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Friday, October 18, 2013

Disney Princesses Dressed Up in Pop Culture Halloween Costumes


Snow White as Wonder Woman
Pocahantas as Katniss
Belle as Hermione Granger
Aurora as Daenerys Targaryen
See the rest of the series on the artist's excellently named blog, Izzy Doodle Dump.  via Laughing Squid.

Oreo cookies have the same effect as cocaine

I always figured they had crack in them.  Doritos, too.  And bacon.

Oreo cookies Increase the Cellular Activity in Rat’s Brain

The brains of rats had higher cellular activity in the "pleasure center" of their brains after consuming Oreo cookies. These are similar of being injected with cocaine or morphine. The study is done by Joseph Schroeder, an assistant professor of psychology and director of the Behavioral Neuroscience Center at Connecticut College.

To observe how "addictive" high-fat, high-sugar foods could be, researchers put the rats into a surroundings with two rooms. In one room, they were given Oreo cookies and in the other room, they were given rice crackers. 

The experiment was repeated. The other groups of rats were given injections of cocaine or morphine in one room and saline in the other room. It was observed that in case of Oreo versus rice cake and cocaine versus saline, researchers found that "equivalent preference" was given by the rats for a room which contained Oreo cookies and the room in which they were given injections of morphine and cocaine.

God Reveals He Occasionally Eats Humans

Read the whole thing (at The Onion, of course):

“It’s not something I do very often, but yes, I have been known to eat humans from time to time,” said God, claiming that while He didn’t consider human beings “an everyday kind of meal, per se,” they do occasionally make for a decent snack. “In fact, sometimes I’ll suddenly catch myself nibbling on a human being without even realizing it. They’re nice and chewy and bite-size, and there’s always a lot of them just lying around so I figure, hey, why not.”

“Sometimes I put the remains back where I found them and make it look like a murder or something,” the Eternal One continued. “But most of the time I forget to do that and the person just disappears.”

“My favorite part is the legs,” The Divine Creator proclaimed. “Usually, when I pick out a human being, I’ll tear off their legs from the rest of their body and eat them first. Then I’ll eat the arms and then the heads.”

Friday links

Where to look for the lunar eclipse on Friday evening.

Italian man has spent 40 years building a DIY amusement park in a forest.

Elders Share Their Most Important Life Lessons.

Sea Monsters on Medieval Maps.

Video: side by side comparison of Paul McCartney's voice in 1965 and 2011.

Zombies vs. animals? The living dead wouldn't stand a chance.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here.


Italian man has spent 40 years building a DIY amusement park in a forest

Hidden among the trees of an Italian forest, Bruno has been building swings, slides, seesaws, gyroscopes and roller-coasters for the last forty years. They are his passion and a way to attract clients to Ai Pioppi, the restaurant he runs with his family. Throughout this short documentary, his hand-powered toys move alongside his thoughts about existence and death; and why he spent more than half of his life creating rides.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Admin refused to bring in outside help for ObamaCare website for fear GOP would subpoena them

Read the whole post at HotAir - they keep adding updates.
Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.
Very important to understand: Between this and the fact that HHS deliberately hid the price of insurance behind a reg wall on Healthcare.gov to reduce “rate shock,” the grand takeaway about the website’s failure is that O and his team made it much worse than it needed to be because they were terrified of transparency. And the reason they were terrified of transparency, both in the case of hiding the cost of the premiums from web users and hiding the site’s architectural problems from contractors who might be hauled before Congress, is because they know they’ve delivered a bad product. Put the premiums on the front page and the public, expecting “affordable care,” would recoil at the truth. Put the contractors at the witness table before Issa’s committee and the public, expecting that the government would “fix” health care, would recoil upon discovering that they can’t even build a website with three years’ lead time.

Update (Read the whole thing): Merry Christmas, Barack.
The federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system, technology experts told USA TODAY… 
Recent changes have made the exchanges easier to use, but they still require clearing the computer’s cache several times, stopping a pop-up blocker, talking to people via Web chat who suggest waiting until the server is not busy, opening links in new windows and clicking on every available possibility on a page in the hopes of not receiving an error message. With those changes, it took one hour to navigate the HealthCare.gov enrollment process Wednesday. 
Those steps shouldn’t be necessary, experts said. 
“I have never seen a website — in the last five years — require you to delete the cache in an effort to resolve errors,” said Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a health care group by former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt. “This is a very early Web 1.0 type of fix.”
Read this, too: No one’s getting fired, huh?
The root cause of the problems was a pivotal decision by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials to act as systems integrator, the central coordinator for the entire program. Usually this role is reserved for the prime information technology contractor. 
As a result, full testing of the site was delayed until four to six days before the fateful Oct. 1 launch.

