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Theaters Closed, But Rocky Horror Never Left

By some definitions, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the movie with the longest theatrical run ever. It has been shown in theaters at least once a week for more than 45 years! But wait- theaters were closed for the majority of 2020. How can a movie continue a run when theaters are closed?   

Some things are constants in a chaotic world: Death, taxes and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which has played at Portland’s Clinton Street Theater every Saturday night for 43 years.

So, on March 15, 2020, when the theater was forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions, one man was determined not to break the streak.

For the next 54 Saturdays, Nathan Williams came to an empty theater to screen the film, sometimes with a friend, sometimes by himself.

While this may sound sad, there are worse ways to spend Saturday nights alone during a pandemic. On April 3, the theater welcomed back a limited audience for the usual Saturday night screening. Read how Rocky Horror became such a tradition at the Clinton Street Theater that even quarantine couldn't stop it at The Oregonian. -via Boing Boing

PS: The Clinton Street Theater also spent 2020 using their marquee for fun and awareness. See more of these at Instagram.


This Face Mask Is Easy And Comfortable To Wear

Listen, face masks are essential. It’s important that we make them more breathable and comfortable to wear. Widely-used masks are harder to breathe through, because they are basically a filter strapped in front of your face. Kylie Smith worked behind the scenes to try fix this current issue, teaming up with Rick Smith to create the Exa Mask, a face mask that factored air-flow into its design: 

To achieve this, the Exa Mask uses a 3-part design. The first part is its unique AirFrame – a band that sits around your nose. The AirFrame comes with ear-hoops that secures the apparatus around your ears (like most masks). It features a medical-grade silicone nose-piece that creates a seal around your nose, ensuring the air you breathe through your nostrils doesn’t travel upwards and fog your glasses, or downwards, making your lips and chin feel sweaty. The air only travels forward and backward, through the Exa Mask’s replaceable PFE 97 filters (the second part of its design) These filters are placed at a calculated distance from your nostrils, ensuring the air you breathe is 97% purified. They never touch your nostrils either, making the mask-wearing experience much more comfortable. The Exa Mask’s third part is its snap-on Mask Shield, which covers your nose and mouth, protecting you with an additional layer of security from particles. Inspired by Apple’s simple and sophisticated MagSafe feature, the Exa Mask’s AirFrame comes with magnetic rings that let you snap the fabric shield on in place. The AirFrame gives the fabric shield its structure, so it never presses against your face as you breathe, and the magnetic feature means you can easily replace shields on a whim, periodically changing them when they need to be washed, or when you want to choose a Mask Shield that matches your outfit.

Image via Yanko Design 


Bear Explores Home

A bear wandered into Deedee Mueller's house in the hills of Pasadena, California, Saturday looking thin and hungry, like it had just come out of hibernation. The Muellers weren't home, but their two tiny terriers, Squirt and Mei Mei, were. The family's security cameras tell the story, which has a bit of a surprise ending. -via Digg


Realistic "Eyecam" Watches You from Your Computer

Webcams can be so impersonal. Why not make them more realistic? That's what Marc Teyssier, a researcher at Saarland University has done. His Eyecam is a "design fiction prototype" for a new type of webcam and watches you constantly, moving and blinking in realistic fashion. It even even changes expression as it passes judgment upon you. Thus Eyecam is a warning about the future:

Sensing devices are everywhere, up to the point where we become aware of their presence.

-via The Awesomer


The Location That Is Changing The Story Of Human Evolution

Dmanisi, located in Tbilisi, Georgia is a site that helps researchers in understanding a lot of aspects about our past. From using ancient proteins extracted from a rhinoceros tooth found in Dmanisi that let researchers build family trees and determine the relationships between different species, to the site assisting anthropologists in analyzing the brain organization of   the Dmanisi hominins, disproving that many quintessentially human behaviors require big, complex brains, the site is regarded as one of the most important sites in the story of human evolution: 

“The Dmanisi hominins had surprisingly primitive, ape-like brains,” says Ponce de Leon. “However, (they) ventured out of Africa, produced a variety of tools, exploited animal resources, and cared for elderly people. These people with their small, ape-like brains were able to master cognitively demanding tasks. This is really astounding. They provide a completely new perspective on what these behaviors mean in terms of brain evolution.”
In addition to making tools and caregiving—one of the five partial skulls found at the site belonged to an elderly, toothless individual who would have been unable to eat on their own—the Dmanisi hominins, early members of the genus Homo, managed to survive in the middle of what appears to be an extraordinary concentration of big carnivores.

