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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Faces Behind 9 Recognizable Names

The Faces Behind 9 Recognizable Names:
These are names you’ve been wearing, eating, drinking, and avoiding your whole life. Here are the faces and stories attached to them.  

1. Levi Strauss

Every good business man knows: In an 1870s San Francisco gold rush, you don’t make your fortune squatting in a creek panning for pebbles. You make your fortune making and selling the copper riveted “waist overalls” that cover the butts of those squatting in a creek panning for pebbles. Levi first made his revolutionary workpants from heavy canvas. He later switched to denim, dyed blue to hide the dirt (which any college student will tell you still works!). He insisted everyone, even his employees, call him “Levi,” which is why you don’t worry about how much room your “Strauss’s” have in the crotch. 

2. Jumbo



Courtesy of artprintimages
There once was an elephant. He was so big, they called him “Jumbo.” HA! Wrong! That’s all backwards, friends. There was an African elephant named Jumbo, born in 1861, but his name likely came from the Swahili words for chief (jumbe) and hello (jambe). The whole world knew and loved him, as he was passed from zoos to circuses throughout the Western world. He died under P.T. Barnum’s ownership, when he was struck by a train in a rail-yard. He is remembered through many memorials and hopefully now, every time you order the Jumbo Shrimp Skewer at Sizzler.

3. Lane Bryant





Courtesy of Fine Art America
Before Lena Bryant got her name misspelled on a bank application form in 1904, fat and pregnant ladies never indulged in the emerging trend of store-bought clothes. Pregnant ladies were supposed to stay home to conceal their shame, and fat ladies to stay in their gypsy caravans from which the circus would charge two bits a gander. Lena changed all that. First an orphan and then quickly a widow, dress making was how she supported herself and her son. When a customer asked her for a discrete dress to accommodate her pregnancy, Lena designed the first ever commercial maternity dress. She then turned her attentions to another consumer population no one wanted to tap, the “stout.” She designed clothes for “all-over stout,” “flat-busted stout,” and “full-busted stout.” A pioneer of body acceptance, and the reason I personally don’t have to wear muumuus except for special occasions, her motto was, “Of course we can fit you!”

4. Hans Asperger



Courtesy of Storify
As a child in the early 1910s, Austrian Hans Asperger liked poetry. He liked to quote it to his schoolmates, who thought he was weird. He furthered that perception by his tendency to quote himself, and refer to himself in the third person. Just as the schoolyard pretty much ignored him, so did the pediatric medical community he eventually became a member of. He pegged Asperger’s symptoms early on in his career, in 1944, when he observed children of normal intelligence who “lacked nonverbal communication skills, failed to demonstrate empathy with their peers, and were physically awkward.” Unfortunately, autism wasn’t really on anyone’s radar until the 1980s, after he had died. At that time, his work was translated into English, and the condition he’d observed was given his name.

5. Uziel Gal



Courtesy of aquellasarmasdeguerra
Gal was born in Germany before the Second World War, but he was a Jew, so he got out of there pretty quick. He lived in the British Mandate of Palestine, where, in 1943 he was arrested for carrying a gun. Gal was sent to prison and served 3 years of his sentence. Then, when he got out, he joined the Israeli army and designed the Uzi, the first in a family of Israeli open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine guns. The Uzi has been exported to over 90 countries, used in at least 12 wars, and was the best-selling sub-machine gun until the 1980s.

6. Typhoid Mary



Courtesy of Kings Academy
Mary Mallon just wanted to earn a decent living as a household cook for the well to do families of New York. It wasn’t her fault that the people she cooked for kept getting typhoid and sometimes dying. She had to change jobs just about every year, as some of them had the nerve to blame her, when she obviously was not sick with typhoid. Eventually she was caught, tracked down by the long trail of distended stomachs, fevers, and life threatening diarrhea she left behind her. She was shown to be an asymptomatic carrier and forced into isolation. She was released after three years, the State of New York making her promise to stop handling food. She agreed and became a laundress. For about an hour. She then spent the next five years continuing to infect New York, causing severe illness and death. When investigators finally caught her again, she was sentenced to quarantine on an institutional island for the remainder of her life, from 1915 to 1938.

7. Arthur Guinness





Courtesy of The Independent
The Guinness Brewery has been around for a long time, since Arthur Guinness bought the lease for a disused brewery in Dublin in 1759. And it’s probably going to be around for a long time to come, because the lease he signed was for 9000 years. He wanted that particular brewery because it included water rights of a nearby canal, which allowed him to easily ship his barrels of porter. When the Dublin sheriff came in 1775 with the instructions to cut off the water supply and fill in the canal, Guinness defended it with a pick axe. History is silent on whether or not this Irishman was sober when he attacked cops with a pick axe, but it does record that he won.

8. McDonald’s Brothers



Courtesy of BurgerDoctor
Even if you think of Mac and Dick McDonald as the fathers of the American obesity epidemic, you have to admire their style. Their early restaurants in the 1940s were unlike anything seen before. Everything was streamlined; the spatulas specially designed for mass flipping, the ketchup dispensers built to squeeze a uniform amount of ketchup on each burger. Their menu was limited and they had no waiters, making things move even quicker. They were a huge success. So much so that their business partner, Ray Kroc, bought them out in 1961 for the exorbitant sum of $ 2.7 million dollars. Kroc agreed to give them 1 percent royalties every year, but the brothers never got it in writing. Do not do handshake deals with the kind of man whose shark-like business acumen will eventually build a 24-billion-dollar-a-year empire out of hamburgers. If it had been in writing, the McDonalds and their heirs would be receiving around $200 million a year today.

9. Jean Nicot



Courtesy of farmer dodds
Speaking of people we blame for making us fat and sickly, in 1559, French Ambassador Jean Nicot was in Spain, arranging the marriage of a 6-year-old princess to a 5-year-old king. While there, he discovered the delightful effect of the tobacco plant. When the leaves are dried, pulverized into dust, and sniffed up the nose … well, it just felt great. Catherine de' Medici, the French queen mother, thought so, too. Pretty soon all the cool courtiers were snuffing. Nicot was a celebrity, so much so that when chemists got around to isolating the mind-altering chemical in tobacco, they named it nicotine, after him.


