• How an overabundance of frozen turkey begat the TV Dinner

    As a child in the 1970s, I loved Swanson's TV Dinners although we very rarely had them. Reflecting back, I think I liked the idea more than the taste. I also recall being quite disgusted and upset when the peas and carrot would leap the foil barrier, contaminating the cobbler. Apparently there are conflicting accounts of who actually invented the TV Dinner but it proved to be a massive success for Swanson who sold ten million of them in 1954, their first full year of production. From Smithsonian:

    According to the most widely accepted account, a Swanson salesman named Gerry Thomas conceived the company's frozen dinners in late 1953 when he saw that the company had 260 tons of frozen turkey left over after Thanksgiving, sitting in ten refrigerated railroad cars. (The train's refrigeration worked only when the cars were moving, so Swanson had the trains travel back and forth between its Nebraska headquarters and the East Coast "until panicked executives could figure out what to do," according to Adweek.) Thomas had the idea to add other holiday staples such as cornbread stuffing and sweet potatoes, and to serve them alongside the bird in frozen, partitioned aluminum trays designed to be heated in the oven. Betty Cronin, Swanson's bacteriologist, helped the meals succeed with her research into how to heat the meat and vegetables at the same time while killing food-borne germs.

    "A Brief History of the TV Dinner" (Smithsonian)

    Previously: "Things I miss: The Swanson TV Dinner"

  • Enjoy 90 minutes of creepy vintage Disney cartoons for Halloween

    Disney's Halloween Treat was a special 1982 Halloween episode of the Walt Disney television series featuring excerpts or full vintage cartoons with a creepy, supernatural vibe. The segments include the likes of "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia (1940), "Donald Duck and the Gorilla" (1944), and "Pluto's Judgement Day" (1935), and a bit of Cruella de Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). These shorts and features date back 60 to 80 years but still deliver the magic.

    Watch here: "Disney Halloween Treat" (YouTube)

    image: Trisha Fawver (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • Man seeks police help in finding his bag containing $47,000 in cocaine

    Darren Barnwell, 20, was toting a bag containing $47,000 in cocaine from Dublin to Cork, Ireland when he exited a train without his duffel. Security staff refused to allow an unsurprisingly upset Barnwell to re-board the train to retrieve it, so he called police to report the missing item. Then, Barnwell recalled that he had stopped in a shop at one point and likely left the bag there, not on the train. Fortunately, the shop was holding the bag in case the owner returned. But for some reason after he picked it up, a police officer stopped Barnwell outside the store and looked inside the bag. From the Irish Times:

    Mr Barnwell admitted he had made the journey on the train from Dublin bringing the cocaine with him.

    He is without any previous criminal convictions. On the date of the offence, he was working as a courier who was to deliver the cocaine to another individual.

    Sgt O'Sullivan said in the intervening period since the incident Mr Barnwell had not come to the attention of gardaí.

    In sentencing Judge Sean O'Donnabhain said it was "an unusual crime."

    "I am justified in imposing a fully suspended sentence [of four years]. It is exceptional that he has no previous convictions or come to Garda attention since."

  • Fun and ridiculous Ghostbusters sneakers from Reebok

    Reebok is releasing this fun and cartoony Ghostbusters "Ghost Smashers" sneaker design on Halloween. There's also another style in the collaboration called the "Classic Leather" but it's not nearly as ridiculous. From Hypebeast:

    [The Ghost Smasher design] takes Reebok's Alien Stomper silhouette — which was originally made for the Alien films — and turns it into a mid-top sneaker. From there, a "White/True Grey 8/Scarlet" colorway has been added to the leather uppers, with accessories, props, and motifs also dressing the pair.

    Most notably among all the add-ons is the "Pump" branded green component on the heel, which is attached to the shoe by gray arms and green and blue wires. The Reebok logo on the mid-panel section is crossed out in a hazardous tape style, while the iconic Ghostbusters logo has been added onto the padded tongue. Reebok has even given the shoes a pre-worn finish that's most notable on the midsole and outsole, and rounds out the vintage look with exposed foam coming out of the top of the tongue.

  • Watch man brazenly shoplift at Walgreens while TV news is in the store reporting on brazen shoplifting

    An ongoing rash of brazen shoplifting at San Francisco area Walgreens locations is leading to multiple locations closing their doors permanently. Inside Edition was inside one of the stores to report on the shoplifting when a shoplifter casually hopped over the counter, grabbed an air mattress, and rolled out of the place on a scooter.


  • Banksy's "Show Me the Monet" painting sells for nearly $10 million

    Banksy's 2005 painting "Show Me the Money" sold at a Sotheby's auction yesterday for more than £7.5 million. Five collectors bidding during the final minutes of the auction drove up the price to make it the second most expensive Banksy sold at auction. "Show Me the Money" riffs on Claude Monet's "The Japanese Footbridge" (1899). From The Guardian:

    Show Me The Monet forms part of a series titled Crude Oil, which "remixes" canonical works.

    The series also includes Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers wilting or dead in their vase, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks confronted by an angry man in Union Jack boxer shorts and Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe re-faced with Kate Moss.

  • Florida cat gifts its owner with a two-headed snake

    Palm Harbor, Florida resident Kay Rogers says her cat kindly gifted her with a rare two-headed southern black racer snake. The cat performed a good deed as, according to the Florida Wildlife Center, "two-headed snakes are unlikely to survive in the wild as the two brains make different decisions that inhibit the ability to feed or escape from predators." From WFTS Tampa Bay:

    Kay Rogers said her cat brought the snake into the home through the doggy door. The cat placed the snake on the carpet.

