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Artist's Duct-Taped Banana Sells at Auction

That's not a sculpture of a banana. Artist Maurizio Cattelan had considered making one out of resin. But, instead, he simply stuck a real banana to a wall with a strip of duct tape. It sold at auction at the Art Basel event in Miami Beach.

Although the art news website Artsy does not say precisely what the price was, it does mentioned that the sculpture had been priced at $120,000.

It's called Comedian. Cattelan intends it as a joke. I suspect that his audience, especially the person in it who purchased the banana, may be the butt of the joke.

-via Chris Arnade | Photo: Zeno ZottiJacopo Zotti


Mandalorian Raspberry Pie

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (previously at Neatorama) takes the art of the pie to the next level. She unveiled her latest work at reddit. It's a raspberry Christmas pie featuring Baby Yoda! Check out the details that make it special: the edge is festooned with holly and candy cane shapes, but also has three Mandalorian helmets. The baby is drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows and a candy cane. His eyes are shiny thanks to a glaze of maple syrup. And look at his tiny Santa hat! You can enlarge the picture here. See more of Clark-Bojin's pies at her website and at Instagram.


Most Popular TV Subreddit of 2019 Is Not What You’d Expect

Winter may be coming, but this subreddit’s cold reception to the franchise is icier than the Night King. 

In 2019, the record-breaking HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones, came to its conclusion after nearly eight years since its first episode aired in the U.S. in 2011. The crowd reactions to the season finale were mixed, to say the least, with fans across the globe generally divided on whether they love or hate season 8, which ran from May to April of 2019. 

Reddit's 2019 Year in Review lists the leading television community platforms on the website, and enthroned at the top 2 are freefolk followed by the GoT community itself. This is not so surprising considering the massive buzz its creators, Dan Weiss and David Benioff, have generated since the very beginning, from the breathtaking panoramic sets to the gruesomely unexpected character deaths. After all, who doesn’t get fired up from their favorite TV show? 

Fans who were keen to lambast the show identified their group as refusing to “bend the knee” to the HBO installment, hence the name “freefolk.”

Did you know that r/freefolk was able to raise over $100k for Emilia Clarke’s (Daenerys Targaryen) SameYou charity

Read the full story at The Wrap.

Photo: @iyasirhere / Twitter)


Hair Love

A little girl wakes up on a special day and wants her hair to look perfect. But she's just a kid, and her father knows nothing about hair styling (obviously someone else did his). You might think this is about black hair and about a father overcoming his incompetence, but it's much more than that. Hair Love was directed by Matthew A. Cherry, producer of BlacKkKlansman, Everett Downing Jr., animator in Up, and Bruce W. Smith, animator in The Princess and the Frog. -via Metafilter 


Helping Children Who Are Highly Susceptible To Stress

We know that there are children who develop even in the worst circumstances, while there are others who are sensitive. The question is, why is it that some children become the latter and others the former? That is what pediatrician and researcher Tom Boyce has been asking for over four decades.

Starting in the 1970s, Boyce, like many pediatricians, observed that most kids were physically and mentally resilient—relatively immune to illness, injury, and disease. But a small group of kids seemed to accumulate a disproportionate number of health and behavior problems: from severe respiratory disease, injuries, and developmental delays, to more mental and behavioral issues, like anxiety, depression, and aggression. He could see these kids tended to come from families that faced a lot of stress or adversity, in the form of socioeconomic disadvantage or general misfortune.

There was, Boyce found, a consistent link between family stress, adversity, and all kinds of childhood illnesses, injuries, and behavioral disorders. The associations, however, were modest.

They were statistically significant, meaning they were unlikely to be due to chance, but they could only explain a small portion—just 10%—of different outcomes, of why a child with more stress would have worse health and behavior.
Boyce wondered: What if it was a child’s reaction to the stress, and not the type or amount of stress, that predicted who would suffer most? Clearly excessive stress is bad for all children (as it is for adults); governments, doctors, and communities should focus on reducing poverty and violence to support families and minimize stress. But were some kids better able to weather those stressors?

Read more about what Boyce found out over at Quartz.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)


A Van, Two Guys, and A Whole Lot of Imagination (and Power Tools)

Watch this 1-minute time lapse of two guys transforming the interior of an old van into a ‘tiny home’ complete with a kitchen sink, multiple storage, computer desk and bed! 

