It was the spring of 1966 and Capitol Records, the Beatles' U.S. record distribution company, wanted to issue a hodgepodge of recycled and leftover Beatles product and issue it as a "new album." For the record (no pun intended), the Beatles always hated this cheesy procedure. The Beatles were not only great artists and musicians, but also perfectionists. They, unlike so many other recording artists, refused to ever foist off a cheap or downgraded product to their fans. Unlike other artists, on Beatles albums, there were no cheap "filler" tracks; each track was strong and relevant in its own right.
The Beatles had issued just six actual official albums by this time, but this was to be Capitol's ninth of their recycled hodgepodge collection "albums." These chintzy repackaged albums did indeed infuriate the Beatles, but their ruffled feathers were surely assuaged by the millions of dollars (or pounds) they collected from these cheap products, both as singers and composers (mostly John and Paul).
Capitol asked the band to give them a photo to grace the cover of this new collection album, to be titled Yesterday ...and Today. On May 25th, 1966, the boys entered the rented photography studio of an Australian photographer named Bob Whitaker.
Whitaker was "a bit of a surrealist" who greatly admired a German artist named Hans Bellmer. Bellmer had authorized a then-controversial book called Die Puppe, which contained pictures of bizarrely dismembered dolls. Knowing of the Beatles' short attention spans and hoping to create something new and original, Whitaker showed the boys the "interesting" props he had gathered together for the session. These consisted mainly of items culled from a butcher shop and a doll factory, i.e. white butcher smocks, lines of pungent sausage links, a birdcage, joints of raw meat, and several dismembered dolls.
The Beatles quickly got into the spirit of the session. Bizarre photos were taken of George hammering a nail into John's head, John holding George's head in a birdcage, all four holding a string of link sausages in front of a young girl, and John clutching a cardboard box with the number "2,000,000" written on it over Ringo's head. But the piece de resistance was yet to come.
Bat biologist Nickolay Hristov of Wonston-Salem University uses cutting-edge video technology to see bats in new ways that will blow your mind. -via Boing Boing
In medieval Europe, it was common for animals to be put on trial and sentenced to punishment as if they understood the proceedings. Livestock and wild animals would be tried for assault or murder of a human, insects and rats were prosecuted for destroying crops, and livestock could be put to death for bestiality along with the human perpetrator (although a beast could prove innocence with witnesses to its virtue). There were unspoken reasons behind these shenanigans, in the days when the separation of church and state was nonexistent. The church could lay blame for bad events on people or animals, and take credit for doling out justice.
Animal trials certainly solidified the church’s power, but they also made sense of an unknowable world by turning freak accidents into understandable events, with guilty parties and paths to justice. Our grain stores are gone because God is punishing us, or, alternatively, because Satan is toying with us; we must atone and pray. The pig killed my child because it is a common criminal; it must be punished. In this sense, animal trials were not unlike that other great, barbaric version of rudimentary legal justice: the witch hunt, which also reckoned with inexplicable phenomena by targeting scapegoats. Indeed, Evans writes, during witch hunts animals were often punished alongside all those single women and healers, in keeping with the belief that Satan commonly possessed creatures like goats, ravens and porcupines.
Most big fruit tree orchards use grafted trees to combine a sturdier trunk and root plant with delicate branches that produce tasty and consistent fruit. A long-dead fruit tree can keep bearing fruit from branches attached to a different trunk. And it is possible to graft several different kinds of fruit branches onto the same tree!
Grafting unites the tissues of two or more plants so that they grow and function as a single plant. One plant in the graft is called the rootstock, selected for its healthy or hardy root system. The other plant or plants, chosen for their fruit, flowers or leaves, are known as scions. You can join a scion to a rootstock in many different ways. In one of the most common techniques, you remove a branch from a plant whose fruit you want to reproduce and cut the broken end of the branch into a V-shape not unlike the reed for a woodwind. Shaving the scion in this way exposes its vascular cambium—a ring of plant tissue full of dividing cells that increase the branch’s girth. Once the scion is ready, you slice lengthwise into a branch on the rootstock—exposing its vascular cambium—and wedge the scion into the cleft. Successful grafting requires placing the vascular cambia of both the rootstock and scion in close contact. Another grafting method involves cutting small pockets between the rootstock’s bark and cambium and slipping scions into those pouches. To seal the deal, you bind the scion and rootstock with a rubber band, tape, staples, string or wax.
