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Thomas Jefferson’s Hidden Chemistry Lab Discovered

The University of Virginia (UVA) was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. He designed the curriculum to be heavy on science, and also designed the school’s rotunda. The rotunda is undergoing a renovation, and Matt Scheidt of the historic preservation firm John G. Waite Associates made a peculiar discovery.

"I was laying on my back looking up inside this little space. I saw that there was a piece of cut stone which is very unusual to have in this location. You could see that there was a square cut in the stone and that there was a finished space around that with plaster and painted walls," Scheidt said.

Upon further investigation, he realized he uncovered a piece of history. A chemistry lab designed by Thomas Jefferson and built in the early 1820s, toward the end of the Rotunda's construction.

The lab was bricked up in the 1850s, and then forgotten until now. There were few academic chemistry labs in existence in the 19th century, and even fewer of them survive today. Read the history and description of the lab, and see pictures, at UVA’s website.  -via Buzzfeed

(Image credit: Dan Addison/UVA)


"Relentlessly Gay" Yard Caused A Neighborhood Battle

Baltimore-resident Julie Baker, a widow and mother of four, created a set of rainbow-colored mason jars with the words "Love" and "Ohana" and hung them outside her frontyard. (Ohana, for those of you who haven't seen Disney's Lilo & Stitch cartoon, is the Hawaiian word that means "family.")

Baker didn't think too much of her handicraft until one day, she opened her door to find a note from her neighbor. The note said:

Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay! Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down. This is a Christian area and there are Children.

Keep it up and I will be Forced to call the Police on You! Your kind need to have Respect for GOD.

A Concerned Home Owner.

But Baker didn't "tone it down." Instead, she planned to turn it up even higher. After she shared the story with a friend who posted it on Facebook, the story went viral, and Baker has started a Go Fund Me campaign.

"I am starting this fundraiser so I can work to make my Home even More 'relentlessly gay.' If we go high enough, I will see if I can get a Rainbow Roof! Because my invisible relentlessly gay rainbow dragon should live up there in style!" Baker added, "Put simply, I am a widow and the mother of four children, my youngest in high school and I WILL NOT Relent to Hatred. Instead I will battle it with whimsy and beauty and laughter and love, wrapped around my home, yard and family!!!"


I Wish He Was Four Again

I hear they make teenagers that way so that you don’t mind so much when they leave home. Yet age four isn’t so easy, either. Four is barely out of toddlerhood. Maybe if kids could stay seven years old, with gaps in their teeth and homework a parent can understand... that would be nice. This is the latest comic from Lunarbaboon.


John Denver's "Country Roads" Sung in Japanese is Completely Charming


(Video Link)

And I'm not entirely sure why. But I couldn't help but grin through this entire performance. It's by the band Goose House, which added a banjo to its normal repertoire. This version of the song is just a bit different from this performance of it by John Denver while touring in Japan. No matter who sings it or where, everyone wants to go back home to West Virginia.

-via American Digest


The Women’s Tax

(YouTube link)

The “women’s tax” is a real thing. Products and services tend to cost more when they are gendered, meaning they are labeled to sell to women, or they are painted pink. There are plenty of examples in this video from The Daily Share. Commenters immediately pointed out that men pay more for car insurance because they cause more accidents, which is kind of like long-term care insurance for women. If we could get men to drive better or women to die younger, things would even out, but neither sex really wants to make that sacrifice. As for the products, I learned long ago that buying merchandise in the men’s aisle (unscented, please) can save money over time. The dollars add up fast when shopping for children’s clothing. -via Time


Forget Free Community College, Obama! Here's a Better Plan: Bring Back Vocational High Schools

Yesterday, President Obama proposed that community college should be free for all American students.

"Put simply, what I'd like to do is see the first two years of community college free for everyone who's willing to work for it," Obama said in a video clip posted to Facebook, "That's right. Free for everybody who's willing to work for it." President Obama maintained that higher education is a "the surest ticket" to the middle class.

