A Russian hit man celebrates the first full day of spring by assassinating snowmen. That's symbolism we can all get behind! Starring Christian Busath with the song "Higher" by Scott & Brendo. -Thanks, Dallin Smith!
Just look at it! The Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody-Tailgate Trailer from Neiman Marcus will make you the king of tailgate parties.
Designed by interior designer Brad Ford, it's impressive on the outside, but what's on the inside truly astounds: sleek leather furnishings and details from Moore & Giles, rich wood finishings (handcrafted from reclaimed Bulleit Bourbon casks), elegant glassware, and a top-notch entertainment system, including a flat-screen TV, Blu-ray Disc™ player, and a state-of-the-art sound system, plus a one-year supply of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye*. You park, open the hatch, and slide out the bar—cocktails anyone?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children switch from whole milk to a lower fat milk at age two. The conventional wisdom is that getting children used to reduced fat milk will help keep them at a healthy weight. Skim, 1%, or 2% milk has fewer calories per cup. It just makes sense, doesn't it?
So here's where things gets confusing. A new study of preschool-aged children published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, finds that low-fat milk was associated with higher weight.
That's right, kids drinking low-fat milk tended to be heavier.
"We were quite surprised" by the findings, Dr. Mark DeBoer told me in an email. He and his co-author, Dr. Rebecca Scharf, both of the University of Virginia, had hypothesized just the opposite.
But they found the relationship between skim-milk drinkers and higher body weights held up across all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. DeBoer says their data also show that low-fat milk did not restrain weight gain in preschoolers over time.
This is not the first study to show such results, but the authors call for further research, as this study did not take into account what types of food the children were consuming or their total caloric intake. And scientists say sugary drinks make a bigger difference in overall child obesity. Link
(Image credit: Flickr user David Goehring)
Traveling to NCAA tournament games can be a real party for students. No, not for the basketball players: they spend their days in press conferences and practice, and their nights resting up for the next game. But that's not the case for the non-athletes who are along for the ride.
Class is in session at my university this week, but I won't be there. I'll be a part of March Madness, but I'm not a basketball player. I'm a member of my school's band, which makes me a member of the "spirit squad"—the peppy umbrella term that also encompasses our school's cheerleaders and mascot. As such, I am taking an all-expenses-paid trip courtesy of the NCAA. Chartered planes, hotels, and per diem are all provided by an organization founded "as a way to protect student-athletes," even though, during March Madness, we aren't much of either.
We don't sit in a Holiday Inn doing homework until game day. We're on vacation. We stay in resorts; we get sunset views; we share our hotels with famous actors and musicians; we stay in places that give out free wine without carding us. Spirit squads for higher-seeded teams receive relatively luxurious accommodations in prime, downtown locations. Those for lower-seeded teams sometimes wind up in the boonies near the airport. My school has never been a heavy favorite, but my hotels have been unbelievable. I can only dream of what Gonzaga's hotel will look like this year.
It's a racket—the little one that blooms within the big one. No one's an amateur during March Madness.
Read about one student's experiences traveling to NCAA tournament games. When his/her school is not in the Big Dance, there's a possibility the band will be hired for another school that needs one. Link -via Digg
Tuesday morning, police in Kalamazoo, Michigan, spoke to a man who told them he hit a small deer and had it in his trunk. Michigan law allows motorists who hit and kill a deer to keep it for meat, as long as they get it properly tagged with a a state deer kill permit. When officers opened the trunk for inspection, the deer took off. It was most definitely not an ex-deer. The incident was captured on the police car's dashcam. Link -via Arbroath
Let's see, how many dangerous modern electrical toys can we combine into one stunt? These guys at the 2012 Western Winter Teslathon enclosed a quadrotor (or quadrocopter) in a Faraday cage and flew it between two Tesla coils for a electrifying light show. See another video from the same night at Laughing Squid. Link
During the early 1940s, 70,000 people worked at the secret faciiity in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, doing the work of the Manhattan Project that would lead to the first atomic bomb. Most of the workers were women, recruited as civil servants to aid the war effort. And they didn't know anything about the job they were doing until they started doing it.