Now that’s tiny living with a big mind. 

It’s unclear whether the van actually moves though. 

Would you ever live in one of these? 

-via Gyfcat


These Harmful Bacteria Are Masters of Disguise

These are harmful bacteria that cause strep infections, which are infections that kill over 500,000 people each year. Why are they so successful in infecting the body? It is because they are masters of disguise. To hide from the immune system, they blanket their surfaces with molecules that resemble our own. David Gonzalez, a biochemist and microbiologist at the University of California, San Diego, state that this technique effectively provides the pathogens “cloaks of invisibility.”

...To avoid being snuffed out by the immune system, the bacteria that cause strep throat tear apart red blood cells and then dress themselves in the debris…

More details on Smithsonian.

I guess we could say that these pathogens can be comparable to ninjas. What do you think?

(Image Credit: qimono/ Pixabay)


How a Toothpick Saved a Neuroscience Experiment

Anisha Kalidindi, an Ohio State University graduate student in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, had a dilemma. 

If you’ve ever worked at a laboratory with a microscope, you’d know that every setting in your equipment has to be precise for your results to be scientifically accurate. And in neuroscience experiments, ensuring you have an ideal setup with your specialized equipment greatly aids in being able to observe even the minutest details--down to each individual brain cell in a mouse. 

This is when Kalidindi had the bright idea to utilize a simple toothpick to track the tilt of the mouse’s head. 

We made a crude scale from –4 to +4 in both the up-down and left-right directions on the head mount, but we needed a way to indicate what position the mouse’s head was in. We needed something easy and fast that we use to track the position. Then the idea struck: a toothpick would be perfect. We would create two mini protractors (one for up-down and one for left-right), with the toothpick serving as the “position tracker.” We broke the toothpick in half and stuck the rough edge to the head mount. The pointy end would point to a position on our scale, one for up-down and one for left-right. And just like that with a toothpick and a bit of superglue, our problem was solved.
Now I can record the toothpick position, then go back and put the mouse’s head in an identical position day after day. Over a four-day experiment we have to go back into the darkroom every six hours, and the handy toothpick allows me to collect the data I need for my next insight into the ever-complex biology of the brain.
Walk into any molecular biology lab, and you may see something similar: an everyday object as humble as a toothpick next to (or even attached to) a very expensive piece of equipment. These are the labs where we learn about the types of cells that allow us to think, which proteins cause which diseases and how our genetic code can be targeted to improve our health. The environment where we make these lifesaving discoveries may seem utterly exotic, but we sometimes have to improvise with whatever we can find—just like anyone else. I know I will always have a toothpick at the ready from now on.

Perhaps Kalidindi’s setup could be replicated among other neuroscientists struggling in this area. After all, some of the most life changing discoveries have been made from improvisations. Just something to pick your brain. 

-via Anisha Kalidindi

Photo: snd63 / Needpix


Researching the History of the Time Capsule

Remember the "talking rings" from the 1960 movie The Time Machine? If only we had information technology that required no power or additional technology to decipher it. But that's not the case. In our own homes, we have trouble accessing home movies if they were recorded on VHS or even DVDs. How many time capsules contain those formats instead of printed photographs that anyone can access? Nick Yablon, author of the book Remembrance of Things Present: The Invention of the Time Capsule, began researching time capsules when he found a reference to them from 1911. They go back at least as far as 1876, although the term wasn't coined until later. He addressed the problem of time capsule packers who assumed the future would be somewhat consistent with the present.   

Sometimes the diversity of media materials that time capsule contributors thought would be useful for future historians hindered Yablon’s understanding rather than aided it—such as when Yablon came across phonography cylinders from 1901. “Researchers couldn’t directly use those wax cylinders,” he told Perspectives. “They were quite fragile.” Archivists had to carefully extract the music for anyone who wished to hear them. Wax cylinders weren’t the only unusual items Yablon came across in his research. San Francisco-based dentist Henry D. Cogswell’s 1879 time capsule—which Cogswell called a “great Antiquarian Postoffice [sic]”—included “a box of breath sweeteners, a mechanical pencil, a souvenir pen and bud vase from the Centennial Exposition, a silk bookmark, a wooden puzzle, a paperweight . . . and, presumably Cogswell’s own contribution, some false teeth.” In an interview with Perspectives, Yablon said that, while researching the book, he also came across a piece of “corn on the cob in an Oklahoma time capsule [from] 1913.” (“It was in fairly good condition,” Yablon added.)

