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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Far Side's Gary Larson predicted the future in this cartoon, plus bonus animated Far Side 1994 & 1997 TV specials

I'm not sure of the date of this, but Larson retired from drawing The Far Side in 1995, so it's from before that.

The rarely seen animated TV specials Tales From The Far Side and Tales From The Far Side II originally aired in 1994 and 1997:



Here's a 20/20 piece from 1987 on The Far Side:


And here's Norm & Cliff (from Cheers) explaining The Far Side to Woody:

Why Do We Put Money into "Piggy" Banks?

Most people are probably more concerned with how much money is saved in their piggy bank rather than wondering why exactly we save our spare coins in pig-shaped containers. But how did those containers get that shape?

Majapahit terracotta piggy bank, 14th-15th century
 
TrowulanEast Java.
(Collection of
National Museum of Indonesia,Jakarta)
Containers for storing coins, known as moneyboxes or coin banks, have been used for centuries. To encourage saving, a small slit was placed on the top of these so that coins could enter but not exit. Because the only way to get the coins out was by breaking the container, they were mostly made of cheap materials. Eventually, these simple containers evolved into piggy banks.

Early piggy banks are hardly ever found—they were shattered in order to retrieve the saved coins—which has made it difficult to study their beginnings. Still, a couple of theories exist regarding the origins of the piggy bank.

The most common legend of how piggy banks were created dates back to 15th century Europe, where a type of clay called pygg was used to make plates, bottles, and vessels. When people threw their spare coins into these types of pygg containers, they started to call them pygg banks. Eventually, through a misinterpretation of the word pygg as pig, potters began to construct moneyboxes into the shape of pigs. As a result, the piggy bank was invented.

More at Mental Floss and Wikipedia, and at Straight Dope, which adds this re the bank part of piggy banks:
OK, after that, "bank" must be simple. Not so fast. Bank originally meant "bench"; you can probably see the connection between the words. Money lenders in Northern Italy once did business in open areas, or big open rooms, with each lender working from his own bench or table. If he went "broke," the piece of furniture was literally broken to signify that he wasn't in business anymore.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Crazy Cat Lady Heels Turn Your Feet Into Cat Butts. Also rooster, banana and elephant shoes, and more

If you love cats so much that you refuse to go anywhere without them, Tel Aviv-based designer Kobi Levi has designed the perfect pair of shoes for you.

Called “Miao”, this pair of pumps look just like a kitty stretching. Paws, tail and even a pretty pink collar. And they're only $2,100!  

He also has roosters (in brown and black)


and flamingos



and bananas

and a whole bunch more here (get it? bunch?).

Friday links

What if we were to dump all the tea in the world into the Great Lakes? How strong, compared to a regular cup of tea, would the lake tea be?

Amazon product review du jour: perfect for revenge against your office's mystery food/candy thief (plus additional funny reviews).

How to shelter from fallout after a nuclear attack on your city.

The Lush Underwater Gardens of Competitive Aquascaping.

The Untold Tale of Pow!, the Fourth Rice Krispies Elf, with bonus Rolling Stones Rice Krispies commercial.

The 15 Most Unintentionally Profound Quotes Ever.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links, including the most comprehensive zombie classification chart ever and the reason Fake Phone Numbers Start With 555 are here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Untold Tale of Pow!, the Fourth Rice Krispies Elf, with bonus Rolling Stones Rice Krispies commercial

You’re familiar with the elves, Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Lost in the shuffle, however, was a fourth Rice Krispies elf named Pow! His short life is a time-capsule of an era when everyone was dreaming big.

The history of the three (and for a moment, four) Kellogg's pitch elves begins in 1928 when the cereal first hit shelves and was marketed on radio programs for the way they “merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk.”

Pow’s brief stint overlapped with Kellogg's sponsorship of the television program “Space Cadet” with Tom Corbett. Rice Krispies advertisements, like the one below featuring three brothers zipping around on flying saucers, tapped into the culture of the time.  


Many questions remain unanswered: Why did they nix the Pow! character? From a marketing perspective, perhaps the original three brothers sounded better in a jingle? And why was he from outer space? Tim Hollis, author of Part of a Complete Breakfast: Cereal Characters of the Baby Boom Era, says it was common for children’s programs to include space-related characters at the time.

“There's not much to Pow! It's mostly because of the internet that he's even known at all,” Hollis says. “He was always just sort of a footnote...and at that particular time, everything was space oriented.”

