Cute "mouse-deer," long lost to science, has been photographed again

This is a silver-backed chevrotain, aka "mouse-deer," from Vietnam. Read the rest

How wallpaper cleaner became one of the most popular toys ever

During the early 20th century, Kutol Products was the world's biggest manufacturer of wallpaper cleaning products. But once coal heating in homes was replaced with oil, gas, and electricity, dirty wallpaper became less of a problem and Kutol was in trouble. So in 1956, they pivoted. From Smithsonian:

Joseph McVicker was trying to turn around the struggling company when his sister-in-law read an article about how wallpaper cleaner could be used for modeling projects. Sister-in-law Kay Zufall, a nursery school teacher, tested the nontoxic material with children, who loved molding it into all kinds of shapes. She told McVicker of her discovery and even suggested a new name: Play-Doh...

Originally available in white only in 1956, Play-Doh soon expanded to include basic colors red, blue and yellow. It is now sold in a panoply of hues, including Rose Red, Purple Paradise, Garden Green and Blue Lagoon. The Putty line includes metallic and glittery tints. The recipe has gone through minor modifications over time. At one point, the amount of salt was reduced so the product would not dry out so quickly. But, for the most part, the mixture has remained the same.

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Artisinal gin flavored with elephant dung gets you shit-faced

Indlovu Gin is a new spirit infused with elephant dung. Gives new meaning to the term "shit-faced." It sells for about $32 per bottle. Creators Les and Paula Ansley of Mossel Bay, South Africa, came up with the concept on safari after learning that elephants have a varied diet of plants, fruits, and vegetables but less than half of it is actually digested.

“As a consequence, in the elephant dung, you get the most amazing variety of these botanicals,” Les Ansley told the Associated Press. “(I recall my wife saying) Why don’t we let the elephants do the hard work of collecting all these botanicals and we will make gin from it?"

From the AP:

After about five sizeable bags of dung are collected for a batch of 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of the gin, the droppings are dried and crumbled, then washed to remove dirt and sand. Eventually only the remains of the fruits, flowers, leaves and bark eaten by the elephants are left behind.

Those botanicals are then sterilized and dried again and placed in an airing cupboard. Think of it like a “spice cupboard,” Ansley said. Eventually, the remains are infused in the gin.

(via Fark) Read the rest

Robot appendage "grows" like a plant

Inspired by the way plants grow, MIT researchers designed a flexible robot appendage that can work in tight spaces but is rigid enough to support heavy parts or twist tight screws. From MIT News:

The appendage design is inspired by the way plants grow, which involves the transport of nutrients, in a fluidized form, up to the plant’s tip. There, they are converted into solid material to produce, bit by bit, a supportive stem.

Likewise, the robot consists of a “growing point,” or gearbox, that pulls a loose chain of interlocking blocks into the box. Gears in the box then lock the chain units together and feed the chain out, unit by unit, as a rigid appendage...

“The realization of the robot is totally different from a real plant, but it exhibits the same kind of functionality, at a certain abstract level,” (mechanical engineer Harry) Asada says.

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The joy of elderly people doing the Thriller dance

Enjoy the funk of, er, 65+ years in this video of the annual Thriller dance at the Abbington Senior Living Mapleton center in Utah.

For me, this clip has a similar charm as David Greenberger's eternally amazing Duplex Planet interviews with elderly people. Read the rest

This stop-motion pizza looks delicious

Bebop Stop-Motion made this terrific stop-motion cooking clip of a gooey, bubbling pizza from 3,300 photos and countless Lego bricks.

And here's a bonus stop-motion cooking classic, "Western Spaghetti" by PES:

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Funny internal Apple video from 1994: "I Think We're A Clone Now"

In 1994, Apple's Mac OS 7 licensing program briefly enabled other companies to make and sell Macintosh computers. In response, Apple employees "Dave Garr & The Licensees" created this delightful parody of Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now."

