Redditor bluesberry's mother ordered a graduation cake. She said something to the effect of "put a cap on her head." And apparently they heard that just a little wrong. Still, the finished product is a work of art! Link
The following article is taken from the book Uncle John's Legendary Lost Bathroom Reader.
Today we know that there's no such thing as unicorns. But back in the 1500s, they were sort of a respectable version of Bigfoot. Although only a few people had ever "seen" them, it was widely believed that they existed. So when Topsell's Historie of Four Foot Beasties, the first illustrated natural history in English, was published in 1607, unicorns were included. Here are some excerpts from the original version of the book. Remember, as you read, that these descriptions were considered science, not fantasy.
ABOUT THE HORN
* "We will now relate the true history of the horn of the unicorn. The horn grows out of the forehead between the eyelids. It is neither light nor hollow, nor yet smooth like other horns, but hard as iron, rough as a file. It is wreathed about with divers spires. It is sharper than any dart, and it is straight and not crooked, and everywhere black except at the point."
* "The horn of the unicorn has a wonderful power of dissolving and expelling all venom or poison. If a unicorn puts his horn into water from which any venomous beast has drunk, the horn drives away poison, so that the unicorn can drink without harm. It is said that the horn being put on the tables of kings and set among their junkets and banquets reveals any venom if there be any such therein, by a certain sweat which comes over the horn."
* "The horn of a unicorn being beaten and boiled in wine has a wonderful effect in making the teeth white or clear. And thus much shall suffice for the medicines and virtues arising from the unicorn."
THE WILD CREATURE
* "Unicorns are very swift. They keep for the most part in the deserts and live solitary in the tops of mountains. There is nothing more horrible than the voice or braying of the unicorn, for his voice is strained above measure."
* "The unicorn fights with both the mouth and his heels, with the mouth biting like a lion's and the heels kicking like a horse's. He is a beast of untamable nature. He fears not iron nor any iron instrument."
* "What is most strange of all other is that he fights with his own kind (yea, even with females unto death, except when he burns in lust for procreation), but unto stranger-beasts, with whom he has no affinity in nature, he is more sociable and familiar, delighting in their company when they come willingly unto him, never rising against them, but proud of their dependence and retinue, keeps with them all quarters of leagues and truce."
The following is a Whodunit by Hy Conrad featuring Sherman Oliver Holmes, a mysterious crime solver and great-great-grandson of Sherlock Holmes. Can you solve the crime?
(Image credit: Flickr user Yumi Kimura)
Here's a little backstory on our hero:
No one knew where Sherman Oliver Holmes came from or how he'd gotten his money. One day, Capital City was just your run-of-the-mill metropolitan area. The next day, a short, rotund millionaire in a deerstalker cap began showing up at crime scenes, claiming to be the great-great-grandson of Sherlock Holmes and offering his expert opinion.
Sergeant Gunther Wilson of the Major Crimes Division was irritated by how often this eccentric little man with the southern drawl would appear within minutes of a grisly murder and stick his nose into official police business. What disturbed Wilson even more was the fact that this eccentric little man was nearly always right.
"The loony should be committed," Wilson had been heard to say on more than one occasion. "He always has some outlandish theory. I'd sign the commitment papers myself Đ if I didn't have a soft spot for him." But Wilson didn't have a soft spot. What he did have was a phenomenal record for solving cases, thanks in large part to his "loony" friend.
To his credit, Sherman wasn't much interested in taking credit. As far as the public was concerned, the Capital City police were simply doing a better job than ever before. So Sergeant Wilson decided to swallow his pride and befriend the exasperating, unique little gentleman who had nothing better to do than pop up like a fat rabbit and do the work of an entire detective squad.
And now, the Bus Station Bomber.
"Where have you been?" Sergeant Wilson stepped around the burned and mangled debris of what had been the rear wall of the Capital City bus terminal. "I thought you must be sick."
Gunther Wilson was secretly dependent on Sherman Holmes's habit of showing up uninvited at crime scenes. He certainly wasn't used to waiting three hours for the odd, pudgy millionaire to make an appearance.
