Friday, September 22, 2023
In the latest edition of Ze Frank's True Facts series, we learn about reef coral. Yeah, it's an animal, although what we see of them are their shells, which make a reef. You might wonder how he could ever make a bawdy, silly, joke-filled video about coral, but he manages to do so. One animal of coral is called a polyp. What we would call building a reef, he describes as a polyp "farting crystals." You get the idea. Yeah, it's a ridiculous way of telling a story, but that makes it much easier to learn how coral works. Or at least more likely to be remembered. See, already I am impressed that coral reproduces both sexually and by cloning themselves. And they have several ways of eating. The images in this video are beautiful on some ways, and gross in others. There's a one-minute skippable ad at the five-minute mark.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, was the site of a blessed event on September 12. An eight-year-old cheetah named Echo gave birth to a litter of five cubs! The cubs appear to be doing quite well, and are being left alone with Echo. When they are a bit older, staff will take inventory to see how many males and females there are, and take a blood test to determine who the father is. It will be either Asante or Flash, both part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition program, which the zoo is a part of.
You can peak in on the cheetahs any time with the Cheetah Cam, although Echo has been moving them around, so you may have to come back later to see them. Read more about this cheetah family at Zooborns.
If you enjoy the dry humor of engineering nerds, wait until you see three of them together! A Finnish industrial company called Stalatube wanted to show off their stainless steel hollow sections. That's a pretty esoteric product, and their engineer Pekka is not all that charismatic (and likely fictional), so how will they draw attention? They team up with Finnish madman Lauri Vuohensilta of the Hydraulic Press Channel and and Mythbusters' Jamie Hyneman, now a professor at LUT University in Lappeenranta, Finland.
They put different grades of steel through Lauri's hydraulic press test, with the results you might expect. Then they go on to test the steel with heat. But that's not enough, so they take their samples to a testing facility where the steel is further tortured. Hyneman is duly impressed with the product, but that's still not good enough for Pekka. There's more to come; the second episode of this ad series will drop on October 6. Yes, it's an ad, but if you are going to watch a ten-minute ad for anything today, you'd want it to be this one. (via Metafilter)
Hollingsworth Hound presents The CEO's Guide to Government Services. The latest from Tom the Dancing Bug.
Han – The Little Merman. A controversial statue in Elsinore, Denmark, is the gender-swapped version of The Little Mermaid.
When a Five-year-old Asks About Nazis.
How to Use Analogous Colors to Make Your Home Look Expertly Designed.
Conservative groups draw up plan to dismantle the US government and replace it with Trump’s vision. Lots more links at Metafilter.
The Nedelin Catastrophe: The Worst Space-Related Disaster Ever. It was, of course, covered up from public knowledge.
New Research Reveals How the Nazis Targeted Transgender People.
Eugene Bostick has a soft heart for dogs. He’s taken in countless unwanted dogs and gave them a forever home. And to give them a little extra fun, he takes them on a train ride! He built the train out of plastic barrels and pulls it with his tractor. The dogs love it. (via Neatorama)
Thursday, September 21, 2023
They dance, of course! When bears emerge from the hibernation in the spring, they've shed most of the weight they put on last summer, but they still have their winter coat. As the temperatures rise, they feel their fur starting to get loose. It's an itch that must be scratched, and the best place to do it is against a tree with rough bark. The dancing in this video starts at about 1:45, and it's a downright sensuous experience. As they scratch their backs, the fur comes off, and so does that bear's scent. It's our job to add the music.
This clip, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, is from the BBC TV series Planet Earth II. The entire video is a feast for the eyes, as long as you aren't a marmot. (via Born in Space)
Mandy and Phillip took in a special needs foster cat and named him Willie Wonky. Well, cats don't care what you name them as long as you care for them. They had to make some adjustments in their household for Willie, but he turned out to be so delightful and loving that they adopted him permanently. A "wobbly cat" is one with a neurological condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, which affects motor control but is not painful and doesn't affect a cat's lifespan if they are cared for. Mandy and Phillip learned so much while caring for Willy that they took in another wobbly cat, a kitten named Charlie. Willie bonded with Charlie, and now Charlie has been adopted into the family, too! You can keep up with Willie, Charlie, and the rest of the family at Facebook and Instagram.
In the summer of 2020, a young man from Gambia stayed with me because of the pandemic. He couldn't remain at school after graduation, he couldn't fly home, and slowdowns in government work meant he couldn't get a work permit in time to accept job offers. I was gone a lot taking care of my mother, but I learned quite a bit about the Gambia. The word means "river."
