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8

"Human Spider" Climbed Another Skyscraper

Alain Robert pulled the stunt of climbing the 662 ft Heron Tower in London without any safety gear and was arrested once he reached the top. Due to alerting emergency services, he was sentenced and charged for his adventure:

The 56-year-old grandfather ... reached the top in around 45 minutes, to cheers from the crowd which had formed below, and immediately handed waiting police officers his passport and the number of his lawyer.
Before the stunt, Robert told Sky News his targets when climbing a building are "going to the top" and "to stay alive".
"When you are climbing, as I'm not using any safety devices, when life is at stake, I guarantee that you are focused," he said.

Read the rest of the story and view the nerve-wrecking video clip over at Sky News


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10

How Many Fake Accounts Are There on Facebook? Here's a Clue: 1.5 Billion Fake Accounts Were Removed in Just the Past 6 Months

There's been a lot of news reports over fake news and Russian interference of the elections on social media. And surely you've heard that there's a lot of fake accounts on Facebook. But exactly how many is a lot?

Engadget summarizes Facebook's latest transparency report, covering the first half of 2018:

... at a high level Facebook says it removed over 1.5 billion fake accounts from April through September, up from the 1.3 billion accounts it removed in the previous six months. If you were wondering just how widespread false content and accounts are on the platform, wonder no more.
While Facebook is able to pull down more than 90 percent of instances of adult nudity and sexual activity, child nudity / sexual exploitation of children, fake accounts, spam, terrorist propaganda and violence and graphic content, there are two categories where its content moderation falls down. Facebook only found and removed 14.9 percent of bullying and harassment before users reported them; it also only found 51.6 percent of hate speech violations before users reported them (timeframe was July through September of this year).

Read the rest over at Engadget

(Image: own photo)


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10

We Are NASA



The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is just as awesome as it has ever been, but doesn't get the attention or kudos it deserves because of budget cutbacks in the last couple of decades. But NASA employees are still there, still working on space exploration and how to get it done. They've got some really big plans for the future, as you'll see in this promotional video. Warning: may provoke goose bumps.  -via Boing Boing


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13

The Victory Garden Guide

World War II presented a problem for much of America - more people than ever lived in cities and did not cultivate gardens, while the demand for foodstuffs for the armed forces could not be met without impacting the civilian supply.

What to do? The government's answer was to appeal to the patriotism of the citizenry to grow much of their own food via what was to become known as a Victory Garden.

Realizing that many people had never grown their own fruits and vegetables, the government produced a guide that told the would-be gardener everything he/she needed to know to do so. It was quite the success, with naturally-competitive Americans vying to out-garden their neighbors. And, hey, we won the war, didn't we?

The government manual for Victory Gardens has not become obsolete with the passage of the decades and can still serve as a comprehensive guide for the home gardener. You may download your own copy here.


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8

The King of Pop Was A Wannabe Spider-Man!

Michael Jackson, the king of Pop, took the meaning of Marvel fandom to a whole new level in the late 90s. This comic book fan wanted to play Spider-Man so badly that the only way he could think of making this happen was to attempt to buy Marvel.

Another source reveals that he was also vying for Professor X’s role in the X-Men series and even went to the auditions.

Meanwhile, Marvel legend, the late Stan Lee, who knew Michael Jackson at a personal level, confirmed that Michael Jackson did discuss with him the strong desire to play Spider-Man.

Maybe there was more to his song “She is going Hollywood” than we could realize. Hmmm ...

Learn why Jacko’s dream didn't materialize and what Stan Lee thought about his potential as a super hero over at this post by Stewart Perrie over at LADbible


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10

Creating Fireflies With LEDs in the Sumida River

For the inaugural Tokyo Hotaru Festival, 100,000 LED lights were placed in the Sumida River to resemble the fireflies that once inhabited it. Powered by 100% solar power, the beautiful display kicked off the summer festival.

Continue reading

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11

An 1861 Japanese Book of American History



Here is Washington and his wife "Carol" meeting an extremely youthful Benjamin Franklin, who has an impressive squat.

The Japanese book Osanaetoki Bankokubanashi (童絵解万国噺) was published in 1861. It's a children's book of American history. The author and illustrator used secondary sources, as neither had been to America. East Asian historian Nick Kapur posted the more intriguing images at Twitter, with explanations for what we see.



