LEGO artist Ochre Jelly (Iain Heath) has once again taken a ubiquitous internet meme and rendered it in LEGO. This time, it's the stock image that came to be known as Distracted Boyfriend. Of course you've seen it; it was named 2018 Meme of the Year at the annual Shorty Awards.
IKEA unveiled this award-winning ad in 2002. It grabbed the viewer by the feels because we are familiar with Lampy from The Brave Little Toaster and Luxo, Jr. Then came the twist ending that yanked us back to reality and made us laugh. And now IKEA has returned to the story, 16 years later, for a new ad featuring the same lamp.
Last year, before taking possession of a car with a manual transmission, I took a test drive to see if I remembered the feel of a clutch. It was "just like riding a bicycle," as we say. Or roller skating, for that matter. Why is it that we forget our anniversary or where we left our car keys, but maintain the ability to ride a bicycle after not riding one for many years?
As it turns out, different types of memories are stored in distinct regions of our brains. Long-term memory is divided into two types: declarative and procedural.
There are two types of declarative memory: Recollections of experiences such as the day we started school and our first kiss are called episodic memory. This type of recall is our interpretation of an episode or event that occurred. Factual knowledge, on the other hand, such as the capital of France, is part of semantic memory. These two types of declarative memory content have one thing in common—you are aware of the knowledge and can communicate the memories to others.
Skills such as playing an instrument or riding a bicycle are, however, anchored in a separate system, called procedural memory. As its name implies, this type of memory is responsible for performance.
For having given birth to the modern English language, you would think that Old English - the now defunct language spoken in medieval Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers - would have a lot of surviving written records.
But in case of original manuscripts of poetry in Old English, there are only four surviving books. Four. That's it.
Josephine Livingstone wrote this interesting article over at The New Republic about them:
They are: the Vercelli Book, which contains six poems, including the hallucinatory “Dream of the Rood”; the Junius Manuscript, which comprises four long religious poems; the Exeter Book, crammed with riddles and elegies; and the Beowulf Manuscript, whose name says it all. There is no way of knowing how many more poetic codices (the special term for these books) might have existed once upon a time, but have since been destroyed.
... the main attraction lay in a quiet little vitrine: all four Old English poetic codices, side by side. They don’t look that impressive to the casual eye. The exhibition room is dark and cold, to keep the books safe from damage. The manuscripts are brown, small, almost self-effacing. There’s no outward sign of how important they are, how unprecedented their meeting.
The Isle of Sark is a unique place. One of the Channel Islands situated between Britain and France, it is owned by the British Crown, but is politically independent. Cars are forbidden on the two-square-mile island, and the population remains steady at around 500 people- the number of people who can live comfortably off the land. But it is Sark's ancient system of government that really sets it apart. It is the world's only remaining fief, a feudal state run by a system established by the Normans.
For the past 400 years, the Isle of Sark had been ruled by a "Lord of the Manor" called a Seigneur or Dame, who pledges allegiance to, and rents the island from, the King or Queen of England. The Seigneur or Dame holds the island in perpetual fief, and rents out 40 parcels, or tenements, to 40 different residents called tenants, who can rent pieces of each parcel to lower-ranked islanders. For centuries, these 40 landowners made up the island’s parliament, called Chief Pleas, with the Seigneur or Dame presiding as a quasi-dictator.
"It may seem undemocratic that most members hold their seats by right of property," Deputy John La Trobe Bateman told National Geographic in 1971, "but we are perhaps the world's best-represented community. With our population of 575, we have one legislator for every 11 people."
When runners, fast ones and slow ones, come from all over the world to run a marathon in the streets of New York City, just getting from here to there for your normal morning routine is an accomplishment for city residents. They should give out awards for crossing the street! -via Tastefully Offensive
Have you ever wanted to express an emotion or reaction but couldn't find the exact emoji for it? Me, neither. Still, you can have fun making your own simple face icon with the emoji builder. Pick a head, then accessorize it with features, expressions, and accessories... or hit the randomize button to get something pretty goofy. The selections are limited, but I managed to quickly create all four of the faces seen here. -via Nag on the Lake
The Onomichi City Art Museum in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, has an ongoing battle with unwelcome visitors. Two of them, to be exact. They are Ken Chan (left) and Gosaku.