"Sorry, old man." Sherman sniffled. "I haven't been myself. Spring allergies."
Wilson pointed to a four-man squad arranging charred bits of metal on a white sheet. "The bomb was in a locker. It went off at three P.M. There were a few injuries, but nothing serious. The mechanism was an old wind-up clock wired to two sticks of dynamite. It was triggered by the alarm mechanism hitting the '3'."
"Do you have a motive?"
"Not a clue. My guess is he did it for the thrill, like some of the sick arsonists we've dealt with lately."
It seems like a silly question, as we tend to think of spaghetti and meatballs as an Italian feast. But like many Chinese-American recipes, what we eat in the U.S. is quite different from what you'll find in the old country.
If you go to Italy, you will not find a dish called spaghetti and meatballs. And if you do, it is probably to satisfy the palate of the American tourist. So if not Italy, where does this dish come from? Meatballs in general have multiple creation stories all across the world from köttbullars in Sweden to the various köftes in Turkey. Yes, Italy has its version of meatballs called polpettes, but they differ from their American counterpart in multiple ways. They are primarily eaten as a meal itself (plain) or in soups and made with any meat from turkey to fish. Often, they are no bigger in size than golf balls; in the region of Abruzzo, they can be no bigger in size than marbles and called polpettines.
So there are meatballs in Italy. And marinara sauce. And spaghetti noodles. But combining them was a process made in America. Read about how Italians immigrants in the U.S. developed the spaghetti and meatballs we grew up on. Link
(Image credit: Flickr user Roger Ferrer Ibáñez)
The Seattle Public Library lined up 2,131 books and knocked them all over to kick off their summer reading program. It took all day to get the books to fall just right.
At around 11 p.m., when the fifth try was successful, “everyone was jumping up and down, hugging and shouting,” Twito said. “Despite how tired we were at that point, everyone stayed to box up all the books, which had to be on the loading dock by midnight,” she said.
She noted that if it the fifth attempt had not been successful, there wouldn’t have been enough time to try again. “We had to be packed up and out of the building by midnight,” she said. “Everyone was so happy that we were able to break the record.”
The post about the cow's digestive tract in sculpture reminded me of cannulated cows. Surprisingly, we've never posted about them before. The sculpture has to be a more pleasing sight, but researchers can watch a real cow digest food through a porthole.
In 1822, Alexis St. Martin was left wounded with a hole in his stomach, through which his doctor observed digestion and even did research on how foods digested. The hole is called a fistula. You can't just cut a hole in a living human to study digestion, but various research programs have replicated this experiment in animals, particularly cows. Cows have four stomachs, the biggest being the rumen, so some cows have surgery to make a fistula in the rumen, and a cannula is fitted over the hole. An article on research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign describes the operation.
Basically, a cannula looks like a ship porthole. A plasticlike cylinder is inserted in a cow, and the hole is plugged with a stopper in the same material. When a day's ration of cow chow hits the rumen - the first part of Bessie's four-part stomach - scientists like Professor George Fahey Jr. roll up their sleeves and dig in.
"We open the windows, remove some of the contents and study how efficiently the feed is being digested," Fahey says. From that sample, researchers determine how much food has been converted to energy and how much will move on through the bovine body as moo poo.
But why? What's the point of being elbow deep in chewed-up moo goo? "Today's dairy cow produces 90 to 100 pounds of milk each day," Fahey says. "Twenty-five years ago, they produced only 30 to 35 pounds a day." Studying what Bessie eats and how she processes it makes economic sense.
Having a hole in the rumen doesn't seem to bother the cows at all. An article about Ohio State University's program explains how cannulas may actually be good for a cow.
The digestion of food for nutrients in the rumen is done by millions of microorganisms. The abundance of microbes also keeps the cannulated cow healthy, often the healthiest in the herd, Weaver said.