The free community college plan, which the White House estimated would cost the federal government about $60 billion over 10 years, is open to students who'd attend community college at least halftime and maintain good grades.

Critics pointed out that the cost is likely to be much higher. If the White House estimates of 9 million students partaking in the program every year and saving $3,800 in annual tuition is correct, the cost would be over $34 billion per year. Congress, which is now controlled by conservative Republicans, is also cool to the idea, with prominent members of the Republican party asking where the money would come from.

But politics aside, I think there's a better plan than free community college. Instead, we should bring back vocational high schools.

"College isn't for everyone," New York mayor Michael Bloomberg noted in his 2008 State of the City address, "education is." And he might be on to something: Northwestern University professor James E. Rosenbaum argued in his book, "Beyond College for All: Career Paths for the Forgotten Half," that the current educations system fails those who do not go to college and those who start college but do not finish by not adequately teaching practical skills that they'd need for getting jobs.

"Our friends in Germany know - as we should - that some students are bored by traditional studies," wrote Northwestern University Professor Harold Sirkin in Business Week, "Some don't have the aptitude for college; some would rather work with their hands; and some are unhappy at home and just need to get away. They realize that everyone won't benefit from college, but they can still be successful and contribute to society."

"Americans often see such students as victims," Sirkin added, "Germans see these students as potential assets who might one day shine if they're matched with the right vocation." Indeed, Germany has the system in place exactly for this reason: a dual education system where apprenticeship helps transition young people into full-time employment.

What do you think? Which is the better plan?




Woman Got Her Revenge When an Old Bully Asked Her for a Date


Photo: Louisa Manning via Facebook

Ever wish you could get even with someone who bullied and tormented you when you were growing up? A woman got her chance at revenge years later, when one of the boys who bullied her at school asked her out on a date.

When she was just twelve years old, Louisa Manning was teased and bullied by the boys in her Cambridgeshire school. One boy, who made fun of her weight and called her "Manbeast," in particular stood out. Fast forward eight years later, when Manning, now a beautiful 22-year-old student at Oxford University, got a surprise when she bumped into her old bully at a university ball and that he asked her on a date.

"My gut instinct was to say no," Manning said to Buzzfeed, "but then I realised what a brilliant opportunity it was, and after bouncing ideas off a friend for a few hours, we came up with an idea."

Manning arranged a dinner at a local restaurant and arranged to leave this note to her date:

Hey [name obscured],

So sorry I can’t join you tonight.

Remember year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do – I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day. So I’ve decided to skip dinner.

Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by? Remember how every day for three years, you and your friends called me Manbeast? No perhaps you don’t – or you wouldn’t have seen how I look eight years later and deemed me fuckable enough to treat me like a human being.

I thought I’d send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo, because she’s the one who just stood you up.

Louisa.

After posting the photo on Facebook, Manning's story went viral. A local TV station even picked up her story:

Then, Manning got a second surprise: her old bully apologized. He wrote on Facebook:

"Hey… For what it’s worth, I was actually here to meet up looking for a chance to meet up looking to make friends, not because you are very good looking. I guess I had it coming though, and certainly don’t blame you for standing me up.

I can’t change who I was 8 years ago, and I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that it didn’t happen, but I hope you believe me when I say I’m a completely different person now. I can only apologise and wish you the very best. I guess I won’t hear from you again but I mean it when I say that I hope you have every success you deserve."

There was plenty of support for Louisa and what she did in her Facebook post comments, but did she do the right thing? No doubt that the boy's bullying caused her significant distress - but do you remember all the stupid things you said to your friends when you were 12 years old? What do you think?

Did She Do the Right Thing?




The Teletubbies Sun Baby Revealed

The baby whose face became the sun on the TV show Teletubbies has spilled her secret. Jess Smith was just nine months old when she was recorded giggling, laughing, and looking. She’s now 19 and a student at Canterbury Christ Church University. Smith said students were encouraged to tell each other something no one knew, and her TV role came out. She later posted it on her Facebook page for her friends.  