The two cats have spent years trying to visit the museum, but are constantly thwarted by the security guard and other museum staff trying to enforce the museum's "no animals" policy. The standoff may have started off as a mere desire to see what's inside, but over time, both sides see the entry of the cats as a challenge. This is what happens when you tell a cat he/she can't do something. See more of Ken Chan and Gosaku at the museum's Twitter feed. -via Buzzfeed
Have you ever eaten chocolate salami? It was featured as a funny at Bad Menu, but it's a real European treat. Chocolate salami is a dessert loaf made of chocolate and broken cookies -and sometimes rum.
Chocolate salami is not a meat product. The appellation "salami" stems from physical resemblance. Like salami, chocolate salami is formed as a long cylinder and is sliced across into discs for serving. These discs are a brown, chocolaty matrix (like the red meat of salami) peppered with bright bits of cookie (like the white flecks of fat in salami). In Portugal, they are typically made using Marie biscuit.  Some varieties also contain chopped nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts and may be shaped like truffles.
You can order chocolate salami from many places online, or make your own. -Thanks, Vireya!
You're not going to find a magic formula in this article, because the question could be interpreted as "What defines a hit film?" There are two ways to look at movie success. One is which movies make the most money. We know the answer to that, because we've seen those movies, along with everyone else: Marvel superheroes, Star Wars, and Disney. The other way of looking at a hit film is its rate of return, or how its box office multiplies its production costs. The two methods bring us two completely different sets of movies, but both are successes. You might be surprised at the movies that brought the greatest return on investment, plus you'll see charts and graphs that plot what time of year and what length is best for a successful film at Medium. -via Digg
Sneaky Zebra has brought us cosplay videos from conventions for years. This one is a compilation of marvelous Marvel character cosplayers, illustrating Stan Lee's philosophy of the Marvel universe. -via Geeks Are Sexy
When one of NASA's highly advanced equipment in space broke down not long ago which had been later repaired after a few weeks, sources reported that they succeeded by doing the "have you turned it on or off" approach.
But of course in real life, things aren't that simple. Turns out, NASA did not fix the Hubble Space Telescope by turning it on and off (if only it was that easy).
On Oct. 18, the Hubble operations team commanded a series of spacecraft maneuvers, or turns, in opposite directions to attempt to clear any blockage that may have caused the float to be off-center and produce the exceedingly high rates. During each maneuver, the gyro was switched from high mode to low mode to dislodge any blockage that may have accumulated around the float.
“At a high level, if people want to call it jiggling around, I suppose they can,” he said. “But we were trying to do very particular activities we thought would clear the problem. It certainly wasn’t as simple as turning it off and turning it back on.”
There's sand everywhere - heck, there are whole deserts filled with sand - but in reality, the world is actually running out of construction grade sand.
As sand becomes a scarce resource, there's a rise in criminal enterprises that traffic in sand. Call them, the Sand Mafias:
“Sand mafias” are groups of criminals that illegally dredge sand from areas where extraction is prohibited. Since they’re not following laws, all environmental protocols are ignored. Often rivers are illegally mined, destroying the habitat for fish and fishermen. Sometimes land from private villages is even taken over by these mafias.
And like their Sicilian namesakes, Sand Mafias regularly resort to violence, and even murder:
This problem is particularly rampant in India. A number of murders have allegedly been committed by these sand mafias to keep journalists and agitators quiet. In a recent murder, journalist Sandeep Sharma was run over by a truck after he secretly filmed a police official agreeing to a bribe in exchange for allowing sand mining in a crocodile sanctuary. According to the editor of the local television channel where Sharma worked, he was denied police protection after receiving threats. The editor also told the Guardian that police confiscated Sharma’s camera with footage of the bribe agreement and never gave it back.
Every new study about Neanderthals make them appear less like the proverbial "missing link" and more like just another species of homo. For decades, scientists assumed that Neanderthals faced brutal dangers, whether from hunting or warfare or violence in their communities. This was thought to be a given, because so many Neanderthal skulls showed evidence of injury. In other words, their heads were bashed in.
Decades ago, Neanderthals were depicted as club-carrying, dim-witted brutes who spent their days clobbering each other with reckless abandon. The modern vision of Neanderthals, while vastly improved, continues to perpetuate the idea that these now-extinct hominids lead dangerous and violent lives—an assumption based on early descriptions of individual skeletons.
New research published today in Nature is finally setting the record straight, showing that Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans experienced similar levels of head trauma. Yes, life was tough for Neanderthals—but the new research suggests life wasn’t any less tougher or violent for contemporaneous Homo sapiens.
