The US Consumer Product Safety Commission Has Launched Its First Album

Trying to inform members of the public about different products and the hazards of such products can be a tedious task, and more so, if you are trying to catch the attention of young people, whose attention spans nowadays are limited to perhaps a few seconds.

In response to the behaviors of teenagers and young adults today, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has devised a new strategy of making the public aware about consumer products and the hazards that they pose, as well as the best practices and safety measures to employ to keep yourself out of harm's way. They have released an album:

We're Safety Now Haven't We packs in six genre-spanning, safety-focused songs (seven if you count the one that also got a Spanglish version). There's an EDM banger about wearing helmets, a K-pop number about firework safety, and even a reggaeton track about smoke alarms. The artists are officially anonymous, but more on that later.
The album is specifically targeted at teenagers and young adults, Social Media Specialist Joseph Galbo told NPR's Morning Edition over Zoom.
He says the CPSC aimed to address the products and hazards that are especially prevalent among people ages 13-24 based on its injury data — including bikes, ATVs, fireworks, cooking appliances and phones.

Read more about the new album on NPR.

Here's A List of Movies That Missed The Point They Were Trying to Make

Other Redditors chimed in and gave their own entry of movies missing the point they were trying to make:

Check out the complete list at Cracked.

(Image credit: Cracked)

A Deep Dive Into Different Types of Train Railcars

It's true that we often don't take notice of the intricate details of things we see every day, especially those of the highly technical sort. Perhaps, it's just not in the purview of our interests. Have you ever noticed that there were different types of train railcars? Probably not, as we most often see only one type in our daily lives, if we use trains at all on our daily commute. But in this 15-minute video, Engineer Grady Hillhouse of Practical Engineering shows us the differences between every type of railcar and their respective design and functions.

A train is a simple thing at first glance: a locomotive (or several) pull a string of cars along a railroad. But not all those railcars are equal, and there are some fascinating details if you take minute to notice their differences. 

- via Laughing Squid

(Video credit: Practical Engineering)

500-Year-Old Board Game Discovered Carved in Polish Castle

Board games have been a great way for people to pass the time from as early as the ancient Egyptians and Romans. Even today, board games continue to evolve and incorporate new twists to tried-and-tested mechanics which give way to more fun and complex strategic or tactical battles of wit.

Even in the 16th century, such games occupied the idle hours of people's leisure as evidenced by a recent discovery of a board game carved on the ruins of the Cmielow Castle in Poland.

This latest discovery isn't quite as old as that in terms of the actual carved board, but the game could be just as ancient. According to archaeologist Tomasz Olszacki, it's a two-person strategy board game called Mill, also known as Nine Men's Morris, Merels, or "cowboy checkers" in North America.
A typical Mill game board is a grid with 24 intersecting points, and players must try to line up three of their nine men horizontally or vertically to form a "mill." When this happens, they can remove one of the other player's pieces from the board. There are also variations with three, six, and 12 pieces per player.

- via Ars Technica

(Image credit: Tomasz Olszacki)

The USS Spitfire's Last Battle Against A Freshwater Mollusk

It has been nearly 250 years since the gunboat USS Spitfire saw the fiery throes of war, when she brought a ragtag group of American soldiers, led by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, against the British naval forces on Lake Champlain. It has remained intact since being shipwrecked after the American Revolution, but now she faces a new threat: the Quagga mussel.

This invasive freshwater pest loves to infest ship hulls, encrusting the delicate beams in as little as five years. Quagga have already overwhelmed many of the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes; the mussels’ eventual appearance in Lake Champlain is almost certain.

However, there is a possibility of recovering the Spitfire which will also shed more information on the events at the Battle of Valcour Island and on the Revolutionary War as a whole.The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum had announced a tremendous recovery effort that would haul the Spitfire out of the lake whilst preserving it. The plan is estimated to cost about $44 million and could take about 22 years to accomplish.

Learn more about the Spitfire and its battle against the Quagga at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: "Battle of Valcour Island", National Archives of Canada/Wikipedia Commons)

The Soviet Disaster Known as the Nedelin Catastrophe

The United States claimed the biggest prize in the Cold War space race when we landed men on the moon in 1969. However, the Soviets had many firsts, like the first satellite, the first man to orbit the earth, and the first woman in space. There have been some horrific disasters, too. We all know about Apollo 1, the Challenger explosion, and the space shuttle Columbia. But the Soviets beat us in that, too, with a disaster that killed more than 100 people and was kept secret for almost thirty years.

