December 19, 2014
[life] This scientist solved the mystery of belly button lint
… ‘It was mostly people that had stomach hair who also typically found belly button lint. He proved it by shaving his own stomach, and seeing that he didn’t produce any belly button lint until his hair grew back. He also confirmed the seemingly obvious fact that lint originates from shirt fibers in two ways: by seeing that it always matched the color of the shirt he was wearing, and by chemically analyzing the lint and finding that it was mostly made of cellulose (the material that makes up cotton). It also contained some nitrogen and sulfur, likely from sweat and skin cells.’
December 15, 2014
[sea] Tjipetir mystery: Why are rubber-like blocks washing up on beaches?
… ‘The word Tjipetir turned out to be that of a rubber plantation in West Java, Indonesia, which operated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The blocks were not strictly rubber – they are most likely gutta-percha, the gum of a tree found in the Malay Peninsula and Malaysia. It was used in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries to insulate telegraph cables on the seabed. Before modern plastic began to be widely used, gutta-percha was also made into such items as golf balls, teddy bear noses, picture frames and jewellery, among many others.’
November 25, 2014
[history] The Very First Written Use of the F Word in English (1528)
… ‘Here the word appears (for the first time if not the last) noted down by hand in the margins of a proper text, in this case Cicero’s De Officiis.’
November 21, 2014
[space] An Astronaut Reveals What Life in Space Is Really Like
… ‘It turns out that once you’re actually in orbit, zero-g has some upsides. Without gravity, bodily fluids move toward your head. It’s a great face-lift. Your stomach gets flat. You feel long, because you grow an inch or two. (I thought, “Oh cool, I’ll be tall,” but of course everybody else was taller too.) But zero-g also has some disadvantages. As that fluid shifts north, you get an enormous headache. Your body compensates and loses about a liter of fluid in the first couple of days—you essentially pee the headache away.’
November 8, 2014
[net] What happens when you accidentally become internet famous?
… ‘Fist clenched, a look of pure determination on his face, Success Kid is the boy who can do it all. You may have seen his face posted when someone’s particularly proud of an achievement. Success Kid’s real name is Sam Griner and the photo is one of many his mother Laney, a photographer, took of her son and posted on her Flickr page. She still remembers the day and the moment she snapped this picture…’
October 26, 2014
[work] The Open-Office Trap
… Why open plan offices don’t work … ‘Psychologically, the repercussions of open offices are relatively straightforward. Physical barriers have been closely linked to psychological privacy, and a sense of privacy boosts job performance. Open offices also remove an element of control, which can lead to feelings of helplessness. In a 2005 study that looked at organizations ranging from a Midwest auto supplier to a Southwest telecom firm, researchers found that the ability to control the environment had a significant effect on team cohesion and satisfaction. When workers couldn’t change the way that things looked, adjust the lighting and temperature, or choose how to conduct meetings, spirits plummeted.’
October 5, 2014
[life] 26 Times Waitrose Outright Ruined The Lives Of Decent People
… ‘It would be much easier if Waitrose kept the carrot batons next to the houmous.’
October 2, 2014
[tech] Londoners Give Up Eldest Children In Public Wi-Fi Security Horror Show
… seems like a reasonable deal to me! … ‘The experiment, which was backed by European law enforcement agency Europol, involved a group of security researchers setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot in June. When people connected to the hotspot, the terms and conditions they were asked to sign up to included a “Herod clause” promising free Wi-Fi but only if “the recipient agreed to assign their first born child to us for the duration of eternity”. Six people signed up.’
September 25, 2014
[life] The Eleven Worst Plants
… an amusing list of awful plants … ‘#3 Yucca – Utterly, utterly loathsome. Why is the bottom a hazardous nest of spikes and sticks, while the top is a nauseating puff of white fuzz? Whither so tall? What colors run riot here? Sickly facsimiles of green, pungent half-dead attempts at brown. This is a corpse attempting to revive itself. I would take a flamethrower to the entire San Joaquin valley if I could rid the country of them.’
September 10, 2014
[life] Maslow’s Modern Hierarchy of Needs
… another addition has been made to Maslow’s pyramid.
