As it’s the beginning of the year, bloggers and reporters are doing a lot of year-in-review stuff. I’m not, but here are a few things that have caught my eye recently.
The alphabet is pretty codified these days, and there’s no use trying to get them to squeeze an extra letter in there, or even a smiley-face. Here are some of the sad letters that did not make the cut. Alas, poor thorn, we hardly knew thee.
Here’s a list of trends that need to die in 2013. They are fashion trends, and while I don’t agree with all of them, I hope never to see another see-through lace dress prominently displaying a star’s underwear beneath. I don’t need to see your undies, ladies. They are not that interesting, and in fact, wearing that outfit makes you look like you accidentally put on a slip instead of real clothes this morning.
This gallery of photos of a defunct amusement park did not come from Pripyat, the city evacuated when Chernobyl’s reactor blew. However, it did come from a Soviet-style amusement park in East Berlin, and it’s quite haunting in its own right. (via BoingBoing)
Stellar health writer Anne Polta of the West Central Tribune chronicles the health-related things she’d like to see kicked to the curb along with the year 2012. All I can say is hear, hear.
This gallery of headless people is totally photoshopped. Actually, these headless photos were done long before Photoshop existed, but people still found a way to create comical and plain old bizarre photos of people holding their own heads, or loved ones’ heads. In other words, yes, Victorians did have a sense of humor. (via BoingBoing)
Life is really kind of weird, when you think about it.
Today I got yet another shot–this time, a flu vaccine.
I don’t get these for myself, so much, as for other people I might come into contact with. My own immune system is pretty effective against these types of things, but apparently 90 percent of people who die of flu and flu-related causes are age 65 or older. And I do meet a lot of older folks, and would prefer not to make them sick. Plus there are infants and other people out there who can’t get the vaccine, and I don’t want to make them sick either.
It’s just a little strange to think that putting a little bit of a dead virus into your system can rile up your immune system enough to stop a live one. But it works, and it saves lives and misery.
Here are some other things that make very little sense, at least at first glance. … some of them make very little sense at last glance either, or at all the glances in between.
Why do people think natural is good? Cyanide is natural. Arsenic is natural. As far as I can tell, nature pretty much wants to kill us.
The term “Monday” is apparently a racial slur. I honestly hadn’t ever heard that one before, and it’s kind of sad; Mondays (the day of the week, please) are already universally hated, and now here’s another little bit of odium to heap upon them which they haven’t even really earned.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually appreciate the multi-Oreoed world we live in, and the diversity of delicious cookie goodness available to us: Double Stuf, mini-Oreos, Neapolitan Oreos, Mint Oreos… there’s a lot out there.
Does anyone really love candy corn? I mean, I usually take a few when they’re out, because it’s one of those seasonal things you’re practically obliged to eat at the proper time, but… they’re a bit of a blank slate, flavor-wise.
Mostly what you get out of a piece of candy corn is the waxen texture, with a bit of vague sweetness that doesn’t really taste like anything much.
And in other news, more to be skeptical about:
Gendered crayons. Now that I have a number of family members and friends who are having babies, I’ve noticed the dearth of gender-neutral outfits and toys for babies and small children. I have nothing against pink and blue, but what happened to green, yellow, black, orange, red and brown? Babies don’t even know they have hands, let alone girl/boy bits, do we really have to ram gender roles down their tiny throats before they’re even on solids? I say this as a girl who loved purple and wouldn’t even read books about boys when I was young, but I like to think if I’d preferred “boy” toys, my parents wouldn’t have forced princess crayons on me. Besides, everyone knows the packages of 100+ crayons are the Cadillac crayons anyway.
The Plagiarism Checker! Not that I’m skeptical of that, but there’s been a rash of plagiarism stories about reporters. Who should definitely know better.
The Case of the Upside-Down Woman. Normally my BS-detector goes off when I hear weird-medicine stories like this, but the tale of the woman who was brought into the ER being held upside-down by her enormous husband is pretty convincing. The body can be pretty weird.
I like to know the end of a story before I read it, and I like to know the ending of a movie before I see it. Yes, I like spoilers.
For me spoilers don’t spoil the story–they enhance it, because then I get to watch for beautiful foreshadowing and artful little details that should have tipped me off to the ending in the first place. Spoilers give me a window into the artistry of the art, and offer me another way of appreciating the work.
Of course I don’t assume anybody else feels that way. I don’t go around telling people “Oh by the way, Darth Vader is Luke’s father,” right before they watch Star Wars for the first time. That’d be mean.
A few totally frivolous links, plus a few more thought-provoking ones for you folks today:
These 40 things will make you feel old, apparently. Many kids today have never seen a floppy disk, nor have they heard the sound of the wild modem, howling in the night for the blood of your MIDI sound files. Or whatever it is modems howl for; I never did figure that one out.
Pluots, also known as “dinosaur eggs,” are absolutely fantastic and everyone should try them at least once. They look a little like a plum, but have a speckled, almost brown tone, and they are apricot-plum hybrids. Delicious ones, at that.
A person has been playing a single game of Civilization II for ten years. The people in his game world have suffered through dozens of nuclear wars and reside in a hellish wasteland. (Cue New Jersey jokes.)
Conspiracy theories are fun! Until you become the subject of one. Then your life takes a turn for the weird, and you get mysterious phone calls at night from a guy who thinks you’re a serial killer based on some extremely fragile gematria-like cryptographical voodoo. Hint: Much less fun then. (via BoingBoing)
Arsenic was once so popular as a pesticide that people started getting sick from eating apples. Because they were coated in it. Apparently you still have to be careful in some places that used to be apple orchards…
A good hairdresser can make your hair look fantastic. But a good hairdresser can also keep an eye out for any weird irregularities on your skin (especially the skin you can’t see) and help you detect cancer early.
