The World's Most Expensive Object by Weight



It doesn't take long for Tom Scott to unveil the most expensive object by weight, if that's what you are watching this for. And he tells us its history and the reasoning behind why it's so expensive. However, you might wonder how this thing was selected for that very specific title. It all goes into how you define each term. "Object" must be a non-fungible discrete unit. "Expensive" doesn't exactly mean value. You get the idea. I understand why defining every term one uses is so important, because any time I label something superlative in a simple manner, I hear from commenters about exceptions and stretches until, well, until I'm just wrong. An example is the post just before this one on the last public execution by guillotine. The word "public" is necessary since the French government continued to behead people long afterward. Tom is a lot better at explaining that than I am.


The Final Public Execution by Guillotine



The guillotine was a particularly French method of execution, made popular by the French Revolution and continuing until well into the 20th century. The guillotine offered the doomed convict a mercifully swift death relative to other execution methods, yet it was a gruesome spectacle. The crowds that gathered around a beheading were like those that attended a public hanging elsewhere in Europe and in the US, looking for something novel to see in the days when entertainment was hard to come by. But that wasn't quite the reason. Mass media arose with movies and radio around the turn of the 20th century, yet people still clamored to see an execution for reasons ranging from the morbidly curious to the downright bloodthirsty.

On June 17, 1939, around 600 hundred people gathered at 4 AM to watch the execution by guillotine of convicted serial killer Eugen Weidmann in Versailles. The crowd left satisfied after Weidmann's head was separated from his body. But there was a novel factor in this execution- a film crew had surreptitiously recorded it for posterity. Stills from the execution made the papers and caused an uproar in France.

Read the story of Eugen Weidmann's date with the guillotine and its fallout at Amusing Planet.


A Totally Different Trailer for Terminator 2: Judgement Day



Imagine you had seen The Terminator in 1984, and it's now 1991 and you hear they are doing a sequel. This is the trailer you see. It doesn't give away anything, yet it makes you want to see the movie. Contrast this with the actual 1991 movie trailer for Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which made us feel like we'd seen the entire movie already.

Michael Edwards edited this trailer to bring it more in line with a trailer you'd see in 2021 (what's known around YouTube as a "modern trailer"), and he focused more on Sarah Conner, which is what really impressed us when we saw Terminator 2. But this version leaves a lot to the imagination, and sets us up for surprises when we see the full movie. You can see the widescreen version at YouTube.  -via reddit


Montreal Comiccon: Holiday Edition Cosplayers

Montreal Comiccon Holiday Edition is back after being canceled in 2020. The weekend is just wrapping up, and Geeks Are Sexy gives us a look at the costumes that celebrate comic book characters, movie and TV characters, creative mashups, and festive Christmas wear. Where else would you see Superman in a Christmas sweater, or Santa Claus with a lightsaber?



Are these folks from The Santa Clause or from The Grinch? It doesn't matter, it's all one big happy North Pole family! See Vikings, aliens, superheros, villains, steampunks, warriors, and storybook characters all in their best fancy dress in a 55-image gallery from Montreal Comiccon at Geeks Are Sexy.


The First Woman to be Executed by Electric Chair

On March 20, 1899, Martha Place became the first woman to be executed by electric chair. It happened in New York under the governorship of Theodore Roosevelt, despite a campaign to stay the execution by women's rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Place had been convicted of murder the previous year.

Widower William W. Place had a young daughter and was looking for a new wife to help raise the girl. In 1893 he hired a housekeeper named Martha who seemed to care deeply for his daughter. Place admired Martha's devotion and married her that same year. Having cemented her place in the household, Martha's true nature started to come out. The upshot is that she wasn't that great of a stepmother. It took five years for her murderous tendency to reveal itself, but when it did, the killing was quite gruesome. Read the story of the murder that landed Martha Place in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison at Murder by Gaslight. -via Strange Company 


The Strange Underworld of Hobby Tunneling

People build tunnels for myriad reasons, for sewers, subways, or a shortcut through a mountain range, for mining resources, to connect public buildings away from the weather, or to expand real estate. There are clandestine reasons, such as smuggling drugs or breaking out of prison. But one of the oddest reasons for digging a tunnel is because it's fun. Some men find, usually after they complete a digging project, that they enjoy the activity so much they want to continue digging. It might even become an obsession.