On the other hand, those physical objects could be things you'd find in any antique store -except maybe the corn. It could be that 100 years isn't long enough to bury a time capsule, as long as there's no soon-to-be-obsolete information format inside. Read about the history of the time capsule, including the philosophies behind the different kinds of them, at Perspectives on History. -via Damn Interesting


Learning A New Language: An Illicit Love Affair

Languages are like human beings. Each one has its own distinct characteristics, and personalities. Each language also has its own set of beliefs which a person can discover through his encounters with various words and sentences as he learns the language.

Much like human beings, there are languages that you can be friends with, and there are languages which are so difficult to understand that you just don’t want to learn it anymore. And there are languages that can make you fall in love.

Those are the languages that will consume you – all of you – as you do everything to make them yours. You dissect syntax structures. You recite conjugations. You fill notebooks with rivers of new letters. You run your pen over their curves and cusps again and again, like you would trace your fingers over a lover’s face. The words bloom on paper. The phonemes interlace into melodies. The sentences taste fragrant, even as they tumble awkwardly from your mouth like bricks built of foreign symbols. You memorise prose and lyrics and newspaper headlines, just to have them at your lips after the sun dips and when it dawns again.

Check out the full article over at Aeon to know more about this topic.

(Image Credit: geralt/ Pixabay)


Why Junk Food Is So Nostalgic

When properly prepared, the pasta becomes thick and warm. Its texture and flavour have no flaws; it is perfect entirely. Such is Kraft Dinner, or KD for short. It is, for Emily Baron Cadloff, the junk food that gets her nostalgic.

I enjoy everything about it: the simplicity of mixing together butter, milk, and a packet of nearly fluorescent cheese powder; the tantalizing neon orange of the resulting mess; the gloopy noises it makes when I put my fork in the bowl…
Of the collection of foods I ate as a child, KD is one that I haven’t yet abandoned. Years later, there’s something about the particular taste that no other food can touch. And I know I’m not the only one. For some, the lure of Cheez Whiz is unmatched. For others, it’s fried bologna sandwiches. Some may fondly remember Pixy Stix or Pop Rocks, delicious, too-sweet candy that would be inhaled after Halloween. The most recent season of Stranger Things featured boxes of Mr. T cereal and touted the virtues of “new” Coke. Some of these products no longer exist. But many of us keep reaching for those that do, even if we don’t exactly like them, even if they don’t taste as good to our adult palates or fulfill our nutritional needs or even justify their own costs. The question is: Why?

Check out The Walrus for more details about this story.

(Image Credit: NowIsntItTime/ Wikimedia Commons)


The U.S Should Have Listened To This Woman

It might seem that human-induced climate change is a purely modern phenomenon, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Even people from ancient Greece knew that human activities can impact and change climate.

As time went by, the U.S became a lab that attested to this age-old fact as U.S settlers changed their landscape, thereby altering nature in the process.

By 1800 it was known that the mass clearing of forests raised temperatures in the Eastern U.S. and that climatic changes followed the pioneers as they spread west.
The causes for such changes, and the understanding that they could have global scope, came from eminent European scientists. Yet an amateur 19th-century American researcher, a woman named Eunice Foote, made a first crucial discovery about global climate change. Her story gives insight into early American science, women in science, and how the understanding of climate has changed. It also reveals how that understanding might have evolved differently to better deal with today’s climate problems.

Unfortunately, Foote’s discovery was lost over the course of time, but thankfully was recovered once again. In her time, there probably have been more women like her who had their legacies buried because of “gender, ethnicity, and race.”

Know more about her story over at Nautilus.

(Image Credit: cocoparisienne/ Pixabay)


Coming Soon: The Cartoon Network Hotel

Cartoon Network and its plethora of characters will get a themed-hotel in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although it isn't an amusement park, there's one right next to it called Dutch Wonderland.