June 5, 2013 - 8:00pm

http://mentalfloss.com/article/50697/4-diseases-caused-lack-essential-vitamins-and-minerals

2013-06-05T21:00:39+00:00
2013-06-05T21:02:01+00:00
4 Diseases Caused by a Lack of Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Erin
Companies pushing products with added vitamins and minerals can fool people into thinking that they’re eating a “healthy” food when they’re not—but it’s not like those vitamins and minerals are there for no reason. For much of human history, diseases of nutrient deficiency were the norm, and in some parts of the world, they still persist. Even into the 20th century, conditions caused by a lack of certain vitamins or minerals were endemic to North America and Europe. Artificially added nutrients may not make a food “healthy,” but they do stave off several debilitating, and sometimes fatal, diseases of malnutrition. Here are a few of those maladies.

1. Scurvy


Courtesy of The Diseases of Infancy and Childhood
The disease of pirates: the grey-death. Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, whose chemical name, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin term for scurvy, scorbutus. Even though the disease was known since ancient times (described by Hippocrates around 400 BCE), it was not a scourge to those who were largely land-bound. Even though its causes were unknown, many cultures realized that eating certain herbs could reverse the symptoms, and as long as there was access to fresh food, it was generally kept under control.
Scurvy didn’t become a significant problem until the Age of Discovery (beginning in the 15th century), when people at sea were not able to access that much-needed fresh food for months at a time. Preserved meats and carbohydrates contained no vitamin C, and unlike most animals, the human body is not able to create vitamin C on its own.
The early symptoms of scurvy include spongy gums, pain in the joints, and blood spots appearing under the skin. As the disease progressed, the teeth would become loose, extreme halitosis (bad breath) would develop, the afflicted would become too weak to walk or work, be in too much pain to eat, and would die “mid-sentence,” often from a burst blood vessel. Many of the early explorers lost great numbers of men to scurvy: Vasco de Gama lost 116 out of 170 men in 1499, and in 1520, Magellan lost 208 out of 230. A few deaths were attributable to other causes, but the vast majority were due to scurvy.


Courtesy of TaussMarine.com
Despite not being able to pinpoint the exact cause of scurvy, in the 18th century, Naval physician James Lind was able to prove, in what’s considered to be the first controlled scientific experiment, that scurvy could be prevented (and cured) by incorporating citrus fruits such as limes and oranges into the diet of sailors. Although his findings weren’t widely accepted at first, the British Navy eventually began issuing standard rations of lemon juice, and later, limes, to their sailors—which gave rise to the term “limey” in reference to the British.
These days, scurvy is an extremely rare condition, almost exclusively caused by someone eating a completely unvaried diet. In most cases, high levels of oral supplementation of vitamin C are enough to reverse the condition in a matter of weeks, and death by scurvy is almost unheard of.

2. Rickets



Courtesy of Blatner.com
This condition is brought on by a lack of vitamin D, which causes the body to be unable to absorb or deposit calcium. Less commonly, it can also be caused by a lack of calcium or phosphorus, but vitamin D deficiency is by far the most common cause. Unlike vitamin C, the human body is able to produce vitamin D, but only if it has the metabolic precursors available to it.
When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light (such as from the sun), cholesterol in the skin reacts and forms cholecalciferol, which is then processed in the liver and kidneys to create the active form of vitamin D. Even with a nominally healthy diet, without enough sun exposure, the body can’t produce the vitamin D precursors on its own. This is actually re-emerging as a health concern among some increasingly-indoor groups of people, and is one of the few hypovitaminosis (lack of vitamin) conditions not considered to be a “disease of the past.” Luckily, when the deficiency is recognized, cholecalciferol can be directly taken as a vitamin supplement or acquired from eating organ meats and oils, such as cod liver oil, allowing the body to resume producing vitamin D.
Rickets is a condition of children, as the deficiency’s most severe effects are on developing bones; in adults, “bone-softening,” or osteomalacia, can be caused by the same vitamin deficiency. But in adults, it both takes significantly longer to develop and tends to cause tip-off signs that something is wrong before bone warping sets in, such as extreme pain in the bones, and unexplained muscle weakness. In children, especially those that don’t or can’t receive regular check-ups, deformity and debilitation by the deficiency is often only noticed after significant damage has been done to their developing skeletons.
The most telling symptoms of rickets are at the epiphyses (growth plates) of bones: The body is unable to lengthen bones by depositing calcium, and ends up with bones that flare outward in a “cupping” appearance. This leads to costochondral swelling, or what’s known as the “rachitic rosary” along the ribcage of the child, as well as widened wrists and “thick” joints. Before widened wrists or rachitic rosary appears, the softening of the skull bones can lead to “Caput Quadratum”—a square-headed appearance, and often the first sign of skeletal growth problems. If left untreated, rickets also can cause an extremely curved back, stunted growth, and frequent fractures—all of which can lead to permanent and debilitating deformity.

3. Beriberi



Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This condition is largely confined to Asia, especially in countries where boiled rice is a staple. The Sinhalese term “beri-beri” means, “I cannot, I cannot,” and derives from the inability to perform even the simplest of tasks once the polyneuritis (nerve inflammation) caused by the deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) has permanently damaged the neurons, when the condition has progressed to the end-stage.
Although beriberi was known to exist in rice-eating countries several centuries back, its prevalence boomed with the introduction of steam-driven rice-polishing mills from Europe. The superior taste of the milled white rice led many locals to abandon the local (unpolished) brown rice, and in doing so, abandon their primary source of thiamine. From the 1860s to the turn of the 20th century, people whose plant consumption was limited to the polished white rice would often come down with weakness, pain, weight loss, difficulty walking, and emotional disturbances. Beriberi became one of the leading causes of mortality in the region.
In the 1880s, a doctor named Christiaan Eijkman began researching the causes of this epidemic at a laboratory in the Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta, Indonesia), and initially believed that the condition was caused by a bacterial infection. However, after years of study, he came to the conclusion that “white rice is poisonous.” He discovered this by feeding a group of chickens solely white rice, and another group unpolished brown rice. The chickens that ate the white rice came down with beriberi-like symptoms, while the others stayed healthy. Eijkman also discovered that when the chickens fed white rice were subsequently fed brown rice, they recovered from their illness! Later dietary testing on prisoners confirmed his results. Even though he didn’t know the cause of the condition, Eijkman proved that white rice was the culprit, and shared the 1929 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery.
Beriberi is occasionally seen in the modern world, but its primary cause is chronic alcoholism—the poor diets of some chronic alcoholics, combined with the decreased absorption of what thiamine is consumed, leads to symptoms that unfortunately are sometimes left undiagnosed until it’s too late. Recently, beriberi was also seen in Haitian prisons, when the prison system began buying imported polished rice from the United States, and stopped feeding their inmates the local brown rice.

