• Video: Wild animal couldn't *bear* to miss out on the cupcakes at child's birthday party

    In West Hartford, Connecticut, Laura Majidian's two-year-old son was celebrating his birthday at a party outside the family home when an uninvited guest arrived. Maybe it couldn't bear to miss the festivities! From the CT Insider:

    Majidian said the adults who did not have children with them started making loud noises and shouting for the bear to "go away," but the animal was unfazed. It took about 15 to 20 minutes for the bear to leave, she said.

    Majidian said she and the family are worried about bumping into the bear again. 

    If so, I hope that the family remembers that the bear seemingly prefers yellow cupcakes over chocolate.

    illustrative image: Dr.We/Shutterstock
  • Chimps communicate by banging on trees with their own signature drum beats

    Many animals signal to each other vocally or by banging on things, but new research in a Ugandan rainforest shows that each chimpanzee pounds on tree roots with its own individual signature drum beat to send messages more than 1km away. Combined with their hooting and hollering, it sounds like free jazz to me. From the BBC News:

    The scientists say that the signature rhythms allow them to send information over long distances, revealing who is where, and what they are doing[…]

    Lead researcher on this study, PhD student Vesta Eleuteri from the University of Vienna, described how some individuals have a more regular rhythm, like rock and blues drummers, while some have more variable rhythms, like jazz.

    "I was surprised that I was able to recognise who was drumming after just a few weeks in the forest," she said. "But their drumming rhythms are so distinctive that it's easy to pick up on them."

    Ms Eleuteri described one young male chimp, that researchers have named Tristan, as "the John Bonham (late Led Zeppelin drummer) of the forest".

    "He makes these very long drumming bouts with lots of beats and you can tell them from far away, so you can just tell it's Tristan drumming."

    image: Patrick Rolands/Shutterstock
  • Here's why your car's speedometer goes to 160 mph even though that will never happen

    In the US, almost all automobile speedometers go up to 160 mph even though very few cars can go that fast, not to mention it's almost twice the highest posted speed limit in the country. So why the 160 mph industry standard? From CNN:

    Toyota spokesman Paul Hogard said the automaker wants speedometers to be easy to read, so there's value in placing the typical operating speed of American cars, 45 mph to 70 mph, he said, at the top of the speedometer, which is the easiest place on the speedometer for the driver to read. To do this — while maintaining a visually-appealing, symmetrical speedometer — requires a gauge that displays well past operating speeds, he said[…]

    Joan Claybrook, who served as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1977 to 1981 told CNN Business that she was "absolutely infuriated" by high-speed speedometers during her tenure.

    So NHTSA issued a rule in 1979 that speedometers should not indicate speeds over 85 mph.

    That policy lasted just two years, ending when Claybrook exited the NHTSA in 1981.

  • Watch this new trailer for the previously cancelled Batgirl film

    Last month, Warner Brothers put the kibosh on the new Batgirl film, starring Leslie Grace and directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. I expect the nearly-finished film will eventually make its way out of the vault one way or another. Until then, above is a terrific trailer that Corridor created in the style of leaked footage. And here's how they made it:

    image: Warner Bros publicity photo
  • Dig the cool cartoon beatniks in this vintage TV commercial for a chocolate bar

    Bob Godfrey (1921-2013) was a celebrated British animator behind the cartoons Roobarb, Noah and Nelly in… SkylArk, and Henry's Cat. But it's his 1984 TV commercial for the chocolate bar Trio that I really dig.

    From a 2009 interview with Godfrey in Vertigo:

    MP: So in the 80's as well as doing Henry's Cat you were still doing advertisements and I remember your 'Trio' advert. I remember the little girl…

    BG: That was taken from one of our films that they'd seen of this little girl who liked imitating foghorns! And they saw this and they thought it was great! It was just so funny that a little girl would open her mouth like that and do a great sound but it did come from one of our things, I can't remember now what it was. It was a little girl – her hobby was imitating foghorns! Probably a Stan Hayward idea, very good.

  • Watch the largest feeding frenzy of gigantic fin whales ever caught on video

    As much as 85 feet long and weighing 80 tons, fin whales are the second largest animals on Earth, after the Blue Whale. Previously at risk of extinction thanks to idiot human hunters, the species is bouncing back following a 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling. See the above video depicting the largest gathering of gigantic fin whales ever caught on film. Their feast occurred in the Drake Passage off the Antarctica Peninsula. From National Geographic:

    To capture the almost mythical wildlife filmmaking event — which doubled the previous record and included 300 whales along with albatross, thousands of sea birds and a huge amount of other marine wildlife — it took Nat Geo Explorer Bertie Gregory and his film crew six weeks aboard a small 75-foot-long, ice-strengthened sailboat. Battling terrible weather conditions and 95 knots of wind, Bertie and the team pushed through to capture the incredible moment.