Storyboard from a 1955 ad with Pow!:

Here's a 1939 commercial (not including Pow!): they're all in chef's hats, and are fighting off Soggy, Mushy and Toughy:


Bonus 1963 Rolling Stones Rice Krispies commercial:


From Wikipedia, names in other markets:

Denmark - Pif! Paf! Puf!
Finland - Riks! Raks! Poks!
France - Cric! Crac! Croc!
Germany - Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
Switzerland - Piff! Paff! Poff!
South Africa - Knap! Knaetter! Knak! (Afrikaans)
Quebec - Cric! Crac! Croc!
Mexico - Pim! Pum! Pam!

Related article at Mental Floss: A Second Helping of Cereal Facts

More at Smithsonian.

Amazon product review du jour: perfect for revenge against your office's mystery food/candy thief (plus additional funny reviews)

Haribo Gummy Candy, Sugarless Gummy Bears, 5-Pound Bag

Here are excerpts from the number 1 review (25,007 of 25,363 people found the following review helpful and 624 people commented on it): 
...not long after eating about 20 of these all hell broke loose. I had a gastrointestinal experience like nothing I've ever imagined. Cramps, sweating, bloating beyond my worst nightmare. I've had food poisoning from some bad shellfish and that was almost like a skip in the park compared to what was going on inside me.
Then came the, uh, flatulence. Heavens to Murgatroyd, the sounds, like trumpets calling the demons back to Hell...the stench, like 1,000 rotten corpses vomited. I couldn't stand to stay in one room for fear of succumbing to my own odors.
But wait; there's more. What came out of me felt like someone tried to funnel Niagara Falls through a coffee straw. I swear my sphincters were screaming. It felt like my delicate starfish was a gaping maw projectile vomiting a torrential flood of toxic waste. 100% liquid. Flammable liquid. NAPALM. It was actually a bit humorous (for a nanosecond) as it was just beyond anything I could imagine possible.
AND IT WENT ON FOR HOURS.
I felt violated when it was over, which I think might have been sometime in the early morning of the next day. There was stuff coming out of me that I ate at my wedding in 2005.
Plus this:

I washed a bag of these down with a whole gallon of Tuscan whole milk (which has great reviews of its own*) and now my backside is haunted. It looks like some kind of messed up Turkish remake of "Ghostbusters".
More products with excellent Amazon reviews:

Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant - 55 Gallon

"After having been told my danglies looked like an elderly rastafarian I decided to take the plunge and buy some of this as previous shaving attempts had only been mildly succesful and I nearly put my back out trying to reach the more difficult bits. Being a bit of a romantic I thought I would do the deed on the missus's birthday as a bit of a treat..."
The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee including review from George Takei, who says,
"This shirt has changed my life! Before, I couldn't walk through the aisles at Wal-Mart, graze on the buffet at Sizzler, or even take in a round at my local miniature golf course, without people pointing and saying, "Hey, you're that Zulu guy from Star Wars, aren't you?" Even if I wore sunglasses, I'd still get mistaken for Yoko Ono.

But with The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee, the SHIRT now draws the eye. One young teen even shyly approached me, and instead of asking for a picture or an autograph, simply smiled conspiratorially and whispered, "Team Jacob, right? Me, too. He's sooooooo dreamy."
Yes he is, young lady. Yes. He. Is."



Fresh Whole Rabbit ("Every week, I order a fresh whole rabbit and affix it to a remote control car that is operated by one of my children. This way, I get the thrill of the hunt, and when the car's batteries are exhausted, I can leap upon it, bury my teeth into the rabbit's soft flesh and perform my ritual victory dance right there in the Walgreen's parking lot.")

The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China (get the digital download version for only $470.25!)

JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank

A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates (Plus A Million Random Digits THE SEQUEL: with Perfectly Uniform Distribution)

How to Avoid Huge Ships

Also, Amazon has a list of its own favorite funny product reviews and a second collection of funny reviews inspired by reader input after the first list was published.) 

Brain Pickings has articles on The Art of the Humorous Amazon Review: Part 1 and Part 2.