Image via Atlas Obscura 


Meet Intel’s Hate Speech Censor Tool

Intel has released a presentation on its newest tool to combat hate speech. The software, called Bleep, was developed in partnership with Spirit AI. Bleep uses AI to censor hate speech in real time during gameplay. True to its name, the tool ‘bleeps’ out offending language, much to the Internet’s amusement, mostly thanks to how users can toggle on and off specific ‘hate speech categories’, as Polygon details: 

 The screenshot depicts the user settings for the software and shows a sliding scale where people can choose between “none, some, most, or all” of categories of hate speech like “racism and xenophobia” or “misogyny.” There’s also a toggle for the N-word.
“The intent of this has always been to put that that nuanced control in the hands in the users,” Marcus Kennedy, general manager of Intel’s gaming division, told Polygon over video chat. As Kennedy explained it to Polygon, Intel intended for those sliders to give players options, depending on the situation. Certain kinds of shit talk might be acceptable, even playful, when shared between friends, but might not be acceptable when it’s a stranger shouting at you.
Intel also clarified that the technology was not final, and could change between now and release. Still, the idea that people would be OK with some, but not a lot of hate speech came off as absurd to people online. So, as a result, people are now making a ton of memes and jokes that belittle the menu settings. One tweet jokes, “computer, today i feel like being a little bit misogynistic.”

Honestly, it’s certainly a step in the right direction, regardless whether the toggle options are kinda funny. 

image via Twitter


Small Humorous Signs

Look closer and you’ll have a treat! These miniature pieces by Sidney-based artist Michael Pederson are inconspicuously scattered in various places. From tiny schedule signs about pigeons, to a small sign about spiders. My favorite out of The Poke’s compilation of Pederson’s creations  is the airport-esque pigeon schedule. Check out more of his work here

Image via The Poke 


Methane-Eating Bacteria Found In An Australian Tree

There’s a way to decrease the amount of methane on our planet! For the first time ever, researchers have discovered a unique bacteria that can eat methane. The study, published in Nature Communications, found microbial, methane-eating communities thriving within the bark of a paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia), a common Australian tree species. The Conservation  has more details: 

We discovered the bark of paperbark trees provide a unique home for methane-oxidizing bacteria — bacteria that “consumes” methane and turns it into carbon dioxide, a far less potent greenhouse gas.
Remarkably, these bacteria made up to 25% of total microbial communities living in the bark, and were consuming around 36% of the tree’s methane. It appears these microbes make an easy living in the dark, moist and methane-rich environments.
This discovery will revolutionise the way in which we view methane emitting trees and the novel microbes living within them.
Only through understanding why, how, which, when and where trees emit the most methane, may we more effectively plant forests that effectively draw down carbon dioxide while avoiding unwanted methane emissions.

Image via the Conservation 


How Does That Feel, Baby? Mmmm... lower...

Colm McGuiness has an beautiful bass voice. You can check his Youtube Channel for more of his 'modern' music works: Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, etc.


The Lost City Of Luxor, Finally Discovered

Luxor, a long-lost city hailed as the ‘Egyptian Pompeii,’ has finally been discovered by archaeologists. The city was discovered last year, and researchers were impressed with the level of preservation in the site. But what was the mystery behind the golden city? Archaeologists believe that the pharaoh Akhenaten left Thebes for more than 150 years to settle in a industrial royal metropolis within Thebes, which is now dubbed as the “lost golden city of Luxor:

“There’s no doubt about it; it really is a phenomenal find,” says Salima Ikram, an archaeologist who leads the American University in Cairo’s Egyptology unit. “It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii.”
The site dates from the era of 18th-dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III, who ruled between around 1386 and 1353 B.C. and presided over an era of extraordinary wealth, power and luxury. In Amenhotep III’s final years, he is thought to have briefly reigned alongside his son, Akhenaten.
But a few years after his father’s death, Akhenaten, who ruled from around 1353–1336, broke with everything the late ruler stood for. During his 17-year reign, he upended Egyptian culture, abandoning all of the traditional Egyptian pantheon but one, the sun god Aten. He even changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten, which means “devoted to Aten.”  
Structures are packed with everyday items, many of which relate to the artistic and industrial production that supported the pharaoh’s capital city. There are homes where workers might have lived, a bakery and kitchen, items related to metal and glass production, buildings that appear related to administration, and even a cemetery filled with rock-cut tombs.

Image via National Geographic


How Do You Acquire an "Acquired Taste"?

Children are born to seek sweet nourishment and reject bitterness -it's a part of human survival. But by the time they are adults, they've learned to enjoy things like salsa, seafood, pickles, and salad. Or most do. Your diet would be pretty bland if you only ate what babies want, and it wouldn't be good for you, either.

Acquired tastes are part of practically every culture’s cuisine and some of the world’s most beloved dishes. Without expanding beyond innate preferences in their diet, humans wouldn’t be able to get the nutrients they need to survive. But there’s a good reason people aren’t born with a taste for bitter vegetables and fermented foods. Without knowing any better, seeking out these flavors could be deadly.

Humans have an innate aversion to decay because that odor and flavor signals that a food has gone bad, and may therefore carry dangerous pathogens. But many fermented foods (which are technically decayed) are totally safe to eat and even contain beneficial bacteria. People have no natural instinct for telling “good” decay and “bad” decay apart, so they rely on the process of acquiring taste to learn what’s good to eat. This also applies to bitter flavors, which are present in toxic plants as well as nutritious vegetables.

It's not a matter of taste buds "maturing," even though that what I told my kids and they bought it. It turns out to be a matter of learning. Science says that there are three components to acquiring a taste for foods we wouldn't naturally eat: influence, familiarity, and conditioning. Mental Floss explains these components, and has some tips for those who want to learn to like a certain food. And considering the quote here, let's have a moment for those adventurous individuals in our distant past who determined, say, which mushrooms are okay to eat and how to safely ferment food.

(Image credit: Rainer Knäpper, Free Art License)


This Ancient Salt Mine In Poland Has Carved Chapels And Chandeliers

For an old and underground location, the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow, Poland holds its grace and beauty regardless of the passage of time. Sculpted entirely out of salt, the site now functions as a tourist attraction after mining operations were shut down in 1996: 

Salt in the Middle Ages represented such an important resource. Mines such as Wieliczka were considered nothing short of gold mines, which would explain the sheer enormousness of the place.
If one would take the time to visit all the existent chambers at the Wieliczka salt mine, it would take them approximately two months. There are in total some 2,000 chambers, the deepest of which concealed at approximately 300 meters (1000 feet) below the ground.
Day and night, miners dug the earth to make new shafts and create new caves. They eventually began to create elaborate elements and objects such as sculptures, and later entire chapels. Decorating the dark chambers with something authentically made of materials such as unprocessed salt brightened up the place where they were supposed to spend so much time. One of the earliest salt sculptures inside Wieliczka can be traced back to the 13th-century.

Image via This City Knows 


The World's Twenty Largest Cities by Population

An interactive list of the world’s most populated cities may surprise you. Imagine living in the midst of 20 million (or more) people! None of the top 20 cities are in the US. None are in Europe, either, unless you count Istanbul, which lies in two continents. Maps Mania has more information and some tips on how to use the map.

The World's Twenty Largest Cities is actually a bit of a misnomer as the map actually allows you to explore the size of thousands of cities around the world. If you scroll to the end of the map presentation you can explore the map for yourself. Zoom out and you will see that cities around the world have pink circle's representing the relative size of the population. If you click on a city's circle you can view details on the city's actual population size.

-via Nag on the Lake

(Image credit: Ben Morlok)


Medieval Password Reset

It's hard enough to keep up with an ever-growing list of passwords with increasingly complex requirements. How would a medieval peasant manage? Alasdair Beckett-King, a comedian and screenwriter, suggests an answer: poorly.

-via Laughing Squid


The Cat House of Riga

In Riga, the capital of Latvia, there's a house with cat sculptures on top, as if they were guarding the building. While the Art Nouveau house is now a landmark, its history may be surprising. For some reason, the man who owned the house, built in 1909, was refused membership in the local tradesman's guild, called the Great Guild.  

He happened to own the building across the way from the Guild. So, he ordered two sculptures of black cats made and placed on the roof of his building (Kaķu nams in Latvian). Not only that but he ordered that they should be turned away from the Guild, backside up.

Today it may not seem much of a retort, visual or otherwise. Back then, a pair of black cats showing their posteriors to the parish principals was a public gesture of defiance, distaste and damnification. This feline feud was serious. Put the message in to your own contemporary words.  You got it.

The gesture enraged the members of the Great Guild, and a battle ensued. Read how that turned out, and see plenty of images of the Cat House at Kuriositas.

(Image credit: Flickr user Yusuke Kawasaki)

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