Ancient Egyptian Inspiration for a Modern Cartoon Character

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Last year, researchers in Egypt discovered the cemetery for senior officials and priests of the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC) in Minya. They uncovered the coffins of two distinguished women, one of them identified as Tadi Ist, daughter of the High Priest of Djehouti in Ashmunein. Pictured above is the inside of her coffin lid. This art seems familiar, doesn't it? A woman wearing a pale green strapless dress and a tall blue headdress. Who could it be?

Redditors, of course, saw Marge Simpson right away. The red shoes and necklace are modern touches. The long-running series The Simpsons has become legendary for predicting the future, mainly because creator Matt Groening is very good at detecting trajectories. But this one goes backward in time. Who knew that when Groening designed the character, he took inspiration from the inside of a coffin lid buried thousands of miles away thousands of years ago? It only makes sense if you believe Groening is a time traveler, which some people have posited over the years. -via Cracked

The Language That Builds Cults

If you want to build a cult around yourself, you have to learn to communicate like a cult leader. We have plenty of examples from history, and they have some common ways of speaking. First, you have to talk a lot, meaning more than anyone else. That might draw attention, but it doesn't make you a cult leader. For that, you have to learn specific techniques of communication. You have to overwhelm your followers with what you want them to believe, cut off uncomfortable questions or disagreements, and separate your followers from unbelievers psychologically. By then you'll be able to manipulate each member individually in accordance with their weaknesses, or train your most loyal officers to do it. In this episode of Otherwords, linguist Dr. Erica Brozovsky (previously at Neatorama) explains the regular formula for building a cult with language. Please don't try this at home. Nor should you fall for it.

Provocatively Titled Scholarly Articles Get Read

I would guess that my only scholarly journal article has been read by a total of perhaps 10 people, including myself, the reviewers, and members of my family. It's hard to get people to read scholarly articles, even in the natural sciences in which scholarship, unlike literary criticism, may actually result in something useful to people.

Success may come from a spicy title and Joseph Cesario, David J. Johnson, and Heather L. Eisthen chose wisely. A screenshot of their 2020 article in Current Directions in Psychological Science has gone viral and resulted in people at least locating if not reading the article.

If I understand their article correctly after barely glancing at it, the authors address the concept of the lizard brain--that older brain structures can be found in the interior of the human brain and that more advanced mammalian structures can be found inside. They assert that this popular belief is a myth.

-via @Cookedspaghett

Unoriginal Lake Naming

Minnesota is known as the "Land of Lakes", but that sobriquet would better fit Canada. Canada has so many lakes that just naming them takes a lot of work. Manitoba's innovative and morally commendable response was to name 4,200 bodies of water after individual Manitoban soldiers who gave their lives during World War II.

Did geographers just get lazy by the time that they reached these two lakes in British Columbia? No. The British Columbia Geographic Names Office gave this body of water the official name of Another Lake because that's literally what local residents have called it since at least 1946. The Office rejected the name when it was originally submitted in 1968, but eventually accepted the common usage. And Another Lake has a similar origin story.

-via Terrible Maps

Yes, It's Cake. It's All Cake.

If you live on the internet like I do, you are familiar with the "Cake or Fake" meme, also known as "Everything is Cake" or "Is It Cake?" It came with the rise of talented cake decorators who can make a cake that looks very much like something else. What I didn't know was that it has been made into a TV show called Is It Cake? on Netflix. It's a game show and a cooking show combined, and I suspect there may be some comedy involved. Joel Veitch has obviously been watching it, and he takes the opportunity to turn it into a horror story.

If you don't recognize the name Joel Veitch, he's the one who gave the world Viking Kittens about 20 years ago and the Quiznos Spongmonkeys that frightened people away from the sandwich shop. Veitch turned that twisted sense of humor into a real career, and it's rare to see him doing a video just for fun these days, but it's reminder of how weird his brain is. -via the Awesomer

Yhyakh, the Summer Solstice New Year Celebration

While we are going into official summer with temperatures in the 90s, we might cool off a bit by thinking of Yakutsk, in the Yakutia region of Siberia. It's the coldest city in the world. But on the Summer Solstice, Yakutsk will double its population of 200,000 people as many others around the region join in celebrating Yhyakh, which marks the new year.

