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How an Internet Obsession Resurrected a Creepy, Long-Lost Sesame Street Cartoon

This video short called Cracks aired on Sesame Street in the mid-'70s. Jon Armond was six years old and found it traumatizing. But he never saw the short again, and never encountered anyone else who remembered it ...until the rise of the internet. There he found many other people in his situation, who remembered the short but after it disappeared weren't sure if they had imagined it. Together they searched for information on the clip.

But they still couldn’t find the video itself, and Children’s Television Workshop, which produces Sesame Street, was of no help at the time. Still, after making inquiries, Armond eventually got a fax from an unknown, untraceable number promising to send him the copy of “Cracks,” as long as he agreed never to screen it in public, post it online, or send it to anyone else. Armond signed the agreement, and six months passed before he found a manila envelope in his mailbox with a DVD inside. The note read: “We trust this completes your search.” There was no return address, no postmark, and no postage.

Daniel Wilson of the Lost Media Wiki received an email copy of Cracks in 2013, just as mysteriously, but made from a different copy. Since he signed no agreement as Armond did, Wilson uploaded it to YouTube. Slate has the story of the lost and found Sesame Street video in a podcast. They even found the woman who recorded the audio for the short.  -via Metafilter


Matt Benedetto and His Unnecessary Inventions

Matt Benedetto has Unnecessary Inventions for you — products that are so creative (but useless) you’d want to have one.

Sunglasses not too dark for you? Fret no more for this SunShaders™ — a shader for your shades.

Want to shade yourself from the sun’s heat or from the rain, but don’t want your hands full? Get this Hoverbrella™ and enjoy walking around as it follows you wherever you go.

These and more on Twisted Sifter.

(Image Credit: Unnecessary Inventions by Matt Benedetto / Instagram)


Photos Show the Negative Effect of Humans to the Natural Environment

Before humans was nature. Without the natural environment, humans would not have lived and had no chance roaming the Earth. But now, we humans have populated the Earth and we have made technological innovations through the course of time. But all of those technological innovations, breakthroughs, and inventions have a heavy price, and that price would be the Earth’s one and only Mother Nature — the very environment who freely gives us its plants and animals. This brings us to a question: can human beings and nature co-exist? Do we humans protect nature, or are we destroying it?

That’s the conceit of Atmos, a new magazine launched this month that’s an “exploration of climate and culture.” The first issue focuses on the theme of neo-natural—an idea about how (or even whether) humanity and nature can co-exist anymore—and among the features is a series of photographs of the Amazon rainforest by Daniel Beltrá. The Spanish-American photographer’s work reveals how nature is ceding ground, both literally and figuratively, to the built environment.
The images show the stark lines of farmers’ fields pushing against the unruly Amazon rainforest, mines carved into hillsides, logs stacked in a manmade clearing, or a pancaked brazil nut tree outlined by tractor tracks like chalk outlining a murder victim. They also show how the divide between the built and natural environment can sometimes smear together, with trees popping out raw dirt or a flock of scarlet ibises crosses the flooded Amazon lowlands.

Below are some of the stunning images by photographer Daniel Beltrá.

We have only one Earth. Let us not abuse it.

More of these at Earther.

(Image Credit: Daniel Beltrá / Atmos)


Plasma Rain on the Sun’s Surface

Why is the sun’s outer atmosphere hotter than its surface? This phenomenon may be explained by the “plasma rain” found pouring down on the surface. Fancy dancing in the (plasma) rain?

Compared to rain on Earth, plasma rain on the sun is millions of degrees Fahrenheit hotter. Also, plasma, which is an electrically charged gas, doesn't pool like water on Earth. Instead, the plasma traces the magnetic field lines, or loops, that emerge from the sun's surface, according to the statement.
In addition, the researchers found that plasma where the magnetic loops attach to the sun's surface is superheated, reaching over 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius). This superhot plasma expands up the loop and gathers at the structure's peak. As the plasma cools, it condenses, and gravity pulls it back down the loop, creating coronal rain, according to the statement.

