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This Father Tried To Master Fortnite To Relate To His Kids

Romesh Ranganathan’s kids are really into Fortnite. The children’s lives seemed to be centered around the hit game - they won’t stop talking about it and about other players who are particularly skilled in playing the game.

So, like any good father who wants to relate to his kids, Ranganathan decided that he’d give Fortnite a try.

I went into my eldest son’s room when he was in the middle of a game and asked him to talk me through it. He proceeded to give me an in-depth tutorial that consisted of him running around, building weird structures and shooting people, while asking me if I was getting it. I really wasn’t. And what’s frustrating is I’m a gamer, albeit a casual one. I’ll play anything Mario- or Zelda-related, but Fortnite is one step beyond me. I don’t get anything from it but motion sickness and an increased sense of anxiety about how violent future generations are going to be.

Now, Ranganathan is having a crisis about the game - he experienced motion sickness, is unable to figure out the controls, and is likely on the verge of giving up trying to relate to his kids.

There are other ways to try to relate and connect with your kids, but Ranganathan might just have to endure hearing his kids sing praises about Fortnite players and the game itself - for a while. 

There’s nothing bad about loving to play a game, though! Maybe he can convince them to play a Zelda game as well!

image credit: via wikimedia commons


A Woman Walks Her Dog Across Italy For Violence Against Women Awareness

Her name is Martina Pastorino. Together with her Jack Russel Terrier named Kira, they traveled over 400 miles on foot from Alessandria to Rome - a project named “To Be A Woman Is Strong”

Pastorino and Kira took on a route once trod on by medieval pilgrims, as noted by the Huffington Post: 

“to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women.” To bear witness that “a woman can and must feel confident that she can face a solo journey,” that “each of us can and must find her way even alone,” that “to be a woman is to be strong.”

For her initial motivation to do this project, Pastorino told the Huffington Post she wanted to showcase that women who report mistreatment and abuse aren’t weak but courageous and strong: 

“In our country, we tend to consider female victims of violence who decide to report mistreatment and abuse as less strong,” she says. “But instead, these are courageous women. Do you have any idea how much strength we need to make such a choice, especially if, as in most cases, the aggressor is a family member?”
“I want to say to women who report these cases: Walk with your head held high,” she emphasizes again. “And continue on your way.”

image credit: Luciana Matarese via The Huffington Post


When Soap Companies Used God To Sell Their Products

“Cleanliness is next to godliness” is a phrase that goes back as far as a 1778 sermon by John Wesley. This phrase, however, according to history scholars Richard J. Callahan, Jr., Kathryn Lofton, and Chad E. Seales, took on a whole new meaning in the late 19th century and the early 20th century when the soap companies marketed their products using distinctly religious terms.

Before the Civil War, the authors explain, a kind of “cleanliness” was important to Christian respectability, but this was as much about carefully ironed clothes and an upright self-presentation as the absence of dirt and body odor. Up until the 1870s, people typically used only hot water for cleaning. Soap was an optional accessory, not a staple. But, by the 1930s, Americans placed soap second only to food as the most important consumer product. This shift was one of the first victories for a concerted consumer marketing campaign, and it was also a victory for a particular view of Christianity.
In a nation where companies could comfortably assume they were selling their products to Protestant consumers, soap companies drew on religious language. Ivory Soap got its name from Psalm 45: “All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad.” The company placed the first ad for Ivory in a Christian weekly, and it kept up a close relationship with Protestant institutions. In 1896, social gospel theologian Washington Gladden spoke at a P&G dividend meeting, praising the relations “between employer and employees in Ivorydale, between the directing minds and helping hands.”

Ivory Soap wasn’t alone in using Christian language in their endeavor to sell soap. More details of this story over at JSTOR Daily.

“As it is with godliness, so with cleanliness, there are many millions without the desire to repent and be laved,” the Detroit Free Press punned. “We must continue to ‘sell’ the world on cleanliness.”

What are your thoughts on this one?

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Joy Has Different Faces, and This is What it Looks Like Around the World

Every culture has its own idea of what happiness or joy is, and stepping into a foreign land opens up a new door to a different kind of joy.

In her new book The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy, U.K.-born, Denmark-based author Helen Russell takes us on a round-the-world trip—not to the usual tourist attractions but through distinct concepts of happiness that have evolved in 30 countries. Each chapter in the book is devoted to a different country and its concepts of happiness (sobremesa and tapeo in Spain, tarab in Syria, tūrangawaewae and haka in New Zealand), which Russell illustrates via locals’ personal anecdotes. At the conclusion of each section, she pinpoints practical tips for adopting that nation’s unique happiness hacks. 