Unknown holes in the ground can be dangerous, or interfere with utility lines and property rights. While this might become a problem when a hobby tunneler doesn't know what he is doing, really serious digging enthusiasts learn what they need to know. Some have become rather well known in their own circles, while others cause astonishment when their extensive tunnels are discovered. Messy Messy Chic looks at hobby tunnelers of the past and present to see what they dig and why.

(Image: Library of Congress)


The One-Page Flip Book



YouTuber dP Art Drawing makes hand-drawn flip books. That's a hobby that requires a lot of paper. She wondered if it was possible to make a flip book animation with only one sheet of paper. Huh? That would require drawing a complete scene and then erasing and drawing again on the same sheet of paper. The project ended up with 211 frames drawn over 53 days. Watch that happen in this mesmerizing video.

The benefits of doing it this way are that she didn't have to completely redraw every frame- just the moving parts, and this method makes it easier to keep the elements in place from frame to frame. It's still a lot of work, even with an electric eraser. The single sheet of paper was completely worn out by the end, but that seems kind of appropriate as Hulk screams with the power to break things. And now all of these drawings physically exist only in one sheet of worn-out paper. The digital version will live on for who knows how long.  -via Geeks Are Sexy


The Truth About Chop Suey

Chop suey came to America with the Chinese immigrants who worked mines, built the transcontinental railroad, and opened many west coast businesses. Americans found their chop suey so delicious that restaurants sprung up to serve it. However, the Chinese got the last laugh when word got out that "chop suey" translated into English meant "odds and ends" or "leftovers."

Except that last part is a myth. It may have arisen as a mistranslation, or due to prejudice, or maybe it was an explanation for the declining quality of the dish served to Americans as it became ubiquitous in the early 20th century. Chop suey's reputation suffered so badly that upscale Chinese restaurants refused to put it on their menus. It didn't help when La Choy made a canned version that had nothing in common with authentic chop suey.

The truth is that chop suey has a history that goes back to at least the 16th century in China. Read about the dish and what happened when it made its way to America at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Flickr user Paul Sableman)


Giulia Bernardelli's Spilled Art

Italian artist Giulia Bernardelli is becoming famous around the internet for her striking images made with spilled tea and coffee. After tipping over a cup of what is presumably the best drink available (she is Italian), she uses her fingers, brushes, and styluses to shape the liquids into famous or even original works of art.

Continue reading

A Rare Look at the Giant Phantom Jelly



The giant phantom jellyfish (Stygiomedusa gigantea) is called that because it's really big and scientists don't get to see one often. Until fairly recently, trawl nets were used to bring up deep-sea specimens to study, and jellyfish have a tendency to fall apart in them before they reach the surface. However, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) sent down an ROV in November and caught this one in its natural habitat, at 990 meters (3,200 feet) below the surface.

At first glance, this jelly looks like a load of laundry floating in the water. But bear in mind that the bell is more than a meter (3.3 feet) wide, and the trailing "oral arms" can grow to ten meters (33 feet) long! Read more about the giant phantom jellyfish at MBARI, and see a longer video about this species.

The music on this video is nice, but I personally prefer the live reactions from the scientists back on the research ship that we are used to from MBARI. -via Boing Boing


This Beer Is Made from Green Peas and Pickled Cabbage

Those are not the most common ingredients to use in beer brewing, but brewmaster Valgeir Valgeirsson is no stranger to strange beers. From his facility in Iceland, Valgeirsson has also brewed beer with seaweed, algae, Christmas tree stumps, and fish. For this Christmas season, AFP reports that he decided to make a beer with a traditional Icelandic Christmas dish--green peas and stewed cabbage.