And finally, here’s 25 iconic celebrities in swimsuits. Question: Why are all of them female, with the sole exception of the entire cast of Baywatch? Do we just not take photos of men in swimsuits, or have they just never been… iconic enough?
I’ve collected a fair few items about history, and I never seem to really have a good place for them anymore, now that Reprint is done.
Everybody’s heard of Florence Nightingale, but there was another very famous nurse operating at the time, during the same war (the Crimean War)–Mary Seacole. At one point Nightingale accused her of operating a brothel, apparently.
Ever heard of Devon colic? No? That’s because it no longer exists. The ailment was oddly localized, and turned out to be yet another incidence of lead poisoning. Incidentally, lead acetate has a nice sweet taste and used to be used as a sugar substitute. Unfortunately, it’s toxic.
BoingBoing drew my attention to this marvellous article about islands of exile–you know, such as St. Helena, where Napoleon was imprisoned. My immediate thought was: What about Pandataria? It was the high-profile island prison of its day, and housed at least five very high-profile Roman noblewomen, including the daughter of Augustus, who was exiled there for adultery.
Icepick lobotomies, deliberately giving people syphilis and then not treating it and poisoning fishermen with radiation — science has had many, many dark and horrible experiments in its history. Columnist John Horgan lines up a few of the ghastliest, although he’s not touching on Mengele’s “science” (most of which was probably just thinly-disguised sadism rather than any attempt to learn at anything, I gather).
There are donut cops. This is a thing which actually exists. Had I realized this earlier on in my life, I may have chosen a different career track, although I’m not sure my blood pressure would’ve thanked me for it.
I have a wide assortment of other links that may or may not be of interest:
Dull and Boring are together at last, as sister communities. I’ve always thought it would be awkward to live in a town with a weird name, although being able to say “I’ll see you in Hell!” in a chipper, friendly voice would be kind of funny.
“The Hunger Games,” which is a great book, and its sequels feature four of the top five highlighted passages in books on Kindle, as well as eight of the top ten. The other two in the top ten are from Jane Austen. All ten of them were written, in other words, by women.
A mom-science-blogger calls TLC out on some vaccine-related silliness. TLC asked “why shouldn’t we vaccinate our children” as if doing so were a bad thing. Vaccinating is not a bad thing, there is no link between vaccines and autism and the paper that claimed there was was not only false, but deliberately fraudulent.
How do you feel about nounjectives, adjectives that become nouns? The good, the bad, the ugly and the like? Apparently some people have very strong negative feelings about them. I quite enjoy using the term “awesome” as a noun, personally.
Men can have sympathetic pregnancies. It’s called “couvade syndrome,” and it sounds pretty uncomfortable, although not as uncomfortable as actually having all your internal organs jammed up into your chest cavity to make room for a bonus human.
I never watched much children’s television as a child. At a young age I considered myself too old for a lot of TV shows, such as Sesame Street, because it seemed to be trying to teach me letters and numbers when I could already read and count. And books were far more interesting than television, too.
It occurs to me now I may have missed something good. Mr. Rogers, at least, seemed to be a pretty cool guy. Now someone has remixed some pieces of his show, added autotune, and made a wonderful little song about growing ideas in the “garden of your mind.”
I’m not big on video, but I do have another short clip–a very alarming video of a person wandering up to a volcano to take samples of the bubbling lava lake. This volcanologist survives the experience, but I have to wonder, isn’t this the sort of thing that is obviously stupid? It seems like a Louis Slotin waiting to happen, frankly.
Do we need to put up a sign that says “Do not taunt happy fun volcano”?
And some more links:
Here are some more reactions to the “MEN invented the internet” piece.
People will kill each other over just about anything, including, apparently, ice cream. The Glasgow Ice Cream Wars were a real thing.
The same things people say about those terrible video games is the same thing they used to say about those terrible television programs, those terrible movies, and those terrible books. We all know this, but sometimes it helps to have a reminder.
Video games have a peculiar way of telling you a task is urgent and then diverting you away from it with other tasks called “side quests.” While this is typical of a modern work day, when you’re an adventurer tasked with saving the world, it seems a bit weird. Play this tiny, five-minute game. You won’t regret it. (via BoingBoing)
Sad news to fans of internet memes today: The Trololo Guy, Eduard Khil, has passed away at age 77. Incidentally, the lyrics to the song were replaced with nonsense words because Soviet censors didn’t like them.
London has a new Olympic Tower, and Brainiac has a picture! I hesitate to call it ugly, because then I might seem hopelessly old-fashioned, and I can’t really decide if it’s ugly anyway. What do you think? I think it kind of looks like somebody wadded up a rollercoaster and shoved it in the ground like a spear.
Turns out the Back to the Future trilogy has a lot of cool little details you might miss if you’re not watching for them. Each flick has a trivia page on IMDB–checkthemout. I honestly didn’t even notice they changed the actor for George McFly after the first movie.
“Hopefully” is apparently the word that divides the hardcore grammarians from the more late-Wittgensteinian language-is-a-game people. There’s a huge controversy over the the word, NPR reports. Note that by this measure I am not a hardcore grammarian. Take that, all you people who’ve accused me of being a language snob! I’m actually a quasi-language-snob!