The always-excellent Midnight Archive visits artist and Oddities host Ryan Matthew Cohn and his massive collection of skulls, shrunken heads, and other curiosities.
Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki found this fantastic centipede hiding under the smushy bark of a fallen log in Mozambique. You can see more photographs of it, and read more about its discovery at his blog, The Smaller Majority.
What makes this centipede particularly interesting (besides that great handlebar moustache it's sporting) is the long, fuchsia appendages on its rear end, each one topped with a feathery, yellow bit, like a flag on a pole. According to Naskrecki, nobody knows what those appendages are for. They seem to have evolved from the animal's rear-most legs, but their function is a total mystery.
Miss Cakehead writes, "This set of Zombie Swimming Pool Rules was comissioned from graphic designer Pictographik to promote the Resident Evil Revelations blood swimming pool, and was based on an the iconic traditional British swimming pool rules. The pop up 'blood' filled swimming pool opens in London next week to mark the release of Resident Evil Revelations. In addition to its bloody appearance the swimming pool will offer floats in the form of human torsos, feature brains and intestines as lane markers, have Zombie lifeguards on duty and even offer a diving board in the form of a 'freshly killed human corpse'."
Sacramento's Etta Lopez apparently waited outside the Sacramento County Jail for a cop to emerge and then slapped him, so that she could be thrown into jail. She wanted to go to jail because she believed it would help her give up smoking.
According to deputies, Lopez knew she'd immediately be arrested, and slapped a cop to kick a habit. Lopez allegedly admitted she sat in front of the county jail for hours intent on assaulting an officer to get arrested and be put in jail, where she would be forced to stop smoking cigarettes.
"There's easier ways to stop smoking besides hitting a cop," Roger Spearman, a neighbour, said. The neighbour Lopez says she does smoke a lot, and they used to smoke together. "I have not heard of something like that before," Kimberly Bankston-Lee with the anti-smoking group Breathe California said. "If it led somebody to doing something like that to quit, that lets us know in the community that we have a real problem."
(via Dan Hon)
You'll have seen the pictures of a giant rubber duck floating down the world's iconic waterways, from the Thames to Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong -- it's Florentijn Hofman's brainchild. What you may not have seen is what the duck looks like after it's been deflated, and that's even better -- a kind of puddle of duck, which has a Beatrix Potter-y ring to it until you see it and then it has nothing at all about it that suggests Ms Potter's works.
Here's a beautiful gallery of publicity shots of the Canberra Skywhale, a lighter-than-air sculpture created by Patricia Piccinini to celebrate the centenary of the capital city of Australia. The Skywhale is a fanciful, breast-studded creature from a contrafactual alternate history:
"My question is what if evolution went a different way and instead of going back into the sea, from which they came originally, they went into the air and we evolved a nature that could fly instead of swim. In fact coming from a place like Canberra where it's a planned city that's really tried to integrate and blend in with the natural environment, it makes a lot of sense to make this sort of huge, gigantic, but artificial and natural-looking creature".
The old Ripley's Believe it or Not newspaper comic had a huge and lasting impact on me as a youngster. Neal Thompson has just published his new biography of Ripley, titled "A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Judging by Megan Abbot's lengthy review in the Los Angeles Review of Books, it sounds like terrific read!
An intrepid, curious traveler, Ripley roamed not just to see renowned wonders and not just to drink and tomcat (though he would do both, vigorously, through his entire life), but to unearth the unusual, the hidden, the specific. His travel dispatches, laden with stereotypes of the day, reflect Ripley’s private obsessions — in particular, “the inexplicable things people did for their gods,” particularly if they appeared, to American eyes, grotesque, such as the man Ripley dubs the “Hanging Hindu,” an adherent dangling from a tree via a hook stuck in his back."A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” (Amazon)
Ripley’s complicated relation to “the Other” is one Thompson explores in depth. He locates in Ripley a genuine desire to burrow into the cultures he explores and share the glories and mysteries of other places. But, in large part, the comic’s success hinged on Ripley’s expert skill not at penetration but at sensationalization.
"Megan Abbott on A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley" (Los Angeles Review of Books)
A brief list of misused English terminology in EU publications [PDF] is a fascinating look at the emerging dialect of English that is emerging out of the EU bureaucracy, in which odd bureaucratic language has to be translated from and to many languages. It's a good window into concepts that are common in one nation's bureaucratic tradition, but not others':
Explanation: the most common meaning of ‘dispose of’ is ‘to get rid of’ or ‘to throw away’; it never means ‘to have’, ‘to possess’ or ‘to have in one’s possession’. Thus, the sentence ‘The managing authority disposes of the data regarding participants.’ does not mean that it has them available; on the contrary, it means that it throws them away or deletes them. Similarly, the sentence below does not mean: ‘the Commission might not have independent sources of information’, it means that the Commission is not permitted to discard the sources that it has.
Example: ‘The Commission may not be able to assess the reliability of the data provided by Member States and may not dispose of independent information sources (see paragraph 39)46.’
As Bruce Sterling says, "I would not expect 'Brussels English' to get any closer to grammatically correct British English; on the contrary I would expect it in future to drift into areas of machine translation jargon, since that’s a lot cheaper than hiring human translators who are as skilled as the author of this document."
The Worst Room is a blog exploring the seedy and insanitary world of New York City's "affordable housing." The home featured above, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is yours for $1200 a month.
Update: And here's WTF Is a Cottage?, another new "bad apartments" blog focused on San Francisco. Less cramped squalor, but an extra helping of insanity.
This 2006 gameshow clip shows contestants running back and forth atop a deep pool of non-Newtonian fluid -- ooblek -- without sinking in. They run, they skip, they hop, and maintain admirable aplomb atop the surface. It gets especially nice when the host stops in his tracks and sinks down into the mucky depths.