Excellent Bad Lip Reading version of Game of Thrones: “Medieval Land Fun Time World”

The better you know the Game of Thrones characters, the more you'll appreciate this:



via Geeks Are Sexy

Rita Hayworth would be 95 today

Dancing in Tijuana when I was 13 - that was my "summer camp." How else could I keep up with Fred Astaire when I was 19?
- Rita Hayworth (New York Times, 25 October 1970) 

Just because I was married to Aly Khan, people think I'm rich. Well, I'm not.  I never got a dime from Aly or from any of my husbands. 
- Id.  

I've had a lot of unhappiness in my life - and a lot of happiness. Who doesn't? Maybe I've learned enough to be able to guide my daughters. 
- Hayworth (AP reports, 11 November 1963) 

Movies were much better in the days when I was doing them. 
- Hayworth (St. Petersburg Times, 23 June 1968)

I look at pictures and watch footage of Rita Hayworth and see a resilience and vivacity that could only endure for so long. She was the plaything of her studios and the media and lived in the imagination of countless men and women around the world. Millions wanted her to find happiness and were willing to forgive any matter of indiscretion in order for her to find it. She searched for it - through studio-shaped images, new names, and a laundry list of husbands - but fame makes many things elusive, especially contentment and peace. When asked how it felt to have everything, she replied, “I haven’t had everything from life. I’ve had too much.”
- Anne Helen Peterson (b. ??) (Scandals of Classic Hollywood, "Rita Hayworth, Tragic Princess")

Today is the 95th anniversary of the birth of superstar American movie actress and dancer Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) in Brooklyn. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino to two professional dancers, Hayworth started dance lessons at an early age and in 1927 moved with her family to Hollywood, where her father had hoped to land dancing parts in the movies. Finding minimal success, he formed a dance act with his daughter, and since she was too young to appear in night clubs in California, they performed across the border in Tijuana. In 1934 and 1935, Rita got two bit parts in Hollywood films, which secured her a formal screen test and a six-month contract with Fox as "Rita Cansino." Subsequently, with Columbia Pictures, she appeared in a series of B-movie roles, usually cast as an exotic foreign beauty, but with Only Angels Have Wings (1939) she attracted sufficient attention to warrant larger and larger parts and star billing. Hayworth's career really took off in the early 1940s with such films as Music in My Heart, Angels Over Broadway, Blood and Sand, and two musical films with Fred Astaire, You'll Never Get Rich, and You Never Were Lovelier.  By 1944, when she appeared with Gene Kelly in Cover Girl, she was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, and in Charles Vidor's erotic film noir, Gilda (1946), she established herself as a leading femme fatale. After her career peaked in roughly 1948, she appeared in nearly 20 more films, including Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), Pal Joey (1957), and Separate Tables (1958), before retiring in 1972. Rita Hayworth was married and divorced five times, and counted among her husbands Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan* (by whom she had two daughters), and Dick Haymes. Late in life, she suffered from alcoholism and died of Alzheimer's disease in New York City in 1987.) She was quoted in 1977 as saying, 

"Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me.") 

* N.B. A son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, Aly Kahn (1911-1960) was a fabulously wealthy international socialite and playboy, who later served as Pakistan's representative to the United Nations. He was married to Rita Hayworth between 1949 and 1953). 

Quite timely, this composite video featuring Rita Hayworth as a dancer has recently gone quasi-viral: 

 
This 1941 photograph of Rita Hayworth became one of the most popular pin-ups among U.S. servicemen during World War II. Life magazine, however, decided it was too risque to put on their cover: 


The above was taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your information in the comments.

Video: side by side comparison of Paul McCartney's voice in 1965 and 2011

Paul McCartney's new album (entitled New) was released this week, reminding me of this video.  Same voice, same guitar, same picking style, 46 years between performances. You need to use headphones to get the full effect.


Also released this year was a completely remastered Wings Over America, which I just bought as an early birthday present to myself.  ;-)

15th Century Flemish Style Portraits Recreated In Airplane Lavatory

15th century-style selfies in airplane bathrooms:
While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Anthony Hopkins Wrote This Fan Letter To Bryan Cranston After Binge-Watching ‘Breaking Bad’ In Two Weeks

I'm assuming that this is actually, as purported, a letter (an email) from Hopkins to Cranston, and (per UproxxGawker has confirmed via “a source close to Hopkins who confirmed to us that the letter was indeed written by the legendary thespian in the flesh.”

Dear Mister Cranston.

I wanted to write you this email – so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber – I take it we are both represented by UTA . Great agency.

