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This Week at Neatorama

April is almost over and May is coming at us at the speed of time. Soon, we'll be busy with Mother's Day, graduation, Memorial Day, and school vacation. Just remember, when you get really busy that it's always a good idea to take a break and recharge with the fun and interesting stuff on Neatorama! Here's what you need to catch up on from the past week.

Jill Harness has two feature article his week. Cool Non-Literary Uses for Books has recycling projects that are "bound" to impress.

And her post The 11 Coolest and Weirdest Tumblr Blogs should keep you quite busy.

We learned about The Great Moon Hoax (of 1835) from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.

The Annals of Improbable Research gave is a lesson in Horse Calculus.

Wales, the Almost Nation came to us from mental_floss magazine.

Alex received a promotional goodie box concerning the new movie Thor and decided to share the contents in a game called What's Inside The Box. We had lots of winners, who were named in the followup post.

The What Is It? game was not all that easy this week. It took a while, but Edward K had the right answer. This is a pet ID holder. You can slip paper inside it and attach it to a dog’s collar. The funniest answer came from Randall, who called it “A hummelfubertapfer. Scandenavian beer drinker would use this timy hammer to break of the ice that formed on their beer as they drank it. This led to the colloquial joke of ‘Is that your wife’s nose or a Hummelfubertapfer?’ after which the the joke’s subject would either fly into a rage or laugh uproarously, depending on their level of inebriation.” Both win t-shirts from the NeatoShop!

And we have a contest that is still open as this post is published! The Frowning Royal Wedding Flower Girl: What Was She Thinking About? is a caption contest of sorts in which you can win a funny t-shirt from the NeatoShop!

Once you've read what we have to offer for this week, you can delve into the archives for our past exclusive articles at The Best of Neatorama, or check out other links around the web with the NeatoHub. And thanks for spending some of your time with us!

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The Economics of Death Star Planet Destruction

Questions of logic don't apply to Hollywood movies, but science fiction fans like their stories to make some kind of sense. So the discussion turned to the logic of using a Death Star to blow up a planet.
What’s the economic calculus behind the Empire’s tactic of A) building a Death Star, B) intimidating planets into submission with the threat of destruction, and C) actually carrying through with said destruction if the planet doesn’t comply?

Doesn’t the Empire take a huge economic loss from the lost productivity of an entire planet? They were presumably paying taxes and providing resources to the rest of the Empire. Presumably the loss of that planet’s output would have to be made up by increased output from other planets that were either slacking in productivity due to rebellion or threatening to rebel and withdraw from the Empire altogether. It doesn’t seem to make good economic sense.

What follows is a cost-benefit analysis from various members of the Think Tank. Read the rest at (where else?) Overthinking It. Link -via Metafilter

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Man on Hawaiian Vacation Accidentally Meets Brother

Rick Hill of Lunenburg, Massachusetts went on vacation to Hawaii and took an unplanned visit to Waikiki Beach. There he met resident Joe Parker, who went on an unplanned errand to the beach as part of his job. Parker recognized Hill's accent and made an offhand remark that led them to a discussion about how they both grew up in the same area of Massachusetts.
And then the name game began. Parker threw out several, including Dickie Halligan. Hill responded, “That’s my father!’’

Standing in the glistening white sand, Parker lowered his sunglasses, squinted at Hill, and declared, “That’s my dad, too!’’

A flood of emotion hit everyone like the high-arching waves crashing nearby, they said. Tears flowed down Howe’s cheeks as the two men studied each other’s face and hugged.

“I can’t really put it into words,’’ Parker said yesterday in a telephone interview from Hawaii, describing the feeling of meeting his half brother for the first time, some 6,000 miles from where they grew up. “If I had to, I would say it was chilling, paralyzing, and an out-of-body experience all at once.’’

The two men spent a week becoming acquainted. Link -via reddit

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The Extra Hand



Possibly you've seen this strange picture of President Obama and his wife Michelle holding hands -with an extra hand. Many people assumed the picture was the victim of Photoshop, but Chicago Tribune photojournalist Alex Garcia has posted an explanation and the rest of the photo sequence. Link -via The Daily What

(Image credit: Alex Garcia)

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The Eyes Have It

As amazing as human eyes are, other species have developed ways of seeing that will astound you.
Scientists are discovering new structures and adaptations all the time. There are eyes with mirrors, eyes with optical fibres, and eyes with bifocal lenses. There are eyes that see in the dark, move around heads, or go into sleep mode. There are even eyes made of rock. This slideshow will take you on a tour of some of these recent eye-opening discoveries.