4. Pellagra



Courtesy of Open Library
What causes blistering of the skin in the sun, pale skin, a craving for raw meat, blood dripping from the mouth, aggression, and insanity? If you answered “vampirism,” you’re close—the myth of the vampire may have its roots in the condition known as “pellagra.”
Pellagra is caused by a lack of vitamin B3 (niacin). First identified and commonly diagnosed in the Asturian Empire (now Northern Spain), it was originally called “Asturian leprosy.” However, the condition was seen throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, wherever a large percentage of food energy was derived from corn, and fresh meat was not available. The area of highest prevalence was Northern Italy, where Francesco Frapoli of Milan called it “pelle agra,” meaning “sour skin.”
It was initially believed that either the corn itself, or some insect associated with corn, was causing pellagra. This belief was reinforced when much of France eliminated corn as a food staple and virtually eradicated the condition. Between the era that corn was introduced to Europe (the early 16th century) and the late 19th century, pellagra was found almost everywhere that poor people subsisted on cornmeal and little else.
Around the turn of the 20th century, people began to notice that despite subsisting on just as much corn as poor Europeans, poor Mesoamerican natives didn’t come down with the condition. It was eventually discovered that this was because the traditional processing of corn in the Americas involved “nixtamalization,” in which the kernels were soaked in limewater before hulling them. The alkali solution freed up the niacin that was present in the grain, but previously inaccessible.
Despite the extensive work of Dr. Joseph Goldberger in the 1910s and 1920s, which proved that pellagra wasn’t caused by a germ but by a dietary deficiency, the condition was occurring in epidemic proportions in the rural Southern US until the 1940s.
Today, pellagra is most common in the poorest regions of the world, especially places that rely upon food aid programmes. Some countries still ship unfortified cornmeal rather than corn masa (nixtamalized corn) or fortified cornmeal to developing countries or to their own impoverished populations. China, parts of Africa, Indonesia, and North Korea all have endemic pellagra among their lowest classes.
*******
The discovery of important vitamins and how to produce them has been so significant to human health that many of those who were integral to the discoveries have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine; more than 10 Nobel Prizes have been divided among almost 20 eminent scientists for the discovery or isolation of vitamins A, B1, B12, C, D, E, and K. Over the second half of the 20th century, after the beginning of widespread supplementation to everyday food items, the incidences of the conditions covered here went down dramatically across much of the world.
Of course, the minerals essential to the human body play similarly important roles in maintaining health. However, humans have not historically had a widespread significant problem acquiring these nutrients, as most plants absorb many minerals from the soil. With the increased processing of our food throughout the 20th century, however, some of these minerals have been lost, and have had to be re-added to the average Western diet through supplementation. In the rest of the world, displacement due to war, and unfortified food from aid programmes, has left survivors with enough calories, but not enough nutrients. Supplementation of assistance food and local fortification of salt and flour is beginning to help give displaced people (especially displaced children) a new chance at life without these and other nutritional diseases.
In the developed world, you won’t be the healthiest bloke on the block if you eat nothing but breakfast cereal and cartons of juice—but the food industry has ensured that you at least won’t die of malnutrition. Even people with healthy diets benefit from the supplementation of vitamins and minerals in common foodstuffs, and adding the nutrients costs next to nothing. Doctors and nutritionists still agree that the healthiest way to acquire your necessary vitamins and minerals is by eating a balanced diet and spending time outdoors each day, but in the course of modern life, that’s not always possible, and if people are going to eat poorly either way, we may as well keep them from dropping dead of scurvy!

June 5, 2013 - 5:00pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50948/missing-links-nothing-foul-about-these

2013-06-05T19:30:44+00:00
2013-06-05T19:32:01+00:00
The Missing Links: Nothing Foul About These
Colin Perkins

Be A Grandstand Star

If you’re attending a baseball game you should always be alert and ready. These people certainly were.
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This Link Is So Fancy

It really is of the highest quality. In fact, it’s premium! If this article is correct, you probably are trying to eat your computer screen right now.
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Catching Up With Sports Movie Crushes

Is Wendy Peffercorn still married to Squints? Does Lacy Underalls still enjoy going to bullfights on acid? So many questions to answer as you catch up with your first sports movie crushes.
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Please Read This

If you only click one of the links today, please make it this one. This article about the signs of a person drowning is fascinating, informative, and may very well save the life of someone you know this summer.
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Fender Benders, Here I Come

This old Dodge was turned into a street-legal bumper car and it is glorious.
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Make Sure to Check Your Work

If you can solve this math problem that has baffled mathematicians for decades, you’ll be a millionaire.
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That’s A Show?

There’s a new show about treehouses? Really? Treehouses? Yes, treehouses.

June 5, 2013 - 3:30pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50953/beauty-space-photography

2013-06-05T18:04:48+00:00
2013-06-05T20:33:10+00:00
The Beauty of Space Photography
Chris Higgins
In this short film from PBS, scientists explain how we get those beautiful color photos from space -- despite much of the data coming back in black and white. In short: it involves a good deal of Photoshop manipulation, but is based on real data gathered from space telescopes. Take a look:



Sample quote from Zolt Levay on the process of false color imaging: "The colors are real. They may not be the exact colors that we see with our eyes, but the colors are true and real."

If you're into this kind of thing, you'll love the (totally safe for work!) "spaceporn" Subreddit. It's full of great space images, many suitable for computer desktop wallpaper.