On October 24, 1960, the USSR rolled out a new, improved rocket called the R-16 that used two toxic and corrosive chemicals for fuel that automatically ignited when they were combined. What could possibly go wrong? The rocket had been rushed through its testing phase in order to launch in time for the 43rd anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, and to impress premiere Nikita Khrushchev. There were plenty of people at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to witness the launch. One thing led to another, and before you know it, there's a 120-meter-wide fireball on the launch pad. Many died instantly, while others were set on fire but couldn't flee the scene because the asphalt beneath their feet had melted. The incident is called the Nedelin catastrophe after Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin, the head of the missile program, who died instantly. The R-16 rocket was developed by Mikhail Yangel, who survived and had to apologize to Khrushchev for doing so. The disaster was kept secret by the Soviets until 1989. Read the gory details of the worst space-related disaster ever at Amusing Planet. 

(Screenshot via YouTube. Not recommended.)

What Do Bears Do in the Woods?

Everyone knows what bears do in the woods. They dance, of course! When bears emerge from their hibernation in the spring, they've shed most of the weight they put on last summer, but they still have their winter coat. As the temperatures rise, they feel their fur starting to get loose. It's an itch that must be scratched, and the best place to do it is against a tree with rough bark. So they all head to their favorite tree. The dancing in this video starts at about 1:45, and it's a downright sensuous experience. As they scratch their backs, the fur comes off, and so does that bear's scent. It's our job to add the music.

This clip, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, is from the BBC TV series Planet Earth II. The entire video is a feast for the eyes, as long as you aren't a marmot. -via Born in Space

The Pain Stargazers Feel Over the Loss of Dark Skies

Since the dawn of humanity, people have looked up into the night sky to see the stars. Observing them allowed us to learn how the universe works, how to mark time with calendars, and how to navigate around the world. But in our modern world, light pollution means that city dwellers never see stars, much less the further reaches of the Milky Way, and even in small towns it's hard to discern what's going on up there. If you want to see a meteor shower, for example, you have to drive long distances out into the wilderness. But even in the most remote places on earth, skies are brighter than they used to be. LED lights save energy, but that just means we use more of them and leave the lights on all night. And even if you find a remote dark area, the sky itself is full of satellites that get in the way of natural phenomena.   

Astronomers have coined a new word that describes the sadness one feels at the loss of stargazing opportunities: noctalgia. Read how this emotion came into being, and what it means at  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Brucewaters

What You Can and Can't Name Your Baby in Australia

In the US, you can give your baby pretty much any name you choose, but the very worst examples might draw the attention of Child Protective Services. In Australia, regulations prohibit certain types of names, and each is judged individually. The rule that gave me pause was a restriction against naming your child a title. In Kentucky, that would exclude a lot of Generals, Majors, Dukes, and Earls. But one rule is a restriction against a name "contrary to the public interest for some other reason." That's as ambiguous as you can get, and gives bureaucrats a lot of power over naming your child.

Kirsten Drysdale of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation decided to test the limits of the law by naming her child something pretty bad, but not specifically prohibited. Oh yeah, she really did. Let's see how that goes. This video does a good job of covering up the worst language, but it still has NSFW audio. It's Australian. -via reddit

The Ongoing Saga of France's Golden Owl Treasure

In 1993, marketing consultant Régis Hauser and artist Michel Becker launched a treasure hunt for a buried bronze owl. The person to find the owl would win its golden twin, an owl sculpted in gold and silver, encrusted with diamonds, worth around a quarter million dollars today. Becker created the owls, and Hauser designed the treasure hunt, which could be solved with eleven clues revealed in a book titled On the Trail of the Golden Owl. Hauser suspected that it would take a few months, a year at most, for someone to find it. Thirty years later, no one has.

But the story has many twists and turns. Along the way, the jewelry company the promotion was meant to promote dropped out and never even opened a store. The golden owl was seized in a bankruptcy case. Becker, the artist, managed to get it back when he found out years later. Then Hauser died suddenly in 2009. His heirs wanted nothing to do with the treasure hunt, and Becker didn't know where the owl was buried. He eventually got Hauser's files, but they weren't easy to decipher. Meanwhile, thousands of treasure hunters became very invested in the hunt. You can see a trail of lawsuits forming in this story. But that's just the bare overview! Read the full story of the hunt for the Golden Owl, the world's longest completely unsolved treasure hunt, at Atlas Obscura.

PS: The clues are online.