Ferris Jabr at Scientific American goes on to explain what happens inside the branch as grafting takes hold. But you don't have to do it yourself. He also has links to several nurseries that sell fruit salad trees for your backyard. Link -via 80beats
(Image credit: Fruit Salad Trees)
In 1952, Air Force Captain James Robinson Risner and his wingman 1st Lieutenant Joe Logan chased enemy MiGs across Korea into Chinese territory. After the battle, Logan's plane was disabled and leaking oil and fuel. Instead of bailing out to be captured, Risner used his plane to push Logan's plane along!
With jet acedom and hours of practice time fueling his Fighter Pilot Ego, Risner vowed not to let Logan go down. Risner radioed instructions to his wingman: shut down the engine, and jetman jargon for “hang on to your butt”. Risner carefully positioned himself behind Logan, and gave the throttle a gentle nudge. He closed in on the damaged Sabre. The injured plane leaked fuel and hydraulic fluid into Risner’s engine, and smeared his canopy with a gooey patina. He kept on until the nose of his aircraft collided with Logan’s tail. The planes bucked unsteadily. “[the plane] stayed sort of locked there as long as we both maintained stable flight,” Risner explained, “but the turbulence created by Joe’s aircraft made stable flight for me very difficult. There was a point at which I was between the updraft and the downdraft. A change of a few inches ejected me either up or down.”
The unorthodox maneuver kept Logan at 190 knots, and imparted sufficient force to stay beyond the reach of AA guns below. Risner broke off after a few minutes when his own plane threatened to choke on the unwelcome juices in its intake. They glided for a time, but Risner had to push him again to get him out over the sea.
Risner's maneuver landed him on the cover of TIME magazine in 1965. But that's not the end of the story, because that issue caused him even more grief from enemy forces ...in Vietnam. Read the entire story at Damn Interesting. Link
Once again, it's time for our collaboration with the always amusing What Is It? Blog! Do you know what the object in this picture is?
Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. Post no URLs or weblinks, as doing so will forfeit your entry. Two winners: the first correct guess and the funniest (albeit ultimately wrong) guess will each win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop.
Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?
You'll find more pictures of the mystery object at the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!
Well, it used to be a robot centipede, before some cruel little fiend pulled all its legs off and made it into a keychain. Some people shouldn't be allowed to have nice things.
Yep, that's worth a t-shirt as well! Thanks to everyone who played this week. You'll find the answers to all this week's mystery items at the What Is It? blog.
The most memorable prop from the TV show M*A*S*H would be the sign that shows how far away the character's hometowns were. But second to that is the still that Hawkeye, Trapper, and B.J. used to distill their own gin. The still was destroyed and rebuilt several times, and had several different looks, from a hillbilly moonshine-style tank to a mad scientist's lab. And where is it now?
Following the end of production on M*A*S*H in January of 1983, 20th Century-Fox donated the O.R. set and the Swamp set to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Included was the still. An exhibition was held at the National Museum of American History from July of 1983 to January of 1985. When the exhibition closed, the sets were packed up and placed in storage. The still is likely in a box somewhere in a warehouse.
Living in an underground cave has many advantages: they are sturdy, well-insulated, energy-efficient, and who cares about all that, because it's just plain cool! Shown here is Cottage Cave, a home established over 200 years ago in Wolverley, Worcestershire, England. See the other nine cave homes on this list at Flavorwire. Link
Redditor mrfahrenheit94 tells the story of an elementary teacher. She didn't believe her young student when he said he'd brought his cat to school -until he opened his backpack! The child's parents were called to come pick up the cat, who was undoubtedly happy to go home in a car instead of a backpack. Did you ever take a pet to school, thinking it was a great idea? Link
Twitter is a great way to keep up with people on the internet, but it's also a source of entertainment from accounts created just for that purpose. You have to admire a novelty account that can keep the one-liners coming day after day after day. If you're not following any parody accounts, you'll find a list of recommendations at Oddee that includes fictional characters, alternate celebrities, and inanimate objects. For example, the Mars Curiosity rover has a Twitter account, then there's a parody account named Sarcastic Rover that has the same job, but does it with a big dose of snark.
Mars is a lot like Arizona… red, desolate, everyone's obsessed w/ trying to find aliens. Also, I regret visiting both.