But then! While John Adams is too obsessed with the food and drink, a huge snake comes along and eats his mom! Maybe the snake was a child of that other snake John Adams killed, or maybe it was sent by Ben Franklin as part of their feud?



Together, John Adams and the eagle kill the enormous snake that ate his Mom. The power of teamwork!!!

That's just a taste of what Kapur has in his Twitter thread. Don't miss George Washington punching a tiger and meeting the goddess of America. You can see all the illustrations from the book (with no translations) at the Waseda University Library.

-Thanks, WTM!


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10

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2018



British department store John Lewis puts out an ad campaign to tug at your heartstrings every Christmas. This year, they enlisted Sir Elton John to travel back in time through his life until he reaches that life-changing Christmas when he received his first piano. -via Laughing Squid


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9

Satanic Temple Sues Netflix for Depicting Its Baphomet Statue as a "Symbol of Evil"

The Satanic Temple was offended by The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina presenting their Baphomet statue as “the devil.” Now Netflix and Warner Brothers have a lawsuit on their hands:

Satan “is a literary figure symbolic of the eternal rebel in opposition, rather than the personalization of evil,” per the Temple. A key tenet of members and supporters of the Temple is that Satanists deserve as much protection and respect as followers of any religion.
The Temple “commissioned ... Baphomet ... to be a central part of its efforts to promote First Amendment values of separation of church and state and equal protection,” the complaint stated. “Defendants’ prominent use of this symbol ... associated with evil, cannibalism and murder blurs and tarnishes” the Temple’s Baphomet.

Read the rest over at HuffPost

Image: @LucienGreaves


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12

Frog Ladders Help Frogs Escape Roadside Drain Death Traps

In the U.K., over half a million amphibians get trapped in drains every year. A small group of British conservationists are saving the day!

“The amphibians are coming to breed and then hitting the road, getting across the roads, hitting the curb, along the curb and into the drains. And then that’s it - end of story for them, game over,” said Tim Jenkins, a ladder fitter at WART.
“By installing the amphibian ladders, it enables them to get back out of the drains and back to their breeding pools and doing what they should do and making more amphibians.”

Read the rest of the story over at Reuters


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11

Crossing the Sahara in the Fourteenth Century

The most popular method of crossing a desert in the 21st century is to fly over it. You can also take a bus or a car, aided by maps, GPS, paved roads, cell phones, and coolers full of ice and water. It was not always so. To get from here to there across the Sahara Desert before modern conveyances involved two months of riding a camel. More importantly, one had to trust locals who knew what they were doing -and one had to pay them well.  

Between mid-February and mid-April 1352, Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan traveler who delighted in exploring the whole of the Islamic world, crossed the Sahara. The Masufa, a tribe of the Sanhaja confederation, controlled the caravan. Let’s be clear: the leader of the caravan, the scouts, the camel drivers, the guards were all from this tribe. It was better to put one’s fate into their hands than to fall into their hands. Anyway, one was forced to trust them: the guide of Ibn Battuta’s caravan was blind in one eye, or at least that’s what the caravan members were led to believe, but he remained the authority on a route that was not easily visible, as a Roman commercial road would be, a route that wound through loose, stony ground and was always susceptible, as they were also led to believe, to being hidden beneath “mountains of sand.”

While desert guides would protect the traveler from bandits and from getting lost, there were other concerns: lack of drinkable water, unbearable heat, fleas, flies, and snakes. Read about the complicated logistics of traveling across the Sahara in the Middle Ages at Lapham's Quarterly. -via Digg

(Image credit: Patricia Ilizaliturri)


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12

Alpaca Takes a Taxi

Andre Mendivil's dad recorded a video of an alpaca non-nonchalantly getting into a taxi while walking around the streets of Cusco, Peru. The alpaca seem to be a pro at getting into small vehicles!

T-Shirt Design: Less Drama More Llama by Edu Ely

Peruse the selection of llama t-shirts in the Neatoshop!


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12

What Does a Baby Elephant Suck for Comfort?

Babies suck their thumbs, but what's a baby elephant to do? Why, it certainly has something that it can do for comfort ...

Image via u/Orangth


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15

The Toy Monkey that Escaped Nazi Germany, Then Led to the Discovery of a Long-Lost Family

This small, worn out toy monkey looks like an ordinary albeit well-loved toy, but it's nothing short of extraordinary. It escaped Nazi Germany, and 80 years later, helped a war-torn family come together.