Pictured is a box jellyfish, which has 24 eyes of two different types. Link

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Fat Cat Works Out



A fat cat in Japan complies with doctor's orders by starting an exercise routine. I don't know if it's the cat's facial expression, his considerable size, or the appropriate music, but I could not stop watching this video. Link -via Metafilter

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Camera Obscura



Cuban-born photographer Abelardo Morell demonstrated the concept of camera obscura to college students in 1988 by turning the entire classroom into a camera.
On a sunny day, he covered the classroom windows with black plastic, making the space as dark as a cave, cut a dime-size hole in the material, and told his students to watch. Almost instantly the back wall came alive like a movie screen, its surface covered with a fuzzy image of people and cars moving along Huntington Avenue outside. Then the double take: The image was upside down, sky on floor, ground on ceiling, the laws of gravity seemingly gone haywire.

Morell had turned his classroom into a camera obscura, a dark chamber, the Latin name for perhaps the earliest known imaging device and the ancestor of the photographic camera.

Explaining the optical principle behind the device is probably the most complicated thing about it. A camera obscura receives images just like the human eye—through a small opening and upside down. Light from outside enters the hole at an angle, the rays reflected from tops of objects, like trees, coursing downward, and those from the lower plane, say flowers, traveling upward, the rays crossing inside the dark space and forming an inverted image.

Morell developed a way to photograph the images made with his homemade cameras obscura, whether they were created with a box, a room, or even a tent. Link to story. Link to photo gallery. -Thanks, Marilyn!

(Image credit: Abelardo Morell)

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Royal Wedding Hats



Since Law & Order was nowhere to be found at 5AM, I watched the guests arrive for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The women's hats reminded me of the Kentucky Derby crowd, only more so! The one that is destined to become an internet meme was worn by Princess Beatrice, shown here on the right. Buzzfeed compiled a list of the most notable hats worn at the royal wedding. Link

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Suspect Asks Victim to Install Stolen Stereo

Tuesday morning, Eric Ford’s girlfriend found that a window had been broken and her multimedia system had been stolen from her vehicle. Several iPods and some money were also taken. Ford then went to his job installing car stereos at Mobile Audio Designs in Lincoln, Nebraska.
From there, the story goes where one might expect it to go.

Anthony Trang, 21, 2912 Beacon Hills Circle, asked Ford to install some cables to a DVD player in his car.

"Yeah, man, just bring the DVD player in here," Ford said he told him.

Trang did, and there was the Clarion NX501 deck Ford had told police was stolen Tuesday morning.

Ford's reaction: "You gotta be kidding me."

Ford called police, who arrested Trang on suspicion of theft. Link

(Image credit: Clarion)

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Star Trek's White and Nerdy


(YouTube link)

The video edit set to Weird Al Yankovic's "White and Nerdy" makes it clear that the song is really about Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. -via mental_floss


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Other Single Princes

Now that Prince William is getting hitched, who will young girls dream about? Buzzfeed rounded up eleven young princes from all over who have yet to sweep a princess off her feet and take her to live happily ever after. If I were thirty years younger... Pictured is Prince Carl Philip of Sweden. Sweden is a nice country. Link

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A Fast Car Birthday

Rachel Gilbert recently celebrated her 100th birthday -by indulging in her need for speed. Gilbert, of Laconia, New Hampshire, took a spin around the track in a pace car at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in honor of her birthday.
As part of this ultimate birthday celebration Gilbert and her family will receive suite passes overlooking “The Magic Mile,” where they will enjoy every lap of the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.

Gilbert will also have the opportunity to rub elbows with the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the Sunday morning drivers’ meeting.

The longtime race fan was surprised with this once in a lifetime opportunity from her family and Gappens. When told she would be riding around the speedway in the pace car, she was ready to leave for Loudon immediately.

Included in her birthday package was a race car cake, an official LENOX Industrial Tools 301 hat, NHMS jacket and birthday card. Her favorite driver Carl Edwards even signed and sent an official crew shirt and birthday wishes.

“My mom has always been a major race fan. She doesn’t miss a race on TV,” says daughter Marie Anne Mills.

Gilbert has been a fan of auto racing for over 50 years, and the folks at the track appreciate her. Link -via Fark

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Did You Read the Article?