June 5, 2013 - 2:04pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50910/retrobituaries-thomas-farrell-man-who-built-world

2013-06-05T18:00:27+00:00
2013-06-05T18:02:01+00:00
Retrobituaries: Thomas Farrell, the Man Who Built the World
Erin
In our Retrobituaries series, we spotlight those departed whose lives are insufficiently celebrated. Here is a look at the life of Major General Thomas Farrell, who died at 75 in 1967.
After Thomas Farrell died, it’s hard to believe that the world didn’t just give up and stop building things. Because while he was alive, Farrell, an Army general, seemed to help build everything. Throughout his life, he was one of those eerily competent guys whose name topped the go-to lists of military and civilian leaders alike for projects involving something (literally) as small as an atom or as large as Manhattan.

1. Step One: Build the Panama Canal.

Farrell grew up a farm boy, but after attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute became an engineer. (Notable alumni of Rensselaer: George W.G. Ferris, of the wheel; Theodore Judah, driving force behind the Transcontinental Railroad; Washington Roebling, chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge; George Low, who managed Apollo 11; Ted Hoff, father of the microprocessor—are you seeing a pattern here?) After graduation, he set off to Panama, where he helped build the Panama Canal.

2. He fought in a war or two.

After three years of working on the Panama Canal, Farrell had a pretty good idea of how to manage really large projects involving a lot of people. While there, he worked alongside the Army Corps of Engineers, which completed the canal. That experience is possibly the reason he joined the Army Reserve when he returned to the United States. Soon after, he led an engineering company in World War I. That was only his first war. He later served in World War II, and returned to active duty during the Korean War to help lead the Defense Production Administration, which directed materials production and manufacturing for the new Department of Defense.

3. He was a hero.

The second-highest decoration bestowed by the Army is the Distinguished Service Cross. The medal was first established during World War I to recognize “extraordinary heroism,” which must have been “so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the [recipient] apart from his comrades.” Thomas Farrell was an engineer—he built things for the Army like roads and bridges. In 1918, then-Major Farrell’s construction battalion in World War I was temporarily repurposed as infantry to fight in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. When he was ordered to secure a certain hill, Farrell “led his battalion to the attack, seized and held this vital point despite the fact that he was attacked by greatly superior numbers on three sides and nearly surrounded by strong enemy forces who showed extraordinary determination to regain this highly important position. He held the hill until reinforcements could reach him after darkness” the following day. As his citation for the Distinguished Service Medal continued, “His fearless leadership, utter disregard for his own safety, and complete devotion to duty raised the morale of his battalion to a high pitch and inspired them to acts of great endeavor.”

4. He built a few things in New York, too.

Most people would be content with a biography like that, and set life on cruise control for a while. Not Thomas Farrell. After the war, he taught at West Point before returning to reserve status in the Army. The governor of New York appointed him state Commissioner of Canals and Waterways. (If he was good enough for Panama, he was good enough for the Empire State.) He later led construction and engineering for the state Department of Public Works. Among the little hobby projects in his portfolio? LaGuardia Airport.

5. You’re probably familiar with his work in World War II.

In February 1941, it was looking like the United States might get soon get involved in World War II, and Farrell returned to active duty. He was made executive officer to Major General Leslie Groves at the office of the Quartermaster General, beginning a partnership that would change the world. At the time, the Quartermaster Corps was a disaster of an organization, unable to stick to a budget, timeline, or project. (Among the chaotic, disorganized projects that Groves and Farrell had to set right was construction of the Pentagon.) This was a particularly bad time for incompetence—Hitler was on the move. Groves and Farrell restructured the entirety of the Quartermaster Corps, and, while I don’t want to spoil the ending, the United States managed to build an effective infrastructure to handle the war to come. On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan.
(“What’s a quartermaster?” you ask. Good question! The Quartermaster Corps is a logistics branch of the Army that concerns itself with supplies, supply lines, food, and fuel. Remember Q from the James Bond movies? Q was short for quartermaster. When Farrell returned to active duty in 1941, the Quartermaster Corps was also responsible for construction projects.)

6. The biggest engineering project of the war? Yeah, Farrell was there.

The construction of the Ledo Road was the largest engineering project of World War II. It involved building a massive supply line from Ledo, India, to Kūnmíng, China. (We were in India and China in World War II? Yeah buddy!) The goal was to supply the Chinese before Japan could conquer it. The Japanese cut off the previous supply line, the Burma Road. The possibility of actually building the Ledo Road, which led through Pangsau Pass, a steep and curvy avenue that required the removal of 100,000 cubic feet per mile, was theoretical at best. Oh, and monsoons were a regular problem during the road’s construction. Eleven hundred Americans died over the course of the project.
As leader of the theater’s Construction Division, Thomas Farrell managed all of the work in India. One of his most important tasks was building a permanent bridge across the Irrawaddy River, something that had never before been achieved. The rising and falling of the river’s waterline and those aforementioned monsoons had previously made such a project impossible. So naturally Colonel Farrell made it happen. The resulting bridge was two lanes and 1627 feet long. Eight hundred fifty-three feet of the bridge was engineered as a floating pontoon structure to handle the variable water level.

7. To keep the world safe, “we must arm to the teeth with the winning weapon.”

Major General Groves, leader of the most important, most secret project of the war, was offered “any officer in the Army, no matter who he is or what duty he is on” to be his second-in-command. His first choice was Thomas Farrell. As Farrell recalled, Groves “had too much top secret information wrapped up in his skull,” and the secretary of war “used to have nightmares dreaming what would happen if Groves were knocked off—one way or another—so I stepped in to share Groves’s secrets.”
The big secret? The Manhattan Project. When Farrell was brought on to the project, he was given a 36-hour crash course in nuclear physics. But it was only after holding an actual piece of plutonium that he understood the project underway. To his surprise, the plutonium was warm in his hands. “It wasn't a cold piece of metal, but it was really a piece of metal that seemed to be working inside. Then maybe for the first time I began to believe some of the fantastic tales the scientists had told about this nuclear power.” As he recalled, “The odds were four to one against our developing a bomb that could actually be dropped during World War II. Even if we did ... not a living soul knew what an atomic bomb would do.” There was a real worry among scientists that the Bomb might spark an uncontrolled chain reaction and accidentally destroy the world. (Edward Teller was charged with studying the problem.) This led to some grim humor on the eve of the first test when Enrico Fermi took bets as to whether the Bomb would ignite the planet’s atmosphere.
On the morning of the test, recalled Farrell, “The scene inside the shelter was dramatic beyond words ... Everyone in that room knew the awful potentialities of the thing that they thought was about to happen. The scientists felt that their figuring must be right and that the bomb had to go off but there was in everyone's mind a strong measure of doubt ... We were reaching into the unknown and we did not know what might come of it.”

