- What Can Be Done with Albania's 750,000 Cold War-Era Bunkers?
- Amsterdam Castle for Sale
- Why You Shouldn't Jump in Puddles
- This is Madness
- Parents Name Their Son Bane after the Batman Villain
- A Brief History of 7 Baby Basics
- Braided Book Art by Math Monahan
- 20 Haunting Ghost Towns of the World
- Area 51 Passport Pocket Notebook
- The Very Hungry LEGO Caterpillar
- RIP Harry Stamps, The Man with the Greatest Obituary Ever
- Fire Flight
- 15 Generations of a Single Family Have Slept In This Bed
- Decorated Police Billy Clubs
- The Man Who Sells The Moon
- Not Your Hands
- Higgs Boson is Now Official!
- To Avoid Wearing Seat Belts, Chinese Drivers Wear Shirts Like These
- Cat Feeds Dog
- Coffee Date with Kermit and Miss Piggy Salt & Pepper Shakers
- Keith Haring Chair
- Revival of Extinct Species
- Spider-Man Beard
- When Opposites Attack: 5 Artistic Rivalries That Got Ugly
Posted: 16 Mar 2013 04:00 AM PDT
During the reign of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha (r. 1944-1985), Albania built 750,000 bunkers. That's 1 bunker for every 4 citizens. They're still around and are something of a nuisance. Wired's Pete Brook reports:
They're eyesores and obstruct new construction. Still, some Albanians have tried to find some value from the old concrete and iron slabs. Expatica's Briseida Mema writes:
What would you do with a bunker in your backyard?
Posted: 16 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PDT
This castle in Amsterdam, New York, is for sale for only a million dollars. It has quite a history.
Posted: 16 Mar 2013 12:00 AM PDT
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 11:00 PM PDT
March Madness is never limited to basketball. Lucasfilm is presenting their own tournament to determine who is the favorite character in the entire Star Wars universe. The bracket is divided into the Light Side and the Dark Side, guaranteeing a matchup between the two in the final round. No seeds or odds are apparent, but the way the brackets are laid out, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, and Han are all in same region, so only of those can make it to the final four, but Darth Vader vs the Emperor will be a possibility. Voting in the first round will begin Monday, and the final matchup is on April 9th. Link -via CNET
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 10:00 PM PDT
British rugby player Jamie Jones-Buchanan and his wife have named their new son after Bane, the masked villain from the Batman franchise:
This isn't the first baby name that Jones-Buchanan has taken from fiction. His son Lore is named after Data's evil twin brother. Kurgan gets his name from the primary antagonist of the first Highlander movie. The Sun also reports that one child is named Dacx from Star Trek, which I think actually refers to Dax.
I contemplated Bruce Wayne and Nick Seafort as names for my own children. What science fiction characters do you think could offer good baby names?
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 09:00 PM PDT
When Valerie Hunter Gordon developed a disposable diaper called the Paddi in 1947, consisting of flushable cellulose padding held inside a nylon shell, she made things easier for herself and her friends, but manufacturers didn't see the genius in the product. The executives probably didn't wash many diapers.
Read the rest of the story of the disposable diaper, plus the history of other baby products such as the pacifier, stroller, and baby monitor at mental_floss. Link
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 08:00 PM PDT
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:00 PM PDT
Abandoned communities exist all over the world, and the reasons they are empty are quite varied. Some were abandoned because of natural disasters, others because of war, disease, or economic decline. Butugichag, Russia, was home to thousands of people in its time, but no one wants to go back.
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 06:00 PM PDT
Are you looking for the perfect place to jot down all your experimental, obscure, and quite possibly out of this world thoughts? You need the Area 51 Passport Pocket Notebook from the NeatoShop. This great little pocket journal has 64 pages for your writing pleasure.
Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Stationery.
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 06:00 PM PDT
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 05:00 PM PDT
Harry Stamps of Long Beach, Mississippi died a week ago at the age of 80. His cause of death was most likely an overdose of awesomeness, as you can perceive from his obituary:
Thy will be done, Harry.
Be sure to read the rest of Mr. Stamps' fantastic obituary at the link.