The civil servant was given only one clue where she would be going: a train ticket to Knoxville, Tennessee. She packed her best clothes, wore a new pair of shoes, and gave herself entirely to the project at hand: don’t ask questions, don’t talk unnecessarily, do your part to win the war. She arrived at a place that was more of a camp than a town, half-built prefabricated houses, an administration center, three reactors, and a foot of mud sure to suck off any shoe that stepped in it. On the books, she had arrived at the Clinton Engineer Works, a refinery plant for “Tubealloy.” Off the books, she had arrived at Site X of the Manhattan Project, where uranium would be enriched before it was shipped to Site Y in Los Alamos for use in “The Gadget.”
Brain Pickings bring us excerpts from the book The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan, with pictures of Oak Ridge during the war. Link
(Image credit: Ed Westcott courtesy American Museum of Science and Energy, Oak Ridge)
This is what happens when you can't decide whether to have a hamburger or a hot dog. The Sausage Double Beef Burger gives you two hamburger patties topped with two sausages on one bun! The kicker is: it's only available at McDonalds in China. For now. Link
"Cheesecake" to describe a a sexy, attractive woman flaunting her appeal is nowadays a rather archaic term. Likewise "beefcake" in reference to a "hunk" with rippling muscles, now also seems rather outdated. Not that sex appeal itself is in any way passé, it's just that new terms and expressions come along into each succeeding generation describing the relative appeal and attractiveness of males and females. Let's take a look at the origins of two classic terms of sex appeal: cheesecake and beefcake.
Curiously, the term "cheesecake," in connection with a beautiful woman, seems like a fairly recent term. It has a kind of a 1920s or '30s sound to it. But no, cheesecake was used in Britain in the 1660s! Even then, the term was used to describe overly sexy or promiscuous women.
It can be found in Poems and Songs Relating to the Late Times, published in 1662. Shortly after Oliver Cromwell died, it was used to regret the occasion of Cromwell driving certain ladies (of questionable repute) out of the town:
But ah! It goes against our hearts,
To lose our cheesecake and our tarts.
But a more influential usage was inaugurated more than 250 years later. Fast forward to 1912, when James Kane, a photographer, was working for The New York Journal. One day James was posing an attractive young woman when a breeze blew her skirt up. When more leg than usual came on display, Mr. Kane (who reputedly loved cheesecake) exclaimed, "Wow! This is better than cheesecake!"
And a universal metaphor was born.
The question is: what is it? It's time for our collaboration with the fascinating What Is It? Blog! Do you know what the object in this picture is? You can win even if you don't know!
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?
Check out the What Is It? Blog for more clues and pictures of the mystery object. Good luck!
Update: the pictured tool is a spoke wrench, suitable for holding pieces of wire or as a spoke-grip for screwing up the spokes of suspension wheels, such as are used in bicycles and other light vehicles. Steve Pauk knew what it was, and wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! The funniest answer of the week was from Paul D., who said it was a Higgs Boson. We've been looking all over for that, haven't we? Paul also wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! Thanks to all who participated, even if you just gave a heart. See the answers to all the mystery items of the week at the What is It? blog.
If TV host Fred Rogers hadn't died ten years ago, he would have been 85 today. In honor of the occasion, mental_floss presents 35 Facts About Mr. Fred Rogers. I honestly did not think I could sit through so many facts, because a) I never watched the show and b) I've read lists of facts about him many times. However, this is full of stories about Mr. Rogers that you probably haven't heard before. Even if you have, they are worth remembering.
You've probably seen the viral picture of a drippy faucet night light that was, unfortunately, one-of-a-kind. But you can make your own, and this project from Instructables member boston09 doesn't even require an electrical outlet, because it's a battery-operated LED! The glowing "drip" is made from a pacifier nipple. All the steps are at Instructables. Link -via Boing Boing
A series of thefts in the rural area around Penryn in England have authorities concerned. At one farm, seven bales of hay and straw, a sack of carrots, and a wheelbarrow were taken. In the second theft at a different farm, 14 bales of hay, a pressure washer, and various power tools were stolen.