"You would think that by having an opening in their sides would allow outside microbes to enter and infect the cows, but with there being such a numerous presence of natural microbes already in the rumen, the new microbes cannot compete for nutrients to survive," Weaver said.
Because these cows are so healthy, some farmers keep a cannulated cow on the farm to help improve the health of the other animals in the herd.
"Basically, the cannulated cows serve as a rumen fluid donor to sick animals. This is done by extracting rumen fluid contents from the cannulated cow and feeding it to the sick cow," Eastridge said. "The microorganisms in the fluid multiply and take the place of the bad organisms in the sick cow and make the cow healthy again."
In addition, cannulated beef cows live longer because they are more valuable than their compatriots destined to be eaten. Cannulated cows can now be found in quite a few places across the globe. See a recent video report on these cows. Link
(Image credit: Terry Whitt)
Twin babies play with rubber bands. Doesn't sound all that exciting on the surface, but their joy and laughter make you smile and watch the whole thing. (via Daily Picks and Flicks)
Do you know how many ways one can misspell "father"? The folks who submit pictures to Cake Wrecks have found quite a few, but the most common seems to be "farther." Besides the spelling, there are some examples of sad decorations in a roundup of awful Fathers Day cakes. Link
He makes his wishes very clear, but the man just won't take a hint! Or more likely, won't take no for an answer. -via Arbroath
Six young squirrels whose tails had become fused together were brought in to the Animal Clinic of Regina in Saskatchewan. Veterinarian Dr. Steven Kruzeniski said the condition, known as squirrel king, was rare, but he'd seen a case before.
This particular group of six were nesting near a pine tree and sap fused their tails together. A city of Regina worker found the young squirrels and brought them to the clinic.
The animals were sedated and the veterinarian team worked to untangle the mess of tails. Their tails were then shaved of the matted fur and they were given antibiotics to prevent infection.
Dr. Kruzeniski says the young squirrels were lucky to keep their tails as in some more extreme cases they have to be amputated.
It seems that forming a band was a rite of passage for young men in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Those young men now have grown children. And just in time for Fathers Day, a new blog has been launched with the intriguing name and concept My Dad Was in a Band. The entries contain photographs, stories, audio recordings, and sometimes videos of dads who were rock stars in their day, submitted by their proud progeny.
My dad wore a leather catsuit with domino buttons when he married my mum and his platform shoes were taller than his brides. His first band of many was called Flaming Youth, he was the lead singer and Phil Collins (third from the left in the photo above) was the drummer. Together they released a concept album called Arc that told a futuristic tale about how man uses up all the resources on Earth. Even when singing about such things as civilization needing to find another planet to live on I’ve noticed that my dad has a hard time keeping a straight face on camera, he’s tickled from the inside out. –Emily Chatton, daughter of keyboardist Brian Chatton.
So far, there are only two pages of entries, but if your dad was in a band, you are welcome to submit him. Dangerous Minds has the story behind the blog, and a closer look at Flaming Youth. Link -via Boing Boing
This week, I find myself in the curious position of wrapping up a week of Neatorama that I wasn't even here for. In fact, I've been gone for three weeks. You probably didn't notice, as I had my name on a few posts anyway. My family went on divers and sundry adventures in the Great West: South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. You'll see some pictures eventually. But I'm glad to be back and see that things ran well without me -and relieved that things didn't run well enough for my job to be eliminated. So I'm catching up with the stuff I always tell you to catch up on!
Jill gave us a tour of The Wonderful Sights and Strange Tastes of the San Diego Fair.
Eddie Deezen looked into the question of Why Do Men Say "Hubba Hubba" When They See a Beautiful Girl?
Call Me Mister came from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
The Annals of Improbable Research contributed An Astrology Chart for Bacteria.
And The Quest for a Malaria Vaccine was a selection from mental_floss magazine.
I'm glad to see we have a new series called Whodunit from Hy Conrad. This week the second installment was Whodunit: A Maze of Suspects. Did you figure it out before you read the solution to the mystery?