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 04:00 PM PDT
The dancers of the Phoenix Dance Theater in Leeds, England, are on fire! Well, just on fire with energy and talent, as the effects were added in afterward. Editor Ben Daure sat in front of a computer for six months putting the fire in. Which is, of course, a much better idea than setting the dancers alight. -via b3ta
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 03:00 PM PDT
Now that's craftsmanship! A 400-year-old bed has been identified as the oldest piece of furniture that has remained in continuous use by the same family the longest. It has been slept in by 15 generations of the Berkeley family:
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 02:00 PM PDT
Before British police officers wore uniforms, they carried staffs marked with government insignia as badges of their authority:
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 01:00 PM PDT
The secret to building wealth through real estate is buying properties when they're cheap. Before things get built up and all - I mean, imagine if only you had the foresight to buy Manhattan for a mere $24 ...
Think that opportunity has passed you by? Well, perhaps you want to buy an acre or two in the next great real estate frontier, the Moon. Like we told you before on Neatorama a few years ago, you can still buy plots of land on the Moon and Mars!
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 12:00 PM PDT
Want a cookie? Before you take one, read the sign. And then consider the possibility that the person before you may have followed the directions literally. -via Arbroath
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 11:00 AM PDT
After the big announcement last year, physicists have made it official. They have indeed found the Higgs boson:
Jeanna Bryner of LiveScience has the full story: Link
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 10:00 AM PDT
According to Car China News, a blog about the automotive industry in China, many Chinese drivers hate wearing seat belts. They'll go so far as to wear special t-shirts to fool police officers:
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 09:00 AM PDT
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 08:00 AM PDT
Are you a lover and a dreamer looking for that rainbow connection? Find it with the Coffee Date with Kermit and Miss Piggy Salt & Pepper Shakers from the NeatoShop. This dreamy set is made of glazed ceramic and includes 3 separate highly detailed pieces. Kermit and Piggy are both shakers. It is a great way to add a little spice to your kitchen decor.
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 08:00 AM PDT
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:00 AM PDT
Since we saw Jurassic Park in 1993, research on DNA and cloning has brought the idea of bringing back extinct species forward from fantasy to practical possibility. Cloning livestock is easier than ever. Scientists delivered a clone of the extinct Pyrenean ibex, using living cells of the last specimen years after it died. Frozen mammoth DNA holds promise, and there are other schemes to reverse-engineer DNA from thylacines and passenger pigeons. The process of bringing back extinct species is called de-extinction. Considering the scientific progress, it's only a matter of time before success. The question is: should we be doing this?
Some are leery of the idea, because if those animals went extinct because of changes in their environment, how will they ever thrive again? Others believe resources spent on de-extinction would be better aimed at preventing endangered animals from disappearing. National Geographic magazine looks at the progress we've made in de-extinction, and the ethics of the practice. Link -via The Loom
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 06:00 AM PDT
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 05:00 AM PDT
1. Vex, Lies, and Literary Debate: Lillian Hellman vs. Mary McCarthy
One January night in 1980, playwright Lillian Hellman (The Children's Hour, The Little Foxes) sat up in bed while watching The Dick Cavett Show. Novelist and critic Mary McCarthy was on the program discussing books when Cavett asked her which writers she considered overrated. "Lillian Hellman," McCarthy promptly replied. "Everything ...every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"
Hellman may have been 74 years old, nearly blind, and unable to walk, but she could still use the telephone. She called her attorney and ordered him to sue McCarthy— along with Cavett, the show's producer, and the station—for $2.25 million in libel. The result was a public slug-fest, with all of America's writers taking sides. Norman Mailer tried to act as a peacemaker via an article in The New York Times, but it only proved to annoy both sides. Hellman even offered to drop the suit if McCarthy publicly apologized, to which McCarthy responded, "But that would be lying."
To the surprise of everyone, including Hellman's attorneys, the New York Supreme Court refused McCarthy's request to dismiss the case on May 10, 1984. Sadly, Hellman didn't have long to enjoy her victory; she died less than two months later. McCarthy, who'd been facing financial ruin, was less than satisfied, complaining, "I didn't want her to die. I wanted her to lose in court." Since then, the case has been remembered in legal circles as raising important free speech issues. As Harper's magazine quipped, "If you can't call Lillian Hellman a liar on national TV, what's the First Amendment all about?"