    "She brings us presents all the time. This day, my daughter sent me a message. 'Mom, she brought in a snake and it has two heads,'" said Rogers. "I think this tops it, but she's an adventurous cat for sure." […]

    The snake is currently being cared for and monitored by FWC staff.

    "He was really an easy pet. I really just wanted to kind of see him thrive and have people that would take care of him and give him the best chance. I know, well my daughter's research shows they don't live well in the wild at all. I know captivity was the best hope for him," said Rogers.

    (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

    image: Jonathan Mays/FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

  • Happy 100th birthday to Timothy Leary!

    Happy 100th birthday to bOING bOING patron saint Dr. Timothy Leary! We miss you. Above, "You Can be Anyone This Time Around" from Tim's 1970 album of the same name featuring Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Stills, Buddy Miles, and John Sebastian. Below, Tim and me in 1991 and with bOING bOING founders Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair in 1995.

  • How the diabolical ironclad beetle survives getting run over by a car

    What makes the diabolical ironclad beetle (the insect's actual common name) so indestructible? To find out, researchers at the  University of California, Irvine and their colleagues repeatedly drove over them with their cars. Yes, the creepy crawlers survived the tire test and countless other more exacting compression tests in the laboratory. After years of research, materials scientist David Kisailus and grad student Jesus Rivera determined that its the combination of the material and structure of the beetle's exoskeleton which is different than other beetles. They reported their findings in this week's issue of the scientific journal Nature. Now, the scientists are taking inspiration from the diabolical ironclad beetle's unique exoskeleton to develop new kinds of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic fasteners that are stronger than traditional counterparts. From UC Irvine:

    "The ironclad is a terrestrial beetle, so it's not lightweight and fast but built more like a little tank," said principle investigator and corresponding author David Kisailus, UCI professor of materials science & engineering. "That's its adaptation: It can't fly away, so it just stays put and lets its specially designed armor take the abuse until the predator gives up."

    In its desert habitat in the U.S. Southwest, the beetle can be found under rocks and in trees, squeezed between the bark and the trunk – another reason it needs to have a durable exterior[…]

    [The researchers] found that the diabolical ironclad beetle can withstand a force of about 39,000 times its body weight. A 200-pound man would have to endure the crushing weight of 7.8 million pounds to equal this feat.

    Conducting a series of high-resolution microscopic and spectroscopic evaluations, Rivera and Kisailus learned that the bug's secret lies in the material makeup and architecture of its exoskeleton, specifically, its elytra. In aerial beetles, elytra are the forewing blades that open and close to safeguard the flight wings from bacteria, desiccation and other sources of harm. The ironclad's elytra have evolved to become a solid, protective shield.

    image: Jesus Rivera / UCI

  • Massive 2,000-year-old etching of cat found on Peruvian hillside

    Archaeologists discovered this darling and massive etching of a cat at the site of the Nazca Lines in Peru, about 250 miles away from the capital city of Lima. The researchers spotted the 120-foot-long etching while working on the UNESCO heritage site where the ancient geoglyphs of animals, plants, and geometric shapes may have been used for astronomical rituals or wayfinding. From the New York Times:

    "It's quite striking that we're still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found," Johny Isla, Peru's chief archaeologist for the Nazca Lines, told Efe, a Spanish news agency.

    The designs were believed to have been created when ancient Peruvians scraped off a dark and rocky layer of earth, which contrasts with lighter-colored sand underneath. Researchers believe that the figures once served as travel markers.

    Drone photography has led to several discoveries in recent years, Mr. Isla said. In 2019, researchers from Japan, aided by satellite photography and three-dimensional imaging, unearthed more than 140 new geoglyphs at the site.

    Research and conservation work had continued at the site even during the coronavirus pandemic, when most tourist sites have been closed. Archaeologists and employees were working on the Mirador Natural, a lookout point in the protected site, when they began unearthing something intriguing. When they cleaned the mound, clear lines showing the sinuous body of a cat emerged.

    "The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear because it is situated on quite a steep slope that's prone to the effects of natural erosion," the culture ministry said in a statement.

    image: Johny Islas/Peru's Ministry of Culture-Nasca-Palpa

  • Pat Robertson's election prophecy: Trump wins, civil unrest, world war, and an asteroid to end it all

    Spoilers from God via Pat Robertson: Trump will win, two assassination attempts on him, civil strife, war with China, war in the Middle East with God defending Israel, and finally, after about 5 years or so, an asteroid to end it all, "maybe."

    "That doesn't mean you sit home and don't vote," Robertson said. "That means you get out and do everything you can to work, but he's going to win. That's, I think, a given."

  • High school student listed as "Black Guy" in yearbook photo

    The 2020 yearbook for Brown County High School in Nashville, Indiana included a photo of a school basketball team with all the students' names in the caption except for one who was listed as "Black Guy." From WRTV:

    Superintendent Dr. Laura Hammack and high school Principal Matthew Stark issued a letter dated Monday that called the incident "a truly reprehensible error."

    "We acknowledge that yearbook is the only class at this school where all assignments and homework are published for all to see," the statement reads. "We strive for perfection and hope any errors are minor and inconsequential. This is not an inconsequential error."

    The district has an ongoing investigation and consequences will be determined when the investigation is completed, according to the superintendent and principal's statement.

    (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)