A Honest Trailer for Barbie

If you haven't seen Barbie yet (and there are a few of us), here's your chance to get an extended look and critique of the movie. Oh, and you won't want to miss the Quentin Tarantino part. Screen Junkies pronounces it a showcase of ad placement, not just for Barbie dolls and all their accessories, but also for Chevrolet and other consumer products. Plus, it's deeply feminist, implausible, and juvenile. But who cares about all that? The movie is really funny, which covers all other sins. But they find plenty of other good things to say about Barbie, so it's no wonder that the movie has made $1.4 billion already, the most of any 2023 movie so far.

Barbie will make another go-round at IMAX theaters for one week beginning Friday (September 22) and is already available for digital download, and will be released on home video on January 2.

Before There Was Dracula, There was John Polidori’s The Vampyre

The supernatural monster we call a vampire goes back hundreds of years, as reanimated corpses that rose from their graves to terrorize the living, almost the way we view zombies today. But through literature, they were turned into pop culture creatures who are cultured, sexy, and move among the living without being detected until it's too late. We often think of the 1897 novel Dracula as the beginning of that type of vampire, but there were others in literature before. The first aristocratic vampire was Lord Ruthven in the novel The Vampyre. The origin of this story is a story in itself.

There was that one night at a fine house on Lake Geneva in Switzerland in June of 1816 that a group of vacationers waited out a rainy night with a competition to see who could write the best ghost story. They included poet Lord Byron, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and Byron's physician 23-year-old John Polidori. Oh yeah, we already know what Mary Shelley wrote that night. But what about the other participants? They also wrote tales, or fragments of story ideas. Lord Byron came up with an idea that he never fleshed out, but it inspired Polidori to later write a novel about an attractive, cultured vampire. It was published in 1819, with Lord Byron listed as the author! Read what we know about the convoluted route that story went through to become The Vampyre at Mental Floss.

(Image credit: F.G. Gainsford

What the Internet Will Tell You About the Canadian Marble Fox

The Canadian marble fox, also called the Arctic marble fox, is a beautiful animal. It's also somewhat confusing. I've found a source that says it's a rare subspecies of the red fox found in the wild. Almost all other sources tell me it is not a naturally occurring fox, but is the result of selectively breeding red foxes for the color variation. Or a hybrid that's the result of breeding red foxes with Arctic foxes. Note that red foxes and silver foxes are the same species with varying colors; the Arctic fox is different. Some sources say the mutation that was then selectively bred originated in Norway in 1945, so Canadian marble foxes aren't necessarily Canadian, either. There's also some talk about these deliberately-bred foxes living in the wild after escaping from captivity in a fur farm, breeding facility, or a household that kept them as pets. I have no idea how true that is, but all those places are not where a fox needs to be. In fact, the fox pictured above is not a fox at all, but a plush doll! It was made by MalinaToys. Here is a more representative picture.

This one looks like a fox, and nothing like a cat. Still beautiful, and still better off in the wild than at a fur farm or in a family living room. Too bad they lack the perfect camouflage natural selection gave other foxes. (Thanks WTM!)

Sharing Words Between One Language and the Next

We know that a few words are the same in all languages, or at least many languages, because they move from one language to another. It's only natural, as we travel the globe and find things and concepts that are new to us. There are a lot of "loanwords" that just become a part of the second language. That's what we get for communicating. Even more common are words taken from another language and then get changed a bit to fit better into the second language. You might even call them mangled, as some examples end up being rather funny to people who speak both the old and new languages. Then there are "calques," which I wasn't at all familiar with, but it has to do with translation. Tom Scott explains these leaps of language that eventually enrich all of our languages. Along the way, we also find out where Admiral Ackbar's name came from.

Did You Ever Wonder Why Carrots are Orange?

You can always recognize Dutch fans at global sporting events because they are wearing orange. The color is deeply ingrained in their national identity. But did you know that the Netherlands is also responsible for orange carrots? It's true!

Carrots originated in central Asia, where wild carrots were first cultivated by the Persians. Those carrots were purple. There were also some yellow and white carrots, but most were purple. And that's what people were used to when carrots were taken to the rest of the world. An orange carrot was extremely rare, and considered odd. Then Dutch agriculture discovered carrots in the late 16th century, and selectively bred them to be sweeter and more resistant to pests. They were also orange, due to greater amounts of beta-carotene. People liked the sweeter Dutch carrots, and they looked better in a stew than the purple ones. Did they make carrots orange deliberately to reflect the royal House of Orange? Was it a branding thing? Or could it be that the Netherlands' orange identity comes from their famous carrots? It's possible that one had nothing to do with the other, and people argue about it to this day.

Read up on the history of carrots and the meaning behind their color at ZME Science. -via Damn Interesting 

(Image credit: Stephen Ausmus)

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