    More: "Watch the largest feeding frenzy of fin whales ever recorded" (National Geographic)

    image: NOAA Fisheries
  • Death Cab for Cutie playing "Live From Home" stripped-down streaming concert on Monday

    Death Cab for Cutie's new album Asphalt Meadows will be released next Friday (9/16) and to celebrate, they're playing a free livestream concert from singer Ben Gibbard's house. Gibbard writes:

    I started Live From Home during the pandemic when I wanted nothing more than to play music with my bandmates. As we're now back together, it feels only fitting to have everyone in that little room with me to bring it full circle. The five of us will be coming to you live this Monday 9/12 at 2pm PT in celebration of 'Asphalt Meadows'. We'll play stripped down versions of new songs as well as some old favorites, chat about the record, and answer your questions before the album is out in full on 9/16.

    This stream will benefit reproductive rights nonprofit The Brigid Alliance. If you're able, please make a contribution via https://brigidalliance.org or the Donate button that is active on this video landing page now.

    Above is one of the first singles from Asphalt Meadows, titled "Here to Forever." Death Cab for Cutie's tour kicks off on September 22 in Madison, Wisconsin. Tour dates here. Meanwhile, right now, you can go on a real world scavenger hunt to one of the places they've played previously to hear the band's new single "Rand McNally."

    Death Cab for Cutie, "Asphalt Meadows"
  • Video: New footbridge collapses during ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating its opening

    In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dignitaries were cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of a new footbridge when said bridge collapsed. Fortunately, nobody was injured. Video below. From The Guardian:

    Spectators shouted in apparent glee as the VIPs struggled to get off the crumpled wreck[…]

    One of the last people to climb free was a man in military fatigues and dark glasses who was clutching an unopened bottle of champagne, other footage shared widely on social media showed.

  • Authorities seize hummus bowls molded from crushed amphetamine tablets

    Authorities in Damascus, Syria seized an assortment of hummus bowls that were made from crushed amphetamine pills. More than 50 pounds of fenethylline hydrochloride tablets (brand name: Captagon) had been pulverized into a paste to "mold pottery-like dishes coated with a brown adhesive," according to law enforcement. Apparently illicit Catpagon is one of Syria's largest exports.

    From the Times of Israel:

    One man was arrested in Damascus in connection with the thwarted trafficking attempt, the statement said, without specifying where the shipment of fake hummus bowls was bound for.

    Captagon traffickers have in recent years found ever more imaginative places in which to conceal their drug, from fake oranges, to real hollowed-out pomegranates and pitted olives.

  • Janus the two-headed tortoise turned 25

    Janus the two-headed tortoise just celebrated his 25th birthday. Thought to be the longest-living two-headed tortoise, Janus has a lot of heart—two, to be precise—along with four lungs. He resides at the Geneva Natural History Museum. From Reuters:

    He is under constant surveillance in case he flips over, which could be fatal, and survived a bladder stone operation in 2020. His heads need periodic treatment with vaseline to stop them getting sore when they rub together.

    His two personalities also generate different moods and tastes that can occasionally lead to conflict, for example over which direction to walk.

    "The right head is more curious, more awake, it has a much stronger personality. The left head is more passive and loves to eat," [the museum's Angelica] Bourgoin said, adding that one head was partial to endives and the other to carrots.

    image: Philippe Wagneur, Natural History Museum of Geneva (MHNG) (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • Mom arrested for killing teen daughter's academic rival with a poisoned soft drink

    In Puducherry, India, a woman was arrested for allegedly poisoning her teen daughter's academic rival, killing the 13-year-old boy. The mom passed off a tainted soft drink to the boy but claims she only meant for him to get diarrhea that would incapacitate him during an annual celebratory day where students are honored for their achievements. She said that From Oddity Central:

    …His mother, who originally thought that the cold drink the 13-year-old boy mentioned had been offered by a relative, started asking around at school and was eventually allowed to check CCTV footage which showed a student's mother putting something in the bottle and then handing it to the school guard.

    The main suspect, a 42-year-old woman, admitted to spiking the 13-year-old boy's drink, claiming that she only used laxative pills from someone who makes country medicines, hoping to render him indisposed because of diarrhea, but according to police, the post-mortem exam report has found traces of poison.

  • Man in balloon floated away while collecting pine nuts, found safe two days later

    A man in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province was reportedly floating in a hydrogen balloon collecting pine nuts from tree tops when he accidentally floated away. The fellow, surnamed Hu, was missing for two days until a rescue team tracked his mobile phone and found him stuck in a tree nearly 200 miles away. Good thing he didn't light a cigarette to calm his nerves. From CNN:

    Hu told interviewers he had been cold and hungry during the ordeal. However, he was largely unharmed, suffering what were described as only minor injuries to his waist.

    The use of hydrogen or helium balloons to harvest pine nuts has become more common in China in recent years and there are occasionally reports of pickers being swept away — though not usually as far as Hu.

  • Customs officials seize thousands of donkey penises

    At the international airport in Lagos, Nigerian authorities seized thousands of donkey penises on their way to Hong Kong. According to the Nigeria Customs Service area commander, the phalluses were "falsely declared … as cow male genitals (but) after due examination, my export officers discovered they were donkey male genitals." From the Associated Press:

    Nigeria is trying to curb the export of donkey skins which has drastically diminished the country's population of the work animals, particularly in the north. Nigerian senators in 2021 proposed to ban the killing of donkeys and the export of their skins.

    The lawmakers said such a ban on killing donkeys would further curb the export of donkey skins and genitals — which Nigeria prohibits — to countries like China where the skins are used in popular traditional medicines. 

  • Fast-food workers tampered with train tracks so they'd have a slow night at work

    Tilden Township, Pennsylvania police have charged Ryan Boria and Amy Schaner, who both work at the same Wendy's restaurant, for allegedly tampering with railroad tracks. According to police, they pulled up to a railroad crossing and placed a shunt on the track. Why would they do such a thing?

    "During the interview, they told us that their intentions were that if the gates could malfunction and they could somehow block traffic, then that would prevent people from getting to Wendy's, and they could have a slow night at work," [Tilden Township Police Department officer Frank] Cataldi said.

    From WFMZ:

    Police said Boria placed a makeshift device on the tracks that messed with the signal sensors, which meant the gates wouldn't have gone down when a train approached the crossing, and a crash could have happened.

    "Their dispatch center would not have determined that the signal was being disrupted," explained Cataldi. "A crash could have absolutely occurred."

  • Funny stories of people dramatically resigning from their jobs

    There's a right way and a wrong way to quit a job. Thing is, the wrong way is often more satisfying and funnier. For your consideration, a few examples of not-so-quiet quitting stories collected by Inc.:

    1. "One guy quit and left up an out-of-office message with stupid quotes from all of his bosses and seniors over the year–attributed to them by name. Because our IT is so notoriously bad, it took well over a week from them to fully disable his account so that the out-of-office stopped being sent."

     2. "I worked in high school at a mismanaged grocery chain that is now out of business. I was a cashier but they had a 16-year-old girl working behind the fish counter (which was illegal), and who was not being paid properly for the work she was doing (because she wasn't supposed to be doing it).

    "On Sunday, the beginning of the pay period, she clocked in, wrote, 'I QUIT' in pieces of cod, haddock, and tilapia filets in the seafood counter, and clocked out. She framed a photo of her masterwork and her last paycheck for $2 and hung it in her bedroom.

    3. "I stuck it out at a survey call center for six months while I finished my degree and got a better job, but lots of people didn't. One day, a woman next to me just left. I wasn't paying much attention, but she left her jacket and everything so I figured she'd gone to the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, a manager came up, looked around, and left a nasty note on her keyboard. Another 20 minutes later, he asked me if I knew where she'd gone. We looked at her stuff and it looked like she had left her jacket and just her purse, but none of the stuff was in it, she'd taken her wallet and phone. And left the other stuff as a ruse to give herself a good head start on us, I guess?"

    More: "The Employee Who Resigned Via Cod and Other Tales of Dramatic Resignations" (Inc.)

  • Scientists discovered two antibodies that beat all known COVID-19 strains with more than 90% efficacy

    Researchers at Tel Aviv University and their colleagues have identified two antibodies they report can neutralize all of today's known COVID-19 variants with up to 97% efficacy in a laboratory setting. It's possible, they explain, that these antibodies could eliminate the need for vaccine boosters. They reported their findings in the scientific journal Communications Biology.

    From the Times of Israel:

    Antibody infusions are already used to treat some coronavirus patients, and microbiologist Dr. Natalia Freund, who directed the new study, said the antibodies she identified could be used to concoct a particularly potent infusion.

    Based on their performance in lab conditions, the antibodies could provide the extra protection that today comes from booster shots, she said, adding that this could potentially make extra shots unnecessary among vaccinated people.

    "COVID-19 infection can cause serious illness, and we know that providing antibodies in the first days following infection can stop the spread of the virus," Freund said.

    "It is therefore possible that by using effective antibody treatment, we will not have to provide booster doses to the entire population every time there is a new variant," she added.

  • "Extremely toxic" orange animal with bad hair has returned to Florida

    A creepy and toxic orange animal with bad hair has returned to Florida. According to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, "Puss Caterpillars," frequently found in the fall and spring, should be avoided as the insect's fur contains "extremely toxic spines." From WFLA:

    While it's best to leave them alone altogether, experts say if you do get stung, get the spines out of your skin as soon as possible using cellophane tape. Ice packs, oral antihistamine, and hydrocortisone cream can also be used to help with the pain.

    The species isn't limited to Florida. They can also be found from New Jersey to Florida and west to Arkansas and Texas.