I asked him how Senegal felt about the Gambians taking both banks of the river. He said that wasn't us, that was the French and the British. This video tells that story. The Gambians and Senegalese get along fine, and share things like utilities and sports teams. However, some of the things I learned about West African politics made me feel very lucky to live in the US.
“Activewear” is the marketing term for sports or exercise clothing. Everyone wears activewear, but few are actually active. There are two basic kinds of activewear: the body-hugging yoga pants and sports bras that show off one’s physique, figure, or lack thereof, and the loose sweats good for warmth and comfort. Young people want to show off their bodies and look like they work out, and we older folks just want chafe-free covering. The video is aimed at girls, but we all know guys do it, too. This music video was created by the Van Vuuren Bros for the TV show Skit Box. (via Tastefully Offensive)
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
If you haven't seen Barbie yet (and there are a few of us), here's your chance to get an extended look and critique of the movie. Oh, and you won't want to miss the Quentin Tarantino part. Screen Junkies pronounces it a showcase of ad placement, not just for Barbie but also for Chevrolet and other consumer products. Plus, it's deeply feminist, implausible, and juvenile. But who cares about all that? It's really funny, which covers all other sins. But they find plenty of other good things to say about Barbie, so it's no wonder that the movie has made $1.4 billion already, the most of any 2023 movie so far.
In the US, you can give your baby pretty much any name you choose, but the very worst examples might draw the attention of Child Protective Services. In Australia, the regulations prohibit certain types of names, and each is judged individually. The one that gave me pause was a restriction against naming your child a title. In Kentucky, that would exclude a lot of Generals, Majors, Dukes, and Earls. But one rules was a restriction against a name "contrary to the public interest for some other reason." That's as ambiguous as you can get, and gives bureaucrats a lot of power over naming your child.
Kirsten Drysdale of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation decided to test the limits of the law by naming her child something pretty bad, but not specifically prohibited. Oh yeah, she really did. Let's see how that goes. This video does a good job of covering up the worst language, but it still has NSFW audio. (via reddit)
The Wild History of the Tale That Created the Modern Vampire (And No, It's Not Dracula).
How to pronounce "D'yer Mak'er."
Older Adults Share The Best Things About Being In Your 60s.
Doodle a few minutes with the refreshing web toy Water. (via Everlasting Blort)
John Fetterman is leaning into the latest ridiculous conspiracy theory about him by selling t-shirts. This would look good on my 5' 3" frame. (via Fark)
Should you be friends with your kids? They can always make new friends, but they need a parent.
Brain-altering parasite turns ants into zombies at dawn and dusk. They glued tags to hundreds of ant butts to study them. (via Real Clear Science)
Electric Vehicle Gender Gap Suggests Men Want Novelty, Women Want Value. Just like every other part of life.
This is pretty neat technology, if you care at all about golf courses. (via Super Punch)
Bubba Watson’s hovercraft golf cart is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Imagine how much fun a round of golf would be in one of these.🤣 pic.twitter.com/4umEl14PNE— Tour Pro 🏌️♂️ (@OfficialTourPro) September 16, 2023
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Daniel Radcliffe was eleven years old when he first auditioned to play the role of Harry Potter. He grew up making the eight Harry Potter films, and was inextricably linked to the character. But not for life. Radcliffe wanted to be an actor since he was five years old, and was determined not to be typecast, which would shorten his professional career. He latched onto all kinds of roles during and after Harry Potter, and became most noted for the weirdest ones- roles that were totally opposite what you would expect from the child wizard in a child's literary series. Let's see how Daniel Radcliffe deliberately set out to stretch his abilities and our expectations after establishing a name for himself in an iconic role.
We know that a few words are the same in all languages, or at least many languages, because they travel from one language to another. It's only natural, as we travel the globe and find things and concepts that are new to us. There are a lot of "loanwords" that just become a part of the second language. That's what we get for communicating. Even more common are words taken from another language and then get changed a bit to fit better into the second language. You might even call them mangled, as some examples end up being rather funny to people who speak both the old and new languages. Then there are "calques," which I wasn't at all familiar with, but it has to do with translation. Tom Scott explains these leaps of language that eventually enrich all of our languages. Along the way, we also find out where Admiral Ackbar's name came from.
What the Internet Will Tell You About the Canadian Marble Fox.
The Earth Opens Up Under Three Cadillac SUVs.
