• US Army developing its first-ever tactical bra

    The US Army is designing a tactical bra that will be its first official uniform bra in the military branch's history. Now in refinement at the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Solider Center, the prototyping team there will present their proposed Army Tactical Brassiere (ATB) to the Army Uniform Board for approval later this year. From Army Alt Magazine:

    ATB development began with seeking input from female Soldiers on what type of functionality and preferences should be considered during initial prototype design. Given that the ATB is a tactical rather than sportswear item, it will need to integrate well with equipment and body armor, providing enhanced protection and performance in addition to an ideal fit. This means that designers are evaluating options such as the inclusion of flame-retardant fabrics and expertly layered compression, structural and protective materials while also taking into account the importance of accurate sizing, reliable comfort, moisture management and breathability.

    "The overall goal is to produce garments that not only protect the user, but reduce the cognitive burden on the female Soldier caused by discomfort and ill fit," said Ashley Cushon, clothing designer and project lead for the ATB at the DEVCOM Soldier Center. "Achieving this will improve the Soldier's overall readiness and performance levels, allowing them to focus on their mission," she explained[…]

    The effort serves as a complement to other, ongoing efforts to provide military uniform options that fit Soldiers of all body types, including those who are pregnant or nursing. For example, the Soldier Center's Soldier Protection Directorate recently worked with the Marine Corps and Air Force to develop versatile maternity uniforms that help ensure warfighters have access to military garments that fit well and are functional throughout pregnancy.

  • See a great white shark flying through the air with the greatest of ease

    At California's Pismo State Beach, Calli Brooks was taking photos of whales off the shore while she waited for her son to complete a junior lifeguard camp. Then, something strange leapt high out of the water and she managed to snap a shot. According to California State University marine biologist, Chris Lowe, that's likely a great white shark flying through the air. From UPI:

    Lowe said experts are not sure why sharks breach the way they do.

    "I personally think they're doing it to dislodge parasites," Lowe said. "So they have parasites on their backs and they move around and when they do that, it's itchy.

    "By jumping up in the water column and landing on their backs, they might be able to knock some of the parasites off."

  • This person has the longest fingernails ever

    Almost 25 years ago, Diana Armstrong's teenage daughter Latisha died from an asthma attack. One of Diana's fondest memories was when Latisha would manicure her mom's fingernails. So after her death, Diana stopped trimming her nails entirely as a tribute to her daughter's memory. Now, Diana's fingernails have a combined length of 42 feet, 10.4 inches. She's just been certified by Guinness as having the longest fingernails ever, beating the prior record-holder by 18 feet, 8 inches. From Guinness World Records:

    "My kids said 'Ma, you need to cut your nails.' I would tell them 'Mind your business.'"[…]

    Now that they have reached such extreme lengths, each of Diana's nails take between four and five hours to paint.  

    "I haven't been to a nail salon in about 22 years. When they see me coming, they'd be like 'Oh no'," admitted Diana.

    image: Hein Nouwens/Shutterstock
  • Riders stuck for an hour on Disney's "It's A Small World" experienced "torture" by song

    Riders on the iconic "It's a Small World" boat ride at Disney World experienced "torture" last week when they were stuck for an hour inside with the song playing over and over and over. According to the TikTok video below posted by someone who experienced the horror, one of the boats appeared to be sinking which could have been the reason the ride was halted.

    "They didn't realize for like 45 mins, everyone was on a boat so we sat there for about an hour stuck with the song on repeat!! TORTURE lol," the person who posted the video later commented.

    It reminds me of the use of music in psy-ops and interrogation situations, as the US military has been known to do.

    You can experience the ride and the song in the comfort of your home through the above video (albeit recorded at Disneyland).

    @hazeysmom22

    We were stuck for over an hour, the torture 😭 #smallworlddisneybound #disney #disneyworld

    ♬ Oh No – Kreepa
    image (cropped): Freddo (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • This is the world's first synthetic embryo complete with beating heart and brain beginning—no sperm or egg required

    Israeli researchers have generated the first synthetic embryo without sperm, egg, or a womb, starting with mouse stem cells in a petri dish. By the eighth day, the heart was beating, blood was circulating, an intestinal track had formed, and there was a progenitor to a brain. The scientists at Israel's Weizmann Institute published their results in the journal Cell. From The Guardian:

    Known as synthetic embryos because they are created without fertilised eggs, the living structures are expected, in the near term, to drive deeper understanding of how organs and tissues form during the development of natural embryos.

    But researchers believe the work could also reduce animal experimentation and ultimately pave the way for new sources of cells and tissues for human transplantation[…]

    While most of the stem cells failed to form embryo-like structures, about 0.5% combined into little balls that grew distinct tissues and organs. When compared with natural mouse embryos, the synthetic embryos were 95% the same in terms of their internal structure and the genetic profiles of the cells. As far as the scientists could tell, the organs that formed were functional.

