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Kids' Weird Eating Habits

Sam Sanders asked people about their weird eating and drinking habits as a child. You may have thought you were weird, but according to the many responses, you weren't the only one.

Other food habits include peanut butter and baloney, lemons and salt, Pearl Drops tooth paste, and cold cereal with soda instead of milk. But that's just the beginning. Read through the Twitter thread and you'll either be disgusted or find a kindred spirit. -via Metafilter


The First Time America Was Named On A Map

From Flashbak:

In April 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller became the first person to use the word ‘America’ in a document, namely his 'Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes' (The Universal Cosmography according to the Tradition of Ptolemy and the Discoveries of Amerigo Vespucci and others).

North America is called ‘Parias’ – ‘America’ is used to label the South American coast all the way down to the present-day port of Cananéia, Brazil.

And it wasn't just the Americas either; Waldseemuller made maps of the entire known world, which was a pretty impressive accomplishment for someone in the early 16th century. You may chuckle today at the shapes of geography such as Italy, but these were better than nothing to travelers of the day. And could they really be any worse than Apple Maps?


Bone Idols: The Cult Of Dripping Saints In Jewels

You're probably familiar with the Mexican Day of the Dead - Día de Muertos - the central theme of which was expanded upon in the recent Pixar film Coco. Others have carried the tradition of honoring the dead to extremes, as seen in this series of photographs.

Bejewelled skeletons of Christian martyrs were often found in the catacombs under Rome in the late 16th century. Sent to Catholic churches and religious houses in German-speaking Europe to replace relics destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, these skeletons were reassembled and richly adorned with precious jewels and costumes.

Venerating human remains is not to everyone’s tastes. Pouring wax over skulls and bones to form a kind of skin adds a ghoulish air. But death has never looked more beautiful.


The Cringy Lovey-Dovey Language of Couples

If you have ever been in love or have seen two people head over heels in love with each other, then you might have heard such awkward baby talk, pet names, and sweet nothings exchanged between two lovers. It's cringy and it's easy for outsiders to scoff at people who use such language, but for those who have been smitten and know what it feels, they would understand that these intimate conversations actually help break down barriers of uncertainty and improve the strength of their relationship. The cheesier it gets, it shows just how open and vulnerable two people are with each other, which according to some researchers might indicate where they are in their relationship. To be comfortable around someone enough to not care whether you look or sound silly to them, is one way of gauging the bond that two people have developed for each other. But still, why does the language have to be so cringy? Chi Luu of Jstor explores this language of love life in her article.

(Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)


What's Inside the Great Blue Hole?

It looks pretty and mysterious, a natural wonder on its own, perhaps the only one of its kind. The Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is exactly what the name says, it's a circular sinkhole with a deep blue hue which is oddly different from the surrounding waters. It's surrounded by an atoll in the Caribbean Sea. What lies in the waters of the Great Blue Hole was a mystery to most but a recent expedition featuring Richard Branson has been launched in order to explore the waters underneath it.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


The Brain Takes 15 Seconds To Process This Optical Illusion

Optical illusions can take your brain for a whirl and this common one called the Pinna-Brelstaff illusion could literally make your brain spin. You can try it out by moving closer toward the circles and then quickly pulling away. You will notice that it would seem to rotate though you know it doesn't move at all. Scientists wanted to know why this was the case, so they conducted a study on humans and macaques to figure out the underlying neurological mechanisms at play. They found that in looking at the optical illusion, the brain takes about 15 seconds to process what was happening.

(Image credit: Baingio Pinna)


The Side Effects on Drug Company Ads

When drug companies launch ads about the prescription medicines they sell, we often get a big dose of the benefits that they give without being given what the potential risks or side effects could be. However, when they did include them, both major and minor side effects, it had the reverse effect of what the FDA policy wanted to do. Instead of deterring consumers, it encouraged them even more to buy the prescription medicines. This is a cognitive bias called the argument dilution effect.