29 Video Game Features With Bonkers Backstories. It was easier to make a bug into a feature than it was to fix it.
Why Can’t Vampires Eat Garlic?
While carrying garlic is presumably adequate to repel vampires, ingesting garlic is even better because it makes one's blood distasteful to vampires. The Medical Journal of Australia offers tips on the proper dosage for such purposes.
Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani perform an animated mugshot duet. (via Nag on the Lake)
Carrots were originally purple, not orange. Here’s what happened. (via Damn Interesting)
Toronto restaurant issues liability waiver after customer asks for ketchup on shawarma. (via Metafilter)
Imagine tootling along in your car when this happens. This was on Red Hill Avenue in Irvine, California. The local paper had the story a bit later. It was a Piper Cherokee with some kind of equipment failure that prompted an emergency landing on the street. No one was injured, and the plane was not damaged during the landing.
Like redditor AHPpilot said, “One man's emergency landing is another man's hilarious dash cam video.” (via reddit)
Monday, September 18, 2023
The 1933 movie Duck Soup is about the closest we've come to a perfect comedy. It stars the four Marx Brothers plus Margaret Dumont. It was Zeppo's final film with his brothers. The synopsis:
Groucho portrays the newly installed president of the mythical country of Freedonia. Zeppo is his secretary, while Chico and Harpo are spies for the neighboring country of Sylvania. Relations between Groucho and the Sylvanian ambassador deteriorate during the film, and they go to war at the conclusion.Even if you've never seen the whole movie, you already know some of the highlights, like the hat exchange, the sidecar gag, and the famous mirror scene. Oh yeah, and a lot of jokes you've heard over the years. (via Metafilter)
I have four cats, and I know where they will be when I go to bed. One will sleep near my arms, so can pet him, or even fall asleep on my arm. The biggest cat will always be at the foot of the bed. One cat never sleeps in my bed because it's too crowded, but she will be on the table nearby. And the kitten wants to be in my face.
Cats spend more than half their lives asleep, so where they choose to do so is important to them. If you cat wants to sleep with you, that's a sign that they like you. Of course, it helps that you generate warmth on a cold night. Where they sleep when you are not in bed will tell you about their status, comfort, sense of security, and relationships with other cats. Feline Fanatics goes over the many factors that a cat balances before deciding where the perfect place to sleep will be.
When we think about the Stone Age, we think of cave men, or The Flintstones. You might be surprised at the many important steps that mankind took toward civilization during the Stone Age, which lasted a couple of million years. What we think of as "primitive" during that period was the best life ever gets for early man, and those folks made great efforts toward making their own lives better with new ideas and technical innovations. We call it the Stone Age because that's what they left behind. Who knows what else they used? Bones, sure, and maybe wood, leather, plants, and a host of other things that just didn't survive long enough for us to find them. Meanwhile, humans developed fire-making, cooking, art, clothing, agriculture, and long-distance travel. That's a lot of innovation for "cave men." We only call them "prehistoric" because they didn't write their accomplishments down, but we can figure out their history from what little they did leave behind.
Four Sisters Get Caught. A delightful emergency they really didn't want Mom to see.
The Nurses of MASH — Meet the Real Women Behind The Characters From the Iconic Korean War TV Series. (via Strange Company)
What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan? Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth. (via Atlas Obscura)
We Blind Taste Tested Fast Food Spicy Chicken Sandwiches — Here Is The Hottest & Most Delicious.
Inside The Cottage Industry Of ‘Experts’ Paid To Defend Anti-Trans Laws. (via Fark)
California and Florida grew quickly on the promise of perfect climates in the 1900s – today, they lead the country in climate change risks. (via Smithsonian)
15 Facts About A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884.
Spend A Few Months In Rotterdam Working At “The World’s First Coffee Hotel.” (via Nag on the Lake)
Above Average is making a series of videos called Criminal Crimes, which pokes fun at police dramas. It stars the sketch group Chess Club Comedy. This episode takes place in the morgue, as our detectives examine a murder victim. The coroner needs to get out more, maybe see a movie or two. I know she’d enjoy Thor. (via The A.V. Club)
Sunday, September 17, 2023
In February of 2007, Jim Carrey appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and they discussed physics. The one-upmanship may sound like gibberish to you and me, unless you are a physicist. You might try to parse out what they are saying, but the conversation really goes off the rails when Max Weinberg joins in and makes a fool of himself. The real punch line, not available to viewers at the time, is that the paper they are discussing is real. Reading it doesn't make it any clearer, though. I did notice that Carrey titles it "phase shifting," when it is really "phase switching." It's a crucial difference, of course. (via reddit)
The Jewish high holidays wouldn't be the same without a new song from a cappella group Six13. Rosh Hashanah, the new year celebration, began Friday evening and will continue through sunset tonight. By the Hebrew calendar, we have reached the year 5784. The guys in Six13 have been waiting years to bring you this song, a Rosh Hashanah anthem based on the 1970 Chicago song "25 or 6 to 4." The time has finally come. Honestly, they've probably been working on this recording for years, with its many-layered voice orchestra. No instruments were used; even the drums are voices. The lyrics are at the YouTube page, although you will have to click "more" to see them. They make more sense than the original lyrics. L'Shanah Tovah!
Saturday, September 16, 2023
The Covid-19 run on toilet paper in 2020 happened because everyone went home to work, and bought and used more of the high-grade consumer toilet paper. That stuff is manufactured by an entirely different production scheme from the thin industrial grade paper that workplaces use, so the shortage happened only in the good quality toilet paper produced for people who are paying for their own.
There was another run on consumer toilet paper in 1973, caused more by the fear of a shortage than a real need, although it was exacerbated by hoarding, just like in 2020. This is the perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophesy. Some notes for younger folks: back then, every night owl watched The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson because we only had three channels and it was the only late night comedy/talk/variety show. Shopping bags were all made of paper. Mrs. Olson was the fictional spokesperson for Folgers coffee. (Thanks, WTM!)
On a tangential note, it's amazing how little toilet paper you use after the kids grow up and move out. My house has three bathrooms, and I like to keep them all reasonably stocked with paper. But I only use one bathroom. I recently ran low and went to the half-bath to get toilet paper, and realized that the stock in there was very different. The rolls were several years old and much bigger, both in length and width. A perfect illustration of the grocery shrink-ray.
These bears hate the cameras! And what have the cameras done to them? Maybe they are just philosophical Luddites. Maybe Mama Bear just likes to attack any trace of mankind. Maybe they want their privacy or maybe they just find it fun. At any rate, this bear's triplet cubs are learning their lesson that cameras must be disabled, one way or another.
The folks at the Voyageurs Wolf Project in Minnesota are studying wolves, not bears, but the bears don't know that. Five times over the past year, this same bear family has messed with the two cameras the project has trained on a beaver pond. Three of those incidents left enough evidence to make this video. And who is going to stop them? It could be that the bear family is sending a message that you don't study beavers to learn about wolves, when you should be studying bears and their camera-wrecking habits. (via Laughing Squid)
Dolphin stampedes are also sometimes referred to as “super pods” or “megapods”. They can gather up to thousands of dolphins. This one was filmed off the coast of San Diego.— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) September 11, 2023
I took the kids to the Outer Banks in 2005. We'd been there before, so I asked the girls what they wanted to do while we were there. Gothgrrl said she wanted to ride on a boat. I found a dolphin tour that was feasible, and we saw stuff like this.
Then the boat's motor broke down, and we had to find haven in Pimlico Sound far from home port, at a commercial seafood dock hidden away from tourists, and it was fascinating. The girls mainly recall the tiny convenience shop there that had ice cream for the fishermen. But it was really hot, and we had to wait three hours for a replacement boat. Still, that kind of thing makes memories. (Thanks, WTM!)
Friday, September 15, 2023
A young hedgehog travels through a foggy valley, and finds that the world can be pretty scary when you can't see what's around you. But he also learns that not everything he encounters is out to get him. Hedgehog in the Fog is an award-winning 1975 animation from the Soviet Union, directed by Yuri Norstein. (via Metafilter)
If you were to fall into the Amazon River, are you doomed to be eaten by piranhas? Piranhas can be pretty ferocious, and we've all seen those demonstrations where a meaty bone is offered to a school of piranhas and they go to town, churning the water until it's bloody. Teddy Roosevelt wrote about piranhas after a South American trip, describing how they consumed an entire cow before his eyes, and would likely do the same to a human. A century of research has raised questions about that demonstration, but the piranha became a terrifying symbol of the dangers of the Amazon just the same. Learn about piranhas and the danger they pose in this this TED-Ed lesson.
Justin Lee of Auckland, New Zealand, got ticketed for speeding in January of 2004. When he got a good look at the ticket, he realized there was an important typo. Well, not exactly a typo, because it was hand-written, but a mistake nevertheless. Lee pondered his defense argument and wrote a letter to the New Zealand Police Infringement Bureau about it. The letter was a masterpiece. To do it justice, Letters Live recruited New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi to read it to an audience at Royal Albert Hall. Waititi gave an extraordinary performance that brings an unlikely scenario to life.