In 1996, her mother, Anji Smith, 44, took her to Edenbridge Hospital to be weighed and a health visitor, who had been asked by Ragdoll Productions to find smiley babies, put Jess's name forward.

Mrs Smith said it was never intended to be a big thing: "It was just something a bit different to do and we didn't expect it to be as big as it was.

"They just sat her in front of a camera and she just laughed and smiled at her dad.

"We didn't hear anything until we got a letter when she was 18 months old saying she'd been picked.

"It was really weird seeing her on television."     

You can read more of Smith’s story at The Telegraph. -via reddit

(Image credit: BBC/SWNS)


2 Brothers Arguing on C-SPAN Interrupted by Call from Mom


(Video Link)

"Oh, God, it's Mom!"

This is so precious! On the left, representing the right, is Dallas Woodhouse. On the right, representing the left, is Brad Woodhouse. They're brothers and political activists. Like brothers often do, they argue a lot. Specifically, they argue about politics. That's why they recently met on the C-SPAN program Washington Journal.

That show is a call-in program. People around the country can call a number and speak to the debaters on live television. Someone did call in: their mother. She's sick to death of their political bickering. Ms. Woodhouse wants them to knock it off when they visit her at Christmas. She respects that they're both passionate about politics, "But I hope that they just kind of get this out of their system today on your program."

-via 22 Words


Credit Where Credit is Due

Comedian Dan Wilbur recently heard from a friend that one of his jokes had been published in Reader’s Digest. It was the first he’d heard of it, because the magazine had taken it from Twitter without contacting him. So he wrote an email to the editors, saying, in part: 

When I heard my joke was featured, it made me feel good. Getting a joke printed in Reader's Digest is one of the few successes in my career that I can explain to my mom without needing to explain at length what people do on the Internet nowadays. So when I call my mom and tell her to look in September's Genius Issue of your magazine for my joke, the first thing she'll ask is why there's an @ symbol in front of my name. Then I'll have to explain that, well, I didn't really ask you guys to print it, nor did I get paid, and then she's going to ask me what, if anything, in comedy DOES pay, and then she's going to ask when I'm going to get a real job and settle down and have kids and why I drink so much, and that's just too much to deal with in one conversation, you know?

There’s a lot more to it, in which Wilbur informed them that the proper way to use Tweets was to retweet digitally (Reader’s Digest has a Twitter feed), or pay him for his work, or at least ask next time.  

I never expected a response, but just three days later, I got a response from Features Editor Andrew Simmons saying “Just so you know, your email spawned a pretty heavy meeting that included editors, rights department, research department, lawyers, and a spilled cup of Starbucks.” I said thank you and offered him my condolences that he had to attend a meeting. He was very sweet and he was very happy to report that the magazine would be doing the right thing from now on.

And very soon, Wilbur received a check for $25! So if Reader’s Digest uses one of your Tweets, and you get paid, you can thank Wilbur. Read the entire story here. -via Digg

(Image credit: Dan Wilbur)


Only 1 College in the United States Offers a Bagpiping Major


(Photo of a Chicago PD piper by Jamie McCaffrey)

If you want to gauge the sorry state of higher education in the United States, this statistic tells you everything you need to know: there is only 1 college in the entire country that offers bagpiping as an undergraduate major.

That college is Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The instrumental performance Bachelor of Fine Arts program includes a bagpiping option. Standing alone in the breach is one man: Professor Andrew Carlisle. He teaches the bagpiping classes as well as supervises the three or so students majoring in that noble instrument at Carnegie Mellon. Carlisle teaches them in a designated bagpipe room, which is soundproofed for reasons that I do not understand.

-via Marilyn Terrell, who enjoys depressing me.


Woman Calls 911, Pretends to Order Pizza in Order to Summon the Police

(Photo: H. Michael Karshis)

5 months ago, a reddit thread asked “911 Operators, what is that 1 call that you could never forget?” Crux1836 responded with this fascinating story:

I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious: I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious:

"911, where is you emergency?"

"123 Main St."

"Ok, what's going on there?"