There are rooms for fans of particular shows, including Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls, Steven Universe, and Ben 10. The company hopes to offer outdoor screenings at a custom theater and swimming opportunities at a pool with splash pad. You can read more about the hotel at Penn Live.

-via Dornob | Photos: Cartoon Network Hotel


How Dan the Zebra Stopped an Ill-Fated Government Breeding Program in Its Tracks

In the late 19th and early 20th century, several countries were busy colonizing as much of Africa as they could. They ran into problems raising familiar livestock on the continent, however. Horses and other beasts of burden were no match for tsetse flies and parasites that carried diseases. But native animals had developed resistance to the natural environmental hazards. What if the hardy zebra were to be domesticated and put to work? It was an intriguing idea, and a zebra named Dan was put to work to test a theory. Dan was a gift from the King of Abyssinia (now a part of Ethiopia) to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904.     

As Western interests in Africa and other challenging climates for livestock transport expanded, these traits raised questions about whether zebras might be domesticated. Arriving in the U.S., Dan quickly became the focus of a government program that sought to domesticate the zebra by cross-breeding the animals with domestic horses and donkeys.

It didn’t go well. Dan was unruly, known for attacking his caretakers, and uncooperative with efforts to cross-breed with other equids. A 1913 summary of the program, published in The American Breeder’s Magazine, describes how Dan refused the mares brought to him. Dan was said to have “a positive aversion” to his horse counterparts, and when one was let loose in his paddock, he “rushed at the mare, and would undoubtedly have killed her had he not been driven back into his stall.” He did, however, ultimately mate successfully with a number of jennies (female donkeys).

But zebras and donkeys are different species, and Dan's progeny were sterile. The zebra's wild animal behavior convinced researchers that crossbreeding zebras just wasn't worth the effort. Yet Dan, who lived until 1919, is still teaching us about the traits of zebras and other equines, including the history of how horses were domesticated, which you can read about at Smithsonian.


Small Town With Huge WiFi Capabilities

It’s probably your first time to hear of McKee, a small rural town in Jackson County, Kentucky, and one of the poorest counties in the U.S. But it hopefully won’t be the last. This Appalachian town is home to small business owners with big ambitions, like Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative CEO Keith Gabbard, who have made leaps and bounds to bring fiber-optic broadband to their humble hometown. Now, PRTC subscribers enjoy internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second!

There’s a sit-down restaurant, Opal’s, that serves the weekday breakfast-and-lunch crowd, one traffic light, a library, a few health clinics, eight churches, a Dairy Queen, a pair of dollar stores, and some of the fastest Internet in the United States. Subscribers to Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (P.R.T.C.), which covers all of Jackson County and the adjacent Owsley County, can get speeds of up to one gigabit per second, and the coöperative is planning to upgrade the system to ten gigabits.

But the process to get where they are at was definitely an uphill climb, and the rural town residents had to get creative. 

In the most rugged terrain around McKee, the crews relied on a mule named Old Bub to haul the cable two or three miles a day. “We’ve got mountains and rocks and not the greatest roads, and there were places we couldn’t get a vehicle to,” Gabbard told me. “Farmers here have been using mules for centuries. It just made sense that, if a place was hard to get to, you went with the mules.” Old Bub, he said, was able to do the work of eight to ten men.
The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile. “Someone has to build to the last mile,” he said. “The big telecom companies aren’t going to do it, because it’s not economical and they have shareholders to answer to. We’re a co-op. We’re owned by our members. We answer to each other.”

The introduction of high-speed internet to McKee has provided a ray of hope for those suffering from the harsh consequences of poverty and unemployment. For many, there are now opportunities to get easier access to online educational resources and to engage in work-from-home vocations.

On the other hand, Gabbard and McKee residents are conscious of the fact that broadband is not going to magically make their lives better nor poverty go away. But it can sure help with education, entertainment, the economy, and health care. And that’s more than enough. 

Gabbard says,

And I even think that people’s mind-set—how they feel about themselves—can be improved just by not always saying ‘We don’t have nothing here.’ In this case, we have something to be proud of. We have something everyone else wants.”

Read their incredible journey at The New Yorker.

Photos: P C / Pexels ; Sue Halpern / The New Yorker ; Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

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