When we are celebrating a new year on January first, Yakutia only has a couple of hours of daylight and it's too cold to go anywhere. But in June, the Summer Solstice brings all-day sun and the couple hours of night aren't even all that dark. For hundreds of years, maybe even thousands, people of the Sakha culture mark Yhyakh as the new year, the start of the short summer season when laying in supplies for the winter has to be done in a hurry. People join together to sing, dance, light a fire, and make offerings to the gods. Yhyakh is also a time for young people to "meet, court, and marry." The revelry goes on all night and ends only with a sunrise celebration. Celebrating Yhyakh was forbidden during the Soviet era, but is making a comeback, both in Yakutia and in Sakha enclaves elsewhere. Read about this holiday at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Dziulita05)

The Short That Made Hollywood Notice Fede Álvarez

If you saw the trailer for the upcoming movie Alien: Romulus directed by Fede Álvarez, you might have thought, "Who?"  Some are familiar with Álvarez' work on the movies Evil Dead and Don't Breathe, but the Uruguayan filmmaker was first noticed by the American film industry for the short Panic Attack! (Ataque de Pánico!), in which giant robots invade Montevideo. The short was made in 2009 on a reported budget of $300. A dollar must go further in Uruguay. Just a few weeks after Panic Attack! was shown at a film festival, Álvarez got a call from Ghost House Pictures and was soon on the slate to direct Evil Dead.

Álvarez remastered the short (less than four minutes if you don't count the credits) and re-uploaded it yesterday. He must have received a few requests since he was announced as the latest Alien director. Read more about Álvarez and his breakthrough film at Gizmodo.

The History Behind the Olympic Phryge

The Olympic mascot is usually some kind of animal, or more rarely, a pop culture character that means something to the host nation. For the 2024 Paris Olympics, the French went with a fashion statement. That seems appropriate for Paris, but the hat that is the branding image of this year's games is more than fashionable. It's a symbol of France's revolutionary history. The Olympic Phryge is designed to resemble the Phrygian cap, a conical cloth hat with a peak that could flop forward or back.

The design goes back thousands of years, and is recognizable in ancient art. Colonial Americans adopted the hat as a symbol of their struggle for freedom, called the "liberty cap," which gradually fell out of favor after the French Revolution. It was the French who made the Phrygian cap their own, in red wool, as a political symbol. They not only used it as a symbol in art and communication, but actually wore those hats when they stormed the palace.  

Using a hat for the Olympic mascot may seem strange at first, although no stranger than other Olympic mascots have been, but there is plenty of history behind the design, which you can read about at Smithsonian.

The Rubber Duck Store in the Train Station

Journalist James Ball shares this photo from Victoria Station in central London. Among the shops that tantalize busy commuters is Duck Depot.

It's not just a single store but an entire chain of stores called Duck World that sells collectible rubber ducks in a vast variety of forms, often inspired by pop culture. Duck World also offers custom ducks for your particular anatine needs, as well as sponsorship for rubber duck racing events.

There's a similar store in Spring, Texas that focuses on rubber ducks and bath gear. It's across the street from a store that specializes in Dutch products. Train arrivals will not block your travels although parking is a chore.

40 Years of Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robot

We've been following the developments of Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot for years, but even I didn't know when that research began. It appears that that they have been working on the development of a walking humanoid robot for more than 40 years now! Maybe it's because Atlas doesn't develop grey hair or wrinkles, just more muscles. World Data Center put together a compilation of research videos showing Atlas starting out in 1983 and running through 2022. The video starts with a bouncing baby robot who later learns to walk on two legs, and gradually grows into a dancing, flipping athlete made of titanium and electronics. We shouldn't be verklempt about watching a robot grow up, but we feel like Atlas is a friend. He is, after all, friend-shaped. Besides that, he's taken a lot of abuse to get where he is today. Too bad it doesn't include the latest version, although that one is kind of creepy. -via Laughing Squid

Modern Humans Can Have Neanderthal DNA Anywhere, Except the Y Chromosome

The short version of the story is that a group of human ancestors left Africa and went to Europe, and later to the rest of the Old World. These were the Neanderthals. A half million years later, modern humans left Africa and settled all over the world. They interbred with Neanderthals for a few thousand years, and then the Neanderthals went extinct, except as a minor part of our Homo sapiens DNA. The only humans around today with no Neanderthal DNA are descended from the people who never left Sub-Saharan Africa.

