The Gory Details of Whales Swallowing Humans

This video starts off assuring us that we won't be swallowed by a whale. Then it goes into details of "what if?" The problem I have with the presentation is the word "swallowed." In many of the cases, a better word would be "ingested," because there's a big difference between finding yourself in a whale's mouth and finding yourself in a whale's stomach. In fact, there's only one whale that could theoretically swallow a human, but plenty that might ingest a human. Still, we can't help but imagine being eaten when we see these gigantic ocean creatures. Don't worry, your changes of being ingested by a whale are smaller than being chewed up by a shark. You're welcome. -via Boing Boing

When Cake Orders Are Too Literal

Remember the telephone game, where a message is sent from person to person to see how mangled it gets? Swiggy is an online service for ordering and delivering food in India. Such services can make life simpler, but we all know that communication gets garbled when a message has to go through too many people, or even apps. This can reach ridiculous degrees when someone fills out the wrong field, and miscellaneous instructions get put where the cake decoration should go. It wasn't the first time this happened with Swiggy.

Then other people responded in the Twitter thread, although we don't know where they ordered their cakes.

See more of these in the Twitter thread. Some are pretty old, but they are still funny! -via reddit

Voyager May Be Starting to Show Its Age

NASA has been receiving some glitchy data from Voyager I. Yes, you may be surprised to learn that Voyager is sending and receiving signals from earth, which are a little bit concerning lately. Data from its articulation and control system (AACS), which control the probe's orientation, don't match what is happening onboard. How would they know? Because if the data sent back was correct, the antenna would not be pointing toward earth, and we wouldn't have received the signals. Voyager's signals are still strong, and engineers are trying to pinpoint the problem.

But they really don't consider it a terrible problem. Voyager was launched in 1977, and honestly wasn't expected to send back signals this long. It is now outside the solar system, 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion kilometers) away. NASA engineers have to be specially trained to use its "obsolete" but still working equipment. When it launched, computers were programmed by punch cards and those of us who weren't programmers were giving up our 8-track players for cassettes. Its partner Voyager II is close behind, at 12.1 billion miles (19.5 billion kilometers) away from earth, and has shown no problems in communication. Read an update on the 45-year-old V-gers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  -via Geeks Are Sexy

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Johnny Cash Takes a Leak

Kingsland, Arkansas, has a Cash flow problem. The town is the birthplace of country musician Johnny Cash, and features a silhouette of the Man in Black on its water tower. Last week, someone shot the tower with amazing aim, and started a leak in a "very sensitive area" of the silhouette. For days, the image of Cash has appeared to be peeing on the town. Unlike cities in the west, Kingsland is not suffering a water shortage, and the effects on residents' water flow should be minimal. Kingsland authorities are concerned about the cost to repair the leak, estimated to be around $5,000. That may seem trivial, but it's a stretch for a small town with a limited budget. However, the viral story should be well worth it if the city were to launch a GoFundMe account. Since the initial report, a suspect has been arrested in the incident. Stephen Colbert addressed the story with a couple of musical numbers. -via Metafilter, where you'll find all the puns.

The Story of the "See Rock City" Barns

When does advertising become a historic landmark? Not just yet, at least as it concerns the rural barns leading us to Rock City, and that's why they are disappearing. Rock City is a tourist attraction atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga in Tennessee. It was founded by Garnet Carter in 1932. Carter needed to advertise Rock City, but only to people who could travel there. Roadside ads made sense, but billboards were expensive to build. And that's why barn roofs were painted in large white letters on a black background with short slogans, the shortest being "See Rock City." Another barn down the road would give more information. Farmers were happy to have their barns painted free, and also got a small stipend or free entrance to Rock City. Oh yeah, and they were all painted by one guy.  

The Rock City barns intrigued me as a child on road trips with the family, and actually helped me learn to read. The Interstate Highway System was inaugurated in 1956, but it took decades to complete in mountainous areas. Even more threatening to the painted barns was the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which restricted billboard advertising. At one time, there were 900 barns directing travelers to Rock City, and today there are only 70 that are being maintained. Read the history of the See Rock City barns at Atlas Obscura.