    [Research head Jacob] Hanna said synthetic embryos were not "real" embryos and did not have the potential to develop into live animals, or at least they hadn't when they had been transplanted into the wombs of female mice. He has founded a company called Renewal Bio that aims to grow human synthetic embryos to provide tissues and cells for medical conditions.

  • Massive sinkhole bigger than a basketball court opened up in Chile

    A sinkhole 105 feet in diameter opened up near the Chilean town of Tierra Amarilla in the Atacama Desert. The sinkhole, bigger than an NBA basketball court, appeared near Lundin Mining's underground Minera Ojos del Salado copper mine. From Lundin Mining's statement on the matter:

    Minera Ojos del Salado is conducting a technical analysis and gathering information to determine the cause of the event. The Alcaparrosa mine, which is part of the Minera Ojos del Salado operations, is continuously monitored and no movement has been detected related to the surficial sinkhole.

    As a preventive measure, development work in an area of the Alcaparrosa underground mine has been temporarily suspended though is not expected to impact annual guidance for the Candelaria Copper Mining Complex. 

    From Mining.com:

    The event is playing out as the mining industry lobbies against planned tax hikes in Chile and faces more onerous rules regarding the environment and local communities as part of a new constitution that will go to a popular vote next month. Lundin is looking into further expansions in Chile after recently spending $1 billion upgrading its operations there.

  • NASA identified the strange spaghetti pile found on Mars

    Remember the mysterious mound of strange spaghetti spotted in an image captured by the Mars Perseverance rover? NASA confirmed that it's just more space litter from Perseverance's touchdown on the Red Planet's surface. Just like the shiny piece of thermal blanket seen below that previously sparked people's curiosity, the noodly material came from the rovers's "entry, descent, and landing (EDL)" hardware. From NASA:

    Some of the EDL hardware broke into smaller pieces when it impacted the surface.  These pieces of EDL debris have been spotted in images of the Hogwallow Flats region, a location roughly 2 km to the northwest of the EDL hardware crash zones.  As of Sol 508 (July 24, 2022), the operations team has catalogued roughly half a dozen pieces of suspected EDL debris in this area.  Some of these EDL debris are actively blowing around in the wind. So far, we've seen shiny pieces of thermal blanket material, Dacron netting material that is also used in thermal blankets, and a stringlike material that we conclude to be a likely piece of shredded Dacron netting.

  • Scientists revive dead pigs' brain cells and other organs

    In a Yale laboratory, researchers managed to revive the cells in the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys of pigs that had been dead for more than hour. The technique involved pumping a fluid of a synthetic protein hemoglobin and other compounds through the corpses. Six hours later, some of the organs' functions had turned back on. Eventually, the research could enable surgeons to retrieve human organs for transplant much longer after a donor has died, saving countless lives. From the New York Times:

    "We did not know what to expect," said Dr. David Andrijevic, also a neuroscientist at Yale and one of the authors of the paper [published in the journal Nature]. "Everything we restored was incredible to us."

    Others not associated with the work were similarly astonished.

    "It's unbelievable, mind blowing," said Nita Farahany, a Duke law professor who studies ethical, legal and social implications of emerging technologies.

    And, Dr. Farahany added, the work raises questions about the definition of death.

    "We presume death is a thing, it is a state of being," she said. "Are there forms of death that are reversible? Or not?"

  • Florida issues new license plate design featuring symbol beloved by far-right fanatics (and it's not the American flag)

    The iconic "Don't Tread On Me" flag, aka the Gadsden flag, originated during the American Revolution in 1775 as a statement against British rule. Over the years though, it became popular among libertarians, the American Tea Party movement, and most-recently, far right groups. It was seen all over the news during the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Now, Florida is the latest state to offer the flag as a graphic on license plates. While funds from sale of the plates will benefit the Florida Veterans Foundation, many question the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's motivation to issue the plate design now. From WFLA:

    DeSantis meanwhile has claimed on Twitter that the plate is intended to send a clear message to out-of-state cars, "'Don't Tread on Me' or Florida."[…]

    DeSantis has repeatedly painted Florida as a safe haven for freedom and minimal government intervention — a message originally conveyed in the flag's design.

    But not everyone agreed with the governor's promotional tweet.

    One user said, "Stop calling us the free state of Florida, if that were true I'd be able to do my job as a teacher and create a safe space for all kids," referring to the governor's Parental Rights in Education law.

    Another user said, "what's next the Confederate Flag? Plenty of other symbols can be used to benefit Veterans."