The study compared remains of Neanderthals and prehistoric but modern humans with and without skull trauma (including skull injuries that healed) to find the ratio of injured individuals, sorted by sex, age, and location. While the rate of skull injury was not significantly different between Neanderthals and homo sapiens, there were some interesting differences found, which you can read about at Gizmodo.
Have you ever watched a movie that made you think for days? The more you thought about it, the more nuanced and meaningful it became. And then, years later, you read an interview with the director and found that nothing you perceived was intentional on their part. Those clever layers of subtext were all in your head. Jack Nugent uses this episode of his series Now You See It (previously at Neatorama) to explain how this disconnect between the artist and the audience happens. -via Laughing Squid
Anna Trupiano teaches in a school where deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students are mixed together in class. She tells a great story about one of the facets of life that can get overlooked when educating children who are deaf.
Today in 1st grade one of my Deaf students farted loudly in class and other students turned to look at them. The following is a snippet of a 15 minute conversation that happened entirely in American Sign Language among the group of Deaf students and I.
Kid 1: Why are they looking at me? Me: Because they heard you fart. Kid 1: Whhhhat do you mean?!?! Me: Hearing people can hear farts. Kid 2: Totally horrified Wait, they can hear all farts?!?! Me: Well no. Not all farts but some of them yes. Kid 3: How do you know which farts they can hear and which farts they can’t?
Tupiano hopes her funny story about bodily functions will inspire others to become more involved with the deaf community by learning sign language.
“I would love to see a world where my students can learn about anything from anyone they interact with during their day,” she told GOOD. “Whether that means learning about the solar system, the candy options at a store, or even farts, it would be so great for them to have that language access anywhere they go.”
Why is the haunted house in the movie always a Victorian mansion? First, you have to admit that they are creepy looking. They are old, which means they come with an extensive history. But there are other reasons that tales of murder, mayhem, and hauntings go well in such a setting. After all, no one expects a ghost in a suburban ranch house. Vox explains the history of how our classic tales came to be set in Victorian mansions.
Roman Fedortsov is a Russian deep-sea fisherman who photographs his more unusual catches, and shares them at Twitter and Instagram. Many of them he can't even identify himself. Continue for more, if you dare.
We all know how the Grinch tried to steal Christmas, but for some reason, there's a third version of the Dr. Seuss story in theaters now. You're also familiar with Ebenezer Scrooge, but there have been many non-fictional people who wanted to take the joy out of Christmas.
1. Brock Chisholm was a distinguished Canadian psychiatrist who, as the first director-general of the World Health Organization, came to be called the “doctor to the human race.” But he was also known for telling an Ottawa home-and-school association in 1945: “Any child who believes in Santa Claus has had his ability to think permanently destroyed. … Can you imagine a child of 4 being led to believe that a man of grown stature is able to climb down a chimney…. That Santa Claus can cover the entire world in one night distributing presents to everyone! He will become a man who has ulcers at 40, develops a sore back when there is a tough job to do, and refuses to think realistically when war threatens.” When a reporter gave him a chance to clarify his remarks, Chisholm said that “Santa Claus was one of the worst offenders against clear thinking, and so an offense against peace.”
At first glance, I didn't even want to watch this trailer for a CGI movie based on Pokemon. But when I read that the voice of Pikachu was Ryan Reynolds, I had to have a look. He's not just squeaking "Pika pika!" and they explain that. This looks like a pretty cool movie, if you're into this kind of thing. The premier date for Detective Pikachu is May 11, 2019.
As more people fly, planes get bigger, and then they start charging extra for checked luggage, so everyone has a carry-on suitcase. The process of boarding a plane has become slower and more complicated, which prompted airlines to develop new processes to make it faster, or at least more bearable. Strangely, no airline uses the most efficient methods. Or maybe that's not so strange, because if the process was efficient, people wouldn't pay extra to be in the first boarding group. Anyway, you can learn about five different boarding procedures and how well they work at Thrillist.
Some of the most touching love stories are those that blossom through deep struggles and extreme situations like war.
Harley Rustad of The Walrus learned of one such love stories when his mother handed him a worn box, torn at the edges, containing dozens of envelopes, tied with yellowed string in small bundles.