We also had one Brainteaser, the Seven Letter Riddle from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
In this week's What Is It? game, the pictured item is still a mystery gadget, but if any of the guesses check out, we'll find out later this weekend at the What Is It? Blog. However, that doesn't really matter, as the object of the game is to come up with a funny and clever answer. About half the answers were some variation of a Bat'leth (which it does resemble), but the first person to suggest it didn't even select a t-shirt, so we looked for other answers. MJ Druitt said it's a toe jam removal tool for elephants, which is good for a t-shirt! Then The Professor said, "This device was once used to pry lobbyists and politicians apart if they got too close. Unfortunately since this device is the only one in existence and is now in the hands of the What Is It? Blog, politicians and lobbyists have become permanently fused at the wallet and are completely inseparable." That also deserves a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! Update: The real answer is... This is a tool for holding the lid on a barbecue grill at various heights. See the answers to all this week's mystery items at the What Is it? blog.
Also, I figured out that Neatoramanauts Roy Hinkley and The Professor are not the same person, even though they are on TV.
The most commented-on (non-giveaway) post of the week was Whodunit: A Maze of Suspects, which is not at all surprising. That was followed by Rent-A-Tire and Baby Mistakes Mole for Nipple.
The comment of the week came from Joseph Francis, who reacted to the post Magician Turns $1 Bills into $100 Bills for Panhandlers by trying it himself. He said, "My knuckles are bruised and so far I haven't been able to transform a one into anything larger than a ten. What gives?"
The most popular post this week was Heartwrenching Photo of a Boy Spending Some Time with His Dad. Coming in second was Why Do Men Say "Hubba Hubba" When They See a Beautiful Girl? and Honest Disney Movie Titles is in third place.
The most hearts went to the posts Amazing! How to Create Ice Instantly, followed by This Man Invented the Plastic Pink Flamingo. He and His Wife Have Worn Matching Outfits for the Past 35 Years, and Even Baby Horses Need A Teddy Bear.
The most emailed post by far was the Heartwrenching Photo of a Boy Spending Some Time with His Dad. The only other emailed post of note was NSA Surveillance Children's Book. Emailing a post from Neatorama is simple: just click on the title to isolate the post, then look for the little email button at the end of the article to bring up a form in which you can put your friends' addresses.
And don't forget, we have extra content and fun at our Facebook page every day! You are also invited to follow Neatorama on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. And mobile users: Flipboard makes it easy to keep up with Neatorama.
Oh yes, Fathers Day is tomorrow! You've probably figured that out due to the many posts about fathers in the past couple of days -and the Neatobot wearing a new tie above. If you didn't order a gift for your dad from the NeatoShop, you can order one today and slip a picture of the gift into a nice card. And if YOU are a father, grandfather, stepfather, godfather, father-in-law, father figure, or have a hand in raising the next generation in some manner, Happy Fathers Day from all of us at Neatorama!
The Food Lab at Serious Eats looks at things you've been told about the proper way to cook a steak. Some of what you've heard is correct, but some are just myths, like "Only flip your steak once!"
The reality is that multiple flipping will not only get your steak to cook faster—up to 30% faster!—but will actually cause it to cook more evenly, as well. This is because—as food scientist and writer Harold McGee has explained—by flipping frequently, the meat on any given side will neither heat up nor cool down significantly with each turn. If you imagine that you can flip your steak infinitely fast,* then you can see that what ends up happening is that you approximate cooking the steak simultaneously from both sides, but at a gentler pace. Gentler cooking = more even cooking.
That's just one of seven myths about steak debunked, with the science behind each. Warning: reading this will make you hungry. Link
(Image credit: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt)
Rhett & Link exchange nonsense in a rap battle over whose Daddy is the better man. The pictures they paint with their verse, like a monkey bringing herbal tea or a plant that grows fried onions, will make your father smile on Fathers Day! However, they are both wrong, as MY Daddy was the best daddy ever. -via Tastefully Offensive
We already know that having a pet is a good thing. Kathy Benjamin looked at the research and found many proven ways (ten to be exact) that owning dog is good for you.