September 1, 2014
[people] Werner Herzog On Chickens
… ‘The enormity of their flat brain, the enormity of their stupidity, is just overwhelming.’
August 20, 2014
[facts] 33 “Facts” Everybody Knows That Are Actually Total Lies
… ‘Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t short; his height was actually above average for his time.’
August 18, 2014
[box] Expensive Shoebox – What would be the most expensive way to fill a size 11 shoebox (e.g. with 64 GB MicroSD cards all full of legally purchased music)?
… ‘A gram of pure plutonium, for example, would cost about $5k. As a bonus, plutonium is even denser than gold, which means you could fit almost 300 kilograms of it in a shoebox. Before you spend $3 billion on plutonium, take note: Plutonium’s critical mass is about 10 kilograms. So while you could fit 300 kilograms of it in a shoebox, you could only do so briefly.’
August 11, 2014
[life] Britain On Instagram Vs. Britain In Real Life
… amusing comparison of pictures of Britain on Instagram with real life.
August 6, 2014
[clowns] Don’t Be Afraid Of The Clowns
… Leigh Cowart visits the 2014 World Clown Association convention …
I am not afraid of clowns. But there’s something that happens when you walk into the forgettable bathroom of a hotel lobby and meet a fully made-up clown standing by the sink, reflection staring back at you with the Kubrickian blankness of a greasepaint grimace.
I almost wet my pants.
Media seminar fresh in my head, I choke the gasp in my throat and try to smile. While I am going for “warm and effusive,” I’m sure my face is more a pained amalgamation of terror. I can only hope that she thinks I’m trying to be polite. I’m sure she gets it all the time.
But. There are reasons people can find clowns to be so unsettling. That makeup: white face; huge, red mouth; drawn-on smile; eyebrows that kiss the hairline. “When it’s up close, it’s the visual equivalent of being screamed at,” explains Jaron Aviv Hollander, the co-founder and artistic director of the Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland. And it’s all the big top’s fault: When a clown is standing in one of three or more rings and playing to a huge crowd, the audience needs to be able to read familiar facial landmarks in order to get the bit.
July 31, 2014
[life] Love in the Key of Partridge
… trying to find love – using only the words of Alan Partridge.
July 7, 2014
[crime] Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem
… a strange legacy of the the late Colombian drug lord … ‘[Carlos] Valderrama, whose job until recently included watching over the hippos in the Magdalena, has seen animals up to 250km (155 miles) away from Hacienda Napoles. Fishermen are terrified of the three-tonne herbivores, he says. At night, the animals roam the countryside, wandering into ranches, eating crops and occasionally crushing small cows.’
July 1, 2014
[religion] Bedtime Story From Fucking Bible Again
… ‘Andrew Neel was exasperated to learn Thursday that the bedtime story his mother would be reading him was once again from the fucking Bible, sources confirmed. “Oh, please no, not another one of these,” Neel reportedly said to himself upon hearing his mother begin telling yet another tale about shepherds, adding that he’s listened to the account of that little shit Zacchaeus probably a hundred fucking times now and that he just wants to hear a regular goddamn bedtime story with a talking frog or a modern kid who maybe has some sort of magical adventure, even if it’s Amelia fucking Bedelia.’
June 19, 2014
[life] Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence?
… engrossing profile of “outsider thinker” David Birnbaum … ‘There is no shortage of people who would say no, at least in Birnbaum’s case. His work, said a commenter on the Chronicle’s website, “reads like L Ron Hubbard had drunken sex one night with Ayn Rand and produced this bastard thought-child”. One scholar who became professionally involved with Birnbaum described the experience as “unsettling, unfortunate and, to my knowledge, unprecedented in academic circles”. Another just called him “toxic”. But then again – as Birnbaum pointed out to me, more than once, during the weeks I spent trying to figure out exactly what he was up to – just suppose that a scrappy, philosophically unqualified Jewish guy from Queens really had cracked the cosmic code, embarrassing the ivory-tower elites: well, isn’t this exactly the kind of defensive response you’d expect?’