Dog Dreams May Be Bigger Than We Think

They say you should let sleeping dogs lie, but Mabel is twitching, so Mr. Andrew Cotter (previously at Neatorama) assumes she is dreaming of chasing squirrels. Why do we always assume that? Because dogs love to chase squirrels. But in this video, we see that Mabel has higher aspirations. She dreams of being a police detective and solving crimes! Oh wait, no, she's dreaming of being a TV star in a series about a police detective and her partner! And now Cotter's fans are demanding a full episode of Willing and Mabel every week. Kudos to Cotter for his American accent adopted for the TV show.  -via Laughing Squid

The Meta Film That was So Bad it Changed Hollywood

We've posted about Alan Smithee, a movie director who doesn't exist, but manages to get credit for a lot of them. It's a pseudonym for directors who don't want their named attached to a film they've just directed. To catch up on the concept, read the explainer here.

In 1997, there was a movie that hopped onto the Alan Smithee joke big time. A movie named Trio starred Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jackie Chan. It turned out to be awful after the studio recut the footage, so the director wanted to disown the movie. However, Trio isn't a real movie, but rather a movie-within-a-movie. The director, played by Eric Idle, couldn't take his name off the movie because his real name actually was Alan Smithee. Are you still with me? This was the premise of a comedy titled An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn.

But to make the story even more meta, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn was written and produced by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Arthur Hiller. Eszterhas edited the film, and the result was so awful that Hiller demanded his name be taken off the project. So, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, about a director named Alan Smithee, was released with a directing credit to... Alan Smithee.

The movie was so awful that it returned $52,850 on a $10 million budget, and won five Razzies. It was so awful that the Directors Guild of America changed their rules about crediting a movie to Alan Smithee. If you are still confused, read the more in-depth version of this story at Cracked

How to Make a Wooden Cushion

Japanese YouTuber Kurahito Craft made a completely functional and sturdy cushion entirely out of wood. the screenshot above illustrates how. By cutting notches into opposing sides of the columns, he used the material's natural flexibility to create springs. When all 60 wood springs are bound together and capped, they combine into a flexible cushion that doesn't break under pressure. 

To put his design to the test, Kurahito stood on the assembled cushion with his full bodyweight, as well as gradually reduced the number of springs down to only four. So as long as the springs are prevented from flipping sideways, they hold up well.

-via The Awesomer

Dirty Dancing, Improved with New Music

Twitter user @Pandamoanimum made an edit of the final dance number in the movie Dirty Dancing, making it about half as long and synchronizing it with the theme from The Muppet Show. That doesn't sound like it makes much sense, but when you watch it, you'll appreciate the work that went into this. That is, when you stop laughing. If Twitter doesn't work for you, the video is now also on YouTube. You can also watch the original dance there. -via Boing Boing

There's a Huge, Unexplored White House Vinyl Record Collection

In the days before MP3 players, building a music library required physical media. One popular option for decades was vinyl records. You needed a good collection to entertain yourself and guests.

It was so important that even the White House had one.

The Washingtonian shares the story of John Chuldenko, one of the grandsons of former President Jimmy Carter. He heard from former First Lady Rosalynn Carter that the White House possessed a little known record collection. As a music enthusiast, he had to learn more.

Thus began Chuldenko's discovery of the forgotten vinyl library. He used his connections and his research skills to track down this library and its history.

In 1973, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) curated and donated a collection of 1,800 records to the White House. It was their representation of the music of America. Then the RIAA updated the collection in 1981 with even more records. But, over time, it was neglected and forgotten in the vast archives of the White House.

In 2010, Chuldenko got the opportunity to examine this collection. He brought along a film crew in the hope of recording footage for a documentary:

“With every box, there was this new treasure inside,” Chuldenko recalls. “I knew what was in there on paper, but it’s different when you actually hold these records. They had never been played. It was like walking into a record store in 1979. They were absolutely pristine.”

At one point, they decided to listen to a politically charged punk-rock landmark: the Clash’s self-titled 1977 debut. “I’m so bo-o-ored with the U-S-A!” Joe Strummer snarled—a chorus that had almost certainly never rattled the walls of the presidential residence prior to that moment. “We put that on,” Chuldenko says, “and it was just like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m playing the Clash . . . in the White House!’ I mean, what an incredible protest record. And it’s not like I brought it myself. I am playing the White House’s copy.”

Chuldenko recorded this event, but never got enough funding to create the documentary. He still has the footage, though. Hopefully, with increased attention, he may be able to produce it. Or, better still, a current or future President could open up the collection for a loud party.