“I think we are looking for a horse,” said Detective Constable Rick Milburn from Falmouth Police Station.
“Anyone with any knowledge of anyone who has recently acquired a horse or is trying to establish a living space for a horse, we are asking them to contact us with any information.”
If you have a little trouble filling out your NCAA tournament brackets because you know nothing about the teams, an arbitrary system will do -like picking winners based on team mascots. InsideHook has a system of ranking athletic team mascots that will help you decide which is the better school in any matchup. At the site, you'll find explanations for each relationship in this chart. Link -via Laughing Squid
One Minute Galactica follows up their first Star Wars Rock mashup "Interjections" with "Unpack Your Adjectives," featuring the original Schoolhouse Rock! song illustrated with appropriate scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy. Dagobah is soggy, Luke is boyish, and Hayden Christensen is wooden. Yup, they nailed it. -via Buzzfeed
The new gay rights center in Topeka, Kansas, got a paint job and a sign on Tuesday to let everyone know what they're about. The house is directly across the street from Fred Phelps' infamous Westboro Baptist Church.
The center is the work of a roving do-gooder named Aaron Jackson, a 31-year-old community-college dropout whose other projects have included opening orphanages in India and Haiti and buying a thousand acres of endangered rain forest in Peru. This year, his charity, Planting Peace, also intends to de-worm every child in Guatemala.
Jackson was drawn to Topeka after reading about Josef Miles, the local boy who last year, at the age of nine, photobombed one of the Westboro protests with a handmade sign that read "God Hates No One." Jackson had been looking for a way to support equality, anti-bullying programs, and some sort of pro-LGBT initiative, he said.
"I've been accused in the past of being all over the place, and they're probably right on some level," Jackson told me last night by phone. "Right now we are standing up to bigotry and promoting equality."
The house was purchased six months ago, but the rainbow paint job is the first indication to the Westboro congregation, with several members living in the neighborhood, of what the new neighbors are up to. Link
Update: The facility is called Equality House. Link
Ghostbusters Italia forum member Guusc72 has built an exact replica of the Ghostbusters set -in his basement! The details are all there, including Guusc72 and his friends hanging out in costume. He's the one behind the desk in the lower photo. See more pictures and a video at Ghostbusters Italia. Link -via Gamma Squad
The Easter Bunny is a beloved springtime character, but look deeper and you’ll realize nobody gives away that much chocolate unless they’re hiding something.
He Can’t Even Cover the Whole World!
Say what you will about Santa Claus, but at least he’s delivering presents the world over. The shiftless Easter Bunny outsources egg and candy distribution in various parts of the globe. Swiss children have to make do with a cuckoo, rendering Easter no more special than a common clock. In various other cultures, kids have to be content with an Easter stork, fox, or rooster.
He’s a German Sleeper Agent!
The sneakiest spies lie low and work themselves into the fabric of a community before striking. By that standard, the Easter Bunny may well be the most successful German spy of all time. The suspicious bunny traces his roots back to a 16th-century German character named Osterhase. When German immigrants came to North America en masse in the 18th century, they brought their buddy Osterhase with them. Sure, he’s been here for hundreds of years now, but can we really trust him?
He Might Not Be a Rabbit!
(Image source: Flickr user Allison Marchant)
Every Easter, when there are plenty of marshmallow Peeps available in all colors, several large newspapers hold contests for creative dioramas and artworks made from Peeps. The Seattle Times Peeps Contest is closed for entries, and the winners have yet to be selected, but you can see the entries online. One of the most popular themes this year is the selection of a new pope. It was a shock to the world when Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement in February. The entire story of what happened is enshrined in Peeps.
The Peep announced he was retiring at the end of February. The moment was captured in marshmallow by 13-year-old Chloe.