(Image credit: Simone van der Koelen/Unsplash)


George Orwell’s 1944 Letter Revealing Why He Wrote 1984

"It wouldn't have been so gloomy if I hadn't been so ill" - George Orwell

The novel 1984 was completed in 1948; Orwell simply reversed the last two digits to get the title. It is a famous work of literature and the obvious inspiration for Apple's groundbreaking 1984 Super Bowl ad for the forthcoming Macintosh computer. But 1984 had been lurking in the background for a long time. From Flashbak:

_In 1944, George Orwell wrote to Noel Willmett, who had asked “whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade” given “that they are not apparently growing in [England] and the USA”. Orwell would not start writing 1984 until 1947, his great work that introduced us to words like doublethink, thoughtcrime, memory hole, and Big Brother._

That letter of response contains a well of deep thought that has largely been ignored until recently, when 'thoughtcrimes' and 'memory hole' became reality. And can Big Brother and mandatory 24-hour clocks now be too far behind? Like Atlas Shrugged, 1984 has crossed over the line between fantasy and reality. Have a look at the thought processes behind it all; the man was positively prescient.


Why Fruit Flies Don't Need Sleep

For humans, it is recommended to have at least eight hours of sleep each day. There are various proponents for sleep and its importance in our daily lives leading to increased productivity, better cognitive functioning, and an overall regulatory process that helps our body regenerate the energy it spent throughout the day. But for other animals, sleep may not be necessary at all.

Sleep is potentially costly to many animals, making them vulnerable to predators and stealing time from resource-gathering or mating opportunities. For that reason, scientists have long assumed it evolved to give animals some vital, evolutionary advantage—perhaps as a means of conserving energy or of giving the brain time to organize memories. In any case, no truly sleepless animal has ever been found in the wild.
In the new study, researchers were observing Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies in the lab when they noticed a very large distribution in sleep duration. Most slept somewhere between 300 minutes and 600 minutes per day, but about 6% of females slept for less than 72 minutes per day, and three particularly restless individuals slept for only 15, 14, or 4 minutes per day, respectively.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


The Mauritania Railway: From Zouerat to Nouadhibou

Serving as the source of half the nation's economy, the Mauritania Railway stretches 700 kilometers long, connecting the mining town of Zouerat to the ports in Nouadhibou. For a lot of the people living in settlements all across Mauritania, the train is the closest to modern civilization that they have seen. Every day the train transports iron ore from the mines to the ports and on its way back, it brings passengers with it.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


The Ongoing Debate About Martian 'Blueberries'

Fifteen years ago, Opportunity rover started exploring the surface of the Red Planet, originally as a 90-day mission in order to find out what Mars holds. One of the first things it discovered during the first two months was these spherical objects scattered on the surface. It was something that scientists began to refer to as 'blueberries' because they seemed bluish and round. Many theories have been proposed as to what these objects could be and you may read them here. Now, only recently, Opportunity had been retired but the Martian 'blueberries' remains one of its biggest finds as it points to the evidence of possible presence of water on Mars.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS/Modesto Junior College)


Great Glass Coffin Scam: When Hucksters Sold the Fantasy of Death Without Decay

The picture above is of a glass casket, believe it or not. It's hard to tell with the leather on the outside and fabric on the inside, but the purpose of a glass coffin wasn't its transparency, in case you were expecting something out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The sales pitch for glass caskets was that the hermetically-sealed glass would protect a loved one's remains from water and air, and even from decay itself. It was the perfect sales pitch for the early 20th century, and the first pitch was to investors in glass coffin companies.

Numerous glass-casket companies popped up around the country in the early 1900s, from the Modern Glass Company in Toledo, Ohio, to the Glass Casket Corporation in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Most of these companies were marketing caskets based on a design by James DeCamp of Blackwell, Oklahoma, who received the first of several glass-casket-related patents in 1915. Sealed with a tube of silicone that joined two glass halves, the casket was promised as an airtight and watertight vessel for the dead.

Of those that were made, few survive, and not only because they were objects meant to be buried. Creating a glass casket large enough to hold an adult corpse was an incredible undertaking, so to speak. The American Glass Casket Company stated in 1921 that their huge casket press, which measured 13 feet tall and 25 feet long, was the biggest such press in the world. The lid and base that formed the casket would be some of the most massive pieces of pressed glass ever produced. The casket would weigh hundreds of pounds (and, being glass, would break if dropped by the burdened pallbearer).

Thus, the few that exist are mostly small. “We have a child’s glass casket as well as a salesman’s sample made by the American Glass Casket Company in the collection of the Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Arts [in Millville, New Jersey],” said Dianne Wood, curatorial assistant at the museum. “One of our young visitors called the salesman’s sample a ‘Barbie Doll casket’ if that gives you a sense of the size.”

The salesman's sample was an important tool for demonstrating the wonders of a glass coffin to investors and to customers, but the fad didn't last long. Read about the rise and fall of glass coffins at Collectors Weekly.


Anyone old enough to remember the Vintage Vegas?

Las Vegas had stayed under continuous construction and demolition for the past fifty years, resulting in it's existence as a modern wonder in itself. Have a look at some incredibly garish and maybe glamorous visions of the Old Vegas.

Source as posted via Amaze



Dog Rescued from Icy River Not What It Seemed

A group of men working on the Sindi dam on the Parnu River in Estonia spotted a dog in distress in the icy river. It was obviously cold and unable to negotiate the clumps of ice surrounding it. So the men did what any animal lover would do- they went in, cleared a path through the ice, and pulled the dog out.   

Speaking to the Estonian newspaper Postimees, one of the men, Rando Kartsepp, said: "We had to carry him over the slope. He weighed a fair bit."

"He was calm, slept on my legs. When I wanted to stretch them, he raised his head for a moment," he added.

Veterinarians had some suspicions over the large dog's true nature, but it was a local hunter, familiar with the region's wolves, who finally confirmed it for what it was: a young male wolf, about a year old.

The vets decided the prudent thing to do would be to treat the wolf and quickly put it in a cage before it fully recovered from the cold. They then contacted the Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals (EUPA), which paid for the treatment, fitted the wolf with a GPS, and released it into the wild. See more pictures of the wolf at BBC News. -via Boing Boing

(Image credit: The Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals)


All the Presidents’ Meals

The White House's state dinners are a formal tradition for greeting world leaders on official state visits to the United States. While the feasts are bound by tradition and etiquette, the foods that are served vary greatly over time, as culinary trends change, and by the personal tastes of each president and/or their first ladies. There are subtle menu differences that reflect the purpose of the occasion, too, depending on whether the aim was to show off America's prosperity or taste or to make the guest feel at home. When Nixon hosted Leonid Brezhnev, the menu was definitely a Cold War gambit.  

Nixon hosted 40 state dinners before he resigned. Perhaps as a typically Nixonian attempt to convince others of his status, 13 of those dinners were in his first year alone. He was also the first president to host a leader of the Soviet Union—General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev on June 18, 1973—since the 1950s. Brezhnev was served supreme of lobster en bellevue (chilled lobster removed from the shell and decorated with aspic, truffles, and green leaves, according to Ruta, the former executive sous-chef), contre-filet of beef bordelaise, paillettes dorées (a very Gallic way to say “cheese straws”), pommes aux amandes, eggplant and green beans orientale, a bibb lettuce salad with Port Salut cheese, and vacherin glacé aux framboises for dessert.

The dinner was a fitting coda to Nixon’s “kitchen debate” with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow back in July 1959. During a series of discussions over the relative merits of the United States and Soviet Union at the American National Exhibition in Moscow (which Brezhnev also attended), America’s then-vice president stressed to the Soviet premier, “In this day and age to argue who is stronger completely misses the point. With modern weapons it just does not make sense. If war comes we both lose.” Despite the military advantages held by the Soviet Union, Nixon argued, the United States provided a better quality of life for its citizens.

Foreign Policy has collected the menus of 392 state dinners over 14 administrations, and present the data in several interactive graphs you can explore, plus an article about state dinners as a whole, and a section for each president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Donald J. Trump -all on one page. -via Everlasting Blort 

(Image credit: Alex Fine)

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