(via r/Apple) Read the rest

Convict who died and was resuscitated argues that his life sentence has been served

In 1996, Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man with an axe handle. A few years later in the Iowa State Penitentiary, Schreiber suffered from septic poisoning, briefly died, and was resuscitated. So he argued to an Iowa appeals court that he has served his sentence and should be set free. The court ruled with what might be called the "Schrödinger's convict" respsonse. From the New York Times:

“Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot,” Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote for the court....

Judge Potterfield wrote in the ruling this week that because “life” is not defined by the state’s code, the judges had given the term “its plain meaning,” which they took to prescribe that Mr. Schreiber must spend the rest of his natural life incarcerated, regardless of whether he had been revived. “We do not find his argument persuasive,” Judge Potterfield wrote, adding that the judges found it unlikely the Legislature would have wanted “to set criminal defendants free whenever medical procedures during their incarceration lead to their resuscitation by medical professionals.”

Image: TheCatalyst31 (CC0 1.0) Read the rest

"Bigfoot Watcher Chasing Chemtrails Records a UFO"

At Mysterious Universe, Paul Seaburn writes:

In what can be considered an unusual convergence of conspiracy theories, a man who runs a Bigfoot videos YouTube channel was chasing chemtrails when he claimed to have recorded a UFO chasing them as well. If you’re playing Conspiracy Scrabble, ‘Chemtrail’, ‘Bigfoot’ and ‘UFO’ is a triple-word score.

According to his commentary during the video, Marc Abell –the CEO of Colorado Bigfoot, a provider of Bigfoot videos – was recording a plane making a contrail over a snow-covered terrain in Vail, Colorado, and believed the color and shape changes in the contrail were signs that the plane was actually spraying something rather than just trailing the usual water vapor and jet exhaust.

That's when Abell spotted the UFO.

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Company's goal is to build orbiting space hotel by 2025

The Gateway Foundation is a private company that claims they could build the first orbital space hotel by 2025. According to their site, the Von Braun Rotating Space Station is designed "to accommodate both national space agencies conducting low gravity research and space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a nice hotel" large enough for 450 visitors. From Space.com:

Gateway Foundation officials acknowledge that the station might not be entirely finished by 2025, but the group aims to develop the station's main structure and basic functions by then. "We expect the operation to begin in 2025, the full station will be built out and completed by 2027. … Once the station's fully operational, our hope, our goal and our objective is to have the station available for the average person," (lead architect Timothy) Alatorre said. "So, a family or an individual could save up reasonably … and be able to have enough money to visit space and have that experience. … It would be something that would be within reach...

Alatorre said that the Gateway Foundation feels that such a project is now possible because the growing success of commercial aerospace companies like SpaceX has made launch options more affordable.

He added that the company admits that it's possible its timeline is pushing it somewhat. "We completely understand that delays are almost inevitable with aerospace, but based on our internal projections and the fact that we're already dealing with existing technology, we're not inventing anything new.

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Horse rescued from Virginia swimming pool

Rixeyville, Virginia's Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team saved a horse who fell or jumped into a family's swimming pool overnight. When the team arrived, the fire department had already begun draining the pool and a firefighter had jumped in to keep the animal calm. After a vet sedated the horse, the Rescue Team used a sling attached to a tractor and lifted the horse out of the pool. From Fredericksburg.com:

The area had experienced high winds and a line of storms the night prior, Halloween night, and “Annie” a Haflinger had escaped from her field and went exploring, according to a Facebook post from Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team.

The horse was probably thirsty and saw some water and “just like that” found herself in the swimming pool, the post stated.

Shortly after the rescue, Annie had recovered and was happily eating breakfast. Read the rest

Thief uses explosives to rob cash machine

Using Jaws of Life to rob an ATM is just so fussy. Around 3:30am this morning, a thief blew up a cash machine outside a Premier convenience store in Nottinghamshire, England. According to one witness, after the huge explosion "there was cash everywhere."

The BBC News quotes another witness who said the perp "'stuffed around half of the cash into his hoodie' and quickly drove off when he noticed people were watching." Read the rest

James Dean, dead for 65 years, will star in a new movie

James Dean, who died in 1955, will star in directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh's new action-drama flick Finding Jack. Apparently Dean will be entirely CGI with someone else lending the character's voice. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Adapted by Maria Sova from Gareth Crocker’s novel, Finding Jack is based on the existence and abandonment of more than 10,000 military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War. Dean will play a character called Rogan, considered a secondary lead role.