The United States launched the Iraq War on March 19, 2003, ten years ago today. To mark the anniversary, Reuters has posted a collection of 45 news photographs of the war and its aftermath. Warning: some of the pictures are graphic, and all are disturbing. Link
(Image credit: Eliana Aponte/Reuters)
Google announced recently that its RSS aggregator Google Reader will be retired later this year. It's just the latest in a long line of Google products offered and then pulled, some living longer than others. They didn't all die of unpopularity. Some were replaced, like Google Video when the company acquired YouTube, some were combined into other existing products, and some were popular but not profitable. Some of the products in the graveyard you've never even heard of because they were doomed from birth. There are 39 graves in the "cemetery" at Slate, and you're invited to leave a virtual flower for the ones you actually miss. Link -via the Presurfer
Ukrainian conductor and music professor Sergey Neverov plays the Russian folk song "A Thin Rowan Tree" while his cat naps nearby. Despite being asleep (or faking it), the cat sings along. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
The custom of dressing up as wild animals and monsters dates back to pagan rites surrounding the winter solstice in Europe. These traditions continue today, centered around festivals from midwinter to Easter, evoking the hope of spring renewal.
Photographer Charles Fréger set out to capture what he calls “tribal Europe” over two winters of travel through 19 countries. The forms of the costumes that he chronicled vary between regions and even between villages. In Corlata, Romania, men dress as stags reenacting a hunt with dancers. In Sardinia, Italy, goats, deer, boars, or bears may play the sacrificial role. Throughout Austria, Krampus, the beastly counterpart to St. Nicholas, frightens naughty children.
But everywhere there is the wild man. In France, he is l’Homme Sauvage; in Germany, Wilder Mann; in Poland, Macidula is the clownish version. He dresses in animal skins or lichen or straw or tree branches. Half man and half beast, the wild man stands in for the complicated relationship that human communities, especially rural ones, have with nature.
Just who decided that we should slap our hands together to indicate that we like something?
Scholars aren't quite sure about the origins of applause. What they do know is that clapping is very old, and very common, and very tenacious -- "a remarkably stable facet of human culture." Babies do it, seemingly instinctually. The Bible makes many mentions of applause - as acclamation, and as celebration. ("And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, 'Long live the king!'")
But clapping was formalized -- in Western culture, at least -- in the theater. "Plaudits" (the word comes from the Latin "to strike," and also "to explode") were the common way of ending a play. At the close of the performance, the chief actor would yell, "Valete et plaudite!" ("Goodbye and applause!") -- thus signaling to the audience, in the subtle manner preferred by centuries of thespians, that it was time to give praise. And thus turning himself into, ostensibly, one of the world's first human applause signs.
But applause itself went through many changes, as it was used for different purposes. And today we are experimenting with digital methods of approval, so we can applaud even where no one can hear the sound of two hands clapping. Read the entire story at the Atlantic. Link -via mental_floss
The funeral industry wasn't always like it is today. Rituals and practices evolve over time, and made relatively sudden changes when society changes. Collector's Weekly spoke to undertaker Caitlin Doughty, the founder of the Order of the Good Death, about how funeral practices have moved away from the personal to the industrial.
Originally, the way we handled death in America was very simple, something I would ideally like to go back to. If somebody died, the family kept the body in the home. They washed them, wrapped them in a shroud, and then carried them to the graveyard and put them directly in the ground.
Collectors Weekly: All within a short time after a person’s death?
Doughty: Yeah, two days or so after the death. But this was in very small towns with communities that could rally to make this happen. There were huge numbers of fatalities during the early years of the American Colonies. Eventually capitalism took over, and death was pulled away from the family.
The first major change was embalming, a chemical treatment of the corpse to preserve it, which is a uniquely American practice. Embalming started during the Civil War, and soon after, anybody could be embalmed, and it was more about creating a standardized product, or what they now call a “memory picture.” Especially in the growing cities, it became clear that taking care of the body yourself was hard emotional work, and people realized they could pay somebody to do it. People who used to be cabinet makers now said, “I can make coffins,” and people who were just dressmakers were like, “I can make funeral mourning clothes,” and all these things now sold as part of the funeral industry.
The services quickly became centralized, with a funeral director or mortician or undertaker, somebody who could take the body away and handle everything. Now the family didn’t have to do any of the hard work around their loved one’s death. This transition happened in the late 19th century, and spilled over into the early 20th century as well.
Read more about the traditions of the past surrounding death, and how historic events shaped the way we deal with the loss of a loved one today. Link
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