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A Plane Powered by an Electric Drill

What insane thing will Peter Sripol make next? When we last checked in, he attached a flamethrower to a Thomas the Tank Engine mecha. His most recent project was to build a functional model airplane powered with a cordless drill motor.

It was a big challenge. A drill and battery are heavy and the RPM is very low. But Peter's friends tolerated him long enough to make it work. The biggest challenge was getting their CNC mill to correctly cut a wooden propeller. And the end of the project, they ended up with a remarkably maneuverable aircraft.

-via Hack A Day


The Kidz Bop Cover Of Old Town Road Will Break You

I didn’t know that a Kidz Bop cover of Old Town Road existed until I stumbled upon this video, and how they altered the lyrics so well for children. Watch as jacksfilms get mystified on the choices Kidz Bop made for their version of the hit song. It may break you, or mystify you. I’ll just stick to the original one and its remixes, thank you very much. 


Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winners

The Natural History Museum in London has announced the winners of their annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The grand prize went to Yongqing Bao for the above photo entitled "The Moment." A Tibetan fox startled his marmot prey in the Qilian Mountains of China, and Bao caught the moment for posterity.  

Born and raised in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau area, Bao was fascinated by the local wildlife. He is now the Director and Chief Ecological Photographer of the Qilian Mountain Nature Conservation Association of China.

He is also a member of the Qinghai Photographers Association and Deputy Secretary-General of the Qinghai Wildlife Photographers Association. His work has been published in many magazines and newspapers and awarded in several international competitions.

The winner in the Young Photographer of the Year is Cruz Erdmann, for his colorful image of a big-finned reef squid, taken off the coast of Indonesia. Read about the winners at the competition's website, and see winning photos in the various categories in this gallery. -via reddit


Personality and Longer Life

Most, if not all, of us desire to have a longer life. You’d agree with me, however, that it’s even better to live a long and healthy life. 

While most people know what to do in order to achieve such a goal, some of these do not necessarily follow the advice given to them. Sometimes, a person can cheat in a program or routine that he dedicated himself into. For example, he might skip his early morning workout, or sneak a doughnut during a coffee break. This is why personality is important.

Researchers in behavioral medicine and health recognized decades ago that personality must be taken into account in understanding the factors which influence adopting a life-prolonging lifestyle. This field originated in the now-classic, though imperfect, studies on the “Type A Behavior Pattern,” in which hard-driving, impatient, achievement-oriented, and super-punctual individuals appeared to have higher risk of cardiovascular disease than their laid-back Type B counterparts. Researchers continue to expand on related personality and behavior patterns, with the latest entry being the “Type D” (for distressed), which refers to people who suppress their negative emotions, compromising their recovery from a cardiovascular event. More generally, however, researchers are interested in the overall personality traits or dispositions that can affect people’s health through lifestyle risk factors.

More of this over at Psychology Today.

What are your thoughts on this one?

(Image Credit: dbreen/ Pixabay)


Superman vs. the KKK

There's a new Superman comic available in stores today, except it's not exactly new, but a modern incarnation of an old story. Superman Smashes the Klan is the first of a three-part story in which the Man of Steel battles white supremacy and xenophobia.

The book comes from the award-winning cartooning team of Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru, who were inspired by the 1946 Superman story “Clan of the Fiery Cross.” That story wasn’t a comic, but rather an arc of the immensely popular Adventures of Superman radio serial. In the audio adventure, Superman battled the racist machinations of the Ku Klux Klan. Excoriated and embarrassed by one of the country’s most popular radio shows, the white supremacist group actually saw a drop in membership.

Superman Smashes the Klan is the first time “Clan of the Fiery Cross” has been adapted to comics. And Yang and Gurihiru’s Superman is a classic 1946 Superman. He hasn’t figured out how to fly yet and he’s never seen kryptonite before, a nod to how many core aspects of the character originated in that very series. Writers on the The Adventures of Superman serial went on to introduce those elements, along with Jimmy Olsen, and Daily Planet editor Perry White, and the endlessly quotable “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”

Polygon spoke to author Gene Luen Yang about his approach to the project, and has a 16-page preview of the first chapter.  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru/DC Comics)


Las Marthas

Every February in Laredo, Texas, the entire town celebrates George Washington's Birthday with a festival, which includes a peculiar debutante ball sponsored by the Society of Martha Washington, in which young women dress as a stylized fashion ideal of the mother of our country.

The dresses take a year to sew, and the girls spend a year learning how to wear them: how to glide, how to float their arms out so they never touch the skirts, how to hold their heads under the weight of the coiffure. The look is Marie Antoinette in her let-them-eat-cake days, and the dresses, like Marie’s dresses, weigh so much—up to one hundred pounds—that they hurt the girl. They leave bruises at the shoulders and hips where the dress bones pull down on girl bones. The dresses, like the gestures, are passed down from mother to daughter.

Each girl needs five dressers, who first lace her into her corset, then affix the “cage” of the hoop skirt to her waist, sneaking a pillow between the cage and her body so her skin isn’t rubbed raw. Then come petticoats, and the dress on top. The dressing occurs over a tarp with a hole cut into its center, and once everything is in place, the women pick up the girl and the tarp together and walk her to the stage so that the dress never touches the ground. If it is raining, they wrap her in plastic too.

The history behind the ball goes back to the 1840s, when settlers from the East were sent to Laredo to "Americanize" the newly-annexed Texas. Read that history and how the modern Marthas do their thing at Believer magazine. -via Digg


Should You Be Polite To Siri?

The use of artificial intelligence-powered voice assistants has been prevalent in today’s generation. Whether it’s for weather, news, homework help, or just simply asking Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri to do something on our behalf, these interactions with these voice assistants are frequent and can be done by anyone. This current situation begs the question as to whether or not these machines deserve the respect we give towards fellow human beings, should we use words like “please” and “sorry” when we ask these voice assistants to look at the weather for us? USA Today has the details: 

Dr. Laura Phillips, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute, says the answers are “complicated and really nuanced."
What makes things more complicated is that “digital assistants have this aura of authority,” says Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychological Research Center in Newport Beach, California. We may know that they’re not human, but to kids, "they sound like adults, know lots of stuff and are easy to anthropomorphize." As conversational interfaces and AI evolves further, such distinctions may blur further.
"Kids learn through repetition, which is why we all say, 'What’s the magic word?' infinitum,” she says. 
“These AI-driven, non-human entities don’t care if you sound tired and crabby, or if you are purposely rude because it’s 'funny.' But interactions of all kinds build patterns of communication and interaction. The more you are used to bossing Siri around or bullying her, the more you’re used to that communication pattern," Rutledge says
In Iowa City, senior marketing manager Dana Turner says her husband has come up with another sound reason for treating voice assistants nicely. He “always says 'thank you’ to her because, he says, one day AI is going to take over the world and he wants to be saved.”

image credit: via wikimedia commons


Here’s A Ghost Choir To Soothe Your Worries Away

Louie Zong has given us a blessing in the form of animation and music, a video that you can leave playing in a separate tab as you do your task, or you can watch as you procrastinate! Watch as cute animated ghosts blast on a soothing, full choir of soft tunes to ease your worries away, or make you feel hyped for the spooky season! Personally, this video is on repeat for its cuteness and great sound! 


This Hawaiian Family’s 5.6 Pound Avocado Is Now The World’s Heaviest

Mark, Juliane and Loihi Pokini of Kula, Maui have the world’s heaviest avocado, weighing 5.6 pounds! The family shared that they picked the avocado in December and suspected they had a world record contender. They were correct, as their avocado beat the previous record at 5.5 pounds. In addition to their new Guinness World Record, the family shared that they previously grew a whopping 5.7 pound avocado. Unfortunately, they were unable to get the proper documentation to Guinness. Well, they have the record now! 

(via UPI)

image credit: Guinness World Records via UPI


Marc Trujillo’s North American Purgatory

Discount retailers, members-only wholesale clubs, fast food restaurants, car washes, and gas stations are some of the subjects the San Fernando Valley-based artist Marc Trujillo depicted in his visual records of “North American Purgatory”. These photorealistic paintings are depictions of the spaces and places that are not designed to be enjoyed, with people mostly just passing through them: 

"It's this little slice that we spend a lot of our lives in," he says. "I like these kind of places people don't go to be there. If I paint a USA gas station, the painting has a real chance at being more of an experience than you have when you're actually there."

image credit: Marc Trujillo via KCET


Human Roulette and Drag Balls at the Lost “Magic City”

Magic City in Paris was one of the world's earliest permanent theme parks. It opened in 1900, and offered Parisians amusements and distractions beyond imagination for its time.

Dragons curled up under the bridge. Toboggans splashed Parisians in to the Seine, benches twirled, and wine flowed freely. It was a Saturday afternoon like any other at the “Magic City” of Paris, the long lost fun fair that was the nation’s very first parc d’attractions. As such, it was quite literally the gateway to extravagances unknown – a ticket into a world of whimsy matched only by the Universal Exposition, aka the Greatest Show on Earth – that could be enjoyed by all, but especially the LGBTQ community, whose legendary drag balls swept Brassaï (and his camera) off his feat. So grab your top hat, darling, for a day at the fair…

The theme park rides closed in 1926, and the ballroom space left behind became a place of celebration for the city's gay and drag community. But if you went to that neighborhood now, you would never guess its history. Read about the heyday of Magic City, with lots of pictures, at Messy Nessy Chic.


Meet the Wounded Veteran Who Got a Penis Transplant

In 2010, Ray was a Navy corpsman in Afghanistan who stepped on a roadside bomb while trying to reached a wounded soldier. The blast blew off both of his legs, plus his penis, scrotum, and a chunk of his abdomen. In his years of recovery, he learned to walk again with prosthetic legs, but it was his unseen wound that bothered him more. Significant genital injuries affect 1,367 American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The standard treatment for a missing penis is phalloplasty reconstruction, creating a living prosthetic from the patient's own tissues, but that is not only a poor substitute, it was not enough to replace Ray's missing body parts. In 2012, his military doctors referred Ray to the reconstructive surgery group at Johns Hopkins. Surgeon Richard Redett thought Ray might be a good candidate for their first penis transplant. A suitable donor suddenly became available in 2018.

Once they had removed and packed Ray’s graft, nothing else mattered except speed. Bodily tissue begins to break down the instant it’s deprived of blood. If enough toxins are released, the tissue can swell so much it asphyxiates. It’s why you throw transplants on ice, as Redett’s crew did for their Learjet flight back to Baltimore—it delays the breakdown process.

It’s also why surgeons train, practice, and visualize their maneuvers. Redett’s team had already run dry rehearsals of their procedure. In the operating room, they had set up the table where Ray would lie, figured out where the ice machine went, placed the optical microscope Redett would use, and even tested every power outlet to make sure they wouldn’t short a circuit.

As the team ate snacks from their go-bags on the plane back to Hopkins, other surgeons wheeled Ray into the operating theater. By this time it was 11 p.m. on Sunday, almost 24 hours after he had arrived at the hospital. They prepared him by removing all the diseased tissue and exposing the blood vessels, nerves, urethra, and penile stump. At 2 a.m. Monday, Redett and his fellow surgeons took their places—some standing above Ray, the rest tending to the graft at another table—and steeled themselves. The gravity of his mission consumed Redett’s thoughts.  

The surgery took 14 hours. Read how the operation was done, the history of penis transplants, and how Ray is doing a year later, at MIT Technology Review. -via Real Clear Science

(Image: Johns Hopkins surgeons performing a different transplant)


The 100 Best Horror Movies Of All Time

There are some who would say the only reason to read an opinion-based internet list is to condemn the ranking. If you do, you probably think "Who is this guy, and why does he have such terrible opinions?" But Paste magazine approached the project with a lot of experience.

This list has been a long time coming for Paste. We are fortunate—some would say “cool enough”—to have quite a lot of genre expertise to call upon when it comes to horror in particular. Several Paste staff writers and editors are lifelong horror geeks, and there’s also a strong sentiment toward the macabre among several of our more prolific contributing writers. Case in point: We have so many writers focused on horror that we’ve produced huge lists of the best horror films on Netflix,Amazon Prime and Hulu that are all updated on a monthly basis. We’ve even given you the likes of the 50 best zombie movies of all time, and the 100 best vampire movies of all time, if you can believe that.

And yet, somehow, despite all that expertise, we’ve never put together a definitive ranking of the best horror films of all time. That ends now, with the list below: a practical, must-see guide through the history of the horror genre.

There are classic films on this list, of course. There are also likely a handful of independent features that will be unknown to all but the most dedicated horror hounds. There are foreign films from around the globe, entries that range from 1922 to 2017. In some cases, you will likely be shocked by films that are missing. In others, you’ll find yourself surprised to see us going to bat for films that don’t deserve the derision they’ve received.

But even better than finding your opinions validated or contradicted is the opportunity to seek out horror films you've never seen to watch during the Halloween season. You might want to skip ahead to the top 25 first (where you'lll most likely find some movies you've never seen), but then you'll want to go back and read the entire list.


Chocolate Toilets

The Japanese company Toto is internationally famous for their high-quality toilets. The company has a museum in Kita Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, where the company gift shop sells chocolate candy called Toilette Chocolat in the form of their toilets!

756 yen (US$7) gets you five chocolates inside a toilet-shaped box, complete with a functioning lid. While you might be expecting them to be a deep brown, they’re actually made of white chocolate, in order to visually represent the pristine porcelain of a brand-new Toto toilet bowl.

As we unwrapped one, we were struck by how intricate the detailing is. Not only is the shape of the bowl accurately reproduced, the seat and tank are separately molded.

Sora News24 suggested that they might add a tiny dollop of regular milk chocolate to the bottom of the bowl. For taste, ya know. Read more about Toilette Chocolat at their website. -via Dave Barry


Museum Visitor Dies After Trying To Slide Down Third-Floor Banister

Kirkland Dawson, a 34-year-old New York-based attorney, toppled over the third-floor staircase railing and landed on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Museum. The tragedy occurred during the museum’s monthly “First Saturdays” program, and Dawson was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, but he died from his injuries the next day.  In an interview with a newspaper, Dawson’s family revealed that the museum never reached out to them about the accident, as Hyperallergic detailed: 

 Dawson’s family told the newspaper that the museum never reached out to them to provide details about the accident or offer condolences. “I wish they would call,” the deceased’s mother, Kathy Dawson, told the Daily News. “They haven’t offered me condolences or anything,” she added. “To not even get a call saying we’re sorry or anything, nothing.”
“We’re really just hearing word of mouth what happened,” said the victim’s sister, Taylor Dawson. “We still don’t really know. No one at the museum has reached out to his mom or me,” she added. “A detective reached out to my mom and said it was a freak accident,” Dawson continued. “He was falling from some type of landing and couldn’t stop his fall from the stairwell he was on. They said he suffered brain damage and head trauma.”

image credit: via wikimedia commons

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