June 11, 2014
[people] 27 People Who Have Better Job Titles Than You
… ‘Lonnie Johnson – Professional Snuggler’
June 7, 2014
… Channelling Allen Ginsberg in 2014 … ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity, over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention, dragging themselves through virtual communities at 3 am, surrounded by stale pizza and neglected dreams, looking for angry meaning, any meaning…’
June 4, 2014
[shops] Britain’s Soulless And Generic High Streets Under Threat
… ‘Chef Carolyn Ryan said: “It’s terrifying to think that unless we act fast, our children will never know a world of mobile phone shops, Greggs and Clinton Cards.”
May 14, 2014
[life] 15 weird things that 9% of Britons say they believe. Including supporting the Lib Dems
… ‘When it comes to foreigners, 9% of Brits would like to see less tourists arriving from China. Which seems an incredibly specific and odd thing to be getting vexed about.’
May 1, 2014
[lost] Lost Your Keys Again? Eight Tips to Find Misplaced Objects
… ‘Check to see if it’s somehow hidden in its proper place. Look carefully and systematically—don’t just rummage around (which is very tempting) Note: objects are usually found within 18 inches of their original location. This sounds impossible, but I’ve found this to be uncannily accurate.’
April 8, 2014
[london] What is it like to live on Britain’s most expensive street?
… ‘Eskimo Ice services draws up outside one house – the company delivers ice sculptures for parties, and its website shows glassy ice lions and carved statues of the London skyline. Elsewhere, a van – Anglo-Italian marble installation – is delivering bespoke marble, granite, limestone and porcelain tiles. Gardeners arrive in a van marked Siddeley landscape design (a company that also appears to work on mammoth private estates in China and Russia). British Security Technologies is parked outside another mansion, its van promising in italic lettering: “We’ll Keep You Safe ‘n’ Sound Tonight.” A vehicle drives up to provide swimming pool and whirlpool maintenance. There is also a fire-protection services van, an emergency plumbing car and Rentokil pest control – because, it seems, money offers no real protection against fire, rats and plumbing catastrophes.’
April 5, 2014
[property] Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs Tumblr
… ‘Jean-Paul Sartre said “hell is other people”. It is not. Hell is this patio.’
March 31, 2014
[funny] Bollocks is Britain’s first language
… ‘The Institute for Studies found that most Britons were fluent speakers of bollocks, and could talk bollocks on almost any subject without the need for facts or logic. Professor Henry Brubaker said: “Bollocks is a rich and vibrant language that enables the speaker to sound knowledgeable despite being what we linguists call ‘a knob’.’
March 28, 2014
[suicide] The Woman in 606
… well written investigation into the suicide of a woman in Seatle …
What could she be trying to communicate through all that stuff about being from the future? I asked. What about the flour she poured everywhere?
“A person in a psychotic state is trying to push their reality back into the environment,” the psychologist said, describing a theory from psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion. “In a sense, you’re holding it because she pushed it back out of herself. She put it back into your environment—whatever she was trying to express. So you’re left with it as a mystery. Everybody in proximity is left with it. Everybody who witnessed it is holding it. So the cop has to hold it. You have to hold it. Your boyfriend is trying to hold it. And it’s her trauma. It’s her experience of trying to communicate a trauma, while not necessarily being able to process it herself. So when you work with people who are psychotic, the challenging thing is you’re dealing with unspoken, often preverbal trauma that they’re not emotionally processing, so you end up holding it for them. It’s almost like they scattershot their reality at everyone. You’re left with the mystery, right? What was the powder? Why’d she go out the window like that? What’s with the white cat? We’re still in her dream with her. So in a sense”—the psychologist stopped for a moment, watching me take notes—”so in a sense, you’re writing about this because in a way she left you with all these mysteries. She left you with an unfinished dream and you’re trying to finish it for her.”
It’s impossible to know what was happening in her mind, but it’s also impossible not to wonder…
March 17, 2014
[life] Report: Only 20 Minutes Until Introverted Man Gets To Leave Party
… ‘I told myself I’d stay here until 8:30, and I already killed about 15 minutes avoiding conversation by circling repeatedly around the table of hors d’oeuvres to appear occupied, and another cumulative half hour pretending to text friends, so I just need to make it a few more minutes…’
February 23, 2014
[weird] The 38 Most Unexplainable Images On The Web
… WARNING: Contains traces of Garry Glitter. NSFW. Tasteless.