-via Jessamyn West | Photo: Avic Avelino

Ghosts in the Machine: Not What You Think It Is

The video Ghosts in the Machine starts out like an experimental art film. Then it appears to be a conspiracy theory-type video. Or is it a movie trailer? The video will be almost over before it becomes clear this is a recruitment video for the US military's 4th Psychological Operations Group, or PSYOPS. Do you find it intriguing, repulsive, or just plain scary? PSYOPS is in charge of manipulating information for the benefit of America's foreign policy goals, under the shadow of secrecy. That could mean anything from dropping leaflets over enemy territory to typing up press releases to designing internet memes. While we certainly don't know all the things PSYOPS does, we know they did a bang-up job producing a recruitment video. If you're a patriotic type who gets a kick out of manipulating people, you can find out more about the career opportunity here. Be warned that getting into the program is pretty competitive. -via Metafilter

Update: Pilot Survives Two Disasters in One Day

Remember the passenger who had to land a plane because the pilot passed out? We know more about the incident now. The passenger who stepped up was 39-year-old Darren Harrison, who was returning from a fishing trip in the Bahamas. You can see a video interview with Harrison here. At the same link, we learn that the pilot, yet unnamed, had suffered an aortic dissection, a catastrophic cardiac event that you may recall killed John Ritter. After the plane landed, the pilot was rushed to a hospital where he underwent surgery by Dr. Nishant Patel, who explained the odds of surviving an aortic dissection.

"Fifty percent of patients won’t make it to the hospital, and then 50% of patients that do make it to the hospital will pass away within 24 hours without prompt diagnosis and treatment," Patel said on TODAY Tuesday.  

The pilot could have easily died from the dissection or from a plane crash, but he went home from the hospital on Monday. -via Fark

(Image credit: Fvasconcellos. Image:AoDissekt_scheme_StanfordB.png by JHeuser)

Cats Not Only Know Their Names, But Other Cat's Names, Too

Cats are so non-responsive to their names being called, you might think that they don't even know what you've named them. Studies show that they do, if you use their names enough, but they often just don't see the upside in responding. It's not rudeness; it's just part of being a cat. However, a new study shows that cats know more human language than previously thought. They don't just know their names, they know people's names and other cat's names!

An experiment from Kyoto University used 48 cats that either lived in households with at least four cats, or lived in cat cafes.  They showed each cat pictures of their feline housemates on a computer, and called them either by their correct name or some other name. When an incorrect name was said, the subject cats would tend to act confused, and even look around for something that made sense to them. The effect was more pronounced in cats who lived in homes rather than in a cafe.  

Whether this applies to your cats depends on how often you call your cats by their names, and keeping consistent names for them. How can a cat learn names when you call him Fluffy one minute and Lardbucket the next? The researchers noticed that cats know names of the people living in their homes, too, but the effect was more pronounced when several people lived in the home, giving the cats opportunities to hear humans call each other by their names. I live alone, so I'm pretty sure my cats just know me as Door Opener. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: tenz1225)

The Cult of Mithraism Involved Ritual Floor Cleaning

Mithraism, or the worship of Mithras, was one of the many obscure religious cults of ancient Rome. We don't know much about it, as the only written records are from those who opposed them, like the early Christians. But we do have Mithraea, the religion's temples, found in many places that were once part of the Roman Empire. The carved images found in these temples has been thoroughly studied. More recently, research has been centered on their floors.

Mithraea floors were found to be covered in ash and charcoal. For a long time, that was assumed to be due to early Christians setting fires to drive out Mithraism. But assumptions are not science. These floors have been found to contain evenly scattered charcoal and tiny bone fragments, but no food, bird guano, or other detritus that ancient floors normally contain. Even more, the charcoal is in layers laid down over many years, some as thick as two feet! While we don't know the meaning of those floors to the adherents of Mithraism, we can start to picture how they happened. Read about these new discoveries at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT)

Think You Are Sitting Still? Think Again!

Warning: this video may mess with your cognitive sense of balance. You might think you know where you are, yet defining "place" is more complicated than it seems. You can say the same about the terms "movement" and "direction." The "place" where you are is not absolute; it's all relative. You know that in your head, but Kurzgesagt is going to blow your mind with the many ways that you are moving through space that cannot be measured in any way but relative to something else. The further out you go, the more you are moving, even if you can't feel it. Which I guess is a good thing, or we would be permanently dizzy. By the time this video gets close to its conclusion, you feel like we all might be just on dot on some interstellar giant's wallpaper. Cosmic. The last minute of this video is an ad.  

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