The toy monkey belongs to Gert Berliner, who lived in Berlin in 1930s as a young boy. When the Nazis took control of the city and started rounding up Jewish men, Gert's parents managed to help him escape from Germany through an underground railroad operation:

In 1939, at the age of 14, he had to say goodbye to his parents, Paul and Sophie Berliner. He boarded the train in Berlin, bound for the city of Kalmar, on the Baltic Coast. He had a small bag and there wasn't much he could bring. But stashed away in his suitcase was the toy monkey, his talisman ...

Orphaned when his parents were murdered in Auschwitz, Gert thought that he had no family left. From that point on, wherever Gert went, the toy went with him. Eventually, it ended up in a museum in Berlin as a war memento.

And that's when the toy monkey changed Gert's life one more time ...

Read what happened next over in the story by Uri Berliner, Gert's son, over at NPR.

(Image: Jacobia Dahm/NPR)


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10

Distracted Boyfriend in LEGO

LEGO artist Ochre Jelly (Iain Heath) has once again taken a ubiquitous internet meme and rendered it in LEGO. This time, it's the stock image that came to be known as Distracted Boyfriend. Of course you've seen it; it was named 2018 Meme of the Year at the annual Shorty Awards.



Heath has already taken the image and added captions, which you can see in the Flickr album. His original version is licensed for use under Creative Commons, so you can download it and add your own captions, as long as you attribute the image to Ochre Jelly and don't use it for commercial purposes.


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11

The End of the Story, 16 Years Later



IKEA unveiled this award-winning ad in 2002. It grabbed the viewer by the feels because we are familiar with Lampy from The Brave Little Toaster and Luxo, Jr. Then came the twist ending that yanked us back to reality and made us laugh. And now IKEA has returned to the story, 16 years later, for a new ad featuring the same lamp.



Now, that's much better, right? -via Metafilter


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15

Why Don’t We Forget How to Ride a Bike?

Last year, before taking possession of a car with a manual transmission, I took a test drive to see if I remembered the feel of a clutch. It was "just like riding a bicycle," as we say. Or roller skating, for that matter. Why is it that we forget our anniversary or where we left our car keys, but maintain the ability to ride a bicycle after not riding one for many years?

As it turns out, different types of memories are stored in distinct regions of our brains. Long-term memory is divided into two types: declarative and procedural.

There are two types of declarative memory: Recollections of experiences such as the day we started school and our first kiss are called episodic memory. This type of recall is our interpretation of an episode or event that occurred. Factual knowledge, on the other hand, such as the capital of France, is part of semantic memory. These two types of declarative memory content have one thing in common—you are aware of the knowledge and can communicate the memories to others.

Skills such as playing an instrument or riding a bicycle are, however, anchored in a separate system, called procedural memory. As its name implies, this type of memory is responsible for performance.

So, while I retain the procedural memory of riding a bicycle, roller skating, playing piano, and driving a stick shift, my declarative memory of that last injury made me decide to give up roller skating permanently. Read a short overview of procedural memory and how we learned about it at Scientific American. -via Boing Boing


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12

These Are The Only Four Surviving Original Manuscripts of Poetry in Old English

For having given birth to the modern English language, you would think that Old English - the now defunct language spoken in medieval Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers - would have a lot of surviving written records.

But in case of original manuscripts of poetry in Old English, there are only four surviving books. Four. That's it.

Josephine Livingstone wrote this interesting article over at The New Republic about them:

They are: the Vercelli Book, which contains six poems, including the hallucinatory “Dream of the Rood”; the Junius Manuscript, which comprises four long religious poems; the Exeter Book, crammed with riddles and elegies; and the Beowulf Manuscript, whose name says it all. There is no way of knowing how many more poetic codices (the special term for these books) might have existed once upon a time, but have since been destroyed.
... the main attraction lay in a quiet little vitrine: all four Old English poetic codices, side by side. They don’t look that impressive to the casual eye. The exhibition room is dark and cold, to keep the books safe from damage. The manuscripts are brown, small, almost self-effacing. There’s no outward sign of how important they are, how unprecedented their meeting.

What makes these four books so special? Read the full article to find out.