February 16, 2014
[life] Distant Planet Terrified It Might Be Able To Someday Support Human Life
… ‘The 5.2-billion-year-old celestial body, which is located roughly 1,100 light years from Earth, said that for both its own sake and that of its entire solar system, it can only hope to never possess the necessary planetary characteristics and chemical elements needed to support either a deep-space human outpost or, more gravely, an entire human colony. “Luckily, with my high levels of atmospheric sulfur dioxide, methane, and radon, there’s no way any human could survive on my surface for more than a few seconds,” said WR 67c, adding that it is “incredibly lucky” to have developed extremely violent and widespread volcanism in addition to its poisonous atmosphere.’
February 7, 2014
[posh] The 28 Poshest Things That Have Ever Happened
… ‘This birth announcement in The Times: On 29th March 2013, to Emily (née Kew) and Christian, a son, Biggles George Fittleworth, and a daughter, Posie Betsy Winifred, a brother and sister for Tuppence.’
January 30, 2014
[life] Decoding Cancer-Addled Ramblings
… a remarkable post on Ask Metafilter where the commenters partially decode the last messages of a Grandmother who died twenty years ago… ‘AGH, YES! Sorry for the double post, but: OFWAIHHBTNTKCTWBDOEAIIIHFUTDODBAFUOTAWFTWTAUALUNITBDUFEFTITKTPATGFAEA Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name… etc etc etc’
December 31, 2013
[london] Norman Collier Street Sign
… ‘Adv c d W rning M j r Gas Works’
December 25, 2013
[xmas] A Ghost Gave Me Triplets! Xmas Horror! – Epic Christmas Misery from That’s Life! Magazine …
December 19, 2013
[life] How Ayn Rand ruined my childhood
… how Objectivism and family life do not mix …
Our objectivist education, however, was not confined to lectures and books. One time, at dinner, I complained that my brother was hogging all the food.
“He’s being selfish!” I whined to my father.
“Being selfish is a good thing,” he said. “To be selfless is to deny one’s self. To be selfish is to embrace the self, and accept your wants and needs.”
It was my dad’s classic response — a grandiose philosophical answer to a simple real-world problem. But who cared about logic? All I wanted was another serving of mashed potatoes.
November 5, 2013
[facebook] Facebook of the Dead
… ‘When, if ever, will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than of living ones?’
November 1, 2013
[weird] British Man Discovers Secret Dungeon Under His New Flat
… ‘Curious shape in the corner. Bed, or crypt. It’ll make a good seat for a potential home cinema, or else for a dungeon party.’
October 28, 2013
[funny] Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested
… more from The Onion …
Hamilton made the call to police at approximately 7:30 p.m., when she discovered that the bearded cable repairman she had let into her apartment was actually Marzano in disguise.
“Thank God he’s in custody, and this nightmarish ordeal is finally over,” said Hamilton, a single mother struggling to raise an adorable, towheaded boy all alone in the big city. “I repeatedly told him I wasn’t interested, but he just kept resorting to crazier and crazier schemes to make me fall in love with him.”
October 25, 2013
[apple] Retail Therapy: Inside the Apple Store: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.
… customer support stories from Apple Stores … ‘When Apple employees are asked what they love most about their job (and they are asked often) most invariably answer “the people.” They mean their co-workers, not the customers. Because the daily expectations for customer service go beyond anywhere else in retail, only those with managerial ambitions will invoke their commitment to helping people. Some thrive on that. Others get diagnosed with PTSD. Consider that the flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City is open 24 hours and has more annual foot traffic than Yankee Stadium, yet only one door. Every day, in every Apple Store, people flood to customer service, when what many truly need is therapy.’
