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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Roundup of April Fool's Day links

There will definitely be some overlap in these collections of pranks and hoaxes (for example, no list would be complete without Burger King’s 1998 full page ad for the Left-handed Whopper or the BBC’s excellent 1957 Spaghetti Tree hoax), but there is a lot of different stuff, as well, at each of the links. Feel free to add more in the comments!


Awesome April Fool's Day Pranks Your Kids Will Totally Fall For.

More prank ideas.

April Fool's Day idea: Make your own meatloaf donuts.

6 People Who Went to Great Lengths for their Pranks.

How To Easily Create A Realistic Looking Head In A Jar.

The 14 Greatest Hoaxes of All Time and Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time.

Fake death reports, disaster warnings, and hangings - The Top 10 Worst April Fool's Day Hoaxes Ever. Personal favorite:
Saddam Hussein and his sons may have been ruthless, power-hungry dictators, but that didn't stop them from trying to give the people of Iraq a good chuckle every April Fool's Day. On April 1, 1998 the Babil newspaper, owned by Hussein's son Uday, informed its readers that President Clinton had decided to lift sanctions against Iraq, only to admit later that it was just joking. One can imagine the knee-slapping guffaws when readers realized how they'd been taken for a ride.
The laughs continued in 1999 when Uday mischievously announced that the monthly food rations would be supplemented to include bananas, Pepsi, and chocolate. Again, just a joke. At this point, the Husseins appear to have run out of material, because in 2000 they recycled the sanction-lifting gag, and in 2001 trotted out the ration-supplement crowd-pleaser one more time. 
Ambrose Bierce on April Fool's day from the Devil's Dictionary:
April Fool, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly

Burger King's 'Left-handed Whopper'

Burger King launched a marketing campaign for its 'Left-Handed Whopper', a burger specifically tailored to left-handed people in the April 1, 1998 edition of USA Today. 

How did they create it? By simply rotating the condiments 180 degrees.

A spokesperson from the Left Handed Club is quoted as saying: "We are delighted that Burger King has recognized the difficulties of holding a hamburger in your left hand that has a natural right bias to it. We urge all left handed hamburger lovers to visit their nearest Burger King and taste the difference for themselves."

Unfortunately, a lot of people didn't get the joke, and left-handers everywhere rushed to BK to demand the special Whopper and celebrate a long-awaited victory.

More left-handed products for April Fool's Day here, including Ikea's left-handed allen key:

IKEA ran an ad in Australian papers apologizing to customers who had received left-handed allen keys with a product. "To exchange your incorrect key," the ad said, "we'll provide a swap box at the store entrance."
An illustration showed the difference between an "erroneous left-handed allen key" and a "correct right-handed allen key."


Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter links


The Unauthorized Biography of the Easter Bunny.

10 Facts About Easter More Interesting Than the Chocolate

Videos of violence against marshmallow peeps, including peeps vs. .50 Caliber Rifle Parts 1 and 2, plus Artworks Made From Peeps.


Peeps on Television: 20 Shows Starring Marshmallow Peeps.

DIY jello shots made from decapitated chocolate Easter bunnies, plus Wine and Easter Candy Pairings.

In New Zealand, where rabbits are considered a major crop-destroying pest, they celebrate with an Easter Bunny Hunt.

Here's a supercut of movie bunnies.

Prepare to be offended (or don't click!): Easter cards from The Onion.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include the possibility that ancient Greeks sailed to Canada, creepy photos of Easter bunnies with kids, the evolution of the microscope, and how to win at Rock Paper Scissors.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Why does the date of Easter move around?

As we all know (not), Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first astronomical full moon after the vernal equinox. So what's that all about? There have been entire books written on this subject, so this will be rather cursory, but let me see if I can provide a few basics and links to more.

Last Supper by Valentin de Boulogne
Jesus celebrated a Passover (wiki) meal with his followers the day before his crucifixion, marked on the Thursday before Easter Sunday.  He was crucified on a Friday, known as Good Friday, but rose from the dead on the third day, which was a Sunday, and which Christians decided to celebrate with a feast day.

Their celebrations crossed over with the Jewish festival of Passover, which was fixed by the first full moon following the vernal equinox, the spring date when day and night are of equal length.

Here are some excerpts from Wikipedia:

Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. 

The First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the Council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies.

In Western Christianity*, using the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between 22 March and 25 April inclusive, within about seven days after the astronomical full moon. 

"The Resurrection of Christ" by Bloch
Chambers' Book of Days has an interesting post on the  background controversy, and describes this attempt to resolve it:

At the beginning of the fourth century, matters had gone to such a length, that the Emperor Constantine thought it his duty to take steps to allay the controversy, and to insure uniformity of practice for the future. For this purpose, he got a canon passed in the great (Ecumenical Council of Nice (A.D. 325), That everywhere the great feast of Easter should be observed upon one and the same day; and that not the day of the Jewish Passover, but, as had been generally observed, upon the Sunday afterwards.' 

And to prevent all future disputes as to the time, the following rules were also laid down:
'That the twenty-first day of March shall be accounted the vernal equinox.'
'That the full moon happening upon or next after the twenty-first of March, shall be taken for the full moon of Nisan.'
'That the Lord's-day next following that full moon be Easter-day.'
'But if the full moon happen upon a Sunday, Easter-day shall be the Sunday after.'
Of course, it wasn't that easy - the full moon (called the Paschal full moon) is not an astronomical full moon, but the 14th day of a calendar lunar month. Another difference is that the astronomical equinox is a natural astronomical phenomenon, which can fall on March 19th, 20th or 21st, while the ecclesiastical date is fixed by convention on March 21st.

The write-up at Wikipedia is the best I've seen, if you want more particulars on all of this, and the online version of Chamber's Book of Days has some other details.

*Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar. Because of the 13-day difference between the calendars between 1900 and 2099, 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian Calendar. Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May on the Gregorian calendar (the Julian calendar is no longer used as the civil calendar of the countries where Eastern Christian traditions predominate). Also, because the Julian "full moon" is always several days after the astronomical full moon, the eastern Easter is often later, relative to the visible moon's phases, than western Easter.

Among the Oriental Orthodox some churches have changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and the date for Easter as for other fixed and moveable feasts is the same as in the Western church.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday links

How To Win At Rock Paper Scissors.



Nothing says Spring like creepy photos of Easter Bunnies with kids.


Photos of the building of the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble. (View full screen)

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include why we cross our fingers. how cheese, wheat and alcohol shaped human evolution, dangerous toys from the old days, and in honor of Robert Frost's birthday ("Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice..."), a 1939 PopSci article on How The World Will End.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How To Win At Rock Paper Scissors

Rock Paper Scissors is usually played by two people - players simultaneously form one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. The rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, and paper beats rock (if both players throw the same shape, the game is tied).

Hannah Fry of Numberphile explains how to win:


Want more? Priceonomics has an in-depth look at the World of Competitive Rock Paper Scissors, including lots of tips:
While the game dates back to B.C. times and clubs of serious Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) players have existed quietly for decades, a tournament in 2002 launched RPS on its path to being a sport that could compete with Darts, Poker, and Scrabble for ESPN airtime.  
In 2002, two brothers, Douglas and Graham Walker, rented a bar and held the first Rock Paper Scissors “world championship” in Toronto. Douglas says they “would have been happy if 25 [or] 30 of [their] friends came to drink beer and play for a big prize.” To their surprise, hundreds of people showed up. The next year, major media outlets like CNN covered the tournament. In 2006, Bud Light sponsored a tournament and offered a $50,000 cash prize.
While RPS advocates want to validate it as a serious pursuit, they also intend to have a good time. Many players compete in colorful costume (the Grahams’ Toronto tournaments have been called “a combination of Halloween [and] Mardi Gras -- really, a Star Trek convention with binge drinking”), and their nicknames are as much jokes as macho personalities. 
Read the whole thing

Monday, March 26, 2018

Harry Potter Is An Inspiring Parable About Resisting Gun Control

Interesting points in this at FreeBeacon, by Alex Griswold - extensive excerpt below, but go there to read the whole thing.
Instead of guns, wizards in Harry Potter use wands for self-defense. Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone's packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It's an inspiring example the United States should strive towards.
But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it's a racist, corrupt and selectively enforced. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, we learn that the Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid has been forcibly disarmed after being accused of a crime he didn't commit. When government officials again come to falsely arrest Hagrid, he lacks any means of self-defense.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry accidentally uses magic to attack his helpless aunt who has done nothing but insult him. It's an illicit use of magic that should have seen his wand snapped, but the political influence of the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge ensures that he escapes punishment. (Author J. K. Rowling no doubt was drawing from the example of cities like New York, where only the politically connected and powerful can obtain gun permits.)
Goblet of Fire is the first time we learn that non-humans like elves and goblins, who appear to have all the same sentience and rationality as humans, have been forcibly disarmed by law. When the elf Winky is caught open-carrying, she only avoids legal punishment because her slave master is a powerful Ministry official. Poor Winky is then fired, but luckily the good wizard Dumbledore agrees to re-enslave her in his kitchens.

A year later, in the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is despised by the government. When he stands his ground and uses magic in defense of his cousin, this time he is immediately informed that authorities are coming to destroy his wand. Through the intervention of Dumbledore, he barely avoids punishment meted out by a show trial staffed by politicians.
When Harry returns to Hogwarts, he learns that the government has forcibly added a politician to oversee and sabotage the class in which students learn self-defense. Harry responds by organizing a secret militia to resist both the government and the radical terrorists that Obama– oh sorry, Fudge– refuses to name.
But the clearest example of forced disarmament comes in the final book, The Deathly Hallows. The government has been secretly taken over by the evil Voldemort, who passes laws discriminating against wizards who have nonmagical parents. All so-called "Mudbloods" are then disarmed in show trials and forced into homelessness as the "wandless."
In the end, Harry Potter and friends overthrow the corrupt government and defend their freedoms using their extensive combat training. The child militia join forces with adult militia and in a final glorious battle overthrow those trying to oppress them by taking their wands. From their cold dead hands, indeed.

For your Easter morning family fun - Tomb And Rock Roll Away Cardboard Stand-Up

Classy.

This cardboard stand-up of Jesus' tomb is a life-like Easter stage prop for plays and pageants. Resurrection activities come to life with these religious stage props. Decorations for religious holidays, pageants and Easter celebrations are more fun and faith based than ever with these realistic stand-up props. 

Cardboard. (3 pcs. per set) Rock, 38" x 34"; outside, 59" x 79"; inside tomb, 36 3/4" x 13" deep; tomb entrance/opening, 26" x 31". One-sided with a brown cardboard back.
Related: Prepare to be offended: Easter cards from The Onion.

Monday links

In honor of Robert Frost's birthday ("Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice..."), here's How The World Will End, According To 1939.


Sounds like a Hitchcock (or maybe SyFy) movie: 20,000 Bees Chased a Car for 24 Hours to Rescue Their Trapped Queen Bee.


10 Dangerous Toys from Decades Past (and the Commercials That Sold Them)

You Can Now Buy Your Very Own F-4 Phantom Fighter Jet for a Total Steal.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include a comprehensive breakdown of how much a person will poo in their lifetime, why UPS trucks (mostly) don't turn left, 17th century London weather, and how to make beer in space.