Geneticists have found that snippets of Neanderthal DNA can be found in any part of our genome, except for the Y chromosome. What happened to the Neanderthal Y? Its demise could have been coincidental, or luck. Probably not, but that always needs to kept as a possibility. Or it could have been that it was always modern human men breeding with Neanderthal women, but since we haven't found any Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA in modern humans, which is only passed along by females, that doesn't seem likely. There are other scientific possibilities, which are explained at the Conversation.  -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Clemens Vasters)

Woman Pulls Off Horse Face Perfectly

She’s got Spirit
byu/1q8b infunny

For maximum enjoyment, watch the video first, before you read the description below. Let your suspension of disbelief take over!

When she's done up in this illusion face paint, artist Mariam Marks would not take it as an insult to be called a horse face. It's very deliberate. But this is not only an artful painting, it's performance art, too, as she lip-syncs to "Here I Am" by Bryan Adams, from the 2002 movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Her exaggerated tooth exposure and tongue action lends so much realism to the singing horse, it's like watching a cartoon without a TV. You don't even have to be familiar with the movie to appreciate the performance (I have never seen it).   

See a lot more of Mariam Marks' face painting animations at Instagram and YouTube.

-via reddit

The Despicable Me 4 Popcorn Bucket

My fellow Americans, I see a great deal of popular concern about the state of innovation in the American economy. We feel that we have lost the plot of our national story and are no longer driving technological progress in the world.

Cast those fears aside. This is America: the nation that introduced to the world the Dune popcorn bucket.

The pace of technological development is only increasing with news of the popcorn bucket produced for the fourth Despicable Me film. It's inspired by the Baby Björn baby carrier and provides a conveniently hands-free popcorn option for fans on the move.

-via Brenden Gallagher

Zach Anner Does the Impossible

Zach Anner broke through onto the pop culture scene in 2010, and we posted plenty more of his riotously funny videos. But it's been a couple of years since he posted anything at YouTube, and even longer since he abandoned other social media outlets. He's still active on Facebook, and has been doing TV appearances and writing shows. Then, surprise! Today he came out of his YouTube "retirement" to tells us an important story. Yeah, there are funny parts to it.

Zach has spent his life doing things he was told were impossible for him (and even wrote a book about it). He's worked hard at overcoming muscle control issues to do all those things he wasn't supposed to be able to. But in this instance, even he didn't realize that he was the victim of assumptions. Sometimes, it's not a matter of ability at all; it's a matter of proper education.

250-year-old Preserved Cherries Found at George Washington's Estate

George Washington was associated with cherry trees from a young age, although that tale was completely fabricated. And the iconic cherry trees in Washington, DC, only came in 1912. But Mount Vernon, Washington's estate, had orchards and slaves, and apparently they packed cherries in bottles to preserve them. Archaeologists found two bottles of cherries under a brick floor, and months later found 35 bottles in the cellar. Twenty-nine of the bottles were still intact, and contained preserved cherries and berries.

You may wonder how these bottles were never found before, as Mount Vernon has always been a historic site. George Washington's father built the mansion on the estate in 1734. The president expanded the house twice, and no doubt performed several renovations. The 35 bottles of cherries were found in abandoned storage pits in the cellar, which may have been forgotten and then covered over when Washington left his home to command the Continental Army.

The cherries seem to be in pretty good shape, considering their age. Scientists are studying the bottles, the cherries (including stems and pits), and the preservation method. So far, there's no word on whether anyone has tasted them. Read more about this discovery at Smithsonian.   

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