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Harriet the Singing Donkey



Martin Stanton lives in Ireland, and his neighbors down the road have a donkey named Harriet. Harriet never learned how to heehaw like other donkeys, but she's got an operatic soprano voice with occasional vibrato. I am not making this up. -via Laughing Squid


Parenting Lessons That Completely Backfired

Parents have a lot of things to teach children and relatively little time to do it. Most of us are just making it up as we go along, anyway. Everyone has a story about that one time that the kid outsmarted us, like the kid who kept his room clean by living in the hallway, or completely misunderstood the point, or even stories of totally unforeseen circumstances, like the father who auditioned for his daughter's high school play in order to demonstrate that failure is okay and then won a leading role. An askreddit thread has a treasure trove of those stories. 

One of my 5 year old twins was still having occasional accidents because she would get so caught up in playing/doing something else that she just wouldn't go and would pee her pants. To combat this we would give her a special prize of some variety when she wouldn't have an accident. This, in turn, caused her twin sister to START having accidents so she could get prizes for not having accidents (even though she was fine on this front beforehand.) We had to rethink our methods.          -KyleRichXV

Not a parent, but as a child I noticed my sister was writing her name on the walls when she was drawing on them with crayon. Taking on the role of Helpful Big Sister, I informed her if she was going to graffiti things she shouldn't write her name and give herself away.

A few weeks later, she was carving patterns into the wooden desk in the study and carved my name into it instead.         -frozennie

Coworker of mine was trying to teach her kid the "don't talk with your mouth full" rule. Instead, the kid just spits out their food when they want to talk.

Children are the absolute masters of malicious compliance.          -MisterCrispy

Read a book that suggested you ask your kid what an appropriate punishment for misbehaving would be and then carry it out. 6 yo son pinched his brother or something, so we asked what an appropriate punishment would be. He said “pluck out my eyeballs and throw me over a cliff?”. We didn't follow through. And stopped reading parenting books.          -Mungobrick

Lifehacker has a roundup of the best stories, and you can read them all in the reddit thread. -via Metafilter

Oh yeah, there are more stories in the comments at Lifehacker and Metafilter. Feel free to add yours here.


Introducing Kids to Horror Films

If you dislike horror movies, you might want to shield your children from them, but sooner or later they're going to see something that might traumatize them while visiting friends. If you enjoy horror movies, you don't want to traumatize your child and turn them against the movies you love. There are films made for children that will introduce them to the thrill of being scared -but not too scared. Den of Geek has a list of movies that "offer children a safe, but interesting, introduction to the world of horror, with archetypal tropes, characters and even the odd jump scare." The trick here is to watch with your children, so you can pause, explain, and reassure when necessary.

When your child is older and has seen the movies made for kids, then what? Elementary students and tweens may get a thrill out of gore and jump scares, but to really appreciate the horror genre, they need to see well-made movies that engage the viewer. For that, you might consult the list of 81 Best Creepy Horror Movies, although you'll want to select movies you've already seen to ensure they are appropriate for your children. Older classics like Gaslight or The Uninvited will give them the creeps without the sex and violence of newer movies. Watching horror movies that are age-appropriate will help prepare your children for the time they are old enough to go to a theater without you.


Why the Ouija Board Became So Big

Ouija board is parlor game, albeit one with no rules, strategy, or goal. What it does have is whiff of the supernatural, which is enough to make it a long-lasting hit. Vox brings us the history of the Ouija board, as part of its series called "Overrated." -via Tastefully Offensive


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.


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


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


How Asia Got Crazy Rich

On the one hand, you can enjoy the movie Crazy Rich Asians without knowing a thing about Singapore. It's a modern romantic comedy with a main character, Rachel Chu, who is much more than a hot mess or a passive damsel in distress. It's also a long-overdue representative breakthrough for Hollywood. On the other hand, you might be interested in learning how the world of fabulous wealth that Rachel travels to became that way.  

The most prominent family in Kwan’s story are the Youngs, whose original fortune dates back to Nick’s Chinese-born great-grandmother, presumably at the turn of the 20th century. The Youngs got in on the ground floor of an older, Victorian-era wealth, viewed by its caretakers as sociologically distinct from the newer elites found across the Asia-Pacific. The unstated irony is that owning lots of land in Singapore—and Malaysia and China, not to mention London and Hawaii—made the Young family this fabulously wealthy only because the rest of Asia, along with its nouveau riche, made the region so economically productive in recent decades. These tensions across geography and generation appear at the margins of the romantic plot. Nick’s cousin explains to Rachel that in Asia’s richest circles, you will find Hong Kongers, “Taiwan Tycoons,” and “Beijing Billionaires.” These families are not equals.

While the story is fictional, the setting is not. Get a short course in Asian economics and how it gave birth to modern Singapore and its fabulous wealth at n+1 magazine.


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


Pop Culture Evolutions



Illustrator Jeff Victor (previously at Neatorama) does "Pop Culture Evolutions," meaning a series of pictures showing how a character has changed over time. For comic book superheroes, that means drawing from the styles of movies and comic books, going way back, as far as 80 years in the case of Superman, and Wonder Woman is almost as old.  



He also does villains, monsters, and heroes without superpowers. But it's not just characters. Victor also shows the evolution of actors and the roles they select over time, like John Goodman, Nicolas Cage, Andy Serkis, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum.



Victor doesn't limit himself to actors and characters, as he has illustrated evolutions of people like Michael Jackson and Stan Lee. See more of Victor's art at his blog and at Instagram. -via Buzzfeed


Real Flamethrowers vs. “Not a Flamethrower”

Earlier this year, Elon Musk threw together a personal flamethrower and sold a ton of them through his Boring Company to raise some quick cash. The boxes were labeled "Not a Flamethrower," and that's what they came to be called. No one disputes that they are dangerous, but how do they stack up against professional and military grade flamethrowers? Watch and see as DriveTanks.com test three models. If you want to skip the unboxing, the flames begin at 2:00. -via Digg


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