2. 100 Years of Attitude: Gabriel García Márquez vs. Mario Vargas Llosa
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Colombian Nobel-prize winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez and Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa together helped to revolutionize Spanish-language literature with their forays into magical realism. The two met in 1967 and immediately became inseparable. In 1971, Vargas Llosa wrote a book-length study of García Márquez' work. García Márquez became the godfather of Vargas Llosa's son.
Then, at a 1976 film premiere in Mexico City, García Márquez spotted his pal Vargas Llosa sitting a few rows back and went to greet him. "Mario!" he exclaimed with open arms, just before Vargas Llosa punched him in the face.
The two authors have neither spoken to, nor seen, each other since. For years, that is all anyone has known about it. What hasn't been known, however, is why. The men have only said the quarrel was "personal." Much of the speculation has focused on politics. (At one time, both were supporters of Fidel Castro, but Vargas Llosa grew disillusioned with the dictator.) Others have suggested Vargas Llosa was jealous of his friend's world fame. But the cold war hit the papers again after a Spanish newspaper announced that the 40th-anniversary edition of García Márquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude would include an introduction by Vargas Llosa. Headlines announced that the feud was over—except that it wasn't. García Márquez' literary agent explained that Vargas Llosa had only allowed an out-of-print 1971 essay about García Márquez to be included in the volume. Hardly a reconciliation, but it meant the feud was news once again. And that's when the story behind the Mexico City fight started to come out. Turns out, the quarrel wasn't about literary fame or political leanings. As we all should have guessed, it was about a woman.
The trouble started, sources say, when Vargas Llosa fell madly in love with a Swedish stewardess. He ran off to Stockholm with her, leaving behind his wife, Patricia (who was, incidentally, also his first cousin). Devastated, Patricia went to her husband's best friend for advice. The first thing García Márquez reportedly did was suggest she divorce her husband. Then he "consoled" her. (It has been suggested this "consolation" involved more than a pat on the back.)
Eventually, Vargas Llosa returned home from Sweden and reconciled with his wife. Apparently, Patricia told all. The authors' next encounter was at the theater. After landing his punch, Vargas Llosa supposedly shouted, "How dare you come and greet me after what you did to Patricia in Barcelona!" And while neither author has confirmed this version of the events, the brouhaha had Latin American literary types buzzing yet again.
3. Dueling Pianos: George Frideric Handel vs. Johann Mattheson
Johann Mattheson met fellow composer George Frideric Handel in 1703, when the 21-year-old Handel moved to Hamburg to take the position of violinist and harpsichordist for the opera-house orchestra. This made Handel something of a young celebrity, but Mattheson was something of a celebrity himself, being a former child prodigy and a popular local composer. The two hung out quite a bit, and Mattheson even gave Handel advice on writing his first opera.
But the friendship hit a roadblock in December 1704, when Mattheson premiered his third opera, Cleopatra. Mattheson not only wrote and conducted the piece but also sang the part of Antonius. (Busy guy, Johann.) During the first three-quarters of the performance, Mattheson was on stage. But half an hour before the end, Antonius commits suicide, which left Mattheson at loose ends. Deciding to take over at the harpsichord, he headed for the orchestra pit and whispered to Handel, then tickling the ivories, to scoot over. A very much miffed Handel refused to give way.
History doesn't note the effect of the musicians' brawl on the performance, but it does record that Mattheson challenged Handel to a duel. According to Mattheson, the two retired to the street, took up swords, and started slashing. Also according to Mattheson, his sword broke when it struck one of Handel's large metal coat buttons, which is the only reason George's life was spared. Either way, Handel went on to bigger and better things (The Messiah, for one), while Mattheson remained in Hamburg churning out oratorios. Watching Handel's rise from afar, he once complained that Handel had stolen the melody from one of his operas. (Probably a true charge, actually, as Handel was notorious for "borrowing" melodies.) Finally, toward the end of his life, Mattheson filled his autobiography with stories of his world-famous buddy, taking as much credit as possible for himself.
