, if you had a good sober horse to take you home, we wouldn’t have to discuss drunk driving. -via Buzzfeed
Geoff Beattie stills lives in the Queensland, Australia, house where he grew up. Now 68, he’s had an eventful life: wooing his wife, Elaine, over her father’s objections, building a dairy farm, and raising children. A spine injury caused him to hand over the farm work to his wife while he cooked for the family for a while. Then Elaine developed leukemia, leaving him heartbroken, with four children when she died at age 38.
In the weeks and months after Elaine’s death, Geoff suffered insomnia and barely functioned by day. “I’d be lying there and I just couldn’t go to sleep,” he says. “So I hit the bottle a bit. I’d had it. I don’t know if I’d get depressed. I’d get … sad, drink half a bottle of brandy.” He points to his kitchen cupboard. “I’d have the whisky bottles lined up above me cupboard there.”
Then, late one strange and divine night as he lay awake, lost and sunk deep in the depths of longing and despair, Geoff Beattie was struck by a profound and persistent compulsion to make marmalade. He rose from his bed and walked to the kitchen. He reached for his wooden chopping board and a bag of oranges and, as his children slept, he began slowly and carefully slicing orange rinds well into the night. He cut those orange rinds with such out-of-body precision that they were thin enough to dissolve on the tongue. On the stovetop he reduced his cooking liquid with such tenderness and innate understanding that, come morning, Geoff had created a marmalade so pure and so clear, it looked like the dawn sun had chosen not to rise outside his kitchen window that day but inside the glass jar he held in his hand.
Beattie continued making marmalade and jellies and cakes, which were so impressive he began entering them in contests. He’s now won the national Florence Morgan Memorial Prize for Rich Dark Fruit Cake four times! Read the melancholy yet fascinating story of Beattie’s life, and get the recipe for his award-winning fruitcake at the Weekend Australian Magazine. -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Eddie Safarik)
Success! Your email has been sent!