*Tuscan Whole Milk review excerpt (read the whole thing here):

Once upon a mid-day sunny, while I savored Nuts 'N Honey,
With my Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz., I swore
As I went on with my lapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the icebox door.
'Bad condensor, that,' I muttered, 'vibrating the icebox door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Not to sound like a complainer, but, in an inept half-gainer,
I provoked my bowl to tip and spill its contents on the floor.
Stupefied, I came to muddle over that increasing puddle,
Burgeoning deluge of that which I at present do adore -
Snowy Tuscan wholesomeness exclusively produced offshore -
Purg'ed here for evermore.

And the pool so white and silky, filled me with a sense of milky
Ardor of the type fantastic of a loss not known before,
So that now, to still the throbbing of my heart, while gently sobbing,
I retreated, heading straightway for the tempting icebox door -
Heedless of that pitter-patter tapping at the icebox door -
I resolved to have some more.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
'This,' said I, 'requires an extra dram of milk, my favorite pour.'
To the icebox I aspired, motivated to admire
How its avocado pigment complemented my decor.
Then I grasped its woodgrain handle - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams of many Tuscans I had known before
But the light inside was broken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only words there spoken were my whispered words, 'No more!'
Coke and beer, some ketchup I set eyes on, and an apple core -
Merely this and nothing more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Pasta Theory of Memory: Why memories don't begin until we're 3 years old

Read the whole article here - I like the pasta theory, below.

To get at why that time begins typically after age 3, Nautilus references the "pasta theory" of memory and the work of Patricia Bauer from Emory University:
Children are actively forming memories even at a very young age, but they lose them faster than adults do. "I compare memory to a colander," Bauer says. "If you're cooking fettucine, the pasta stays in. But if you're cooking orzo, it goes right through the holes. The immature brain is a lot like a colander with big holes, and the little memories are like the orzo. As you get older, you're either getting bigger pasta or a net with smaller holes." . . . In a forthcoming article in Journal of Experimental Psychology, Bauer reports on interviews with 100 children and 20 of their parents, which showed that the forgetting patterns of children and adults are quite different. Children forget things at a steady rate that doesn't depend on the age of the memory. By contrast, adults tend to hang on more to their older memories. After many years, the memories become sticky, like the fettucine that won't slip through the holes. Adult memories also come with more contextual information, more "who-what-when-where-why," which may make them stickier.

Wednesday links

Why Do Fake Phone Numbers Start With 555?

The most comprehensive zombie classification chart ever.  Related quiz: How long would you survive after the Apocalypse?

Do whales really attack humans?

The 26 Stupidest Invention Ideas (You'd Use Every Day).

It was actually yesterday: a belated Happy Feast of the Ass.

Air Sex World Championships are heading to the United Kingdom.

ICYMI, Monday's links, including the grave of Stonewall Jackson's arm and disturbing vintage recipes, are here.


Tesla Coils Play the 'Inspector Gadget' Theme Song

Go Go Gadget Tesla Coils!



Here's an article on Tesla coil music with links to lots of other videos, and here's House of the Rising Sun:

The most comprehensive zombie classification chart ever

A new and important tool for zombie apocalypse survival:

While most attempts to classify the different types of zombies limit their analysis to fast vs. slow, alive vs. dead, Jason Thompson's massive zombie taxonomy map goes far beyond that, cataloging more than 350 different types of zombie.

Not all zombies are the same, and in order to defend yourself effectively you need to know what's attacking you. Are they fast zombies or slow zombies? Viral zombies, supernatural zombies or alien-invasion zombies? Headshot zombies, living zombies or writhing-severed-limbs zombies? Crazed, unreasonable people who are alive but act 'zombie-like'? Voodoo zombies, cannibal zombies or rotting Etruscan curse zombies?




Click here to biggify.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spengler's Universal Laws

At American Digest:

The thoughts of "Spengler" aka David P. Goldman as extracted from Asia Times Online :: The Complete Spengler. Via Thoughts and Ideas

Spengler's Universal Law #1: A man or a nation at the brink of death does not have a "rational self-interest."

Spengler's Universal Law #2: When the nations of the world see their demise not as a distant prospect over the horizon, but as a foreseeable outcome, they perish of despair.

Spengler's Universal Law #3: Contrary to what you may have heard from the sociologists, the human mortality rate is still 100 percent.

Spengler's Universal Law #4: The history of the world is the history of mankind's search for immortality.

Spengler's Universal Law #5: Humankind cannot bear mortality without the hope of immortality.

Spengler's Universal Law #6 (courtesy of Warren Buffett): You don't know who's naked until the tide goes out.