Ars technica published a post about a hot button issue entitled "Guns at home more likely to be used stupidly than in self-defense." After a couple of dozen comments came in, the fifth-to-the-last paragraph was edited to say:
That's the bad news. In the limited scope of the review, the primary positive effect assigned to guns is deterrence, and, more specifically, deterrence against violence. Although, "Results suggest that self-defense gun use may be the best method for preventing property loss," this doesn't count from a public health perspective. And that's only the start of the problems; as the National Academies of Science noted in a report quoted by the author, "self-defense is an ambiguous term." As Hemenway himself puts it, "Unlike deaths or woundings, where the definitions are clear and one needs to only count the bodies, what constitutes a self-defense gun use and whether it was successful may depend on who is telling the story." If you have read this far, please mention Bananas in your comment below. We're pretty sure 90% of the respondants to this story won't even read it first.

Finally, on the third page of comments, someone mentioned bananas. Redditor metageeek took a screenshot of the comments. Things got even sillier after that, with some readers mentioning bananas used as weapons, and other commenters totally confused. How about you? Do you ever comment without reading an entire post? Link -via reddit

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Boat Abandoned at Intersection

A motorist in Bülach, Switzerland, was towing a boat behind his vehicle and came to a stop at a stop light. When the car continued, the boat became unhitched and was left sitting at the intersection!
One witness said: "As the car drove off, the boat just stayed there and the driver didn't seem to even notice. The other drivers were pretty shocked, but police caught the guy who'd been towing it and escorted him back so he could tow it away."

Link -via Arbroath

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How to Build Escher's Impossible Waterfall



Remember the video of the impossible waterfall? Even after you saw how it was done, you were still impressed. Now Instructables has step-by-step instructions for you to make your own 3D version of the famous illusion! It's not exactly simple, but it can be done. And if you can pull it off, you'll flummox everyone who sees it. Link -via Boing Boing

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Music Painting


(YouTube link)

Music by Matteo Negrin is illustrated on a music staff, becoming more and more creative as it goes along. -Thanks, Muzition!


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The Google Doodle Quiz



How well do you remember -or decipher- the alterations that Google makes to their logo for special occasions? Test your knowledge with the Google Doodle quiz, from our own social networking expert David Israel. Hey, I scored 58% just by guessing. You will probably do much better! Link

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A Day at the San Diego Zoo



Neatorama author Jill Harness went to the zoo and brought back lots of pictures of all kinds of different animals. She fed a Galapagos tortoise, collided with an owl, and petted a giraffe! She also looked up fun facts about each of them, which you can read at Rue the Day. Do you know what animal is shown here? Link

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Wales, the Almost Nation

Wales is having an identity crisis. Actually, it's been having one off and on for the past 2,000 years. Is it part of England? Part of the U.K? Or is Wales just ...Wales?

Sometime in Britain's mythological past, King Llud Llaw Eraint had a problem with dragons. Specifically, two warring dragons -one white and one red- whose screams rang through the countryside, causing women to miscarry and livestock to become barren. So, the king lured the dragons in to a deep pit and got them so drunk that they passed out. While the dragons were asleep, he buried them deep underneath a mountain in Wales. "The white dragon is the Saxon," the Welsh magician Merlin once explained. "The red dragon is Cymru [Wales], and so they will fight, red against the white, until at last the dragon of Wales is triumphant over the dragon of the Saxons."



Today, the red dragon of Wales has reappeared. It's everywhere in 21st-century Welsh culture -on the flag, on t-shirts, ashtrays, and bumper stickers, and on the tattoos of patriotic men and women. It embodies the spirit of the country. For 2,000 years, Wales has suffered though waves of invaders and conquerors, and each time, its people have emerged with a deepened sense of national pride. Its character is one of defiance -a red dragon always ready for battle.
Continue reading

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The Royal Wedding Dalek



What lies at the intersection of sci-fi geekdom and royal wedding fever? The royal wedding dalek! Chris Balcombe is an avid Doctor Who fan with his own dalek, which got a makeover for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Chris Balcombe, 51, has spent one week decorating his Dalek to tie in with the occasion. The Doctor's nemesis has been painted red, blue and white and is covered with Union Jack flags and photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Furthermore, Chris attached a mechanical grip to the Dalek so it can hold trays of food and drinks.