More of this literally hot news in

(Image Credit: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory/Scientific Visualization Studio/Tom Bridgman, lead animator)


The Genetics of Obesity: How A Gene That Regulates Metabolism May Help Develop New Weight Loss Drugs

A single gene and its variants may hold the key in developing a drug that could address obesity and regulate a person's appetite and metabolism.

Scientists have already been aware of the MC4R gene and its role in how people gain or lose weight. But scientists dug deeper and looked into a large collection of data that linked the gene to cases of obesity.

The study revealed 61 different MC4R gene variants, nine of which were associated with increased genetic activity. About six percent of the subjects studied were found to have one of the nine genetic variations, and those subjects displayed lower odds of obesity, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

With this information, it could pave the way for the development of a drug that would target this gene and its variants so that it could help people regulate their metabolism.

(Image credit: James Heilman/Wikimedia Commons)


Before Jell-O, Colorful Gelatin Desserts Were Haute Cuisine

We've had many posts about the odd gelatin recipes of the mid-20th century, the salads and main dishes made with Jell-O from recipes distributed by the company. They seem quite lowbrow now, an example of of very processed food put together as a craft of sorts. But gelatin dishes were once reserved for the very rich. Napoleon was a fan, and his chef Marie-Antoine Carême made artful creations from gelatin to impress guests. Carême later went on to cook for the kings of Russia and England.

But Carême’s love for gelatin and use of it in high-end cuisine was hardly a culinary aberration. From the early Renaissance through the early-20th century, gelatin “salads” and desserts were prestigious dishes and the provenance of master chefs. “Today, people who want to parade their wealth buy a Porsche,” argues Carolyn Wyman, author of Jell-O: A Biography. “In pre-industrial days, they would instead serve their guests fancy molded ice cream or gelatin desserts.”

The contrast between modern American and historic views of gelatin is striking. So why exactly was it such a valued food for so long? And how did it fall from grace?

The answer is the same as many other examples of conspicuous consumption -the pre-industrial gelatin desserts were difficult to make, and therefore costly. Read about gelatin desserts before Jell-O came along and made it ubiquitous at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Roberta F.)


Miss Deadpan Frozen Face

I'm a big fan of dry humor especially with perfect timing, it's comedic gold. And one would think that it would be quite difficult to pull that off in musicals or even movies without seeming forced or awkward. But that's what made Virginia O'Brien unique and ahead of her time.

Nicknamed "Frozen Face", "Miss Deadpan", and "Miss Ice Glacier", her comedic prowess was quite accidental and her discovery, serendipitous.

On her stage debut, she was supposed to deliver an ostentatious number but due to stage fright, she danced stiffly and with a frozen stare.

Reduced to tears in the wings after her debut that left the audience in laughter, the actress had no idea that her nervous energy would afford her the attention of Louis B. Mayer, of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and jumpstart her career as a comedic singer in some of the greatest movie musicals of the era.

(Image credit: IMDb)


The 10 Most Clever And Easiest Dogs To Train

Thinking of getting a dog? Many dogs have high intelligence levels hidden within them. Certain dog breeds have distinguished themselves as being more trainable. Here are the 10 best breeds to consider.

Via Amaze | Image: Wikimedia


The Super Comet: The Impact

This documentary looks at what could happen were a comet to smash into the Earth, as has happened on occasion in the past. The story is quite grim, but part 2 has some hope.  Just one of many reasons to prepare for civilization-ending calamities.


The Dyed-Blue Cats of Midtown Manhattan

Margaret Owen was a 22-year-old Manhattan socialite with a wealthy father, so she had access to all that made life good in the 1920s. She loved the color blue, and in fact was so obsessed with blue that her apartment was decorated all in blue, and she wore blue clothing every day. When a pair of her stockings started to yellow, she got the blue dye out to restore them.

