1. ONE WORD: LIQUOR
I am NOT saying that you have to drink to have a good time—do you hear that, kids? BUT, the Golden Globes and the Spirit Awards do seem to move faster and offer a bit more joie de vivre. Certainly many of us at home are imbibing, so perhaps in-seat service for those in the theater is worth trying. They do it at Rock of Ages, plus, no one is driving home—that’s what all those limos are for. Drink Responsibly.
I want to thank the Academy for reading the entire list. Link
(Image credit: Flickr user mobo85)
Fanfare is a simple but cute online toy in which you can turn each instrument on and off with just a click. Drums and Sousaphone only will give you a sort-of polka sound. Add just a trumpet for Dixieland, or just the tuba for a marching band sound. Or listen to the whole band! Link -via the Presurfer
Consider this list of movies as those you will want to avoid before your planned vacation. Nothing puts a damper on your enjoyment of an expensive holiday trip more than that nagging feeling that some stranger will want to cut you into little pieces like that film you saw just before leaving home. Link
Cartoonist Mark Anderson has been working with LEGO bricks to make cartoon art! This rendering of Charlie Brown ended up very large, as the lines were drawn using LEGO tiles and hinges. See how he did it at Andertoons. Link
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge
We investigated the effect of using music to enhance the sub-optimal system of undergraduate laboratory research assistants (Researcheria virginium). Many aspects of the interaction between the undergraduate and the laboratory bench leave much to be desired. We focused on the simplest -- yet easily quantifiable -- laboratory skill, the noble art of accurate pipetting.
Many publications have documented the beneficial effects of music on mind and body, a phenomenon known as the Mozart effect. Intelligence improves whilst one listens to music. It is also known that classical music causes significant increases in the milk yield of Holstein cows (Bovus holsticus). We merely attempted to see if music could be successfully applied in a similar way on a different problem.
Theoretical Pretext for this Research
Our premise was that pipetting errors must originate somewhere within the sensory motor axis of the undergraduate. Thus our investigation plumbs the depths of the undergraduate central nervous system (CNS), such as it is.
First we discovered that when a student pipetted to musical accompaniment, his or her speed, accuracy and final experimental success rates were transformed. We witnessed dazzling refinements in all aspects of pipetting that came under our scrutiny (data not shown). The authors’ personal recommendation for a piece of music ideally suited for this purpose is Strauss’ "The Blue Danube."
Suggestive as these preliminary findings were, our most significant discovery was unexpected, and momentous. There is a synergistic effect when music is used to synchronise the pipetting of all the workers on a bench.
(Image: Anne Baxter wins in 1948)
Okay, maybe it's pure sexism, but the surest way an actress can grab a Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress Academy Award is by playing a prostitute. Whether a "hooker with a heart of gold," a high-class call girl, or a destitute woman who turned to the streets, any actress knows well that if she takes on a role dealing with this occupation, she had a better shot at an Oscar win.
Sexism? Hmmm... well, I may be wrong on this count, but I don't think any guy has ever won an Oscar for playing a male prostitute. Jon Voight was nominated for his male hooker role in 1969's Midnight Cowboy, and I think that's as close as it ever got. Well, let's not digress into social discourse about "why women become hookers" right now. Suffice to say that the social structure through the ages has definitely made it harder for women than for men to go out and earn an honest living. And of course, there is the obvious (to any fair-minded observer) difference in the sexual makeup of men and women.
By the way, it's not just Oscar "wins" -many of movie's well-known "women as hookers" performances, i.e. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990), Shirley MacLaine in Irma la Douce (1963), and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas (1995) did not win Oscars (I mistakenly thought both Julia and Elisabeth had won for their roles), but they did get nominations.
So far, 13 known actresses have taken home an Oscar statuette for playing "a woman of questionable repute" (okay, I think I've about exhausted the list of hooker metaphors). Let's take a look at these 13 actresses. Eleven of the 13 definitely played prostitutes; two are a bit nebulous.
1. Janet Gaynor in Street Angel (1928)
At the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, Janet received the first-ever Oscar, but for three different movies, not just Street Angel. Interestingly, for the only time in Oscar history, an actress got an Oscar for three different films. So, although Street Angel was only a partial contribution, Janet still was technically the first.
2. Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) A very melodramatic old movie where Hayes' main character suffers nine misfortunes, one of which was becoming a prostitute.
3. Anne Baxter in The Razor's Edge (1947) Anne plays tragic alcoholic Sophie Nelson. She was a "thrown-away woman who turns to prostitution." Pretty overwrought, huh?
4. Clare Trevor in Key Largo (1948) This is one of two nebulous prostitution labels on the list. Clare plays a boozy, broken-down torch singer in this, one of my favorite Humphrey Bogart films. Although Clare may or may not have been a hooker in this film, she did specialize in playing the "hooker with a heart of gold." In the classic Western Stagecoach (1939) she played a frontier prostitute "reformed" by John Wayne. Also, in the wonderful 1937 film Dead End, Clare played Bogie's ex who was forced into prostitution by unforeseen circumstances. Clare received Oscar nominations for both roles.
5. Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity (1953) It's a long way from playing Mary Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) to playing an Oscar-worthy hooker seven years later. (Maybe it took more money than George thought to pay back the Building & Loan!) Now, to be fair, this designation is nebulous, too. Donna pays a "dance hall girl" in the film. She is obviously very "friendly" and "entertains" her guy customers who "visit" her, but she is not a definite hooker. Remember, too, this was the Fifties, a very conservative era in movies. It wasn't like most scripts could openly say a woman character was a prostitute. They relied, usually, more on intimation. So I can't honestly say Donna was a hooker here, but her character acted in that direction.
Today's Lunchtime Quiz at mental_floss is a classic for Presidents Day. Can you name all the United States presidents? There are 43 different men who have served in the office. And you have eight minutes to name as many as you can. I will try this myself as soon as I have eight minutes to spare! Link
Few men have acquired so scandalous a reputation as did Basil Zaharoff, alias Count Zacharoff, alias Prince Zacharias Basileus Zacharoff, known to his intimates as “Zedzed.” Born in Anatolia, then part of the Ottoman Empire, perhaps in 1849, Zaharoff was a brothel tout, bigamist and arsonist, a benefactor of great universities and an intimate of royalty who reached his peak of infamy as an international arms dealer—a “merchant of death,” as his many enemies preferred it.
In his prime, Zaharoff was more than a match for the notorious Aleister Crowley in any contest to be dubbed the Wickedest Man in the World. Still remembered as the inventor of the Systeme Zaharoff—a morally bankrupt sales technique that involved a single unscrupulous arms dealer selling to both parties in a conflict he has helped to provoke—he made a fortune working as a super-salesman for Vickers, the greatest of all British private arms firms, whom he served for 30 years as “our General Representative abroad.” He expressed no objection to, and indeed seemed rather to enjoy, being referred to as “the Armaments King.”
Sources on Zaharoff's life and exploits are varied, incomplete, and sometimes suspicious. Mike Dash of Smithsonian's Past Imperfect blog puts together what we know -and don't know- about the strange life of the mysterious Mr. Zedzed. Link
"Starvation for one month, anyone can tolerate that if they have water to drink," said Dr Segerberg. "If you have body fat, you will survive even longer, although you end up looking like someone coming from a concentration camp."
He estimated that Mr Skyllberg could have lost more than three stone of his body weight over the period. Earlier police reports suggested Mr Skyllberg was in "really bad shape" when he was found.
He conceded that it was incredibly rare for someone to survive for so long outside in the cold Swedish winter.
Skyllberg is expected to recover, and may be released in a few days. Link -via Arbroath
Emil Johansson is busy working on a degree in chemical engineering in Sweden, but has managed to find the time to plot over 800 characters from The Lord of the Rings onto one massive family tree! The chart is interactive, so you can look up individual characters, or you can sort the tree by the type (species?) of characters. There are also some really nerdy statistics available for die-hard fans. This screenshot, just a tiny corner of the tree, may lead you to believe that families are sorted in alphabetical order, but that's not necessarily so. Still, this family must have had a time calling the children to dinner! Link -Thanks, Emil!
43 Facts about 44 Presidents
5 Nastiest U.S. Presidential Elections in History
Three Presidential Tragedies (Other Than Assassinations)
Great Moments in Presidential Debt
A Sitting President's Memorial
Grover Cleveland's Deadly Secret
Happy Birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!
And if you happen to have the holiday off work, you'll find a lot more interesting things to read at The Best of Neatorama!
Fart jokes have been with us since we've had the ability to laugh. Fart art appears to go back quite some time as well! The Japanese scroll entitled He-Gassen (Fart Battle) dates from the Edo period, making it somewhere between 200 and 400 years old. There are more panels from the scroll at Tofugu. My personal favorite is the one with the cat, but I selected this one to show you because it's probably the tamest of the bunch. The rest contain partial nudity, meaning lots of butts. Don't laugh too loud, you'll attract attention! Link -via Metafilter
One of the longstanding mysteries about the experiment, the identity of Little Albert, was apparently solved in 2010 by Hall P. Beck, a psychologist at Appalachian State University. He and his co-authors argued that Little Albert was Douglas Merritte, the son of a wet-nurse who worked at the Johns Hopkins University, where the experiment was carried out. Merritte died in 1925 at age six from convulsions brought on by hydrocephalus (also known as “water on the brain”).
There is some evidence that the baby was neurologically impaired. Experts who have seen the films Watson kept of his experiment tend to think so -even those who are not aware of what the film was. If Watson tried to generalize his theories about fear based on data from one test subject who was ill and most likely suffering from a mental disability, then his conclusions are useless. If he knew the child was disabled, then they are a scientific fraud. And the cruelty of the process was for nothing at all.
The authors write about the baby’s mother, Arvilla, who was a wet nurse at the hospital. Because wet nurses were of low social status, and because she worked for the institution itself, she may have felt unable to turn down a request for her baby to be used in Watson’s experiment. “Voluntary consent, as we understand the term today, was not possible to give or to withhold,” they write. Presumably, most parents, if given a choice, would not allow their babies to participate in an experiment in which researchers terrify them. But Arvilla found herself in a bind. She was dependent on her employer both for her job and for the medical care of her sick baby.
Read the rest of the story (oh yes, there's more besides what we've told you) at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Link -via Metafilter
What weighs 40,000 tons, towers 555 feet 5 1/8 inches high over the nation's capital, has 897 steps to the top, is made of 36,491 stones, and can boast with certainty that George Washington never slept there? The Washington Monument!
Today surrounded by 50 flags at the base, symbolizing each of the 50 states, the white marble obelisk is the jewel in the crown of the National Mall -but it took a surprisingly long time for the nation to get around to building it.
Immediately after the War for Independence, the Continental Congress made plans to honor General George Washington. As far back as 1783, there was a plan for an equestrian statue of Washington to be placed near the Capitol building -once they figured out where the capital city was going to be. But the new nation was busy, and the capital moved several times, making it difficult to find a good spot for a tribute.
After Washington died in 1799, Congress again made noises about erecting a monument in his honor, and they settled on creating a tomb in the Capitol building. But they forgot to ask his family's opinion. Washington's heirs did not want to move his remains, which stayed firmly planted in his tomb on the grounds of his home, Mount Vernon, in Alexandria, Virginia.
As the 100th anniversary of Washington's birth approached, there was again a push to memorialize the first president. Congress coughed up $5,000 in 1832 for a marble statue intended for the Capitol Rotunda. However artist Horatio Greenhough's creation -a 20-ton seated seminude figure- was not exactly what most folks had in mind. This statue ended up at the Smithsonian Institution in 1908.
Nader, LeDoux, and a neuroscientist named Jacek Debiec taught rats elaborate sequences of association, so that a series of sounds predicted the arrival of a painful shock to the foot. Nader calls this a “chain of memories”—the sounds lead to fear, and the animals freeze up. “We wanted to know if making you remember that painful event would also lead to the disruption of related memories,” Nader says. “Or could we alter just that one association?” The answer was clear. By injecting a protein synthesis inhibitor before the rats were exposed to only one of the sounds—and therefore before they underwent memory reconsolidation—the rats could be “trained” to forget the fear associated with that particular tone. “Only the first link was gone,” Nader says. The other associations remained perfectly intact. This is a profound result. While scientists have long wondered how to target specific memories in the brain, it turns out to be remarkably easy: All you have to do is ask people to remember them.