But wait! What about cats? Benjamin posted a second list shortly afterward, with eight ways cat owners benefit from their furry friends. Some of the research contrasts cat owners with dog owners, but there are millions of people who have both cats and dogs, and derive benefits from both. After all, we know a good thing when we see it! Read both lists at mental_floss.
8 Benefits of Being a Cat Owner. Link
10 Benefits of Being a Dog Owner. Link
(Image credit: Erin McCarthy (cat) and Ethan Trex (dog).
A Father's Day to remember. Sure, it's goofy, but who cares when you have this much joy? Spending time together is way more important than what you do with your father. -Thanks, Addison Foote!
Romie Nunn (1903-1988) is a well-known figure in the history of Wyoming, and there's a town named for him. Nunn was a rancher and ran several businesses and also worked for oil companies, and he was an active member of the Caspar Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations. But among those who knew him, he was also an amazing water witch, or dowser. Skeptics dismiss dowsing as nonsense, but even though no one can explain how it happened, Nunn found water when it was desperately needed.
The more Nunn witched, the more water he found. “It got to a point where he could tell the difference between an underground pool of water and an underground stream,” says Jack. “He would follow the stream aboveground and at a certain point, based on how he felt the copper rod was reacting, he could give you a fairly good estimate of depth and possible output.” “It always amazed me,” says Jack’s sister, Peggy Nunn Nicolls, “that when he would find something he could also figure out the size of the stream and how deep.” “He was actually pretty accurate,” concurs Jack. “Word just spread.”
Collectors Weekly has an extensive article on Romie Nunn and his abilities, plus the history and controversy of dowsing. Link
A generation of Americans grew up thinking that the instant drink powder Tang was developed for the space program. That isn't true, but Tang was used during John Glenn's historic Mercury flight and then during the Gemini missions, which forever linked the drink with astronauts.
But last night, during an awards show on Spike TV, Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin revealed the truth about the legendary drink by saying "Tang sucks." NPR responded with a poll in which the majority of the respondents agree (so far). The comments reveal some fondness for Tang with vodka, often called a Cosmonaut, which probably has more to do with nostalgia than taste. For those too young to remember the hype about Tang, or who have never consumed it, imagine SunnyD without the 5% orange juice or the water.
Link -via reddit
The remains of the abandoned Beelitz Sanatorium is a combination of grand architecture and eerie medical artifacts. Built in 1898 in Berlin, it served victims of tuberculosis until it was converted to aid the wounded of World War II, including Adolf Hitler. After World War II, the hospital was used by Soviets occupying East Germany. Most of the Beelitz-Heilstätten complex has been empty since 1994. See a collection of awesome photographs of the sanatorium at Kuriositas. Link -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Flickr user Judith74)
Jack Fogarty served with the Army’s 98th Evacuation Hospital in the Pacific in World War II. He was also a pretty good artist. Fogarty also corresponded with his good friend John MacDonald's wife, and illustrated the envelopes with scenes of her husband's daily life. The men, and MacDonald's wife Mary, remained friends for the rest of their lives. After her parents died, Meg MacDonald found 33 of those letters and donated them to the National Postal Museum. Fogarty, now 92, was interviewed about the letters.
I’ve always drawn—all my life I’ve had a talent to paint. I had another dear friend from high school, a cartoonist, and he and I exchanged letters when we both joined the service. He would illustrate his envelopes, so I would do the same. That started it. Then when I was in the South Pacific Islands in World War II, John started a weekly bulletin just for the 217 men in the evacuation hospital. He did the editorials, and I did the artwork on a mimeograph machine. That got me doing more illustrations, so I started drawing on the envelopes to Mary.
Read about Fogarty's war correspondence and see more illustrations at Smithsonian. Link
As the centennial of World War I approaches, Erik Sass is giving us a series on the events that led to the conflict, each story posted 100 years after it occurred. In the latest installment, we learn of the Colonel Alfred Redl, head of Vienna's military intelligence, who was uncovered as a spy for Russia.