"I'd like to order a pizza for delivery." (oh great, another prank call).

"Ma'am, you've reached 911"

"Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?"

"Ummm…. I'm sorry, you know you've called 911 right?"

"Yeah, do you know how long it will be?"

"Ok, Ma'am, is everything ok over there? do you have an emergency?"

"Yes, I do."

"..And you can't talk about it because there's someone in the room with you?" (moment of realization)

"Yes, that's correct. Do you know how long it will be?"

"I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?"

"Nope."

"Can you stay on the phone with me?"

"Nope. See you soon, thanks"

As we dispatch the call, I check the history at the address, and see there are multiple previous domestic violence calls. The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and boyfriend was drunk. Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been beating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick. Definitely one of the most memorable calls.

Rossalyn Warren of BuzzFeed contacted the redditor for more information. His name is Keith Weisinger. From 2004-2006, he worked as a police dispatcher. Warren writes:

Weisinger stressed that although he helped in this situation, the credit needed to be given to the caller.

He praised the woman for her bravery and smart thinking. “Whether she had thought of this trick before, or it just came to her,” he said, “she indicated the urgency of her situation without giving away the true purpose of her call.”


Funny: All the Comments on Every Recipe Blog


(Photo: Robert S. Donovan)

There's a common proverb on the internet: "Don't read the comments." Often online comments may make you despair for humanity.* This is especially true for recipe blogs, where comments commonly demonstrate an inability to follow instructions or general objections to the concept of food. Mallory Ortberg of The Toast has helpfully listed all of them so that you need no longer gaze into the abyss. Here is a sampling:

“I didn’t have any eggs, so I replaced them with a banana-chia-flaxseed pulse. It turned out terrible; this recipe is terrible.”

“Could you please give the metric weight measurements, and sometime in the next twenty minutes; I’m making this for a dinner party and my guests are already here.”

“Have you thought about making a sugar-free version of this?”

“Can you give us a calorie breakdown for this?”

“a warning that if you cook this at 275°F for three hours instead of at 400°F for twenty-five minutes its completely ruined. do you have any suggestions?”

“I didn’t have buttermilk, so I just poured baking soda into a container of raspberry yogurt. It tasted terrible.”

“If you use olive oil for any recipe that’s cooked over 450°F, the oil will denature and you will get cancer. This post is irresponsible. You should only use grapeseed oil you’ve pressed yourself in a very cold room.”

“I just started Paleo yesterday, and I’m wondering if there’s a way to make this without the ingredients.”

“Have you considered making a version of this margherita pizza for your readers who are trying to avoid gluten, dairy and nightshades? What if I shoved a roll of basil leaves in my mouth, do you think that would taste good?”

“If you don’t soak the seeds for at least fourteen hours before using, the phytic acid will give you cancer. Just thought you should know.”

-via Stella Parks

*This does not apply to Neatorama comments, which are left by readers who are thoughtful, wise, insightful, and good-looking.


Space Shuttle Endeavor and International Space Station, Photographed Together

Image Via

Though I am sure none of us travel to space enough to know the above photo occurance is rare, but it is rare. While many of us weened of film look at that and immediately think of the movie Gravity, stop and ponder for a second how this is real. That is a space shuttle Endeavor docked to the International Space Station, as they both float around in outer space.

It is the kind of thing that just kind of steals your breath for a moment when you imagine the reality of it. How quiet it must be up there. How scary it must be while docking. To the astronauts on the Endeavor, it is just another day. To the rest of us, it is nothing short of jaw dropping.

For those curious, a departing supply ship took the photo. The weirdest part? I can see my house from here.

NASA


The Coach’s Speech

(YouTube link)

Dave Belisle is the coach of the Cumberland American Little League team of Rhode Island, the New England regional champions. They were eliminated from the Little League World Series regional finals by a team from Chicago. The coach gave the kids a speech they will always remember. Tom Hanks said there's no crying in baseball, but you may feel a little sting behind the eyes. This is what Little League should be. -via reddit


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