    For more on the history and significance of the Gadsden flag, read this excellent New Yorker feature by Boing Boing pal Rob Walker: "The Shifting Symbolism of the Gadsden Flag"

  • This is how much you need to earn to buy a home in different US cities

    In San Jose, California at the heart of Silicon Valley, you need to earn roughly $330,000 to buy a home. In Memphis, Tennessee, that number is $52,000. I've spent time in both places and Memphis is far more interesting than San Jose. From Visual Capitalist:

    As of the time of this data (Q1 2022), the national yearly fixed mortgage rate sat at 4% and median home price at $368,200. This put the salary needed to buy a home at almost $76,000⁠—the median national household income falls almost $9,000 below that.

    But what kind of homes are people looking to purchase? Depending on where you live the type of home and square footage you can get will be very different.

    In New York City, for example, there are fairly few stand-alone, single-family houses in the traditional sense⁠—only around 4,000 are ever on the market. People in the Big Apple tend to buy condominiums or multi-family units.

    Additionally, if you're looking for luxury, not even seven figures will get you much in the big cities. In Miami, a million dollars will only buy you 833 square feet of prime real estate.

  • Five headlines this week that prove we are living in a science fiction novel

    The Daily Grail perfectly prefaced today's News Briefs with the following truth: "If you're a science fiction writer and you can't come up with a plot from the first five news brief headlines today, what are you even doing…"

    • 'Alien obelisk' found on Australian farmland likely SpaceX space junk that fell from the sky.

    • Meanwhile: mysterious metallic orb falls on Mexico.

    Big green meteors seem to be raining down on New Zealand, but why?

    • Authorities investigate after mysterious, massive sinkhole appears in Chile.

    Earth just mysteriously spun faster, causing the shortest day ever recorded.

    More: "News Briefs 03-08-2022" (The Daily Grail)

  • This billboard video ad for garlic stinks of obscenity, farmer groups say

    The video above was created by the small town of Hongseong, South Korea to promote their local garlic. Unfortunately, farmer groups in the region think it's in bad taste, claiming it's "suggestive," "inappropriate," and "sexually objectified" the herb. County officials have since pulled the video from its YouTube channel and from appearing on video billboards. From the Associated Press:

    The video shows a woman touching the thigh of a man named "Hongsan" with a full garlic head mask and saying words like "very thick" and "hard" to apparently describe the quality of the local garlic. It's also a parody of a famous scene from a 2004 hit Korean movie titled "Once Upon a Time in High School."[…]

    "We can't repress our astonishment," said a joint statement issued by the local branches of two major farmers' organizations — the Korean Peasants League and the Korean Women Peasants Association. "The video offended the people who watched it and dealt a big blow to the image of the agricultural product that farmers have laboriously grown."

    Credit goes to the AP for the "stinks of obscenity" headline!

  • Inmate used hemorrhoid cream to open a hole… in jail cell

    An inmate at Wichita, Kansas's Sedgwick County Jail revealed how he created a hole in the thick window of a cell in order to pass contraband. Apparently, he used hemorrhoid cream as a hot-burning fuel to soften the window—presumably a polycarbonate—and then was able to push through it. So much for hemorrhoid cream being used to relieve the burning. From KSN:

    According to the affidavit, it took the inmate approximately three and a half hours to get the hole in the window. The inmate said he came into the cell with a drain pipe from a sink, held the flame to the window, and used the pipe and a food tray to punch a hole through the softened window.

    In related news, Shutterstock actually offers the above stock photo.

  • Watch Stretch Armstrong meet his untimely yet dramatic demise

    When I was a youngster, my mom wouldn't buy me Stretch Armstrong because she insisted his rubbery skin would tear and the gooey gel inside would get all over everything. (She probably wasn't wrong.) Now that I've shared my childhood disappointment, watch this video starring Stretch:

    (Thanks, UPSO!)

  • How to separate twins conjoined at the head

    Born in 2016, Erin and Abby Delaney are twins who were born conjoined at the top of their heads. When they were 10 months old, neurosurgeon Gregory Heuer and plastic surgeon Jesse Taylor led a team of more than two dozen physicians, nurses, and staff at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia worked together to separate the conjoined twins. The operation alone took 11 hours.

    "During the separation surgery, our team first meticulously separated the infants' shared blood vessels and dura, the tough protective membrane surrounding both brains, then moved on to separate the sagittal sinus, the most difficult portion of the operation," Heuer said at the time. "Finally, we divided our team into two halves, one for each of the girls, and finished the reconstruction portion of the surgery."

    In the video above, Dr. Taylor and Dr. Heuer explained how they did it.

    The girls are now 6 years old. You can read more about them on the blog written by their mother, Heather Delaney: "Our Journey With Conjoined Twins"

  • Did US slice up al Qaeda leader with "flying Ginsu" drone?