I’ve just finished a marathon of watching “BREAKING BAD” – from episode one of the First Season – to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing.

I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!

Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.

I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really.

But this work of yours is spectacular – absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department – casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.

From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone – Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada – everyone – everyone gave master classes of performance … The list is endless.

Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.

You and all the cast are the best actors I’ve ever seen.

That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It’s almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

Best regards

Tony Hopkins.

To give some sense of scale: The US overlaid onto the moon

[Click here for hi-res]
via io9, which has more information and links to similar subjects:
The greatest distance between two points within the contiguous U.S. is 2,892 miles, stretching from Point Arena, CA to West Quoddy Head, ME*. The circumference of the Moon is 6,784. To help put the scale of each into perspective, redditor boredboarder8 decided to overlay one on top of the other, giving rise to the approximation you see above. 

The End of Hitler’s Family Line – The Pact Between the Sons of Hitler’s Nephew Never to Have Children

Interesting story:

These brothers have no intention of procreating. They have made an agreement to never have any children in order to intentionally kill the Hitler bloodline.

David Gardner, author of the book entitled, The Last of the Hitlers tracked down the surviving Hitler descendants in the late 1990s. Gardner says,
They didn’t sign a pact, but what they did is, they talked amongst themselves, talked about the burden they’ve had in the background of their lives, and decided that none of them would marry, none of them would have children. And that’s… a pact they’ve kept to this day.
Much more at the excellent Today I Found Out, including more on Hitler's heritage and bloodline and related bonus facts and links. 

Jonah Goldberg on the Redskins kerfuffle: Words become offensive when we choose to be offended by them

You should, as always, read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

The fight over attempts to scrub all offensive language from society will never end.

That’s my problem with Costas’s crusade. He — and the editors of Slate — are simply deciding to be offended about something they don’t need to be. According to various accounts, “redskin” actually has quite innocuous origins. It was probably adopted from Native Americans themselves. And though it obviously took on nastier connotations over time and in some contexts, it strains credulity to believe that the team name was intentionally pejorative or that the fans or the ownership see it that way today.

Wednesday links

15 Photos of Spiders Battling Dangerous Foes.

Video: Superman's 75th anniversary.

Americans' interest in hemorrhoids has skyrocketed.

These images show just how differently cats and humans see the world.

Weird Album Covers.

Tiffany meets Tolkien: Lord of the Rings Stained-Glass-Style Art.

ICYMI, links from Monday are here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Video: Superman's 75th anniversary



Per DC Comics:
As most of you know, Superman is celebrating his 75th Anniversary this year. To help commemorate this impressive milestone, Man of Steel director Zack Snyder teamed up with artist and animator extraordinaire Bruce Timm to create a two-minute short that traces the Man of Steel’s history from Superman’s debut on the cover of 1938’s Action Comics #1 all the way to Henry Cavill in Man of Steel.
Annotations available here.  Man of Steel available here.

Lots of instructions for Halloween pet costumes


How to make it
The Avengers Captain America
Make Your Dog Into A Bunch Of Grapes For Halloween
Lots more here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The National Anthem was based off an old English drinking song


The song was written for the Anacreontic Society, probably around 1771. The tune was was once thought to have been written by Dr Thomas Arnold, but is now thought to have been written "collectively" by members of the society, led by John Stafford Smith (who now usually gets the credit). The society met every two weeks to get drunk, sing songs and to indulge in some debauchery. Anacreon himself was a Greek poet from about 570BC who was noted for his erotic poetry (in the Anacreontic style that he established) and his drinking songs.

Lyrics below: 

To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent in a petition
That he their Inspirer and patron would be;
When this answer arriv'd from the Jolly Old Grecian "Voice, fiddle and flute, "no longer be mute,
"I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,
"And, besides, I'll instruct you, like me, to intwine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

The news through Olympus immediately flew;
When Old Thunder pretended to give himself airs.
"If these Mortals are suffer'd their scheme to pursue,
"The devil, a Goddess, will stay above (the) stairs.
"Hark, already they cry,
"In transports of joy,
"Away to the sons of Anacreon we''ll fly,
"And there with good fellows we'll learn to intwine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine".

"The Yellow-haired God and his nine fusty maids
"From Helicon's banks will incontinent flee,
"Idalia will boast but of tenantless shades,
"And the bi-forked Hill a mere desert will be
"My thunder, no fear on't, on't = on it
"Shall soon do its errand,
"And dam'me! I'll swing the ringleaders, I warrant,
"I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine".