"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean," said Ernst, who also produces with Golykh for Magic City Films alongside Donald A. Barton of Artistry Media Group.

"We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact. The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down."

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Florida county commissioners against renewal of library's New York Times subscription because it's "fake news"

The Board of County Commissioners in Citrus County, Florida opposed the renewal of the regional public library's digital subscription to the New York Times. Why? "Fake news," said the board's second vice chairman Scott Carnahan. "“I agree with President Trump. I will not be voting for this. I don’t want The New York Times in this county.” From Reuters:

Carnahan was joined by Commissioners Ronald Kitchen, who balked at the annual cost of about $2,700, and Jimmie Smith, who wondered, “why the heck would we spend money on something like that?”

Reading the room, First Vice Chairman Brian Coleman withdrew the motion he made to approve the funding request...

The (Citrus County) Chronicle, noting that the decision would affect some 70,000 library card holders, reported that its readers “reacted strongly” to the commissioners’ decision, with “most but not all” critical of it.

The county already pays about $3,000 a year to supply its four regional libraries with the print edition of The Times, Library Services Director Eric Head told the newspaper.

Graphic above borrowed from this fantastic t-shirt. Read the rest

Microsoft Japan claims 4-day workweek bumped productivity 40%

Over the summer, every weekend was a 3-day weekend for Microsoft Japan employees. The company tested a 4-day workweek without reducing salaries. According to Microsoft, the result was a productivity increase of 40%. It seems that the biggest contributor to that boost is that they cut way back on meetings which, as a rule, waste a lot of time. From National Public Radio:

Because of the shorter workweek, the company also put its meetings on a diet. The standard duration for a meeting was slashed from 60 minutes to 30 — an approach that was adopted for nearly half of all meetings. In a related cut, standard attendance at those sessions was capped at five employees.

Citing the need for a shift in time management, the Microsoft division also urged people to use collaborative chat channels rather than "wasteful" emails and meetings...

Four-day workweeks made headlines around the world in the spring of 2018, when Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust management company, announced a 20% gain in employee productivity and a 45% increase in employee work-life balance after a trial of paying people their regular salary for working four days. Last October, the company made the policy permanent.

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Weird "witch bottle" found in former pub's chimney

In Watford, England, construction workers doing demolition at a former pub and inn found a weird bottle inside the chimney. Containing human teeth, fish hooks, glass shards, and liquid, the container was apparently a 19th century "witch bottle" meant to protect against evil spells. Above, examples of such bottles. From Smithsonian:

The newly discovered bottle is one of more than 100 recovered from old buildings, churchyards and riverbanks across Great Britain to date. Most specimens trace their origins to the 1600s, when continental Europe was in the grips of a major witch panic. Common contents found in witch bottles include pins, nails, thorns, urine, fingernail clippings and hair.

According to BBC News, the Watford property—now a private residence but formerly known as the Star and Garter inn—is best known as the birthplace of Angeline Tubbs, a woman later nicknamed the Witch of Saratoga...

The home’s current owner does not plan on displaying the bottle. Instead, the anonymous individual says they “will probably hide it away again for someone to find in another 100 years or so.” So, how exactly did witch bottles work? Per JSTOR Daily’s Allison C. Meier, practitioners filled the vessels with an assortment of items, but most commonly urine and bent pins. The urine was believed to lure witches traveling through a supernatural “otherworld” into the bottle, where they would then be trapped on the pins’ sharp points. Would-be witchcraft victims often embedded the protective bottles under hearths or near chimneys; as anthropologist Christopher C.

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One ton boulder mysteriously missing from Arizona forest has mysteriously returned

Last month, the "Wizard Rock," an iconic 1-ton boulder, mysteriously vanished without a trace from Arizona's Prescott National Forest. It was the third boulder disappearance in the region over the last few months. Read the rest

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