Image: British Library Board


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13

How the World’s Only Feudal Lord Outclassed the Nazis to Save Her People

The Isle of Sark is a unique place. One of the Channel Islands situated between Britain and France, it is owned by the British Crown, but is politically independent. Cars are forbidden on the two-square-mile island, and the population remains steady at around 500 people- the number of people who can live comfortably off the land. But it is Sark's ancient system of government that really sets it apart. It is the world's only remaining fief, a feudal state run by a system established by the Normans.  

For the past 400 years, the Isle of Sark had been ruled by a "Lord of the Manor" called a Seigneur or Dame, who pledges allegiance to, and rents the island from, the King or Queen of England. The Seigneur or Dame holds the island in perpetual fief, and rents out 40 parcels, or tenements, to 40 different residents called tenants, who can rent pieces of each parcel to lower-ranked islanders. For centuries, these 40 landowners made up the island’s parliament, called Chief Pleas, with the Seigneur or Dame presiding as a quasi-dictator.

"It may seem undemocratic that most members hold their seats by right of property," Deputy John La Trobe Bateman told National Geographic in 1971, "but we are perhaps the world's best-represented community. With our population of 575, we have one legislator for every 11 people."

During World War II, the ruler of Sark was the aristocratic Dame Sibyl Hathaway. When Germany invaded the Channel Islands, there was no force capable of repelling them. Other islands, including nearby Guernsey and Alderney, evacuated their citizens to Britain. Dame Sibyl instead encouraged her people to stay, and all but 11 did. Read how Dame Sibyl handled the occupation, undermined the Germans, and even forced them to repair the island when the war was over, at Mental Floss.  


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11

Trying to Cross the Street During the NYC Marathon



When runners, fast ones and slow ones, come from all over the world to run a marathon in the streets of New York City, just getting from here to there for your normal morning routine is an accomplishment for city residents. They should give out awards for crossing the street! -via Tastefully Offensive


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9

Make Your Own Custom Emoji

Have you ever wanted to express an emotion or reaction but couldn't find the exact emoji for it? Me, neither. Still, you can have fun making your own simple face icon with the emoji builder. Pick a head, then accessorize it with features, expressions, and accessories... or hit the randomize button to get something pretty goofy. The selections are limited, but I managed to quickly create all four of the faces seen here.  -via Nag on the Lake


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13

Cats Just Want to See Art

The Onomichi City Art Museum in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, has an ongoing battle with unwelcome visitors. Two of them, to be exact. They are Ken Chan (left) and Gosaku.  



The two cats have spent years trying to visit the museum, but are constantly thwarted by the security guard and other museum staff trying to enforce the museum's "no animals" policy. The standoff may have started off as a mere desire to see what's inside, but over time, both sides see the entry of the cats as a challenge. This is what happens when you tell a cat he/she can't do something. See more of Ken Chan and Gosaku at the museum's Twitter feed.  -via Buzzfeed


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11

Chocolate Salami

Have you ever eaten chocolate salami? It was featured as a funny at Bad Menu, but it's a real European treat. Chocolate salami is a dessert loaf made of chocolate and broken cookies -and sometimes rum.

Chocolate salami is not a meat product. The appellation "salami" stems from physical resemblance. Like salami, chocolate salami is formed as a long cylinder and is sliced across into discs for serving. These discs are a brown, chocolaty matrix (like the red meat of salami) peppered with bright bits of cookie (like the white flecks of fat in salami). In Portugal, they are typically made using Marie biscuit. [2] Some varieties also contain chopped nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts and may be shaped like truffles.

You can order chocolate salami from many places online, or make your own. -Thanks, Vireya!

(Image credit: jppaguilar)


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9

What Makes a Hit Film?

You're not going to find a magic formula in this article, because the question could be interpreted as "What defines a hit film?" There are two ways to look at movie success. One is which movies make the most money. We know the answer to that, because we've seen those movies, along with everyone else: Marvel superheroes, Star Wars, and Disney. The other way of looking at a hit film is its rate of return, or how its box office multiplies its production costs. The two methods bring us two completely different sets of movies, but both are successes. You might be surprised at the movies that brought the greatest return on investment, plus you'll see charts and graphs that plot what time of year and what length is best for a successful film at Medium. -via Digg


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10

A Cosplay Tribute to Stan Lee



Sneaky Zebra has brought us cosplay videos from conventions for years. This one is a compilation of marvelous Marvel character cosplayers, illustrating Stan Lee's philosophy of the Marvel universe. -via Geeks Are Sexy


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11

How NASA Fixed the Hubble Space Telescope: By Jiggling It!