Spengler's Universal Law #7: Political models are like automobile models: you can't have them unless you can pay for them.

Spengler's Universal Law #8: Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.

Spengler's Universal Law #9: A country isn't beaten until it sells its women, but it's damned when its women sell themselves.

Spengler's Universal Law #10: There's a world of difference between a lunatic and a lunatic who has won the lottery.

Spengler's Universal Law #11: At all times and in all places, the men and women of every culture deserve each other.

Spengler's Universal Law #12: Nothing is more dangerous than a civilization that has only just discovered it is dying.

Spengler's Universal Law #13: Across epochs and culture, blood has flown in inverse proportion to the hope of victory.

Spengler's Universal Law #14: Stick around long enough, and you turn into a theme park.

Spengler's Universal Law #15: When we worship ourselves, eventually we become the god that failed.

Spengler's Universal Law #16: Small civilizations perish for any number of reasons, but great civilizations die only when they no longer want to live.

Spengler's Universal Law #17: If you stay in the same place and do the same thing long enough, some empire eventually will overrun you.

Spengler's Universal Law #18: Maybe we would be better off if we never had been born, but who has such luck? Not one in a thousand.

Spengler's Universal Law #19: Pagan faith, however powerful, turns into Stygian nihilism when disappointed.

Spengler's Universal Law #20: Democracy only gives people the kind of government they deserve.

Spengler's Universal Law #21: If you believe in yourself, you're probably whoring after strange gods.

Spengler's Universal Law #22: Optimism is cowardice, at least when the subject is Muslim democracy.

Spengler's Universal Law #23: The best thing you can do for zombie cultures is, don't be one of them.

Devil Baby Attack

ICYMI:



You’re an unsuspecting New Yorker, minding your own business when you happen upon an unattended stroller, the wailing cries of a child in need keening from within. Being a responsible, caring individual, you check it out to make sure nothing’s the matter.

Wrong move.


This Devil Baby sits bolt upright, screaming and staring into your soul. In its demonic carriage, the Devil Baby travels crowded NYC sidewalks, popping up and puking and showing zero respect for the authority of law enforcement, if that tiny, not-so-adorable middle finger at the 1:36 mark is indicative. This Devil Baby is on a terrifying mission to make sure the City that Never Sleeps couldn’t manage too even if it tried.

This Devil Baby is… animatronic and remote-controlled and frickin’ amazing!

Published Tuesday, the video “Devil Baby Attack” comes to the Web from the YouTube account DevilsDueNYC. Looks like another viral marketing campaign for a horror movie, as horror film Devil’s Due comes out this Friday.

Urine-drinking Hindu cult believes a warm cup before sunrise straight from virgin cow cures cancer, baldness

'Only two things are pure in this universe, in this world. One is the water from the Holy Ganges river and the other is urine from mother holy cow,' Ramesh Gupta, a Hindu priest, said. 


Followers of the cult claim cow urine can successfully be used to combat cancer, diabetes, tumours, tuberculosis, stomach problems and much more. They also claim that drinking cow pee is the only effective solution for treating baldness.







'Cow urine has been mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures. No one can doubt the good effects it has on the human body. It is a divine gift from God.' 

Followers like Gupta, however, insist that urine from every cow cannot be beneficial.

'The cow, whose urine one has to drink, should be a virgin - she must not have delivered a calf. Also, the urine is to be collected just before sunrise - that urine has the best effect,' he said.

However, there are people who oppose the claims made by preachers.

'People keep saying all kinds of things about cow urine, but we don't mind. People don't know what this is. They have never experienced the taste of cow urine or its effects, so how can they judge it,' Singhal said.

'It is just a matter of time before people realise the utility of cow urine.' 

He is now eyeing to cash in on the growing trend and has plans to start manufacturing cow urine products on a commercial scale.

'We can manufacture eye drops, medicines for stomach ailments, toothpaste, bathing soaps, herbal powdered medicine, among other things, from cow urine,' he said.

More at Daily Mail.

Iranian news agency: Snowden docs show that the U.S. is secretly run by Nazi space aliens

Not The Onion, or a SciFi movie (there is a sort of sub-genre of these that adds Nazis into traditional horror themes, e.g. the zombie Nazi films Dead Snow and Outpost: Black Sun).