Redl was unusual all around: the son of a poor railway clerk in the eastern Austrian province of Galicia (now Ukraine), his brilliant intellect propelled him into the top ranks of the army, usually an aristocratic preserve, where he served as chief of counter-intelligence from 1903-1907, then head of all intelligence operations from 1907-1912. In a conservative institution he embraced modern, innovative techniques like telephone and wireless eavesdropping, hidden cameras and recording devices, and dusting for fingerprints.
But Redl had more secrets than anyone could have guessed: in an era when homosexuality was a deviant crime punishable with prison time or worse, Redl’s double life was a huge liability that left him vulnerable to blackmail. During a visit to Russia to polish his Russian in 1889, Russian intelligence discovered his secret via a woman Redl employed as his “beard,” then supplied Redl with a series of young lovers to further incriminate him. Beginning in 1902 the Russians threatened to uncover Redl while also offering him huge sums of money for top secret information. The combination of carrot and stick was enough to convince Redl to turn traitor.
When Redl was caught, his shocked fellow officers attempted to avoid scandal by giving Redl the opportunity to commit suicide, averting a full investigation. But it didn't matter, as a strange series of circumstances brought the investigation to the Viennese press. Read the while story at mental_floss. Link
Richard Arvine Overton of Austin, Texas, plans to spend this Memorial Day at home, with his usual cigars and whiskey-spiked coffee. At the age of 107, the World War II veteran deserves to do what he pleases.
Overton, who is believed to be the nation's oldest veteran, told FoxNews.com he’ll likely spend the day on the porch of his East Austin home with a cigar nestled in his right hand, perhaps with a cup of whiskey-stiffened coffee nearby.
“I don’t know, some people might do something for me, but I’ll be glad just to sit down and rest,” the Army veteran said during a phone interview. “I’m no young man no more.”
Overton, who was born on May, 11, 1906, in Texas’ Bastrop County, has gotten used to being the center of attention of late. In addition to being formally recognized by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell on May 9, Overton traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 17 as part of Honor Flight, a nonprofit group that transports veterans free of charge to memorials dedicated to their service. Despite serving in the South Pacific from 1942 through 1945, including stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima to name a few, it was Overton’s first time in the nation’s capital.
Jeannie Peeper has a very rare and puzzling condition, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), in which her body grows extra bone material. She showed signs since birth, but was only diagnosed at age four.
The name meant nothing to Peeper’s parents—unsurprising, given that it is one of the rarest diseases in the world. One in 2 million people have it.
Peeper’s diagnosis meant that, over her lifetime, she would essentially develop a second skeleton. Within a few years, she would begin to grow new bones that would stretch across her body, some fusing to her original skeleton. Bone by bone, the disease would lock her into stillness. The Mayo doctors didn’t tell Peeper’s parents that. All they did say was that Peeper would not live long.
“Basically, my parents were told there was nothing that could be done,” Peeper told me in October. “They should just take me home and enjoy their time with me, because I would probably not live to be a teenager.”
The problem of rare diseases is that few resources are dedicated to fighting them. But Peeper took matters into her own hands and connected with a couple dozen other people worldwide who suffer from FOP. She interested medical researchers in her condition. And she's in her fifties now, confined to a wheelchair but still alive and still fighting for help for people with FOP. Read Peeper's story and learn what it's like to have such a rare and confounding genetic disease in an article by Carl Zimmer at the Atlantic. Link -via The Loom
(Image credit: Ethan Hill)
When this zinger came up during a video shoot, Mom and Dad decided this short clip was the perfect way to announce the big news to family and friends. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Vivid Sydney is an annual festival going on now through June 10th, featuring light shows, music, drama, and other performances in Sydney, Australia. This video shows parts of a light show called PLAY by Spinifex Group projected on the Sydney Opera House. The full 14-minute Spinifex show is also available to watch. You can see more video clips of the opening night of the festival at vimeo. -via reddit
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