4. Domed for Failure: Lorenzo Ghiberti vs. Filippo Brunelleschi
The trouble between famed sculptors Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti started in 1401, and, according to some art historians, the Italian Renaissance started then, too. It was the year the two up-and-coming artists were among those asked to enter a competition to design a pair of bronze doors for the baptistery at the Florence Cathedral. Ghiberti ended up getting the job, but the details are debatable. He claimed the committee voted unanimously in his favor, but there's evidence that when officials asked the two artists to work together on the project, Brunelleschi scoffed at the offer and stormed off to Rome to study Classical architecture.
Who would have known, then, that Ghiberti and Brunelleschi would find themselves in competition again in 1418—this time to design a dome for the same cathedral. When the artists displayed their models, it was no contest. Brunelleschi's dome was not only architecturally elegant, it was structurally superior. Ghiberti, however, was the town's golden boy, so while Brunelleschi was given the main responsibility for the project, Ghiberti was awarded the same salary just for assisting.
That's how matters stood at the dome until 1423, just as a major piece of structural support was to begin construction. Armed with a cunning plan, Brunelleschi began complaining of a pain in his side and staggered home to bed. Naturally, the workmen turned to Ghiberti. While the bewildered artist tried to figure out Brunelleschi's model, the supposedly ill artist sat at home issuing reports of his imminent death. Then, miracle of miracles, Brunelleschi made a complete recovery. Rising from his bed a healed man, he inspected Ghiberti's work and announced it a shoddy piece of construction that would cause the entire structure to collapse. He ordered Ghiberti's work demolished and executed his own plans, which elegantly solved the structural problem.
Soon thereafter, Ghiberti was fired from the cathedral project. He never again attempted architecture, concentrating instead on refining his sculptures. Meanwhile, Brunelleschi saw the cathedral completed in 1436. It was the first dome ever built without a supporting frame, the largest dome in existence at the time, and remains the largest masonry dome in the world.
5. Voltaire vs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
They say you're not paranoid if someone's really out to get you. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was paranoid, but Voltaire was really out to get him, too. The two philosopher/writers started sniping at each other in the 1750s. At the time, Voltaire was an established leader of French philosophical circles and Rousseau (yet to write The Social Contract and Émile) was just a newbie. But the balance of power began to shift when Voltaire moved to Rousseau's native city of Geneva in 1754. Although Rousseau had left Geneva in 1728, he remained devoted to the city's strict Calvinist standards, which included a ban on public plays. So when he heard Voltaire was not only putting on private dramas but also urging city authorities to admit plays into the city, Rousseau wrote an outraged letter condemning theatricals. In return, an annoyed Voltaire wrote to his philosopher friends saying that Rousseau had only criticized the theater because Rousseau had written a bad play.
Rousseau went off the deep end. He dipped his pen in vitriol and scratched out a letter to Voltaire that began, bluntly enough, "I do not like you, sir." He went on to outline all the (perceived) slights he'd received from Voltaire and concluded, "In a word, I hate you." Voltaire thought Rousseau had lost his mind and publicly advised his fellow philosopher a course of soothing baths and restorative broths. Henceforth, Voltaire would miss no opportunity to slam his enemy. He mocked the plots of Rousseau's novels, insinuated Rousseau had inflated his resume, and bashed Rousseau's book Julie as "silly, middle-class, dirty-minded, and boring." Finally, in 1764, Voltaire wielded the most powerful weapon he possessed—a secret about Rousseau he'd picked up in Geneva. Using a pseudonym, Voltaire wrote an open letter accusing Rousseau of abandoning his five children at the door of an orphanage. The accusation was shocking—and true.
Rousseau, in a politician-worthy statement of denial, could only claim, "I have never exposed, or caused to be exposed, any infant at the door of an orphanage." He was telling the truth, but only because the children had been taken inside the orphanage. Further scrambling to justify his actions, Rousseau responded with his book Confessions, now recognized as one of the first true autobiographies. An ugly quarrel, it seems, marked the invention of a new literary form.
Be sure to visit mental_floss' entertaining website and blog for more fun stuff!
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