Check out the entire list -you may find just what you need to brighten your day! Link
Don't get it? That's because this is the G-rated version of an earlier cartoon that couldn't pass Facebook's standards. It's difficult to recognize Adam and Eve with clothes on! Mick Stevens had a cartoon in The New Yorker, which was reposted on the magazine's Facebook page, and caused the magazine to be temporarily banned. To illustrate the ridiculousness of the ruling, Stevens re-drew the cartoon as you see it here for a blog post about the incident, where the Facebook policy is explained, as best it can be. Link -Thanks, Rich Nolan!
by Marc Abrahams, Improbable Research staff
The basic laws of human stupidity are ancient. The definitive essay on the subject is younger. Called “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity,” it was published in 1976, by an Italian economist:
Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, Carlo M. Cipolla,
The Mad Millers, 1976.
Cipolla, Stupidity’s Incisive Analyst
Carlo M. Cipolla taught at several universities in Italy, and for many years at the University of California, Berkeley. He also wrote books and studies about clocks, guns, monetary policy, depressions, faith, reason, and of course (he being an economist) money. His essay about stupidity encompasses all those other topics, and perhaps all of human experience.
The Laws of Stupidity
Professor Cipolla wrote out the laws in plain language. They are akin to laws of nature—a seemingly basic characteristic of the universe. Here they are:
• Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
• The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
• A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
• Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
Cipolla’s essay gives an x-ray view of what distinguishes countries on the rise from those that are falling.
Countries moving uphill have an inevitable percentage of stupid people, yes. But they enjoy “an unusually high fraction of intelligent people” who collectively overcompensate for the stupid.
Declining nations have instead an “alarming proliferation” of non-stupid people whose behavior “inevitably strengthens the destructive power” of their persistently stupid fellow citizens. There are two distinct, unhelpful groups: “bandits” who take positions of power which they use for their own gain, and people out of power who sigh through life as if they are helpless.
Carlo Cipolla died in 2000, just a year after two psychologists at Cornell University in the U.S. wrote a study called “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” Without mentioning any form of the word “stupidity”, it serves as an enlightening and dismaying supplement to the basic laws. (The authors of “Unskilled and Unaware of It” were awarded the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in psychology.)
Cipolla’s Work Inspired an Insight About Politicians
Many years after Professor Cipolla’s death, inspired by his work on stupidity, three scientists came up with an improved way to choose politicians. They applied a bit of modern mathematics to an old Athenian principle of democracy. The result: governments that more efficiently produce laws that benefit society.
This was the same team that had won the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in management. Before looking at how “The Laws of Stupidity” influenced their subsequent, post-Ig Nobel work, let’s take a look back at what they did that earned that Ig Nobel Prize.
Background: Random-Promotion Discoveries, Now and Then
The team—Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Sicily—won its Ig Nobel Prize for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.
You know standard potato chips are made by slicing and cooking potatoes (Pringles excepted). When do you add the vinegar to make salt and vinegar chips? You can't just put it in the frying oil! The answer is a recipe for dry vinegar powder, which was used as far back as the year 1615 -although not on potato chips. Read the story (and the recipe) at Serious Eats. Link -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Daniel Souza)
In the past few years, you've seen YouTube videos that scare you out of ever buying a pogo stick for the children in your family. They used to jump just a few inches off the ground!
But not long ago, three inventors—toiling at home, unaware of one another’s existence—set out to reimagine the pogo. What was so sacred about that ungainly steel coil? they wondered. Why couldn’t you make a pogo stick brawny enough for a 250-pound adult? And why not vault riders a few feet, instead of measly inches? If athletes were pulling “big air” on skateboards, snowboards and BMX bikes, why couldn’t the pogo stick be just as, well, gnarly?
That world turned out to be a perilous place. In their quest for Pogo 2.0, the inventors endured bouts of unconsciousness, defective Chinese imports, trips to the bank for second mortgages and an exploding prototype that sent one test pilot to the hospital for reconstructive surgery.
Foiled1 made this awesome Haunted Mansion and furnished it with Playmobil parts. And it can be yours!
So what you get is the house, fence, wallpaper and all items seen in photo's (some interior item's may vary)!
Watch out for the ghost that comes through the wall!
Includes all people and all items seen in photo's (some interior item's may vary).
Immediately after the attacks of September 11th, eleven years ago today, Operation Yellow Ribbon went into effect. Airline flights were diverted to Canadian airports in small towns in order to neutralized any danger as much as possible. One of those airports was in Gander, Newfoundland.