Link -via Buzzfeed

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The Batman Complex


(YouTube link)

It's a fan-made trailer is composed of edits from Christian Bale movies that altogether makes Bruce Wayne look like even more of a paranoid schizophrenic than he is normally portrayed as. -via I Heart Chaos


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The Eighteen Layers of Chinese Hell



Some Chinese legends say that hell, or diyu, is an unground maze with 18 levels and various chambers in which one must pay for the sins of their life. Wouldn't that make a great video game? They are quite frightening- there's the chamber of tongue ripping (shown), the chamber of steamer, the mountain of knives, the cauldron of boiling oil, and more. See each level illustrated at China Underground. Link -Thanks, CinaOggi!

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When Can A Lawyer Quit A Case?

In criminal matters, a lawyer is duty-bound to defend his client to the best of his ability. There are only a few specific scenarios in which it is considered OK to quit representing a defendant. For example, what if the defendant tells the lawyer that he plans to lie on the witness stand? Allowing perjury is unethical, but so is divulging your client's secrets. Wouldn't that be a good time to just quit?
Unfortunately, it's not that easy. As mentioned above, an attorney can't withdraw in the middle of litigation without the judge's permission, and it's indisputably unethical for an advocate to directly inform the judge that his client is a liar. What usually happens in these cases is that the lawyer approaches the bench and asks to beg off the case for vague "ethical reasons." The judge, knowing exactly what's going on, typically denies the request, because the jury would smell a rat if the lawyer were to disappear right before the defendant took the stand. The judge, continuing the Kabuki-style exchange, informs the advocate that he has satisfied his ethical obligations and must continue. In some courts, the lawyer can protect his sense of ethics by simply putting the client on the stand and instructing him to "tell the jury his story," rather than specifically prompting the lies.

Slate looks at various reasons why a lawyer can and should quit a case -or not. Link

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Disassembly





Photographer Todd McLellen's latest project involves disassembling machines and appliances, sorting and shooting the parts, and then throwing them all in the air as if the gadget is exploding! At his website (click "new work") you can see more photographs, and a fast-moving video of the process. Link -via Buzzfeed

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Liquid Light



Artist Tanya Clarke takes old plumbing fixtures and turns them into light installations! The "drips" are hand-sculpted glass containing energy-efficient LEDs. Link | Product Site -via Dark Roasted Blend

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Bumping Banned for Bumper Cars

They might have to start calling them something else. Three resorts in Britain have banned bumping in their bumper car rides.
Staff at all three Butlin resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness are instructed to ban anyone found guilty of bumping into each other in the electric cars equipped with huge bumpers.

Bemused customers who assume that the ‘no bumping sign’ is in jest are told to drive around slowly in circles rather than crash into anyone else for fear of an injury that could result in the resort being sued.

Telegraph columnist Michaal Deacon, who has just returned from a holiday at the Bognor Regis resort, said the experience was like “trundling round an exitless roundabout”.

“I’m not convinced that the dangers were great, given that the bumper cars were equipped with bumpers,” he said. “Seat belts, too. There were no airbags for the drivers, but it can be only a matter of time.”

No one in Britain has ever successfully sued a ride owner over injuries sustained in a bumper car ride. Link -via Arbroath

(Image credit: Flickr user number657)

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Joe the All-Terrain Bunny



Joe is a young paraplegic rabbit. Liam designed a way to put wheels on him so he can get around without dragging his hindquarters. This is just one of the many cute stories at NeatoBambino you might miss if you don't check it out every day. Link

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Kittens and Salsa


(YouTube link)

The world's simplest ad campaign -show your product with cute kittens. It just might work! -via Arbroath


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Needle-Felted Sloths



How cute are these sloths? The entire family was made by a crafter in Hokkaido, Japan. See more pictures at Craftzine. Link -via Rue The Day

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American Pleasantries

Jenny and Dave Prager brought us First Impressions of the USA last month. Some of the response they received from global visitors to the USA concerned the common greeting, "How are you?" Lakshmi says:
“When I set foot at the Dulles airport in DC, the immigration/customs guy asked me how I was doing — and I was taken aback. Am I supposed to know this guy? Does this guy know my cousin? And so, is that how he knows that I would be here at the airport today? Did my cousin ask him to take care of me until he could pick me up at the airport? If so why didn’t my cousin tell me? I looked like a deer facing headlights.”

She wasn't the only one who was confused by the phrase, as well as "thank you", "you're welcome", and the constant smiles of Americans. Read more at Our Delhi Struggle. Link -Thanks, Dave!

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