[via Sore Eyes
October 16, 2013
[life] Once a celebrity has been linked with a silly object, they stay connected for ever
… Can public figures be defined by ridiculous objects they stumble upon? … ‘I’ve never been convinced that Philip Larkin was right when he wrote that all that remains of us is love. After Bill Clinton is dead and gone, it’s not love that I’ll remember him for. It’s an object – and I don’t even mean that cigar that went on holiday somewhere in Monica Lewinsky’s nether regions. The object was brought to my attention in Alastair Campbell’s diaries, in a story where Tony Blair, Kevin Spacey and Bill Clinton are all sitting in a McDonald’s restaurant. In Blackpool. “So there we were,” Campbell writes, “drinking Diet Coke and eating chicken nuggets as he [Clinton] poured forth on the theme of interdependence and the role of the Third Way in progressive politics.” Obviously, it is the chicken nuggets that get me.’
October 2, 2013
[spiders] Dancing With Black Widow Spiders
… What it’s like to be bitten by a black widow spider … ‘ I decided to go fishing for dinner. On the same front porch where I had removed so many black widows, I kept a pair of water shoes and some fishing tackle. I put the shoes and the tackle in my car and drove eight miles to my favored hole. I donned the shoes before walking to the edge of the water. Within about a dozen steps, I felt a stinging sensation on the second toe of my left foot, as if there had been a thorn inside the shoe. Then the pain increased to about that of a wasp’s sting. I sat on a rock and removed the shoe. The squashed remains of a spider were smeared across the insole. I realized instantly what must have happened: a black widow from the porch had made its home in my shoe. For a long moment, I stared at my throbbing toe and wondered what to do…’
September 3, 2013
[language] The Rad New Words Added to the Dictionary in the ’90s: Where Are They Now?
… Alexis Madrigal investigates what new words added to dictionaries during the 90’s made it into common usage today … ‘Cypherpunk: In the early days of both computing and the Internet, cryptography to keep people from spying on you was all the rage. For obvious reasons, both the term and idea of cypherpunk are coming back, I think.’
August 21, 2013
[funny] Father Teaches Son How To Fly Into Rage Over Completely Inconsequential Bullshit
… The Onion on a heart-warming father/son relationship … ‘In an effort to help guide his son’s development, Dalton explained that he consistently tries to embody the qualities of irritability, hostility, and bitterness in his daily life, emphasizing to his fourth-grade son the importance of letting his annoyance over an inconsequential matter develop into a lingering, biting resentment that makes others feel uncomfortable to be near him. In addition, the 42-year-old market researcher said that he has been making a concerted effort of late to show his boy how to obsess over such ultimately trifling things as a driver going too slow in the left lane or a person who is slightly holding up a line, and to interpret these incidents as if they were significant, deliberate personal slights.’
August 13, 2013
[life] 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand
… ‘That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.’
July 18, 2013
[tv] The Forty-Year Itch
… is there a forty year cycle of nostalgia influencing pop culture? … ‘Though pop culture is most often performed by the young, the directors and programmers and gatekeepers—the suits who control and create its conditions, who make the calls and choose the players—are, and always have been, largely forty-somethings, and the four-decade interval brings us to a period just before the forty-something was born. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories.’
July 17, 2013
[email] What Your Email Sign-off Really Means
… looking at the social minefield of choosing the best way to conclude an email… ‘You can sign off with “regards”, which means, quite literally, “I have no regard for you at all”. Or you can use the more extreme “warmest regards”, which means, “never contact me again you insufferable bastard”. Then there’s “yours”, which means, “I don’t even know who you are or what you wrote to me about”, and its cousin, “yours sincerely”, which means, “you owe me money and I will make your life a living hell until I get it”. Some people sign off emails with “best”. Not “best wishes”, which is used when the emailer is for some reason under the impression they’re writing in a Christmas card, but just “best”, which is a slightly creepy sign-off, like writing “be seeing you REALLY soon…”. Best? Best what?’
July 12, 2013
[life] Study: Anxiety Resolved By Thinking About It Real Hard
… The Onion reports on dealing with Anxiety …
“The key to beating anxiety is to let yourself become totally consumed with intrusive, irrational thoughts until you actually raise your pulse and blood pressure,” said assistant researcher Dana Kelley, who said that blinding stress headaches were a crucial indicator that one’s anxious feelings were disappearing. “If you can get to a point where you legitimately feel short of breath and begin to perceptibly tremble, that means you’re progressing. In fact, the more tense your neck and shoulders are, the closer you are to moving past your anxiety altogether.”