    On Saturday, the US killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike when he stepped onto a balcony in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thing is, locals report that there was no fire or smoke. That has led some weapons experts to suggest the US dispatched al-Zawahird with its secret "flying Ginsu" (aka R9X Hellfire)—a non-explosive missile outfitted with six extendable blades that cuts through walls, car roofs, and, er, people. Reminds me of the Sentinels from Phantasm (1979), as seen above!

    From the Daily Beast:

    The precision capability of the weapon means there is less chance of collateral damage. And in fact, there were no civilians killed in the hit on Zawahri. The telltale sign of its use is that there is no explosion. In the case of Zawahiri, 71, only the windows of the balcony, where he was standing alone, were shattered.

    More on the flying Ginsu in the video below and this 2021 article: "The Telltale Traces of the US Military's New 'Bladed' Missile" (Bellingcat)

  • Lyme disease is an "intergalactic substance" and a "gift," according to social media influencers

    In the below clip from the July 27 episode of The Balanced Blonde//Soul On Fire podcast, host Jordan Younger's guest is "intuitive astrologer and spiritual healer" Danielle Page who reveals that Lyme disease is an "intergalactic substance and it's literally bringing in codes from the beginning of time." Younger—who has said she has Lyme disease—responds enthusiastically, saying that that the disease "is a gift." Worth noting is that Page has nearly 100,000 Instagram followers while Younger counts more than 30,000 TikTok followers. A significant number of people listen to what these two say.

    For science-based information about Lyme disease, please visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pages.

    (Thanks, UPSO!)

  • Popcorn snack includes free snake

    At the Shoppers Value market in Kenbridge, Virginia, Kimberly Slaughter was hankering for some popcorn. But when she picked up a bag off a shelf, she saw what she thought were mouse feces on the bag. "So I put it on the bottom shelf because there was already mouse poop covering the bottom shelves," she told WTVR. Undeterred, she grabbed another bag. This one had a small hole in it so she decided to inform the store. But at that moment, a snake popped out of the popcorn bag.

    "I was like, oh, well, hi!" she told local news.

    From WTVR (video below):

    According to Slaughter, an employee removed the snake from the store, and she said — based on the photos — friends have told her it was a rat snake.

    "We have no idea where it came from," [store manager Brian] Stanley told CBS 6 reporter Caroline Coleburn over the phone. "We are investigating trying to find out where it came from, but we have no other indication that there could be any others."

  • "Alien obelisk" found on Australian farmland likely SpaceX space junk that fell from the sky

    Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at the Australian National University, enjoys investigating reports of possible space junk that's fallen from the sky. Last week though, two shepherds in Dalgety, Australia got in touch with him about a bizarre burned object they found on their farmland. Tucker drove out to investigate and what he spotted, he said, "kind of just looks like a burnt tree … and then you come up to it, it's like this alien obelisk almost."

    Turns out, it's likely debris from a SpaceX rocket that reentered the Earth's atmosphere back in November 2020.

    "It's a very easy way for SpaceX to confirm it because there's a label on it," Tucker said. So far, they haven't.

    A spokesperson from the Australian Space Agency told The Guardian: "The agency is actively working to support formal identification of the objects, and is engaging with our counterparts in the US, as well as other parts of the commonwealth and local authorities as appropriate."

  • SF Bay Area sheriff accused of ordering raid on Batmobile garage in Indiana as favor to friend

    Last week, San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos sent four officers from the San Francisco Bay Area all the way to Indiana to raid a garage licensed to make custom Batmobiles modeled on the classic car from the 1960s TV series. Why? According to ABC7 Bay Area News, "one of the sheriff's friends ordered a Batmobile and wasn't happy with how long it's taking." From reporter Dan Noyes's ABC7 story:

    Owner Mark Racop has nine Batmobiles [$210,000/each] in production. He tells us [realtor Sam] Anagnostou was first in line, but missed a $20,000 payment: "And he disappeared on me for over eight months, almost nine months."

    Racop moved Anagnostou to the bottom of the list; he'd have to wait a year and a half or two for his Batmobile.

    Racop says, "He didn't like that, he exploded. He did pay off the entire car at that point, but he was absolutely livid to find out that his car was going to be delayed."

    Apparently, Anagnostou filed complaints with San Mateo police and then a lawsuit that was dismissed, finally calling his buddy the sheriff to help. According to Racop, when the cops showed up at his garage (unfortunately not called the Bat Cave), they didn't seize the car but rather some files. However, they did arrest and release him, froze his bank account, and charged him with Obtaining Money by False Pretenses, and Diversion of Construction Funds.

    "I was horrified," Racop told ABC7. "I've never gone through anything like this ever before in my life, I am on the side of good. As a Batman fan since I was 2 years old, this was a completely opposite side. I love '66 Batman and Batman always stood with the law."