Everything was going fine until Lilly, one of Margaret’s two white Angora cats, came bounding into the room. When the curious, eight-month-old kitty dipped a white paw into the blue basin, Margaret clapped her hands in delight!

As it turns out, Margaret had recently bought blue leashes for her cats, because she had heard that women were walking their cats on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. She thought, wouldn’t it be romantic to be the mistress of a very beautiful blue cat that she could parade down the boardwalk? All she had to do was dunk her kitties, Lilly and Otto, in the blue water. Just like her stockings.

Margaret picked up little Lilly and dipped her in the bowl of blue water. Then it was Otto’s turn. Despite the cats’ howls, Lilly held them down in the water for about five minutes until she was sure the dye had taken. She took care not to immerse their heads—she used a piece of cotton dipped in the dye to swab their faces. (How very kind of her.) When she was all done, she wrapped the cats in an old blue towel and placed them on a blue cushion to dry.

Then Otto got sick, and the story became newspaper fodder. Read what happened to Owen and her cats in a guest post at Strange Company.


Trail Camera Catches Mouse Secretly Cleaning Man’s Shed Every Night

72-year-old Stephen Mckears was puzzled every morning when he would find hardware he left out on his workbench returned to their box. Using a wildlife trail camera, he discovered that a mouse was spending hours every night putting his tools back and tidying up his workspace.


Some signs are just hilarious...

Something on the lighter side. Most signs around the world sort of co-incide with matching colours, shapes and wording - but then there are the many confusing, weird, bizarre signs, directions and instructions. 

Via Amaze | Image: Hywel Williams / Duck riders ahead! / CC BY-SA 2.0


We Might Be Living Longer Than We Should

Everybody wants to live a long, healthy life and with modern medicine, we are able to do that. Supplements, enhancements, and other medical breakthroughs that fight disease and prolong our lives are pushing our average lifespans further up. But are we putting too much focus on longevity?

Though we live longer, the implications that it has on society have been neglected or at the very least, unanticipated.

Because more people live longer, younger generations will have to support that aging population. Unless those people prepared in advance for retirement, the onus is entirely left to the succeeding generations to support their parents and grandparents.

What are the consequences for society if average life expectancy rises to 100 years, or even more? We face the prospect of an army of centenarians cared for by poorly paid immigrants. The children of these centenarians can expect to work well into their 70s, or even 80s. The world of work will alter drastically, with diminishing opportunities for the young.

(Image credit: Matthew Bennett/Unsplash)

More than that, the vision that many older generations have about their retirement years is one where they can simply enjoy their lives and spend their hard-earned money on their bucket list. They want a retirement that is "well-funded, active, and packed with experience."

But this vision of aging is wishful thinking. Many now face an old age in which the final years are spent in nursing homes. There are several societal reasons for this: increased longevity, the demise of the multi-generational extended family, and the contemporary obsession with safety.

(Image credit: sk/Unsplash)


The Sculpture That Looks Like A Real-Life Cartoon

Tom Scott visits Gibbs Farm in New Zealand, which is a huge private sculpture exhibit. The most famous work there is Horizons by Neil Dawson, a giant illusion that looks like a simple drawing. But this short video is more about Gibbs Farm than any any one piece of art. It's a unique place, that's for sure!  


When Easter Egg Trees Were A Thing in America

Decorating trees with colorful eggs was once a trend and almost became an American tradition. Brought to the US by German immigrants, it is a symbol of fertility and good luck.

However, the tradition was discontinued as it is much easier to simply put eggs in a basket than adorn a bare tree with painted eggshells. In Europe, it's a different story as people still hang eggs on trees.

Until recently, one spectacular example of an ostereierbaum ruled them all. In Saalfeld, Germany, one local couple, Volker and Christa Kraft, decorated their home garden’s massive apple tree with tens of thousands of decorated eggshells.

(Image credit: AndrewPoison/Wikimedia Commons)

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