Here are five of the book’s lesser-known happiness ideologies:

  1. Joie de vivre in Canada says, “we’re open to anything, anyone, and any weather—we’ll try it all, and we’ll make it good.”
  2. Pura vida in Costa Rica where “the government funds education, health care, and conservation instead of a military, and family and friends come first”
  3. Dolce far niente in Italy, or” the sweetness of doing nothing, is about savoring the moment”
  4. Wabi sabi in Japan which “convey the idea that happiness is achieved by accepting—and celebrating—imperfection and transience”
  5. Azart in Russia which means, “a burning urge to lunge at everything life throws your way, to take chances, no matter the consequences.”

Image Credit: Elena Chernyshova/Panos Pictures

Photo credit: Brendan Burden


Proposed Flags of the Solar System

These flags for each of the planets in our solar system were designed by redditor Weslii. He said it was just something to do during a boring afternoon. The minimalist designs incorporate only circles, lines, and arcs, but still say something unique about each planet. What do think of them?  -via Metafilter


What Happened To the World’s Largest Butterfly?

Butterflies have been a big help for crop pollination. They are also indicators of a healthy environment and a healthy environment. Today, however, they are under great pressure from habitat destruction and other environmental threats. Their populations have been greatly diminishing at a rapid state.

One recent study found an estimated 33 percent decline in common butterflies in Ohio from 1996 to 2016, a rate consistent with worldwide patterns.

In his quest to find the rarest species and know the reasons behind their dwindling numbers and what he can do to save them, Nick Haddad focused on North American butterflies, which are the closest to his home in Michigan, but is also the symbol of” worldwide crisis facing both butterfly and broader insect populations.”

My search began in earnest 18 years ago with St. Francis’ Satyr, a butterfly on the verge of extinction whose population of roughly 3,000 is limited to a single army base in North Carolina. That’s such a tiny number that if one were to gather them all up and put them on a scale, they would weigh about a pound.
But other than a research project in Guatemala that I joined fresh out of college in 1992, I have never carried a net into tropical forests, home to the greatest diversity of butterfly species. And as a scientist, that’s a shame, because virtually nothing is known about the fate of tropical butterfly populations.
As I scoured the scientific literature and consulted with other researchers, I became captivated by one tropical species in particular: Ornithoptera alexandrae, known as Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing, which lives in the forests of Papua New Guinea.
It happens to be the world’s largest butterfly, with a wingspan of up to 12 inches. Its wings are adorned in iridescent blue-green and yellow. And its caterpillars are equally impressive, with large black bodies broken by a yellow saddle and long red spikes. Its stunning beauty, along with its habitat in a remote and mysterious location, compelled me to include it in my research, and make it a candidate for my list of the rarest butterflies.

Where is this butterfly and what happened to it?

Find out on Undark.

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


This Bio-Artist Made Thrush Look Good in a Petri Dish

Thrush is something that most of us hate, but this bio-artist made thrush look good in a petri dish, and for good reasons.

Tarsh Bates has created a living piece of 'bio-art' by putting thrush on agar and feeding it with her own blood, controlling its growth pattern using a stencil-like template.

And her reason? She believes thrush and other microbes alike are misunderstood.

Officially known as Candida albicans — this yeast has a reputation for causing painful infections, especially in women.
But it is not our enemy, says Dr Bates, who has a background in biotechnology and contemporary art.
Candida only causes problems when it grows uncontrollably, for example if our immune system is suppressed. Otherwise, it is a common member of the human microbiome, which plays a role in keeping us healthy.

Tarsh Bates wants people to be acquainted with the microbiome inside us; that is, change our attitude towards the microbes inside us and know their importance in our bodies.

Image Credit: Steven Alyian/Tarsh Bates


How Flat Can a Cat Get?

Maru is a large cat. His roommate Hana is also getting to be pretty substantial. Their human, mugumogu, arranged an experiment to see how small a passageway can get before the cats cannot get through. The opening is lowered gradually until we have to laugh at Maru's struggle to fit under eight centimeters. How low can they go? Watch and see- it will remind you of a limbo competition! One thing we can be sure of- they had some kind of powerful incentive to get through. Maybe it's the challenge itself.  


Where Do Desert Bats Go at Night?

Don’t know where your bats go at night? Worry no more. A team of researchers led by the University of Helsinki has used new miniaturized GPS tags to track desert bats as they hover around on Sibiloi National Park, Northern Kenya. By studying the movement of these bats, the study would be able to provide new insights into how these night fliers adapt to drier times of the year.