The letters were love letters, sent by Rustad's grandfather, who wrote to the love of his life from the battlefields of the Second World War:
The Canadian soldier, Harry Macdonald, my grandfather, had sent Jacquelyn Robinson dozens of letters, spanning several years—letters written in spidery cursive by candlelight as rain pounded down on corrugated rooftops or amid the blasts of nearby shelling. His letters were often rushed or cut short, with some started and finished with hours or even days in between. He frequently apologized for his messy handwriting, hoping his words would be legible. One letter, sent five days before, written in haste, contained a question for which he anxiously awaited a reply. The letter had begun with a familiar two words, “Dear Jacquie,” and ended with a question: “Will you marry me?”
He signed the bottom of the page, folded the sheet, and slipped it into an envelope and carefully wrote a Vancouver address. Now he waited, not knowing what would come first: death or a reply.
Read the rest of the fascinating story over at The Walrus.
In 1843, Texas was a country unto itself, although it was pressured on both sides: the United States wanted to annex it, and Mexico wanted to conquer it. But a lawyer from New England considered a third option- selling Texas to the British. The plan was, at its heart, a scheme to free Texas' slaves.
A convinced abolitionist practicing law in what was then the independent Republic of Texas, Stephen Pearl Andrews got it into his head that, in an attempt to free Texas’s slaves, he would invite a foreign power into North America and hand over a massive chunk of it. Andrews’s attempt to free Texas’s slaves by way of an invitation to foreign interference illustrates the strange bedfellows created by “the slavery question” in the nineteenth century. Andrews, in his quixotic vision, in his idealism, ambition, and occasional crankery, was an exemplary nineteenth-century American figure.
Andrews had been living in Texas for quite a few years by then, and owned a large amount of land himself. His plan pitted abolitionism against America's lingering distaste for the British Empire. And Andrews was not even part of the Texas government! Read about his plan to sell Texas to the British, which Texans either enthusiastically loved or vehemently hated, at Jstor. -via Digg
Witness the insanity of a multiplayer flight simulator. The air traffic controller resigns himself to the fact that no one knows what they are doing. He trolls a young kid by sending him back to the terminal to load cookies. A 747 keeps trying to crash into the tower. Then a guy shows up in a kite. This is supposed to be the airport in Atlanta, but the pilots just want to show off their moves like they're in an airshow. -via Metafilter
Edgar Allan Poe dropped out of college and joined the army in 1827, when the US military was small and composed mostly of poor immigrants. Enlisted men were not highly regarded, and that might be the reason Poe changed his name to Edgar A. Perry during his service. Within two years, he rose to the rank of Sergeant Major, and then made the leap to West Point.
The evidence indicates he toed the line as an enlisted man. The same cannot be said of his time at the service academy. He entered West Point in 1830 and was court-martialed and discharged the next year. Numerous tall tales have circulated about his misdeeds as a cadet: that he often passed out drunk on campus after visits to a local tavern; that he was known to start food fights with baked potatoes lobbed in the mess hall; that he showed up to drill naked except for a hat and a cartridge belt; and most outrageously, that he murdered his tactical officer by throwing him into the Hudson River.
The real story was not quite as outrageous, but Poe was court-martialed for his behavior at West Point. What caused the budding author to join the army, excel for a time, and then flame out so suddenly? Read what we know about Poe's military career at The Daily Beast. -via Metafilter
An AI (Artificial Intelligence) watched all the TED talks and created this talk from what it learned. It is presented by Alex Reben who is an MIT-trained roboticist and artist who explores humanity through the lens of art and technology.
"Rule the World" in the title can be taken with a grain of salt. A few people end up becoming very powerful in a tiny niche of modern life because someone's gotta do it. The Unicode Consortium is a private non-profit company that sets standards so that programming languages and software can communicate with each other. It's an important job, and no doubt the work is hard. You could try to get a job there if you wanted to.
Other "powerful groups" are businesses that became so successful they overwhelmed any competition. If those companies didn't fulfill a need, or if they turned evil, they could lose their power because they can't exist without users or customers. But remember, if you're not paying for the service, you are the product.
I thought this one was quite odd, so I looked it up. The sentence would be more clear if it said, "They now manufacture all US money paper," instead of "paper money." American currency is still printed by the US Mint, on paper supplied by Crane Currency. The company does print money for other nations.
Then there are the quirks that come with small governments who see a way to become powerful by being different, like a tiny island nation that makes bank by selling their top level domain names or collectible postage stamps. Delaware's lack of usury laws mean that your credit card company is most likely headquartered there (or in South Dakota), and apparently they have other laws to attract business.