8. “Words are inadequate.”

Wrote Farrell of the big moment: “In that brief instant in the remote New Mexico desert the tremendous effort of the brains and brawn of all these people came suddenly and startlingly to the fullest fruition. Dr. Oppenheimer, on whom had rested a very heavy burden, grew tenser as the last seconds ticked off. He scarcely breathed. He held on to a post to steady himself. For the last few seconds, he stared directly ahead and then when the announcer shouted ‘Now!’ and there came this tremendous burst of light followed shortly thereafter by the deep growing roar of the explosion, his face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief. Several of the observers standing back of the shelter to watch the lighting effects were knocked flat by the blast.
"The tension in the room let up and all started congratulating each other. Everyone sensed ‘This is it!’ No matter what might happen now all knew that the impossible scientific job had been done. Atomic fission would no longer be hidden in the cloisters of the theoretical physicists' dreams. It was almost full grown at birth. It was a great new force to be used for good or for evil. There was a feeling in that shelter that those concerned with its nativity should dedicate their lives to the mission that it would always be used for good and never for evil.
"The effects could well be called unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous and terrifying. No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before. The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun. It was golden, purple, violet, gray and blue. It lighted every peak, crevasse and ridge of the nearby mountain range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described but must be seen to be imagined. It was that beauty the great poets dream about but describe most poorly and inadequately. Thirty seconds after the explosion came first, the air blast pressing hard against the people and things, to be followed almost immediately by the strong, sustained, awesome roar which warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous to dare tamper with the forces heretofore reserved to The Almighty. Words are inadequate tools for the job of acquainting those not present with the physical, mental and psychological effects. It had to be witnessed to be realized."
Said Farrell after the test, “The war is over.”

9. "To Hirohito, with love and kisses, T. F. Farrell."

After the project proved a success, Farrell was installed on the targeting committee. Their guidelines from General Groves were to choose a target that would “most aversely affect the will of the Japanese people to continue the war.” The target “should be military in nature,” containing a major headquarters or a manufacturing center of weapons and supplies. On the morning of the bombing, Farrell scrawled on the front of Fat Man, "To Hirohito, with love and kisses, T. F. Farrell."

10. After the war, Farrell was appointed chairman of the New York City Housing Authority.

You’re probably thinking Thomas Farrell had done enough by this point. You’re probably right, though Farrell disagreed. After the war, the mayor of New York appointed him chairman of the New York City Housing Authority. Farrell’s work as state Commissioner of Canals and Waterways, and later his leadership at the state Department of Public Works, wasn’t forgotten. Said the mayor at the time, “General Farrell’s appointment foreshadows a speed-up of the Authority’s work and closer relations with the city and the state.”

11. He wasn’t out of the atom business just yet.

In 1951, Farrell was placed on military leave from the New York City Housing Authority, and assigned to the Atomic Energy Commission. There, he oversaw all work concerning the acquisition of uranium, the operation of processing plants, and construction of new facilities. But his atomic responsibilities didn’t end there. He later joined the planning commission of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The fair was a “carnival of technological utopianism.” Among its exhibits: “Atomsville, U.S.A.”
He died on April 11, 1967 at age 75.
Previously on Retrobituaries: Theodore Maiman, inventor of the laser. See all retrobituaries here.

June 5, 2013 - 2:00pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50952/31-bizarre-medical-conditions

2013-06-05T17:12:39+00:00
2013-06-05T17:37:24+00:00
31 Bizarre Medical Conditions
admin

Here's one for the hypochondriacs! This week John Green discusses 31 strange medical conditions.
A couple other housekeeping announcements:
1. You can subscribe to our YouTube Channel here.
2. John and his wife just had a baby! And on her first day in the world, Baby Alice got a shout out from the White House.
3. This week's video was written by Stacy Conradt, who'll be writing many more.

June 5, 2013 - 1:20pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50613/13-balloon-sculptures-let-your-imagination-float-away

2013-06-05T17:00:42+00:00
2013-06-05T17:02:01+00:00
13 Balloon Sculptures That Let Your Imagination Float Away
Jill Harness
It’s easy to think of balloon twisters as nothing more than children’s entertainers ready to make hats, swords and animals at a moment’s notice, but balloon art can also be incredibly complex. Here are a few of the most impressive balloon sculptures ever created.

1. The Lightest of the Largest Robots

The massive robot above was designed by artist Lily Tan and created in the Marina Square mall of Singapore with the hopes of breaking the Guinness World Record for largest balloon sculpture (it did). The piece took three days, 79,854 balloons and more than fifty artists to complete. Flickr user ChooYutShing snapped a pic of the sculpture.

2. The Inflatable Robot Family



While Lily Tan and her team were working on breaking the world record, Marina Square celebrated the attempt with five much smaller robot-themed balloon sculptures. While this is my personal favorite, you can see them all in Choo Yut Shing’s stream.

3. Spider-Balloon Man



If you’re one of those people who thinks it takes a village to raise a giant balloon sculpture, you’re usually right—but not in the case of Adam Lee. In fact, Adam holds the world record for largest balloon sculpture created by a single artist.
His massive spider was built at the Great Wolf Lodge of Washington and used 2975 balloons to complete. When it was done, the legs spread out to make the structure over 45 feet wide.

4. My Heart Will Float On and On



While some people may have believed the real Titanic to be unsinkable, I doubt anyone would be willing to make such a claim about this amazing balloon sculpture of the famed ship photographed by Flickr user Alan in Belfast. This fantastically large inflatable ship was designed by Fiona Fisher and was built with more than 14,000 balloons.

5. The Squeakiest Dinosaur Ever



This 20-foot long dinosaur balloon sculpture was designed by Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami, arguably the most famous names in this niche art form. The dino, a acrocanthosaurus, was put up in the Virginia Museum of Natural History right beside the casts of real dinosaur skeletons.