The tiny town only boasted 10,000 residents, but what it lacked in population size, it more than made up for in airport capacity. Gander International Airport had previously served as a refueling stop for transatlantic flights and had served as a staging point for U-boat hunting flights during World War II. Gander ended up receiving 38 flights in the wake of the September 11th attacks, second only to Halifax’s 47 diverted flights.
Landing all the planes in Gander was easy. Figuring out what to do with the 6,500-plus passengers and crewmembers who were stuck on the ground until flights resumed was quite a bit tougher. Towns of 10,000 people aren’t exactly built to accommodate sudden 66% population surges, so there wasn’t hotel and restaurant capacity to take in all these stranded flyers.
Read how Gander rose to the occasion and pulled off this complicated operation at mental_floss. Link
The worst answers ever given on the TV game show Family Feud. Sometimes it's just a case of the nerves; most of them immediately knew how badly they screwed up. That doesn't make it any less funny! And what's it like to be the few that got two or more answers in this collection? -via Buzzfeed
We've had some discussions on the way comic books and pop culture in general portrays female superheroes. A particularly egregious drawing by Guillem March appeared on the cover of DC Comic's Catwoman Zero. The cover (on the left) was so blatantly focused on boobs-and-butt that the rest of Catwoman just disappeared. Internet users wasted no time ridiculing it.
Anatomically-challenged drawings of female characters with broken spines to show T&A simultaneously isn't a new thing in comics -- see this gallery, Kate Beaton's Strong Female Characters, and the alternate Avengers posterfor more examples -- but it's particularly sad when it's done to a major character on the cover of a zero issue. Really, DC? That's the cover you're going with? Human women don't bend that way. Not even cat women. My cat doesn't even bend that way, and Lord knows she tries, the little hussy.
And DC noticed. The new replacement cover still brings out her exaggerated womanly features, but does appear to have at least one foot in reality. Link
Contrary to popular belief, the little black Cairn terrier who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz was not named Toto. That is, until The Wizard of Oz became so popular that almost everyone forgot what her original name was! Like all the other cast members, she had a character name, Toto, and a real name: Terry. She may have been the best actor on the set, too, because without even the benefit of makeup or a costume, the girl dog played a boy dog.
Interestingly, Terry received incorrect billing in the closing credits. She is billed as "Toto" playing the role of "Toto." Her actual name, at the time of filming, was Terry.
Terry's owner and trainer was a man named Carl Spitz. He ran the Hollywood Dog Training School. Spitz adopted Terry in 1933, when she was just a year old. He had no plans for Terry to become a movie star. Her original owner had left Terry to be trained, but then never returned to pick her up.
Terry was to appear in 15 films altogether. The Wizard of Oz was the only one in which she actually got a screen credit. Her first appearance was in Ready For Love in 1934. This was just one month before her first major film with a big star. Later that year, Terry appeared with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes, playing the role of "Rags."
In 1938, Terry was taken to a casting call looking for a dog that resembled Dorothy's black dog in the Wizard of Oz books. Terry was hired on the spot and immediately began living the high life. This meant living for two weeks at Judy Garland's house! Judy became quite fond of the dog and wanted to adopt Terry after filming ended, but Carl Spitz said no.
Some of you may not know that Neatorama's social media guru David Israel is the man behind Twaggies, the site that makes funny Tweets into funny comics. Twaggies' popularity among Hollywood celebrities was noticed and led to the site being featured on the NBC show Extra. If you missed it, take a look! Link
The countdown to Halloween is on: seven weeks to go. What movies are the best to watch to get into the Halloween spirit? Horror films, of course! Some of the biggest are, of course, Halloween, The Exorcist, and George Romero's zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, which became an instant classic:
It was produced for a mere $114,000 and has since grossed more than $30 million. Despite its popularity with audiences, critics didn’t much care for the film. When it premiered on October 1, 1968, Roger Ebert was upset that theater owners let kids in (there was no film rating system at the time). The New York Times said it was a “junk movie” and “really silly,” and other critics thought it was simply too gory. A few really loved it, though – Rex Reed said it was the epitome of a B movie turned into a classic.
Read more about these three films and why you'll want to "resurrect" them for your Halloween entertainment at Neatorama's Halloween blog. Link
So, you think you can't possibly make a cake in some super-geeky shape for a birthday, but check out what wonders you can create with Rick Krispy Treats and some brightly-colored fondant! A wordless photoessay takes you through the steps to make this Mega Man cake. The technique can be adapted to other pop culture figures, too! Link
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