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The 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

(Mary McGowan)

"Whoa!" says the squirrel, "They picked me?!" The annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards received thousands of entries this year, and they have been whittled down to 41 finalists. All kinds of animals, from backyard critters to exotic beasts, have been caught in the act. Like this rhino in a tutu.

(Kallol Mukherjee)

The winners will be announced on November 15th at the awards ceremony. Meanwhile, you can browse all 41 finalists at Bored Panda.


A tale of five squirrels: vets untangle 'Gordian Knot' of rodents

These five young squirrels have been saved after their tails became entangled in a "Gordian Knot". A “caring finder” found the infants, known as kits, and took them to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at the Wisconsin Humane Society. Here they were put under general anesthetic and quickly operated on. “It was impossible to tell whose tail was whose, and we were increasingly concerned because all of them had suffered from varying degrees of tissue damage to their tails caused by circulatory impairment,” the centre said. After about 20 minutes of careful cutting the knot began to undo and the squirrels were left to recover from their anesthetic. “Now, one day later, they are all bright-eyed, and three of the five are ‘bushy-tailed’, but we’ll need to monitor all of them for a couple of days to watch for tail necrosis caused by impaired blood flow,” the centre said.

link :


Jim Castigan's Hobbit House

Jim Castigan is a concrete construction pro and a Lord of the Rings fan. A few years ago, he decided he needed a shed for the lawn tractor, and thought it would be neat if it looked like a Hobbit house. The shed turned out well and inspired him to build a complete two-bedroom, two-bathroom, energy-efficient Hobbit house, which he began five years ago. Castigan chronicled the project in a blog. The Hobbit house exterior is finished, and the interior is almost finished, and not yet furnished.

You can see more pictures of the house, exterior and interior, with details, in this post and at Instagram. For construction geeks, there's a gallery of the entire project here. -via Laughing Squid


The Frozen Dead of Antarctica

There are many ways to die in Antartica: a fall from a cliff, a slip into an ice crevasse, starving to death, and of course, freezing. The oldest human bones found in Antarctica are from a Chilean woman who died between 1819 and 1825, a true pioneer, although her story is a mystery. She is only the first known of many people who have died in Antarctica and whose bodies remain there, frozen and often lost. A hundred years later, there was the Terra Nova Expedition (pictured), in which all five men died, but only three bodies were ever recovered. Over time, more explorers, sailors, and workers died in the frozen wilderness, some eventually buried in cemeteries on the continent, others lost to deep snow and ice, or becoming part of glaciers moving toward the sea. Read about the frozen dead of Antarctica at BBC Future. -via Real Clear Science


Charlie the Dalmatian is Like a Real Life Heart Eyes Emoji

Charlie the Dalmatian sure is one loving dog. He's got a real life heart eyes emoji ... and more Instagram followers than most of us!


Zig Zag, the Happiest Kitten Ever

Chris Poole and his wife have adopted two new kittens! We don't know Jugg's story yet, but Zig Zag was rescued from underneath a car, where she had taken shelter from a busy road.

Zig Zag was scared, sick, and hungry, but has taken well to her new home, and has now joined Cole and Marmalade (and Jugg), the world's luckiest cats, inside the house. Poole also fosters kittens from a shelter, so Cole and Marmalade are used to extra cats around. Zig Zag and Jugg, however, are there for good.


Why 95.8% of Female Newscasters Have the Same Hair

These two pictures show Esther Katro presenting local news in Arkansas. The only difference is the TV news makeover. The way a woman chooses to present herself is very individual, the result of years of consideration and experiment by the time she is ready to join the workforce. But for a woman in TV news, her look will be shaped by outside forces, whether from management or from audience feedback. The pressure to look a certain way for television reporters is not necessarily to make them look better, but to make them less distracting. The result is that they end up looking the same across the country and up and down the dial.   

So what are the so-called rules of on-air hair? Anchors, reporters, and industry experts interviewed for this piece laid them out: Wear your hair down, in a smooth style that hits at the collarbone or above. Updos and complicated styles are a no, as are drastic color changes. Youthful appearance is key (better dye those grays away!). A bit of wave is okay (and increasingly popular at some stations), but ringlets and kinky curls are not.

It's not just perception, either. Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, analyzed more than 400 publicity images for local broadcast journalists and found that 95.8 percent of female anchors and reporters had smooth hair. About two-thirds had short or medium-length cuts. Nearly half of the women were blond. Zero had gray hair. Just one black woman in the UT study sample wore her natural curls.

The custom does not affect all women reporters equally. Black women spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to conform to expectations for their hair, and older women must fight against the forces of time. News anchors do not want their looks to distract from their work, but must they sacrifice their sense of identity to keep a job? Read about the women in TV news who deal with that pressure at InStyle.  -via Metafilter


The Fake Neighborhoods on Google Maps

We are now becoming more dependent on Google Maps every day. You can find out all kinds of things about your own part of the world from those maps, which may surprise you -you didn't know that was the name of your neighborhood! Well, maybe it isn't. Anomalies and mistakes on Google Maps have real-world consequences, including almost starting a war between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. -via Laughing Squid


The World's Longest Running Daily Webcomic

Bill Holbrook, a cartoonist in Georgia, writes and draws two syndicated newspaper comic strips, these being On the Fastrack and Safe Havens. In an unusual twist for a cartoonist, he also writes and draws a third comic strip, this being the webcomic Kevin & Kell (an intended alliterative pun of Heaven and Hell). Following is a summary derived from the website.

Years ago, Kevin Kindle the rabbit and Kell Dewclaw the wolf met in an online chat room. After falling head over heels for each other, they decided to meet in person. It wasn't until then that they realized they were from separate ends of the food chain.