6. Just the Bones Please



Airigami’s creation at the Virginia Museum of Natural History wasn’t their first foray into prehistoric creature design. In fact, here’s the team’s take on a T-Rex skeleton created a few years back.

7. Balloon Animals or Undiscovered Creatures?



Perhaps the second most famous balloon sculptor around is Jackson Hackenwerth, whose creations are totally surreal and utterly beautiful. His sculptures seem entirely organic—like deep sea creatures or microscopic bacteria. This particular piece is titled “Self-Pollinator” and was exhibited at Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery.

8. Extermi-Pop



Not all balloon sculptures are made with visual aesthetics in mind. In fact, this one is quite functional and rather cheap when compared to the cost of creating a Dalek costume with practically any other material. Of course, Daleks, like this one by Patricia Balloona, that can be destroyed with nothing more than a safety pin aren’t nearly as intimidating as those The Doctor fights on a regular basis.

9. Allons-airy



If you’re going to have an inflatable Dalek, you may as well have an inflatable Tardis like this one by Twisty Kristy. If the Tardis’ Chameleon circuit broke while it was at a balloon twisting festival, it just as easily could have ended up looking like this.

10. To Infinity And Beyond (Or Until It Pops)

Artist Jeff Wright made this incredible Buzz Lightyear costume exclusively out of balloons for Halloween 2011. Buzz wasn’t Jeff’s only amazing balloon costume; he also made a life-size Ninja Turtle suit.

11. No Pins Around the Bride Please



Sometimes you need something a little more formal to wear, even if you still want it made from rubber. In these cases, you might want to get in touch with Daisy Balloon, who has quite the gift when it comes to making gorgeous, couture gowns out of the inflatable objects. In fact, she even has created a bridal gown design for those who have no fear of their dress popping during their wedding day.

12. Bag End In Balloon

It took artist Jeremy Telford, AKA the Balloon Guy, three days and 2600 balloons to recreate The Shire’s Bag End inside his own den. You’ve gotta admit, this is way better than any pillow or blanket fort your parents ever made for you in their den.

13. The Rubber Cheeseburger



I don’t know about you guys, but I always thought of balloon sculptures as elaborate creations featuring balloons attached together until they form a new creation, not balloons cut and molded like they are here. In fact, I only learned about this form of fascinating balloon sculpture when I started doing this article. This particular piece, photographed by Flickr user ChooYutShing, won the title of The Most Original Sculpture at a contest in Singapore’s Vivo City Mall.
Of course, the downside of balloon art is that it doesn’t really stay around long. In fact, everything seen here was probably deflated and trashed a long time ago. But thanks to the web, these fantastic creations can be documented and enjoyed long after the sculptures themselves are gone.

June 5, 2013 - 1:00pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50928/wednesday-new-comics-day

2013-06-05T16:00:25+00:00
2013-06-05T16:02:01+00:00
Wednesday is New Comics Day
Erin
Every Wednesday, I'll be highlighting the five most exciting comic releases of the week. The list may include comic books, graphic novels, digital comics and webcomics. I'll even highlight some Kickstarter comics projects on occasion. There's more variety and availability in comics than there has ever been, and I hope to point out just some of the cool stuff that's out there. If there's a release you're excited about, let's talk about it in the comments.

1. Supermag



By Jim RuggAdHouse Books
Jim Rugg is a prolific comics experimenter; he seems to always be poking around and trying new things. Whether it's putting together a zine for the hell of it, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with a ballpoint pen, or making a 32 page black and white sequel to the Rambo films, Rugg's next move is always surprising and never not interesting.
This week, the design-friendly publisher AdHouse Books puts out a magazine format collection of some of Rugg's recent experimentations: beautifully rendered drawings, hilarious humor strips, writings, explorations in typography, and comics drawn in a variety of styles. Rugg seeks to combine his love of both the magazine and comic book formats here, and the result is something akin to a one-man anthology. This will be a must-have for Rugg fans and a good introduction to his work for those who might be curious about him.

2. Astro City #1



Written by Kurt Busiek, art by Brent Anderson, covers by Alex Ross
DC Vertigo
Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson's much loved Astro City series was one of those books that brought back hope to a creatively and financially bankrupt comics industry when it debuted in the mid-90s. Busiek is an unabashed fan of the great "Silver Age" of comics in which superheroes were sincere symbols of truth and justice, wielding out-of-this-world (and bordering on silly) powers. With this book, he and Anderson sought to tell modern and sophisticated stories within this Silver Age motif. Anderson's artwork (not to mention Alex Ross' painted covers) has a realist bent to it that grounds these stories somewhere between the real and the fantastic.
Astro City has been on hiatus for a number of years and since that time has now moved under DC's Vertigo imprint where it debuts with a new #1 issue. It will tell "done-in-one" single issue stories that will introduce some new characters and re-introduce many that are familiar to fans of the book. The overall story has been moving in real time and 17 years have now passed within the book since these characters were first introduced. Now, in this first issue, we get to check back in with Ben Pullam, a non-superpowered character, and his now grown up children, and see how the passage of time has changed them.

3. Solo Deluxe



Various
DC Comics
The long-awaited hardcover collection of DC Comics' creatively-driven 12-issue anthology series, Solo, which originally ran from 2004 to 2006, is finally hitting bookstores and comics shops this week. This book represented something you don't see often enough in comics published by DC and Marvel: A-list creators at the top of their game being given free rein to do whatever they want with the company's vast library of characters. Each issue was devoted to a single artist and contained numerous short stories from each. There were some amazing contributions: Paul Pope's Eisner Award-winning Robin story "Teenage Sidekick"; Michael Allred's groovy '60s-era Teen Titans story, Teddy Kristiansen and Neil Gaiman collaborating on Deadman; Darwyn Cooke doing a Steve Ditko-inspired Question homage; and much more.
Fans of the series, or those who missed it the first time around, have been asking for years to see it back in print. This new hardcover collects it all in one nice package. Hopefully it will sell really well (as much as a book with a $50 price tag will sell these days) and inspire DC to do something like this again.

