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Friday, November 21, 2014

A Scientific Look at How Female Turkeys Choose Their Mates

With its fanned plumage and bold strut, a male wild turkey’s display conjures images of Americana and festive feasts. But this grandstanding isn’t intended for human eyes – it’s for female turkeys who actually use it to discern a male’s genetic prowess.

This female has figured out how to get rid of a male - just make him dizzy until he falls over:

Friday links

When the Guardians of the Galaxy DVD comes out next month, the extras feature has this outake: the Star Lord and Ronan dance-off actually happened.

Gallery of things you don't see every day.

Can You Fix A Machine By Smacking It?

Very cool animated chart of North American butterflies.

Why Do Humans Have Thumbs?

What’s the Best Item to Carry With You During Time Travel?

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include the origin of Humpty Dumpty,  illustrated fainting technique (to attract the attention of a specific gentleman), terrifying non-existent animal hybrids, and a quiz to find out which famous brains are most similar to yours.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Man armed with photograph of gun threatened to kill supermarket staff

Think schools are ridiculous going after kids for drawing pictures of guns, or biting their Poptarts into gun shapes? Turns out that it might be gateway behavior:

A man brandishing a photograph of a gun threatened to kill staff at the Tesco Extra store in Bar Hill, Cambridge. 

Officers were called to the giant supermarket after staff told operators in the force control room that a man was threatening to kill them and showing them an image of a firearm. Police were called by staff at 1.30am on November 12. 

Cambridgeshire police then dispatched officers to the store where they arrested a man on suspicion of making threats to kill. A force spokeswoman said: “A 34-year-old man from Cambridge was arrested on November 12 on suspicion of making threats to kill. 

“He was released on police bail to return to Parkside police station in Cambridge on January 14, 2015.” A Tesco spokesman said: “This is now a matter for the police and we are helping them with their inquiries”.

How To Make Your Own Doritos-Flavored Mountain Dew

"You know it's gonna be good when you see the chunks in it!"

Guardian of the Galaxy DVD extra outake: the Star-Lord and Ronan dance-off actually happened

Guardians of the Galaxy fans, the Blu-Ray version of the movie (to be released on December 9th) has an outake of a dance scene between Star-Lord and Ronan the Accuser, with Gamora and Drax joining in:

Buzzfeed interviewed Chris Pratt:
“We were filming what was essentially, you know, the climax of the entire movie … and I was dancing,” he said, still laughing. “I was standing there … in front of 200 extras in full alien makeup. And none of them knew what the hell was happening either. They thought they were on a serious movie because of all the time and the effort that had been put into their makeup. So I just had this energy of, like, What am I doing?!”
Pratt said he didn’t work with a choreographer on the scene, nor did the script really specify how exactly he was supposed to be dancing. “But I did have a pretty good sense of the era from which I would be drawing dance moves, given that Quill draws all of his pop-culture references from a certain time frame of basically 1985 and earlier.”
He ended up doing a kind of Michael Jackson-esque thing (and did a pretty good job of it, too), while Ronan went with running man moves.

Dancing Baby Groot is still my favorite, though:

Previous related posts:

A conversation between the Lego versions of Peter Quill (Guardians), Han Solo (Star Wars), and Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly), discussing the age old question: when is it ok to shoot first?

Star Wars recut into a Guardians Of The Galaxy style trailer, plus a 3 minute review of the 1st trilogy. (Lucasfilms (or Disney, if they own the previous films) should hire the guy who did this, because it absolutely makes you want to watch Star Wars again (and Guardians))

Peter Quill from GOTG teaching an Gamora about the Legend of Footloose and the great hero Kevin Bacon.

via Buzzfeed

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday links

The Gettysburg Address was seven score and eleven years ago: history, photos, video and more.

Photoessay: Co-Worker Asked Me to Watch Her Plant While She Was Out for the Week

30 Hilariously Terrifying Animal Hybrids That You Can Be Glad Don’t Exist.

Take this Map Your Mind quiz and find out which famous brains are most similar to yours.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include Pliny the Elder's advice for avoiding mushroom poisoning, film from a 1937 Nazi boys summer camp in upstate NY, the history of prosthetic limbs, and the top 50 all-time video games, ranked.

The Gettysburg Address was seven score and eleven years ago: history, photos, videos and more

Today is the 151st anniversary of President Lincoln's delivery of his few "brief remarks" at the dedication of the new national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (wiki), only four or so months after the great Civil War battle there that emerged as "the high-water mark of the Confederacy." 