When one of NASA's highly advanced equipment in space broke down not long ago which had been later repaired after a few weeks, sources reported that they succeeded by doing the "have you turned it on or off" approach.

But of course in real life, things aren't that simple. Turns out, NASA did not fix the Hubble Space Telescope by turning it on and off (if only it was that easy).

No, they actually had to jiggle it a bit:

On Oct. 18, the Hubble operations team commanded a series of spacecraft maneuvers, or turns, in opposite directions to attempt to clear any blockage that may have caused the float to be off-center and produce the exceedingly high rates. During each maneuver, the gyro was switched from high mode to low mode to dislodge any blockage that may have accumulated around the float.

Hubble Operations Project Manager Patrick Crouse told The Washington Post:

“At a high level, if people want to call it jiggling around, I suppose they can,” he said. “But we were trying to do very particular activities we thought would clear the problem. It certainly wasn’t as simple as turning it off and turning it back on.”

(Image: NASA)


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11

The Sand Mafia

There's sand everywhere - heck, there are whole deserts filled with sand - but in reality, the world is actually running out of construction grade sand.

As sand becomes a scarce resource, there's a rise in criminal enterprises that traffic in sand. Call them, the Sand Mafias:

“Sand mafias” are groups of criminals that illegally dredge sand from areas where extraction is prohibited. Since they’re not following laws, all environmental protocols are ignored. Often rivers are illegally mined, destroying the habitat for fish and fishermen. Sometimes land from private villages is even taken over by these mafias.

And like their Sicilian namesakes, Sand Mafias regularly resort to violence, and even murder:

This problem is particularly rampant in India. A number of murders have allegedly been committed by these sand mafias to keep journalists and agitators quiet. In a recent murder, journalist Sandeep Sharma was run over by a truck after he secretly filmed a police official agreeing to a bribe in exchange for allowing sand mining in a crocodile sanctuary. According to the editor of the local television channel where Sharma worked, he was denied police protection after receiving threats. The editor also told the Guardian that police confiscated Sharma’s camera with footage of the bribe agreement and never gave it back.

Read the rest over at this intriguing article by Erik Brown over at Medium


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11

When a Restaurant Asked Musicians to Play for Free, This Musician's Reply is Priceless

Appreciate people for their work or you may get a viral whooping. This musician’s

response to a Craig’s List ad looking for free musicians totally won the Internet over.

via boredpanda


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11

Neanderthals Weren't the Violent Brutes We Thought

Every new study about Neanderthals make them appear less like the proverbial "missing link" and more like just another species of homo. For decades, scientists assumed that Neanderthals faced brutal dangers, whether from hunting or warfare or violence in their communities. This was thought to be a given, because so many Neanderthal skulls showed evidence of injury. In other words, their heads were bashed in.  

Decades ago, Neanderthals were depicted as club-carrying, dim-witted brutes who spent their days clobbering each other with reckless abandon. The modern vision of Neanderthals, while vastly improved, continues to perpetuate the idea that these now-extinct hominids lead dangerous and violent lives—an assumption based on early descriptions of individual skeletons.

New research published today in Nature is finally setting the record straight, showing that Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans experienced similar levels of head trauma. Yes, life was tough for Neanderthals—but the new research suggests life wasn’t any less tougher or violent for contemporaneous Homo sapiens.

The study compared remains of Neanderthals and prehistoric but modern humans with and without skull trauma (including skull injuries that healed) to find the ratio of injured individuals, sorted by sex, age, and location. While the rate of skull injury was not significantly different between Neanderthals and homo sapiens, there were some interesting differences found, which you can read about at Gizmodo.

(Image credit: James Gordon)


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11

The Art of Overanalyzing Movies



Have you ever watched a movie that made you think for days? The more you thought about it, the more nuanced and meaningful it became. And then, years later, you read an interview with the director and found that nothing you perceived was intentional on their part. Those clever layers of subtext were all in your head. Jack Nugent uses this episode of his series Now You See It (previously at Neatorama)  to explain how this disconnect between the artist and the audience happens. -via Laughing Squid


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