4. Abyss



By Saman Bemel-BenrudSee it on GitHub
Webcomics come in all forms and delivery methods these days. Although a blog-based system like Wordpress is probably still the preferred method for longer, narratively driven comics, more and more we're seeing other ways of doing it. Long, scrolling pages displaying each page of a strip. Tumblr comics. Flickr comics. Twitpic comics delivered via Twitter. There are even a few comics that live solely on Instagram. One thing that I've never seen before is a comic that you can follow on GitHub.
If you've never heard of GitHub that's okay. That probably just means you don't work in a field that involves coding for web or app development. It is basically a social network of its own that allows you to post progress on a source code project to share it for feedback, collaboration, testing or just to give it away for free to others who might have use for it.
Saman Bemel-Benrud (or Trashmoon as he goes by on GitHub and other places) is a cartoonist working on a webcomic called Abyss and has decided to share his progress on GitHub. You can track not only when he adds a new page to the comic but when he makes structural or design changes to the comic's website itself. To those who don't speak in code, checking in on the comic this way is like looking at the source code for a website and trying to figure out where the navigation is. But there's something about webcomics in general that give you a peek inside the artistic process, and following along with a comic this way really makes you focus on the behind-the-scenes effort (even though there's no real artistic process information to glean here). For the rest of us, you can follow Abyss in a variety of other more reasonable places like Tumblr or Saman's website, Trashmoon.
The real reason I'm mentioning Abyss here, though, is because it's really good. Only a few pages have been posted so far, but it's a weird, hypnotic and funny tale of two people looking for a burrito and running into the changing urban landscape of the modern world. Bemel-Benrud drawings are seemingly quickly laid down on paper, but his sense of pacing and the cold emptiness of the environment his characters find themselves in are perfect for the story he is telling.

5. Kick Ass 3 #1



Written by Mark Millar, art by John Romita, Jr.Marvel
Mark Millar and John Romita's popular Kick Ass series, which has spawned a film and an impending sequel, begins the third and final chapter of its trilogy this week. This may not be the place to begin for the uninitiated (or the squeamish for that matter; this book can be pretty violent) but fans of the books and the movie will be excited to see the characters Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl back in action again.
The story begins with pint-size Hit-Girl in jail and Kick-Ass leading a team of superheroes to break her out. The hook to the Kick-Ass books is that it imagines what it would be like if real people took to donning superhero costumes and fighting crime in the real world, particularly kids that are roughly the same age as many of the younger comic book heroes like Spider-man who—we take for granted—can handle themselves in these situations. Millar approaches it with a dark sense of humor and a shocking use of violence that is meant to draw a stark comparison to the bloodless fighting of most superhero comics. Though, when it comes to that, a lot of comics from DC and Marvel have gotten increasingly gruesome themselves over the past few years, so maybe that comparison is not that starkly defined anymore.

MEANWHILE, IN COMICS NEWS THIS PAST WEEK:

- AOL sold the popular comics blog, Comics Alliance, that it had recently shut down to Townsquare Media, and now it is back like nothing ever happened.
- The long lost and never reprinted early Grant Morrison comic Zenith will finally see print in a collected edition from Rebellion. The Complete Zenith will arrive this December.
- DC's next big crossover event will involve villains taking over and renaming each book for the month of September. To promote it, they've released these weird and dizzying animated "3D" covers.
HeroesCon is this weekend in Charlotte, NC. It is the biggest comic book convention in the Southern US and is an extremely popular show with families, fans and creators alike. In a shameless bit of self-promotion I should mention that I will have a table there in the "Indie Island" section selling my own comic, Nathan Sorry. I'll also be moderating a panel discussion about design in comics.

June 5, 2013 - 12:00pm


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50931/4-shows-norways-crazy-successful-slow-tv-experiment

2013-06-05T15:00:15+00:00
2013-06-05T15:02:01+00:00
4 Shows from Norway's Crazy, Successful Slow TV Experiment
Erin
You may have heard of the slow food movement, a philosophy of cooking and eating slowly, with full attention and enjoyment, that serves as a counterpoint to a hurried fast food culture. The slow concept has worked its way into all kinds of practices. Slow gardening, slow parenting, and slow travel, all offer alternatives to the hustle and distraction of modern life. The slow philosophy works well for any experience that can be improved by conscious savoring and appreciating. That's why for the past several years Norway has been applying the slow concept to…television? Yes, and with surprising success.
Slow TV? Don't we already watch enough TV? Perhaps, but do we really watch it? Here are four things Norway turned into slow shows.

1. A Train Ride

In 2009, for the 100th anniversary of Norway's Bergen Railway, the national public broadcasting company decided to film and air the complete 7 hour 16 minute journey from Bergen to Oslo, a line considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Four cameras, two rigged to the front of the train and two to the back, captured an "orgy of beautiful nature." No plot, no gimmicks, just rolling scenery with some on-board interviews mixed in. While the train went through tunnels, archival photographs of the railway's history were shown.
Bergensbanen: Minutt for minutt was a smash hit, getting over 1.2 million viewers in a country of about 5 million, with 172,000 watching the entire trip from start to finish.

2. A Sea Cruise 

They followed up in 2011 with Hurtigruten: Minutt for minutt, a whopping 134 hour sea cruise through the fjords from Bergen to Kirkenes. Passionate fans around the world watched it streaming online.

3. A Fire

At least voyages go somewhere. The limits of slow TV were tested to the extreme this February with Nasjonal Vedkveld (National Wood Fire Night), a 4 hour discussion about firewood, followed by 8 hours of a crackling fireplace. This time, the station did get some viewer complaints, but not objecting to the slow nature of the program. The complaints had to do with differing opinions on whether bark-up or bark-down was the proper orientation for stacked firewood. Norwegians are serious about firewood.

4. A Single Interview

What heights of slowness can Norwegian broadcasting attain from here? This May the world record for longest interview was claimed by Norwegians when reporter Mads Andersen interviewed writer/historian/politician/chess player Hans Olav Lahlum for 30 straight hours on VGTV.
In an age when people can't seem to keep their eyes on a single screen for more than a few minutes, how does slow TV attract viewers? Commenters on TV websites and social media marvel at their own interest in these shows, expressing surprise at the way they get drawn in. The shows induce both calm and excitement, turning tiny moments into revelations by their contrast with monotonous repetition. Or, as the project manager of the Hurtigruen cruise show explained to Reuters, "It is the opposite to everything else on TV—that's why it stands out and why, apparently, people want to watch."