In addition to PTSD, erasing certain memories could aid therapies for chronic pain, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and drug addiction. But is it right to erase memories? Medical ethicists are divided. Some say that the memory of pain is educational, and it's wrong to mess with what makes us who we are. Others are excited about the possibility of helping those who suffer. And the rest of us wonder what happens when this technology falls into the wrong hands. Read the rest on this fascinating subject at Wired. Link -via Metafilter
It's a minifig! It's a superhero! It's portable data storage! Actually, it's all of those things! Instructables member Britt Michelsen made a flash drive that looks like the Golden Age version of the comic book superhero The Flash. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Link
"I'd like to know if any other place in the UK is as misspelt," he said.
Mr Jones said he was amazed that all the people who wrote the name wrongly into a search engine had got to the website.
"Some of the names were unrecognisable," he said.
"But my criteria for counting the misspellings was that at least three people would have spelt it that way - and that they had viewed pages on the website after using them.
"I think we must be the most misspelt place names in the UK - I challenge people to let me know if we're not."
When Jones first moved to the village, he found out there were many different pronunciations of the name as well. Accompanying the linked article are some other places in Wales that you might find hard to spell. Link -via Arbroath
On Monday, Jill Harness gave us 15 Romantic Records Perfect For Valentine’s Day.
Eddie Deezen told us about Head: The Monkees’ Strange Movie. I hope this clears up any confusion.
The Value of Love, Using the Dylan Model was reprinted for Valentines Day from the Annals of Improbable Research.
Uncle John's Bathroom Readers brought us The First Black American Sea Captain.
And The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was from mental_floss magazine.
In the What is It? game this week, the scary-looking tool is a slater’s axe. It’s also called a sax, saxe, slate cleaver, slate cutters’ trimmer, slate trimmer, and zax. It was used to trim and punch holes in roofing slate. Anker was the first with the right answer, and so wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! The prize for the funniest answer goes to marcintosh, who said, “It’s a Panel Trowel. It’s used for spreading white grout in the gaps between comic book panels. That’s why it’s shaped like a word balloon.” That one deserves t-shirt, too! Thanks to everyone who played along. See the answers to all this week’s mystery items now at the What Is It? blog.
The most-commented-on post of the week was Dad Shot Laptop Over Daughter's Facebook Post. Coming in second was Lunch Bags Inspected for Nutrition. These stories lit up the internet this week, and there are updates: Tommy Jordan was visited by authorities who found no evidence of wrongdoing and his daughter has a job offer, and the teacher in the lunch fiasco should have just given the child a carton of milk.
If you haven't been over to our Facebook page lately, you'll find additional discussions on our posts plus extra stuff you won't find on the blog, like marvelous images with no context, such as this:
If that's not enough, check out the Best of Neatorama. Use the slider at the top to access articles from the past
Have a Happy President's Day!
Who discovered the X-ray?
The obvious answer to this question is Wilhelm Röntgen, who, in 1895, famously noted the effects of a mysterious new kind of ray that appeared as a byproduct of his experiments with Crookes tubes. He called his discovery the “X ray,” to indicate its yet unknown properties, then went on to take a widely publicized X-ray print of the bones of his wife’s hand, and eventually won a Nobel prize in 1901 for his achievements. However, several other physicists made similar discoveries while experimenting with Crookes tubes around the same time. Among them: Nikola Tesla, Edison’s well-known rival. Edison had himself experimented with X-rays for a time, and was certainly aware of the variations in the X-ray origin story among his colleagues. This question suggests an eagerness to promote his preferred version.
Think you could pass his test? See a selection of the questions (and the answers) at mental_floss. Link
About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation.
“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”
The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.
On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
The New York Times has an extensive article explaining how stores gather, decode, and use your shopping habits to make more sales. Link -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Antonio Bolfo/Reportage for The New York Times)
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