Badass schoolchildren perform "Kashmir" and "The Immigrant Song" on xylophone


Valhalla! They are coming!

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists is a non-profit organization offering extracurricular music opportunities to local children at little or no cost. Please help us keep our program going by donating at this link.

Read the rest

DARE: feel-good bullshit that made it more likely kids would take drugs


Priceonomics reports that the DARE anti-drug program has never worked.

Students who went through DARE weren’t any less likely to do drugs than the students who didn’t. In fact, there’s some well-regarded research that some groups of students were actually more likely to do drugs if they went through DARE. …

This deep-seated, folksy belief in DARE’s ability to combat a publicly reviled problem gave it a decades-long stranglehold on the American education system. ''We suspect that there are gaping holes in the program and that it may not be cost-effective, but legislators are politicians,'' a legislator told the New York Times in 2004, on the condition that his name not be used. ''No one's going to risk their political future by doing anything other than standing up with the parents. Parents vote.''

When I lived in smalltown Hobbs, N.M., I wrote an op-ed for the local paper saying plainly that DARE was bunk. I expected a lot of complaints! Though not the book-burning hole that, say, Alamogordo, N.M. is, Hobbs is still the sort of place that breaks 70% for Romney and has funeral homes in old banks.

Not a peep! Not even from the DARE officers. Even there, in New Methsico at the turn of the century, DARE was just a bored sigh, something everyone knew was nonsense even as they went through the motions. They put on DARE the way a minimum-wager puts on a Lady Liberty costume to hawk payday loans at the roadside.

I don't buy that DARE persisted because the public demanded it. Read the rest

Why is it harder to maintain weight level now than in the 80s?


A paper in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice claims that it is now harder to keep the pounds off than it was 30 years ago, even given the same amount of exercise and food consumption.

Olga Khazan reports:

The authors examined the dietary data of 36,400 Americans between 1971 and 2008 and the physical activity data of 14,419 people between 1988 and 2006. They grouped the data sets together by the amount of food and activity, age, and BMI. …

They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.

The suggestion is plainly that "there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise," but it's not clear what.

The three main suspects: exposure to chemicals that alter hormonal processes (think pesticides and food packaging), the dramatic increase in prescription drugs linked to weight gain (such as SSRIs), and changes in gut bacteria. Read the rest

Leopard's head freed from cooking pot

leopard 1

A leopard lurched around blindly for five hours in a village in Rajasthan, North India, before wildlife experts tranquilized it and removed a cooking pot from its head.

The 150lb animal got stuck after drinking water from the vessel. Locals took photos and videos as it tried to remove the pot, to no avail.

It was reportedly "none the worse for wear" after being tranquilized and freed, however, according to the BBC—the only loser being the owner of the now-sawn-off pot.

More seriously (and frequently), critters often die after getting their heads stuck in Yoplait snack pots, leading to recurring calls for the company to change the design. Read the rest

10 killed in Oregon college shooting


10 are dead at Umpqua Community College in southern Oregon after a gunman began shooting at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Read the rest

Police cars covered in bees

A big-rig containing millions of bees overturned on the highway, and the swarm promptly attached itself to the first responders. The officers decided to remain in their vehicles for the time being, according to reports. [KTLA via Arbroath] Read the rest

Hitler's drug habit wilder than widely known


I love reading about all the drugs Hitler was on and the implication that his insane medical treatments made him even crazier and nastier than he otherwise was. Andrea Maurer takes a deep dive into the "High Hitler" story and finds it to be even more disturbing than popularly understood. Read the rest

Eternal September and the broadening of horizons

Illo: Brad

"Eternal September" refers to the Internet as it has been since 1993, when AOL began providing access to USENET. The flood of newbies made the newsgroups feel like the first month of school—but this time, the flood never ceased. Though USENET is a thing of the past, Jason Koebler remembers what it felt like to be a member of a group that saw itself as a deserving incumbent elite, but wasn't really any of those things.

"My memories of early 90s Usenet are of a vibrant, enlightened world of serious discourse. But I was a confused arrogant geek in my early 20s, so that's mostly heavy rose-tinting and confirmation bias," Fischer said. "When you're deeply immersed in an elitist clique, it often feels like you're in an open welcoming community. From your perspective, everything's great."

"People look back on it like it was some kind of CyberAthens," he added.

It wasn’t, of course.

The same techniques used to exclude and assimilate outsiders are still in use. Now, as then, they're failing under the sheer weight of numbers. Read the rest

No, we did not count lawn ornaments in deer tally: Wisconsin


Wisconsin officials have responded to a rumor that they included the state's myriad of charming lawn ornaments in the annual count of deer: No, no we did not.

Reuters reports that the hoax was refuted this week by the Department of Natural Resources.

It was not immediately clear who wrote the letter, which directs residents to "Act NOW!" but the culprit used the department's letterhead and signed it as department's deputy secretary, Kurt Thiede.

The DNR had posted its response to Facebook, including a copy of the letter.

DISPELLING A HOAX Several of you have contacted us regarding a document that appears to be a letter (pictured here) from DNR asking people to remove concrete deer ornaments from their yards. This letter is a fake. It was not crafted, nor distributed by DNR. DNR is not asking the public to remove concrete deer ornaments or any other lawn ornaments from their yard.

The letter, on convincingly shabby state letterhead, reads: "To the citizens of Wisconsin, please remove any concrete deer ornaments from your lawn by November 1, 2015. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be conducting a state-wide deer count and some yard ornaments may have been counted over the past two years by mistake."