June 5, 2013 - 11:00am


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50945/brain-game-tweet-oompah

2013-06-05T13:32:10+00:00
2013-06-05T13:33:36+00:00
Brain Game: Tweet-Oompah
Sandy Wood
In today's mentalfloss.com Brain Game Wednesday Wordplay challenge, you'll try to convert one of the higher-pitched musical instruments into one of the lower-pitched ones. Good luck:
By changing one letter in each step to form English words, and leaving all other letters in their original positions, convert FIFE into TUBA in the fewest possible steps.
F I F E_ _ _ _
_ _ _ _
_ _ _ _
_ _ _ _
T U B A
Here is a 5-step SOLUTION.
A 5-STEP SOLUTION:
F I F E
F I N E
T I N E

T U N E

T U B E
T U B A
Did you come up with a different sequence of words (shorter, longer, or the same length)? Please share it with us in the comments below. Thanks for playing!


http://mentalfloss.com/article/50785/update-does-being-cold-make-you-more-susceptible-getting-cold

2013-06-05T13:30:22+00:00
2013-06-05T13:32:01+00:00
UPDATE: Does Being Cold Make You More Susceptible to Getting a Cold?
Matt Soniak
Last year, we talked about whether or not Grandma is right when she tells you to bundle up when you go outside, lest you catch a cold. We went over the fact that colds and the flu are caused by viruses, but that there was a little bit of evidence suggesting that being cold can contribute to getting sick and make it easier for a viral infection to occur.
Now we have a little more.
Last week Nature reported on new research from a team at Yale University, who presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. In experiments with both mice and lab-grown human cells, the researchers found that low temperatures weaken immune system defenses against cold-causing rhinoviruses. Beth Mole explains:
Foxman and her colleagues at Yale studied mice susceptible to a mouse-specific rhinovirus. They discovered that at warmer temperatures, animals infected with the rhinovirus produced a burst of antiviral immune signals, which activated natural defenses that fought off the virus. But at cooler temperatures, the mice produced fewer antiviral signals and the infection could persist.
Next, the researchers grew human airway cells in the lab under cold and warm conditions and infected them with rhinovirus. They found the warm infected cells were more likely to undergo programmed cell death — cell suicide brought on by immune responses aimed at limiting the spread of infections—than the cold-infected cells.
Foxman says the data suggest that these temperature-dependent immune reactions help to explain the virus’s success at cooler temperatures, and why winter is cold season. As temperatures drop outside, humans breathe in colder air that chills their upper airways just enough to allow rhinoviruses to flourish, she says.
This adds to a whole pile of ideas scientists have about why cold and flu infections spike in the winter, some tied to temperature, others to human physiology and still others to our behavior (e.g., staying indoors when it's cold out and making viral transmission very easy). Whether these causes work alone, simultaneously but separately, or in combination with each other still needs to be worked out.

June 5, 2013 - 9:30am


http://mentalfloss.com/article/17730/5-fail-safe-rituals-protecting-your-newborn

2013-06-05T12:15:44+00:00
2013-06-05T11:42:06+00:00
5 Fail-Safe Rituals for Protecting Your Newborn
Mangesh
To ensure a happy and prosperous future for a newborn, parents will do the darnedest things. These are just a handful of 'em.

1. Jump Over Your Baby

In parts of northern Spain, newborns participate in a ceremony that seems part Olympic track and field event, part Evel Knievel stunt. Several babies are placed on a mattress while a man long-jumps over them. The ceremony is based on the biblical story in which King Herod orders all male babies in the area to be killed after hearing that a "new king" has been born in Bethlehem. Just as Mary and Joseph escaped with baby Jesus to Egypt, this Spanish ritual is meant to symbolize a similar "danger" experience for a child. By undergoing it and emerging (hopefully) unharmed, the child is prepared for a safe passage through life.

2. Play Some Baby Hot Potato

In Bali, many natives observe a custom whereby the baby isn't allowed to touch the ground (or cradle, or whatever) for the first 105 days of the child's life. Instead, the newborn is continuously held by family members.

3. Smoke Your Baby

In Kimberley, Australia, many Aboriginal mothers still practice the art of "baby smoking." The ritual is meant to protect the child by giving it the blessing of the tribal mothers in addition to the baby's "earth mother." Branches and leaves from sacred konkerberry shrubs are burned, creating what are believed to be purifying fumes. Then the mother squeezes her breast milk into the fire, and the grandmother waves the baby through the smoke.

4. Don't Name Your Child

Many societies believe that newborns are particularly susceptible to evil spirits, and a baby's name is sometimes kept secret (or not given at all) so it can't be used against the child in spells. In some Haitian, Nigerian and Romani cultures, babies are given two names at the time of birth. Parents keep one name a secret and don't share it with the child until he's considered old enough to guard the name for himself. Similarly, in Thailand, a newborn is often referred to by a nickname to escape the attention of evil spirits, who are believed to be the ghosts of dead, childless, unmarried women. The newborn is given a two-syllable name, which is mainly used later on by teachers, employers, and during formal occasions. Some Vietnamese parents even delay naming their baby until it's more than one month old—the safety margin, spirit-wise. They also discourage anyone from complimenting the newborn; instead, they refer to the tot as "ugly" or "rat" to deter evil spirits, who prefer harassing attractive babies.

5. Cut the Cord (then Bury it in a Special Place)

Overprotective moms, take note! The Navajo tribe of Native Americans believe that if the umbilical cord and placenta of a newborn are buried near the family's house, the child will always return home. The placenta is also sometimes buried next to objects that symbolize the profession the parents hope their child will pursue, which may explain the spike in buried stethoscopes found all across the land.
See Also: 12 Terrible Pieces of Advice for Pregnant Women Through the Years

June 5, 2013 - 7:20am


http://mentalfloss.com/quiz/14179/name-nba-finals-mvps-1988

2013-06-05T10:35:00+00:00
2013-06-05T11:40:51+00:00
Name the NBA Finals MVPs Since 1988
Jason
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Since 1988, 14 different players have won the NBA Finals MVP. How many can you name in 3 minutes?

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Jason English

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Name the NBA Finals MVPs Since 1988