However, the relationship they'd developed online overcame Kevin's instinct for self-preservation, and Kell's heart melted from such a demonstration of trust. Kell was energetic and vivacious, qualities Kevin had found lacking in herbivores. Such a relationship between predator and prey seemed doomed to fail but these two opposites were determined to overcome the barriers that society placed in their path.

They eventually married, knowing good and well they would become outcasts. They settled in the suburb of Domain, which borders both a large metropolitan area and an uncharted region known simply as The Wild. A year later, Kell gave birth to Coney, a carnivorous female bunny who inherited Kevin's big ears and Kell's meaty appetite.

Other than their unconventional pairing, these woodland Bradys are not unlike a typical American family. Kevin and Kell live within a tree (at the corner of Tooth and Nail Streets) containing all the comforts of a suburban home: TV, indoor plumbing and neighbors with binoculars. Kell now works as CEO of a company that supplies meat to supermarkets through predation. Kevin owns and operates an Internet Service Provider called Hare-Link from the basement of their home. Family members and many other animals appear as regular characters, and in a running plot line, all marriages are almost always between different species, most often predator and prey.

Continuities vary from simple dailies to complex storylines that run for weeks on end. Plots typically involve some sort of high-tech but also run a gamut of topics such as friendship, relationships, family issues, workplace issues, and personal conflicts. Two things are certain - 1) you've never seen a comic strip like this before and 2) animals are every bit as neurotic as humans (who, by the way, make occasional appearances in the strip).

Kevin & Kell may be found at, embedded in which are links to Holbrook's other strips, and most surprisingly, to Hare-Link itself, which is a real ISP. Check it out and you may find, as I did, that it is a good daily read.


How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?

Sure, imagining a police force on Mars is jumping the gun a little, but if someday there were enough colonizers living on the red planet to actually have a murder mystery, how would you find the killer? We have protocols and procedures here on Earth that would have to be adapted to a very different environment. Christyann Darwent has studied archaeology in the Arctic, and was game to explain the challenges of extraterrestrial forensics.  

Consider the basic science of crime-scene analysis. In the dry, freezer-like air and extreme solar exposure of Mars, DNA will age differently than it does on Earth. Blood from blunt-trauma and stab wounds will produce dramatically new spatter patterns in the planet’s low gravity. Electrostatic charge will give a new kind of evidentiary value to dust found clinging to the exteriors of space suits and nearby surfaces. Even radiocarbon dating will be different on Mars, Darwent reminded me, due to the planet’s atmospheric chemistry, making it difficult to date older crime scenes.

The Martian environment itself is also already so lethal that even a violent murder could be disguised as a natural act. Darwent suggested that a would-be murderer on the Red Planet could use the environment’s ambient lethality to her advantage. A fatal poisoning could be staged to seem as if the victim simply died of exposure to abrasive chemicals, known as perchlorates, in the Martian rocks. A weak seal on a space suit, or an oxygen meter that appears to have failed but was actually tampered with, could really be a clever homicide hiding in plain sight.

We've all seen that movie, but it's just the beginning. Other experts contributed their knowledge of government, technology, international law, politics, and human nature, in addition to what we know about Mars itself, to the thought experiment of a Mars murder mystery. Read what they have to say at the Atlantic.

(Image credit: Matt Chinworth)


Reporting From the Storm

For some reason, news outlets send reporters into hurricane areas that have been evacuated. The reporters tell us that everyone should leave, yet they stay to give us visuals that we don't need. Are they risking their lives unnecessarily? Often, no. Today, people have been sharing a video from The Weather Channel in which a reporter is working hard to stand up against the wind, but it doesn't seem to affect the two guys walking in the background.

Adam Gordon and friends had a little time on their hands, and figured they could do their own report. -via reddit


Who Wants to be a Ripperologist?

A Ripperologist is one who is interested in (or obsessed with) the study of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders of 1888, but the field also includes emphasis on Victoriana of all sorts in general and the East End of London in particular. More books have been written on Jack the Ripper than on all US Presidents combined, and interest in Jack has never been higher.

The magazine Ripperologist is the foremost of several publications dedicated to promotion and discussion of Ripperology, and it is now a free e-zine, available through this link. Back issues are available as free downloads to the point at which Ripperologist was converted from a print magazine

Emphasis is also given to other serial killers and infamous Victorian criminals, and scarcely an issue is to be found that does not contain something profound concerning crimes and/or events that you most probably have heard of before. Prepared to be overwhelmed by detail and minutiae that you never expected to exist for such things.

And if that's not enough, be advised that I used to write for Ripperologist and my work can be found - somewhere - in its pages. See if you can find me.


What's For Sale Again?

Did you read the sign above as "strawberries for sale"? Read it again!


Skeleton Typogram by Aaron Kuehn

American graphic artist Aaron Kuehn created this amazing Skeleton Typogram depicting all the bones in the human body typographically using only their names.


Mummified Ice Age Wolf Pup Discovered in a Melting Permafrost

Gold miners working in Canada's Yukon territory in 2016 discovered two mummified ice-age mammals - a wolf pup and a caribou - that were kept amazingly intact by the permafrost. Carbon-dating placed the specimens at over 50,000 years old.

"They're spectacular, they're world-class, and we're definitely really excited about them," said Yukon government paleontologist Grant Zazula.
Ice age bones and fossils are often found in Yukon, but mummified carcasses are extremely rare, according to Zazula.
"To our knowledge this is the only mummified ice age wolf ever found in the world."

CBC has the story.

(Photo: Government of Yukon)

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