Screenshot of Fars News' English edition
On Sunday, the hard-line semi-official Fars News dropped one of its biggest bombshells yet: The United States government has been secretly run by a "shadow government" of space aliens since 1945. Yes, space aliens. The alien government is based out of Nevada and had previously run Nazi Germany. It adds, for timeliness, that the controversial NSA programs are actually a tool for the aliens to hide their presence on Earth and their secret agenda for global domination. This is all asserted as incontrovertible fact with no caveats.

As proof that aliens were secretly behind the Nazis, the report explains that Germany built hundreds of submarines toward the end of the war, far more than would have been possible with mere human technology. It does not explain why aliens with access to interstellar travel built subs that were so grossly incapable against the British navy, or why all-powerful extraterrestrials were unable to help the Nazis resist an invasion by Allied forces that are mere cavemen relative to their own technology. So far, these are pretty unimpressive aliens.

In any case, after losing the war, the aliens apparently installed themselves as the secret force behind the United States government. President Obama is said to be a tool of the aliens, though anti-alien factions within the U.S. government are fighting to topple him. Their present aim is to install a global surveillance system that will, somehow, allow them to finally impose a one-world government and enslave humanity.

More at WaPo.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Game of Thrones Season 4 Trailer!

Next season of GOT starts April 6.

The self-destruction of the humanities

Read the whole thing by Heather Mac Donald in the WSJ (this is from Jan 3, but I missed it),  Excerpts (emphasis mine):
Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton — the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements. It replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalogue, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.
The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilisation of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his or her own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.[…] [Consider] the resentment of a Columbia University undergraduate, who had been required by the school’s core curriculum to study Mozart. She happens to be black, but her views are widely shared, to borrow a phrase, “across gender, sexuality, race and class.” “Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” she groused… “My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of colour.” These are not the idiosyncratic thoughts of one disgruntled student; they represent the dominant ideology in the humanities today.
Yes, what could the music of Mozart possibly have to offer a black woman, any black woman? After all, he was a composer of pallor, and male, and therefore, apparently, in the service of evil. 

New Clip From "Knights of Badassdom"

I am so looking forward to this movie.  The new clip is NSFW (language) but the trailer (below) is OK.

Here's the new clip:



Here's the trailer:



Here’s the official synopsis:
KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM follows three best friends (Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn and Ryan Kwanten) and dedicated LARPers (Live Action Role Players) as they take to the woods to reenact a dungeons and dragons-like scenario fresh out of the mythical Middle Ages. Trouble arises after they unwittingly conjure up some serious evil in the form of a blood-lusting Succubus, from the pits of hell.
Fantasy and reality collide on the Fields of Evermore in an all-out epic battle of make-believe wizards, demons and assorted mythical creatures. Their courage and friendship is put to the test as they attempt to vanquish the evil they have summoned. Will the group prove to simply be foam sword-wielding LARPers, or true “Knights of Badassdom?”

Kevin Williamson has an excellent article at @NRO: Obama vs. Homeschoolers


The institutional Left hates homeschooling, hates it with a remarkable intensity, even though homeschooling recently has come into vogue with a certain subset of Park Slope–style progressives. Robin West of Georgetown’s law school has written admiringly of the suppression of homeschooling and regimes under which “parents who did so were criminals.” She writes that homeschoolers are dangerous precisely because of the fact that, far from being docile sheep, homeschoolers are as adults more likely to be politically engaged, which Professor West worries might “undermine, limit, or destroy state functions that interfere with family and parental rights.” For good measure, she notes that many homeschoolers were enthusiastic about George W. Bush in 2000 — quelle horreur. Many others on the left argue that homeschooling should be either banned outright or effectively regulated out of existence.

Homeschooling terrifies the Left because the Left is at its core totalitarian, seeking to bring political discipline to every aspect of life — and control of education is essential to that project. The public school is in miniature what the Left believes the world should look like: Everybody arranged in orderly rows and moving about on an orderly schedule punctuated by bells, being taught about diversity and climate change by nice union ladies who also lead them to their federally subsidized lunches. If you can say “no” to that, you can say no to any part of the Left’s vision. Homeschooling is an existential threat to the privileged position of the institutional Left. The schools are the factory in which it manufactures its future clients.

BTW, I highly recommend Mr. Williamson's 48 page "broadside", The Dependency Agenda.

Video - Deadman: The Dead Superhero More Heroic than Most Living People!

Monday links

Quiz: Who would play you in a movie of your life?

The mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.

Carved Crayons.

21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes.