Wildlife tracking technology has proven an effective tool for naturalists for over half a century, but, until recently, a limiting factor has been the size of the equipment. It's one thing to tag something like a whale or an elephant, but something small like a bat is another thing entirely. This presents more than just a technical challenge because the only effective way of studying the behavior of something like a bat that flits about in the darkness like a shuttlecock on acid is by attaching some sort of tracking device to it.
For the University of Helsinki study, the researchers chose yellow-wing bats living on the shores of Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake, in Kenya. A species of false vampire bat found throughout sub-Saharan Africa south to northern Zambia, the yellow-wing is something of a chiropteran heavyweight, coming in at up to 36 g (1.27 oz) and has the ability to alter its wing geometry, allowing it to carry relatively heavy loads.
With this in mind, the Helsinki team captured 15 bats in the rainy season and 14 in the dry season using mist nets. After being examined, the 1.45-g (0.05-oz) tags were attached to the bats in the form of tiny backpacks that were glued to the animal's back using cyanoacrylate-based glue.
The bats were then released and allowed to flit about for a week as they hunted for their prey of soft- and hard-bodied insects and the tag tranced their movements for up to an hour every night. They were then tracked down by means of a VHF transmitter in the tag, netted again, and the tag removed for data retrieval.

What did the team find out?

Head over at New Atlas to learn more about this story.

(Image Credit: Adria Lopez-Baucells)


The Tiniest Island in the World

Located 4 miles west of the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall is the Bishop Rock, a small rocky ledge jutting out of the sea.

The rock rises from a depth of 45 meter to expose a tip 46 meters long by 16 meters wide. On this narrow ledge stands a lighthouse, which makes Bishop Rock the world's smallest island with a building on it, as recognized by the Guinness Book of Records.

Check out the amazing story of the rock and the lighthouse over at Amusing Planet.

(Image Credit: Richard Knights/ Wikimedia Commons)


Yes, Foot Long Avocados Exist

Can’t get enough of avocados? This long neck avocado from Miami just might be the avocado variant that we never thought we needed.

Aside from being long enough to make sure we get enough avocado fix, it’s 100% non-GMO and organic. It’s not grown commercially so it’s not commonly found in the store, but you may get yours at!

Definitely 5-star news for me.

Photo credit: miamifruit


This Company Will Pay You $1,000 To Watch 25 Hours of Friends is offering to pay $1,000 to one diehard fan to watch 25 hours of the hit series Friends. Do you think you’re cut for the job?

So how do you participate? It’s fairly simple. The company is asking you to watch 25 hours of the show (easy!), which is about 60 episodes, before September 22. While watching, you’ll also be live-tweeting your experience, along with posting a photo to Twitter when you’re all done. Make sure to tag @FrontierCorp in your tweets and you’ll be fully in the running to get the cash!

The $1,000 is not the only thing you’ll receive if you get to be the lucky person.

Check out the details, and apply as well on this dream job here.

(Image Credit: National Broadcasting Corporation/ Wikimedia Commons)


Woman Wins Ultramarathon, Gets Two Trophies

The Green Lakes Endurance Run 50K (GLER) took place on August 10. Officials were ready with a first place plaque and another for the first woman to cross the finish line. Ellie Pell won both awards, finishing in 3:58:37. There was no trophy for the first man to cross the finish line, because it never occurred to the race organizers that the overall winner could be a woman.  

“It was great, but also an awkward situation,” [race director Tim] Hardy said. “Obviously there’s a lot of great women runners, but you don’t see them winning ultras outright a lot. When it happens, they get two awards.”

“I ended up taking both awards—the overall winner and the first place female,” Pell said. “I felt bad that the first place man didn’t have one, so I tried to convince them to blot out the ‘fe’ on ‘female,’ but they said to just keep both trophies. It was pretty funny.”

Hardy ordered another plaque to be given to Richard Ellsworth, who finished second but was the first man to finish the race. In the future, awards will be given to the top six runners, regardless of sex. Read about the race at Runner's World.  -via Boing Boing


Sunday Morning Rush Hour

Farmers don't normally name their poultry and livestock, but that rule doesn't apply at Caenhill Countryside Centre. Chris Franklin lets the gang out of the barn to start a new day and greets each one of the ducks, geese, chickens, and goats by name: Bunson, Bo, Cuthbert, Owen, Jean, Cee Cee, Catherine, Gilbert and Sully, Bumblebee, Lucy, Socks (the kitten), Kenny, and the rest. Thank you, Kenny! They've made four of these morning videos in the last four days, plus a charming look at the farm before the barn residents are released. Will they continue every day from now on? -via Laughing Squid

Update: Apparently so... there's another one this morning.


Johnny Flynn Portrays David Bowie in New Film "Stardust"

In a new biopic of the music icon, Johnny Flynn will be playing the role of David Bowie in the film "Stardust" which will show Bowie's life in the early '70s as he embarks on his journey to America in search of fame. The cast includes Jena Malone, Marc Maron, and Angie Jones with Christopher Bell writing the screenplay and Gabriel Range directing it. Filming started early July of this year.

(Image credit: Paul Van Carter)

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