To learn the rest of the story, meaning how the police responded, see the actual ticket and the correspondence that followed at Letters of Note. Shaun Usher has been doing well for himself, between Letters of Note, Letters Live, and more than a dozen published books based on those letters. I till remember knowing him as a humble link blogger known as Deputy-Dog. (via Geeks Are Sexy)
Seven Accidents in Seven Days. When you buy an airplane sight unseen, you may have a little trouble getting it home. (via Metafilter)
The Great Binge: An Unsettling Reality Check of the Drug-Fuelled “Belle Epoque.”
Five Margarita Recipes in Honor Of Jimmy Buffett. (via Everlasting Blort)
After months on the market, The Brady Bunch house sells for $3.2 million. (via Digg)
Queens of Prohibition: The Wild Stories of 8 Women Bootleggers, Moonshiners, and Rum Runners.
What Happened to Buddy Holly's Glasses? (via Nag on the Lake)
Puppies Try to Figure Out a Treadmill.
A peek at the new book The Six: The Untold Stories of America’s First Women Astronauts. (via Metafilter)
Diesel found a box, and doesn’t want to let go of it. It’s a nice box, but holding onto it is causing a problem. It’s turned him into a Roomba, bouncing off the barriers of his immediate environment. For three whole minutes. The English bulldog cannot grasp that a little reorganization might make his task easier. He won’t even accept help from his humans. Bulldogs are stubborn, after all. (via reddit)
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Every year in October, in a farm town no one can leave, young men must battle a pumpkin-headed creature that arises from the cornfields. Defeat Sawtooth Jack, and the one who makes the kill will bring fame and fortune to his family, and he himself will be able to leave town, the most coveted prize. But there's a lot of other things going on that the competitors don't know.
Renowned horror director David Slade brings us the movie Dark Harvest, based on the 2006 horror novel by Norman Partridge. It looks like Pumpkinhead meets Children of the Corn meets The Hunger Games. The trailer certainly sets the stage for an autumn to revel in all things horror. Dark Harvest will play at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas on October 11th only, then will be available from MGM Digital on October 13. You can start planning your watch party now.
A long time ago, in a country far, far away... specifically in 1987 and '88, George Lucas did six ads for Panasonic, shown on Japanese television. Sure, he had plenty of money from the first three Star Wars movies and the first two Indiana Jones movies, but was also dealing with Howard the Duck and didn't know how long his charmed film career would last. Neil Cicierega used those six ads and some extra Star Wars-related material to construct a surreal, hallucinogenic trip back in time and space. Levitate an egg, learn to load a VHS tape, and ponder the importance of the color red in this video. Meet Lucas' favorite droid, Sparky, but don't tell R2D2 or C3PO. If you want to see the original ads, there's a source list at the YouTube page. (via Metafilter)
The first time I ever tried root beer, I exclaimed, "This tastes like sassafras tea!" And my classmates looked at me like I'd grown two heads. My family did not buy soda pop, but Dad taught me how to identify a sassafras tree and dig up roots to make tea. The sassafras taste comes from safrole, which is banned because in high doses it can cause liver cancer in lab rats. So now, root beer and sassafras tea are made with artificial flavorings.
Zach Armstrong of LabCoatz is an avid root beer fan, so he made his own. The process ranges from old-timey foraging for sassafras root to the lab chemistry of distilling and isolating the safrole. Then we get a recipe for root beer. Sassafras tea from my childhood was much simpler: boil the sassafras root in water, and add sugar if you want. The root beer part of this video ends at 10:22. (via Digg)
What Happens When You Light a Sparkler Stuck through an Egg? It's way cooler than you'd think.
50 Animals With The Strangest Fur Patterns And Markings.
Hot Rod Chevy Bus With a Blower and Seven Racing Seats Makes Back to School Fun.
Thomas E. Franklin's photograph of firefighters raising the flag at the World Trade Center became the iconic image of 9/11, but Lori Grinker's photos of the same event told a bigger story.
One Day in France, 1940. The latest from Tom the Dancing Bug.
‘A little bit cursed’: how stolen Van Gogh was a ‘headache’ for the criminal world. (via Damn Interesting)
Welcome to Null Island, where lost data goes to die. (via Atlas Obscura)
The Frying Pan Hotel Could Be the Scariest B&B Ever. Book your stay here. (via Everlasting Blort)