One of the only two confirmed photos of Abraham
 (sepia highlight) at Gettysburg, taken
about noon, just after Lincoln arrived and
some three hours before the speech.
To Lincoln's right is his bodyguard, 
Ward Hill Lamon
At the time, the final issue of the war was still in some doubt, and Lincoln received second billing to a lengthy speech by Dr. Edward Everett, then president of Harvard University and reputedly America's greatest orator. 

Everyone's familiar with the Gettysburg Address - didn't we all have to memorize it in grammar school? But in these troubled times, its mere 272 words remain well worth reading again. The full text is below.

By the way, Garry Wills' brilliant study Lincoln at Gettysburg analyzes the Gettysburg Address in terms of its role in defining the ethos of the United States for subsequent generations, while also tracing the antecedents of Lincoln's argument and the structure of his peerless prose back to Thucydides' account of Pericles' 430 B.C funeral oration at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War. (Wills notes that despite the popular view that Lincoln generally preferred short, pithy utterances, the final sentence of the Gettysburg Address is 84 words long - almost a third of the whole.)

Lincoln's speech, like Pericles', begins with an acknowledgment of revered predecessors: "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, then praises the uniqueness of the State's commitment to democracy: "..a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...government of the people, by the people, and for the people..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, addresses the difficulties faced by a speaker on such an occasion, "...we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground"; Lincoln, like Pericles, exhorts the survivors to emulate the deeds of the dead, "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us"; and finally, Lincoln, like Pericles, contrasts the efficacy of words and deeds, "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." It is uncertain to what degree Lincoln was directly influenced by Pericles' Funeral Oration.
Wills never claims that Lincoln drew on it as a source, though Edward Everett, who delivered a lengthy oration at the same ceremony at Gettysburg, began by describing the "Athenian example".
This article on Obama's recitation of the speech last year (the 150th anniversary) in which he left out the words "under God" is from WMAL. Excerpts:
WASHINGTON -- One nation under God? Under President Obama, maybe not so much.
Union soldiers dead at Gettysburg, July 1963
In advance of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (full text below), which President Abraham Lincoln delivered on November 19, 1863, filmmaker Ken Burns gathered every living President, along with several prominent members of Congress, celebrities and news media stars to deliver the address themselves. Burns edited the individual speeches into one final mashup that is available on the site, but he also provided the complete speech as delivered by each individual dignitary. 
Curiously enough, in his version of the speech, President Barack Obama's delivery contained an omission - in a line that every other celebrity delivered as "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (click here for proof of that), the President left out the words "under God." 
You can watch all of the speeches at

You can see the President's reading of the Gettysburg speech here - his omission is at the 1:35 mark:

Gettysburg Address full text:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. 

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here died that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. 

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

~Abraham Lincoln ("The Gettysburg Address," 19 November 1863)

Here's a brief documentary which includes most of the available photographs of Lincoln, some photos of battlefields, and several (non-photographic) illustrations from contemporaneous newspaper accounts. It also describes the historical context of the speech and Lincoln's feeling that it had been a failure:

An animated version of the speech:

This video is a series of photos from the morning after the battle, set to music:

At the Smithsonian, a Battle of Gettysburg Interactive Map.

Related: Paper prints retraction for 1863 article calling Gettysburg address "silly remarks"; retraction written in the style of Gettysburg Address (read the whole thing!):
Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.
Mental Floss has an excellent post - Gettysburg: The Great Reunion of 1913.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just in time for Christmas: Firefly Clue, Serenity Yahtzee and adult Underoos!

Forty dollars for a Yahtzee game that isn't gold-plated? Well, yes, if you're a Firefly fan, because the dice cup is a 9 inch long version of the Serenity! Behold the Serenity Yahtzee:

As for Firefly Clue, here's the Amazon description: 
River has been betrayed to the Alliance!
Now with CLUE: Firefly Edition, help the Serenity crew to discover who is working with the Alliance, what they used to betray River and where on Serenity the kidnapping took place. Was it Inara with the Med Kit in the Engine Room? Or Mal with the Leather Necklace in the passenger dorm? Solve the mystery and save River!
Also, apparently as a result of this post last year: Where the hell are my goddamned adult Underoos? (NSFW - language), Hot Topic has started selling a limited line of Underoo sets for adults (Amazon has a decent Wonder Woman set, but nothing else): 

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Bonus: this Underoos commercial from 1980: