- The Breakfast Club starring the Avengers
- Heart Attack Poutine
- Luscious Lips Straws
- Age Fighter: Childhood vs. Adulthood
- Disney Princess Wedding
- Supersonic Ping Pong Ball
- Zombies for Valentine's Day
- Grumpy Cat Bento
- People of Timbuktu save Manuscripts from Invaders
- Animal Shelter is the Unexpected Victim of the Decline of the Newspaper Business
- Playing Card Plate
- Exhibit: Dr. Seuss's Personal Hat Collection
- Happy Valentine’s Day, I Hate You
- Batman and Robin, in the Style of Disney and Pixar's Up
- Women May Now Legally Wear Pants in Paris
- Thieves Left with Right Shoes …But Not Left
- Secret Front Door
- When IBM Let Married Women Work
- Bathroom Guest Book
- Heart of the Atomic Clock
- Geeky Etsy Valentines
- Simply Orange is Anything But Simple
- Favorite Memes
- The Hamburglar
- Google's Stunning New Offices in Tel Aviv
- Gorgeous Moleskine Illustrations by Mattias Adolfsson
- The Gentle Art of Political Taxidermy: Charles Waterton, Squire of Walton Hall
- Boot Birdhouse
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST
My arteries are clogging just by looking at this, the Heart Attack poutine from Quebec's Poutineville. Yan of Geeks Are Sexy explains:
... and your heart scream for mercy! Link - Thanks Yan!
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST
Valentine's Day is coming. Are you planning on indulging your sweet with a delicious homemade treat? Make your lip-smackingly delightful meal a real photo opportunity with the Luscious Lips Straws from the NeatoShop. This great set of 6 reusable lips and 24 disposable straws will make your dinner a instant post-worthy event.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Kitchen Stuff.
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 02:00 AM PST
This bride has the most tolerant and cooperative family and friends ever -including the groom. Eight bridesmaid were dressed as various Disney Princesses. The bride, impersonating Ariel (The Little Mermaid) was accompanied down the aside by King Triton, escorted by flower girl Tinkerbell, and was presented to her groom, dressed as Prince Eric. The officiant wore Mickey Mouse ears. See more pictures at Buzzfeed. Link
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST
How do you get a ping pong ball to go at supersonic speed? And what what will happen if you try to smack such ball with a paddle?
Purdue University physics professor Mark French created a cannon that can shoot a ping pong ball at 900 mph (Mach 1.2) onto a paddle. But first, physics:
Posted: 06 Feb 2013 12:00 AM PST
Forget lovey dovey Valentine's! If you or your loved one profess undying love to all things zombie, the NeatoShop has got you covered!
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 11:00 PM PST
Did Aleksandra make a delightful meal and a beautiful work of bento? Tard doesn't seem to think so. Poor, bitter cat. Try it once and you'll like it.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 10:00 PM PST
The Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research in Timbuktu, Mali, holds a collection of 30,000 of the world's most precious ancient manuscripts. Or it did until recently. On January 23rd, al-Qaida-linked extremists, who invaded Timbuktu almost a year ago, ransacked the library and set it on fire. The fire raged for eight days straight. What the extremists did not know was that only about 2,000 of the hand-written documents had been moved to the new library building.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 09:00 PM PST
We all know that the newspaper business is in the toilet, but when the it hits a local animal shelter, you know the situation is really bad.
San Francisco's Animal Care & Shelter has been relying on public donations of old newspapers to line the cages of puppies that aren't potty trained yet, but - thanks to digital subscriptions and iPads - the supply of newspaper is, shall we say, pooped out.
Thankfully, the San Francisco Public Library is there to help:
Take that, Interweb! It seems that when it comes to number 2, dead trees are still number 1! Link
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 08:00 PM PST
Playing Card Plate (sold individually)
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Are you looking to win someones heart? Get your Valentine the Playing Card Plate from the NeatoShop. This decorative glass plate is available in King of Hearts and Queen of Hearts. Buy your sweetie both and show them your hearts together make the perfect pair.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Home and Garden items.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 08:00 PM PST
Which came first: The Cat in The Hat or the hat on the cat? It's not clear, but we do know that Theodor Geisel -- Dr. Seuss -- loved hats. The sillier, the better:
Several of Geisel's hats will be on display a branch of the New York Public Library beginning on Monday.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 07:00 PM PST
Ever heard of a "vinegar valentine"? They are the opposite of sweet, and they were sent, often anonymously, to tell someone off. It could be someone whose behavior you disliked, or just to for an insult. Collector's Weekly spoke with Annebella Pollen, a lecturer in art and design history at University of Brighton, about her research into vinegar valentines.
See lots more of these awful valentines from yesteryear at Collector's Weekly. Link
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 06:00 PM PST
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 05:00 PM PST
No longer need Parisian women fear being arrested by venturing outside in pants. A law dating back to the French Revolution forbidding them has been repealed:
Women wearing pants? What's the world coming to?! Next, they'll probably start agitating for the right to vote.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 04:00 PM PST
A shoe shop in Exeter, England had a rack of ladies' shoes and children's snow boots splayed on the sidewalk outside the store. Some time Monday night or Tuesday morning, someone stole the entire rack! They won't be able to use or sell the shoes, however, because only one shoe -the right one- of each pair was on the rack.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 03:00 PM PST
Where's the front door? It's a secret, as you can see in this clever YouTube clip. Question is, after it's been posted online, is it still a secret? Hit play or go to Link [YouTube]
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 02:00 PM PST
It may seem quaint now, but it was common in the 40s and 50s for companies to require their women employees to resign when they marry.
The memo above, dated January 10, 1951, put a "temporary modification" on IBM's personnel policy that effectively allowed its female employees to remain working after marriage and allowed the company to hire married women in the first place. It was sent in by Marc Sobel The Society Pages' Sociological Images: Link - via The Atlantic
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 01:00 PM PST
Are you looking for a way to make the bathroom experience at your house a little more entertaining? You need the Bathroom Guest Book from the NeatoShop. This beautiful padded hardcover book comes with 122 pages of guest book fun. Guests are encouraged to write down the most memorable moments, draw you a doodle, and so much more. Going to the potty just became a party.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Books.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 01:00 PM PST
It doesn't look like much, but you're looking at the heart of the world's most accurate clock. Jacon Aron of New Scientist explains:
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 12:00 PM PST
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 11:00 AM PST
Actually, it's quite complex. You see, Simply Orange, which is made by Coca-Cola, is a highly industrial product engineered according to a complex algorithm called the "Black Book":
Duane Stanford of Bloomberg Business News has the post that'll go perfectly with a tall glass of orange juice: Link
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 10:00 AM PST
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 09:00 AM PST
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 08:00 AM PST
Google's new office complex in Tel Aviv is beautiful. Camenzind Evolution designed its eight floors to include gyms, restaurants, relaxation areas and many different settings for work. I'm especially fond of the surfboard room.
Although Neatorama's offices are cozier, we do have a vigorous exercise program.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 07:00 AM PST
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 06:00 AM PST
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 06:00 AM PST
"In a word, you must possess Promethean boldness, and bring down fire, and animation as it were, into your preserved specimen." --Charles Waterton, from his essay on taxidermy
"...has not the whole of history been a search for false monsters?" --Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines
Figure 1.A portrait of Charles Waterton. The painter was Percy Fitzgerald.
Charles Waterton (1782-1865) is frequently cited as the type specimen of the British eccentric naturalist. His Wanderings in South America (1825) blended accurate observations of New World wildlife in the field (including the first good account of the behavior of sloths) with notes on politics, taxidermy, and the evils of the Hanoverian monarchy. From this sojourn, Waterton brought back the first curare for scientific and medicinal use in Europe, after witnessing its effective use in the field.
Waterton, known to all as the Squire of Walton Hall, was a dedicated ascetic and an even more dedicated climber: One famous story recounts his ascent of the dome of St. Peter's in Rome, where he left his gloves on top of the lightning conductor. In later life, "[h]e had no idea that he was doing anything out of the general course of things if he asked a visitor to accompany him to the top of a lofty tree to look at a hawk's nest..." A. generation of British schoolchildren grew up fascinated by his account in Wanderings of riding a large and violently unimpressed cayman for several minutes, and awed by his description of his failure to be bitten by vampire bats in Guiana, though he left his toe deliberately exposed from his hammock for just this purpose night after night.[4,5]
Waterton was a field naturalist par excellence and one of the first to convert land to the sole purpose of a wildlife sanctuary. He abhorred scientific nomenclature, John James Audubon (whom he called a charlatan), Protestants, Hanoverians, Hanoverian Protestants, rats (the presence of which in England he blamed on the Hanoverian Protestants), and, late in life, Charles Darwin; he loved the natural world, birds, taxidermy, and practical jokes.
The most enduring of the jokes are his numerous taxidermy mounts of imaginary animals, which combined his great skill in taxidermy with his drive to mock and satirize everything he detested about British politics, reformist religion, and formal science. The frontispiece of Wanderings features a drawing of an odd and haunting specimen called, then and now, the Nondescript. This was by no means the first true grotesque in taxidermy, but it was certainly one of the most widely published and cited of its time. As one scholar says, "Weird animals have always been popular... [Waterton] enjoyed foisting fakes on the general public, fakes such as the head of his 'Nondescript.'"
The Nondescript is an odd mixture of humanoid and anthropoid traits. As Waterton described it, "I also procured an animal which caused not a little speculation and astonishment...He was a large animal, and...I contented myself with his head and shoulders, which I cut off: and have brought them with me to Europe...The features of the animal are quite of the Grecian cast; and he has a placidity of countenance which shows that things went well with him in life." The specimen was even mounted in the style of a classical bust sculpture. It appears to have been most convincing: the Rev. Wood, Waterton's posthumous biographer, says that "Many persons indeed, on seeing the Nondescript, really thought it was human, and said that Waterton ought not to have been allowed to kill natives in order to show his skill in preserving their skins."
Exactly what went into the making of the Nondescript is still not fully clear, and there is disagreement in the accounts. The Rev. Wood states that it was made from the head and shoulders of a red howler monkey, and Jenkins (1978) concurs: "...in fact, the Nondescript was made from the skin of a red howler monkey which Waterton had manipulated with his usual skill so that it resembled a kind of simian gentleman of the period." Harriet Ritvo believes otherwise: "The credulity implicit in the search for crowd-pleasing nondescripts rapidly became the target of satire or parody, most famously in the stuffed creature whose hairy but distinctly human features graced the frontispiece of Charles Waterton's Wanderings in South America (1825).
Jenkins goes on to say "This Nondescript, [Waterton] announced, was the missing link in the evolution of Man from an ape-like creature according to the theory recently advanced by Mr. Charles Darwin." The Nondescript, however, had been created before the 1825 publication of Wanderings, and Darwin's On the Origin of Species was not published until 1859, suggesting that the Squire found new meanings for his satirical specimens throughout life. He must have had something else in mind when the specimen was created. Wood quotes a colleague of Waterton's as claiming that it was the exact likeness of a mutually detested schoolmate.
Aldington, however, constructs a convincing alternate explanation: the Nondescript represented, in eerie exactitude, a likeness of J. R. Lushington, Secretary to the Treasury. Lushington apparently entered the realm reserved previously for Hanoverians and Protestants by informing Waterton that any specimens Waterton brought into the country, unless he donated them to public institutions, "can only be delivered on the payment of the ad velorum duty of 20 per cent." Aldington writes: "His fourth trip to Guiana was undertaken, I submit, solely for the purpose of obtaining a specimen of that hitherto unknown animal, the Nondescript," intended as a likeness of Lushington. Though Waterton apparently denied this, Aldington notes of a later edition that "...[T]he way the denial is made in the 1837 edition of the First Series of Essays is such as to suggest the very thing the writer pretends to deny."
Other Delightful Grotesques
Figure 4.Waterton's work entitled John Bull and the National Debt.
The Nondescript was by no means Waterton's only grotesque. Most of the others were more blunt and direct. After his death, the surviving specimens were donated to his old school, Stonyhurst.
1. For exact science drones, a type specimen in the systematic sciences is the specimen which is selected as the representative of a new taxon (species, genus, etc.) in the publication establishing that new name and rank. Waterton, in other words, was a British eccentric naturalist's British eccentric naturalist.
2. From the biographical notes of the Rev. J. G. Wood. Reprinted in Wanderings in South America: The North-West of the United States and the Antilles, in the Years 1812, 1816, 1820 & 1824: With Original Instructions for the Perfect Preservation of Birds, Etc., for Cabinets of Natural History., Charles Waterton, edited with biographical information and explanatory index by the Rev. J. G. Wood. The original Wanderings was published in 1825; Wood's addenda were added after Waterton's death. 1983 edition published with introduction by David Bellamy: NY: Hippocrene Books, Inc. p. 24.
3. A New World crocodile, possibly Crocodylus acutus or C. intermedius. The illustration in Wanderings makes it appear to be 6-7 feet long, or 2-2.5 meters, if you will.
4. Waterton had an absolute faith in bloodletting as the best way to treat all ills (the Rev. Wood describes Waterton's self-medication regimen as consisting solely of "the lancet and calomel," and suggests that Waterton had tapped the claret so much that none but a starving vampire bat would be interested.).
5. Toes figure in the Waterton canon several times. One Dr. Hobson stated that "When Mr. Waterton was seventy-seven years of age, I was witness to his scratching the back part of his head with the big toe of his right foot." Cited in Jenkins, Alan C. 1978. The Naturalists: Pioneers of Natural History. NY: Mayflower Books Inc. p. 66.
6. The first published grotesque is seen in a work by Guillaume Rondelet from 1554-5, Libri de Piscibus Marinis. It is a "bishop fish" similar to the devil fish made today by carefully cutting and drying small skates and rays.
7. Merrill, Lynn L. 1989. The Romance of Victorian Natural History. Oxford University Press. p. 88.
8. From Wood's index to Wanderings, p. 441 in 1983 edition.
9. Jenkins, p. 73.
10. Ritvo, Harriet. 1997. The Platypus and the Mermaid, and other figments of the classifying imagination. Harvard University Press. p. 55.
11. Jenkins, p. 73.
12. Aldington, Richard. 1949. The Strange Life of Charles Waterton. London: Evans Brothers Limited. p. 94.
13. Ibid., p. 110.
14. Ibid., pp. 113-114.
This article is republished with permission from the November-December 2000issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift! Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.
Posted: 05 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST
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