Grave of Stonewall Jackson's Arm.

If a T-rex were released in New York City, how many humans/day would it need to consume to get its needed calorie intake?

ICYMI, Friday's links, including animals enjoying snow and hairy elbow syndrome, are here.

The mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518

In their free time, some scientists and doctors like to try to figure out causes of medically-related historical events. For example, the authors of this study investigate what may have caused the crazy dancing “epidemic” of 1518 in Strasbourg: “Some time in mid-July 1518 a lone woman stepped into one of its narrow streets and began a dancing vigil that was to last four or even 6 days in succession. Within a week another 34 had joined the dance. And by the end of August, one chronicler asserts, 400 people had experienced the madness, dancing wildly, uncontrollably around the city.” 

Half bird’s-eye view of Strasbourg,  1572
This wasn’t a sedate affair; the dancers’ feet often ended up bruised and bloody. The authors were not able assign a biological cause to the epidemic (it seems unlikely that hallucinogenic compounds from the rye fungus ergot were involved), but they suggest that hunger and psychological stress were the likely culprit, with a healthy dose of religious belief thrown in: “In times of acute hardship, with physical and mental distress leaving people more than usually suggestible, a fear of St. Vitus could rapidly take hold. All it then took was for one or a few emotionally frail people, believing themselves to have been cursed by St. Vitus, to slip into a trance. Then they would unconsciously act out the part of those who had incurred his wrath: dancing wildly, uncontrollably for days on end.” 

Excerpts from the full text are below.

In a spin: the mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.
“In 1518, one of the strangest epidemics in recorded history struck the city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of people were seized by an irresistible urge to dance, hop and leap into the air. In houses, halls and public spaces, as fear paralyzed the city and the members of the elite despaired, the dancing continued with mindless intensity. Seldom pausing to eat, drink or rest, many of them danced for days or even weeks. And before long, the chronicles agree, dozens were dying from exhaustion. What was it that could have impelled as many as 400 people to dance, in some cases to death?”
Bonus quotes from the full text:
“As the dance turned epidemic, troubled nobles and burghers consulted local physicians. Having excluded astrological and supernatural causes, the members of the medical fraternity declared it to be a ‘natural disease’ caused by ‘hot blood’ 2, 4 and 5. This was orthodox physic, consistent with Galen’s view that bloody fluxes could overheat the brain, causing anger, rashness and madness. But the response of the authorities was neither to bleed nor to provide cooling diets. Instead they prescribed ‘more dancing’. To this end they cleared two guildhalls and the outdoor grain market and they even had a wooden stage constructed opposite the horse fair. To these locations the dancers were taken so they could dance freely and uninterrupted. The victims would only recover their minds, said the authorities, if they persisted both day and night with their frantic movements. And to facilitate this supposed cure, the authorities next paid for musicians and professional dancers to keep the afflicted moving.
Every time the sick flagged, fainted, stumbled or slowed, the musicians raised the tempo of their playing and hired dancers held them firm and quickened their pace (Figure 2). ‘They danced day and night with those poor people’, one eye-witness recalled 1, 2 and 4. In grain market and horse fair, the elites had created spectacles every bit as grotesque as a Hieronymous Bosch canvas portraying human folly or the torments of Hell.
Only after those with weak hearts or prone to strokes began to die did the governors rethink their strategy. Deciding that the dance had nothing to do with putrefying blood cooking normally moist and cool brains, they now saw it as a curse sent down by an angry saint. Hence, a period of organised contrition was instituted: gambling, gaming and prostitution were banned and the dissolute driven beyond the city gates. Soon after the dancers were despatched to a mountaintop shrine in the Vosges mountains to pray for divine intercession. There they were led around an altar, wearing red shoes provided for the ceremony, upon which stood a bas-relief carving of St. Vitus, the Virgin and Pope Marcellus. In the following weeks the epidemic abated. Most of the dancers, we are told, regained bodily control…”
Via Discover

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Video: North Carolina building under construction collapsing in high winds

An entire condominium under construction in Raleigh toppled on Saturday, when “hurricane strength” winds from a weekend storm ripped through the town.

The video was shot by Ed Braz, a professional wildlife photographer, whose “Whoa no, look at that!” exclamation when the building moved sideways and then toppled over captured both the destruction and adrenaline of the moment.

Winds reached up to 86 mph over the weekend, beating the previous record, and injuring at least one person.