Apollo rose up; and said, "Pr'ythee ne'er quarrel,
"Good King of the Gods, with my Vot'ries below:
"Your thunder is useless" - then showing his laurel,
Cry'd "Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
"then over each head
"My laurels I'll spread;
"So my sons from your crackers no mischief shall dread,
"While, snug in their club-room, they jovially twine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine".

Next Momus got up, with his risible phiz,
And swore with Apollo he'd cheerfully join -
"The full tide of Harmony still shall be his,
"But the song and the catch, and the laugh shall be mine.
"Then, Jove, be not jealous
"Of these honest fellows."
Cry'd Jove, "We relent, since the truth you now tell us;
"And swear by Old Styx that they long shall intwine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine".

Ye Sons of Anacreon, then join hand in hand;
Preserve unanimity, friendship and love!
'Tis yours to support what's so happily plann'd;
You've the sanction of Gods and the fiat of Jove. While thus we agree Our toast let it be:
"May our club flourish happy, united and free!
"And long may the sons of Anacreon intwine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

Annotated lyrics here.  via @DefendWallSt.  This inspired me to buy this songbook.

Monday links

The McDonald's tasting menu.

Supercut: It's just a cat.

Scotland and the American Revolution.

A history of airships.

Thanksgivukkah: Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving this year.

Infographic: Plausibility of various forms of zombie invasion.  Kind of related: 8 Ways to Keep Body Snatchers from Stealing Your Corpse.

And ICYMI, here are last Friday's links, including Vintage Halloween Postcards and 1489 advice on staying young by sucking blood from a youth.

Predicting weather with bug sex

In this scientific study, the authors examined how the weather—or, more specifically, atmospheric pressure changes – affects the sexual behavior of three insect species: the curcurbit beetle, the armyworm moth, and the potato aphid. They found that any change in the atmospheric pressure caused the bugs to be less frisky, likely to protect themselves in situations involving high winds and heavy rains.

Potato aphids were less interested in mating
 when pressure changes heralded a storm.
When they measured the male beetles’ response to female sex pheromones under the different conditions, they found a significant decrease in pheromone response when air pressure fell compared to stable or increasing pressure.

Furthermore, 63 percent of males started copulating faster in the presence of females during dropping atmospheric pressure, a condition associated with high rains and winds. By contrast, under stable or rising air pressure conditions, all males showed full courtship behavior.

Additionally, the amount that female armyworm moths and potato aphids showed mate-attracting behavior was also measured under the three atmospheric conditions.

The female armyworms’ calling was reduced during decreasing air pressure, but the potato aphid showed reduced calling during both decreasing and increasing air pressure, two conditions that can occur with high winds. In both cases, reduced calling went hand-in-hand with reduced mating behavior.

Generic bug sex picture
“The results presented show that three very different insect species all modify aspects of their sexual behavior in response to changing barometric pressure,” explained co-author Dr José Maurício Simões Bento from the University of São Paulo.

“However, there is a great deal of interspecific variability in their responses that can be related to differences in size, flight ability and the periodicity of mating.”

More at Nature and Discover, and here's the full study: Weather Forecasting by Insects: Modified Sexual Behaviour in Response to Atmospheric Pressure Changes

Infographic: Plausibility of various forms of zombie invasion

You think all those writers in Hollywood are just making this stuff up? Like they have that kind of imagination? These are the people who have unleashed THREE Alvin and the Chipmunks films onto an unsuspecting public, so I hardly think they have the wherewithal to come up with something like a zombie invasion. (On the other hand, there's The Walking Dead)

As the following Infographic pleasantly illustrates, the Zombie Invasion could happen at any time.


This previous post contains an infographic by the same people: Infographic: The Evolution of the Zombie

What Does the Average American Man Look Like Compared to Other Countries?

From left to right: USA, Japan, Netherlands, and France
More here.  The authors of the studies quoted ascribe the height of the Dutch to better early medical care and diet, but don't seem to consider the ethnic mix present in the US (but not in The Netherlands) as significant enough to mention:
The Dutch have some of the world's best healthcare, particularly at the stages of life that really make a difference for how tall we end up -- prenatal and the early years of childhood. 
Second, they spread the health around. The most well-off Americans are tall, but less-privileged groups across all races bring down the average. 
Our waistbands drag us down, as well. By eating so much, we produce too much growth hormone, too early in our lives. And so we stop growing earlier than the Dutch, who eat lots of protein like milk and cheese, but not too much.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

World’s Cutest Taekwondo Battle



via Neatorama.

Excellent running-away-from-the-zombies car battery commercial

“We’re alive. They’re not. And because your running skills are not what they used to be, one thing’s for sure: They’ll probably capture you. That’s why in times of crisis it’s always good to arm your car with a reliable battery that can stand the test of time. And the dead.” — DIEHARD