The brewery made this beer, named Ora Jolabjor, in cooperation with Ora, Iceland's largest food production company. The can design resembles the cans of peas and cabbage that Ora sells in grocery stores.

Valgeirsson made just over 7,200 gallons, which sold out only very quickly. Consumers report that the smell and flavor definitely reflects the main ingredients.

-via Oddity Central | Photo: RVK Brewing


Wasteful Packaging to Blow Your Mind

(Image source: OldTownChode)

This item could have easily been shipped in an envelope. How many times have you ordered a small item that was delivered in a large box with packing peanuts or bubble wrap just to take up the excess room? Was a large box all they had? Or was it a consequence of warehouse workers under stress, not allowed enough time to go get a proper size box? Either way, it just adds to our landfills in the end. This also happens in stores, when a small item must be packaged in a wastefull manner to thwart shoplifters. The subreddit called EgregiousPackaging collects examples that can make you scratch your head.  



(Image source: cheeseball359)

This one is baffling. The soda is in a can, added to a plastic tray, then covered in shrink wrap. Commenters tell us this is a kit for marinading meat sold in China. You put your meat in the provided plastic tray and pour the Coke over it. Okay, but you'd think that anyone making something that involved would already have a bowl or something at home to put it in. Something they wouldn't have to throw away.

See 45 examples of very wasteful packaging in a gallery at Bored Panda.


We're Not Gonna Take That Song Anymore



Oh yeah, it's a good song, but non-stop Christmas cheer beginning the day after Halloween and lasting two months for 27 years straight is enough. If you've had it with Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You," then this song is for you. Despite the fact that it was produced by There I Ruined It (previously at Neatorama), it's actually quite listenable. He took the vocals to Twisted Sister's song "We're Not Gonna Take It" and laid it over the Christmas tune. The video mostly comes from Mariah Carey's Magical Christmas Special. Even if you aren't tired of "All I Want for Christmas is You," you'll still get a kick out of this mashup. See, There I Ruined It doesn't have to ruin everything!  -via Laughing Squid


Hildegard von Bingen's Cookies of Joy

Besides having the coolest name ever, Hildegard von Bingen was a writer, a scientist, a healer, a composer, a visionary mystic, and a saint who lived in 12th-century Germany. She founded two monasteries and invented a language. Hildegard's life and list of accomplishments is long and involved, but Atlas Obscura focuses on her work with medicinal food and herbs.

Hildegard subscribed to the Latin medical theory of balancing bodily humors that was prominent in her time, with elements of astrology and theology added. She advocated for bleeding and using precious stones in healing. But she prepared medicines according to the practice that (mostly women) healers always used of going with what works, and learned the benefits of natural ingredients she grew in her garden. Hildegard also advised boiling water before drinking to prevent disease. Medical historian and physician Victoria Sweet tells us,  

“More of her cures worked than didn’t,” Sweet says, noting that many of her herbal remedies are as timeless as those within traditional Chinese medicine.

But the culmination of the article is the cookie recipe Hildegard left us. She made cookies prescribed for various ailments: ginger for constipation, licorice for nausea, and cinnamon and cloves for joy. You can't argue with cookies for joy, no matter what the flavor. Her cookies for joy are easy to make, and if you swap out molasses for honey, ginger for nutmeg, and add some leavening, it would be the same as the gingersnaps I made last week. Find that recipe and an overview of Hildegard's medical practices at Atlas Obscura. -via a comment at Metafilter 


The Polite Baggage Carousel



Changi Airport in Singapore has been named the best airport in the world for eight years running now. It's beautiful, too. But besides being large and easy on the eyes, the airport has state-of-the-art infrastructure that helps it to run smoothly. Get a load of the conveyor belt that spits out your suitcase onto the baggage claim carousel. Each bag waits its turn for the perfect opportunity to jump in and join the gang! This is not only soothing to watch, it makes you wonder what else is going on behind the scenes at the airport that we'd be interested to know about. If only we could get interstate entrance ramps to work as smoothly, we'd be right proud. -via Nag on the Lake






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