Read the rest

Let Edward Scissorhands come home

x 2015-10-01 at 9.08.58 AM
Jon Hendren, @fart, was mistakenly summoned onto Headline News instead of journalist John Hendren, to talk about whistleblower Ed Snowden. He talked about Edward Scissorhands instead. The clueless, scripted anchor didn't seem to notice the difference. Read the rest

Last chance to grab gorgeous Wendy Pini art book


Though famous as the co-creator and illustrator of Elfquest, artist Wendy Pini's career stretches from 1960s zines to cyber-horror, with many strange and wonderful detours along the way. A kickstarter campaign is ending later today for three art books about her career, and I'd like to bring your attention to the one that isn't going to have (many) elves in it.

Line of Beauty: The Art of Wendy Pini, a massive, deluxe hardback volume , is yours for a $50 pledge. Not everything in it will be Omni-esque retro space fantasy like the above and the below, but I'm hoping for rather a lot of that.

Only 500 signed and numbered copies will be printed, by art book publisher Flesk: 306 pages, 9x12 inches, with "premium quarter binding with special onlaid plate on the front cover boards with slipcase."

The Kickstarter's already surpassed its goals, but this is going to be the best of the set and it's not getting quite the same attention as the other two volumes on offer.

Adds Elfquest co-creator Richard Pini: "This is stuff either no-one has ever seen, or hasn't been seen in over 30 years, and never in print."

Here's the official blurb:

The term “line of beauty” describes, in one sense, a certain way of arranging lines and shapes in a drawing or painting to suggest motion, dynamic balance and grace. But in a deeper sense it can also speak to the visionary spirit that drives the creation of a piece of artwork.
Read the rest

The spectacular marketing blunders of Lime Crime, the "most-hated" cosmetic company on the 'net


Lime Crime, a cosmetic line that's accused of repackaging cheap generic products and infamous for threatening people who give it bad reviews, is the subject of a gripping profile by Arabelle Sicardi.

Born from the primordial pixels of Livejournal, the amount of internet drama here is breathtaking. It's a multidimensional labyrinth of "fake deaths, Nazi costumes, legal threats against 13 year-old girls, hacker attacks, class action lawsuits, FDA warnings, credit card fraud, cold sores, and questionably named eyeshadow palettes."

Lime Crime's marketing blunders are most spectacular, combining the sanctimonious insensitivity of a fashion house with the mediocrity of an internet rebrandeur.

Trouble came around again when Lime Crime launched the China Doll palette in 2012. You can imagine the reactions they received when they used a white model to portray a fantasy of Chinese beauty — particularly given that the model is wearing Japanese garments rather than traditional Chinese qipao. The palette description read:

"Don't let her milky skin, pouty mouth and flushed cheeks fool you, underneath the poised facade, there lies a heart of a tigress."

They did not issue an apology for their Asian fantasy — they apologized that people were offended by it. Which is not precisely the same thing as apologizing for their mistake. In the post, Deere describes cultural appropriation as "cultural exchange," and says it is vital to ending racism.

Here is a low-res photo of the proprietor dressed as Hitler for Halloween.

Cool enough for Sephora and Urban Outfitters.

Update: A media director from StatusLabs, an online reputation management service, asked us to update this post with a response to it on behalf of Lime Crime, which we're happy to do. Read the rest

Map of businesses with puntastic names

x 2015-09-30 at 10.37.48 AM

Atlas Obscura and Digg have generated an incredible interactive map of punnish-named businesses, neatly organized by category.

The pain mixed with pleasure of, say, something as evocative as Hannah and Her Scissors, or something as plainly wrong as A Shoe Grows in Brooklyn surrounds us. After picking through duplicates, over 1,900 businesses made the map, which we think makes it the most complete pun business name map in the world.

There isn't, to my eye, any discernible concentration to set the map apart from population density and the well-known "resort bonus" increasing the numbers of restaurants and bars on coastlines. Which is to say, everyone in America's vast cultural tapestry are yet equal offenders when it comes to puns.

Be sure to filter by editors' choice. For example, "Floral and Hardy," an Oklahoma City florist, and "What Were You Inking?" a tattoo-removal specialist in Denver. Read the rest

Young people will pay for entertainment, but not news


A study of so-called Millennials (born since around 1980) ranks the things they actually give money for on the internet. News is at the bottom. At the top: entertainment such as movies, TV, music(!) and games.

Poynter's Rick Edmonds:

The findings come from the Media Insight Project, a joint initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research at the University of Chicago. The researchers surveyed 1045 millennials in January and February of this year, supplemented by focus groups.

The survey found 77 percent had paid in the last year for movies and television, 69 percent for cable, 54 percent for music and 51 percent for video games. Roughly 30 percent had paid for print magazine or newspaper subscriptions. Adding in various digital options, 53 percent pay for some sort of news.

Even among those who say keeping up with news is important to them, only half pay for content, the rest getting what they need free. And even among those who do pay, the largest source of news is free service like Facebook or Google.

What's remarkable about this study is that it was paid for by newspapers, which presumably hoped not to see its rather brutal result. Read the rest

Alien schoolkid studies primitive human ruins in affecting short film

buddha statue

"They even ended up creating their own open-source religion," the creature says, charmed but desponded about the mysterious vanished species. "But in the end, they lacked something."

Creator Loïc bramoullé:

Strange alloy is my second self produced short film. It's based on images I shot during my trip to Myanmar in december 2014 and the production took 2 month and a half at Supamonks Studio in Paris.

It stars Morgan Hammel as the alien kid and features music by Thomas Barrandon. There's a making of, too. Read the rest

More posts