Drama in the Deep

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Oceanographers were watching the bottom of the ocean from the vantage point of the Windows to the Deep 2018 expedition a couple of weeks ago. They see a benthic fish in a hole, waiting for something to come along he can eat. A snail approaches. There are quill worms around. Then a barracuda comes along and upends all expectations. The live narration makes the drama all the more exciting. -via Tastefully Offensive


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The Best Notes Found in Used Books

No one wants to throw away books, so people pass them along to others. A used book is as good as a new copy, as long as all the pages are there and it's not disgustingly moldy. So we read books that have been read before, and sometimes we find notes jotted in them. Some are informative, others inexplicable, and some are just plain funny. Atlas Obscura asked its readers to submit the strangest notes they've found in books, and they responded with both stories and pictures. These include criticisms, recommendations, dedications, communications out of context, marginalia, snark, spoilers, secret code, and jokes. Some tell stories, while others only hint at the story behind it. Read them all at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Annie Watts)


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Batman Wants To Join The Marvel Universe

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Comic Con San Diego opens today and will run through Sunday. All the comic book superheroes are there, including Batman. It's his chance to do what he's always wanted- to ditch DC and join the fun of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! The Marvel superheroes respond by having some fun at Batman's expense. -via Laughing Squid


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The Most Spectacular Astronomy Images of 2018

Thousands of entries in the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest have been winnowed down to the top 25. The pictures are stunning, and they'll make you wonder how on earth did they shoot that? For some, it was quite an effort, like the picture shown here of the Orion Nebula, captured by Bernard Miller of the U.S.

The Orion Nebula, located 1,500 light-years away. For you photo geeks, this stunning image was produced by combining 36 hours of total exposure using six different filters; Ha, SII, OIII, Red, Green, and Blue.

But not all the top pictures were so complicated. Casper Kentish took a picture of the moon through his new telescope with an iPad and made the cut. See all 25 finalists at Gizmodo. The winners will be announced in October.


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The Surprising History of Las Vegas and the Rat Pack

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What can we learn about Las Vegas that we already didn't know? How about the proper way to pronounce Nevada? You might be surprised. In this episode of the Mental Floss show Scatterbrained, we'll also learn the history of the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, Vegas misconceptions, some gambling research, and why Sinatra's friends were called the Rat Pack.


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When a DNA Test Shatters Your Identity

More than 12 million people took DNA tests from companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA in 2017, and the number is only expected to rise. While many of them only want to find distant relatives or find out what part of the world their ancesters came from, sometimes the results are completely unexpected. Imagine finding out you are not genetically related to your father, or less commonly, your mother. Or even a sibling or aunt, because DNA tests can reveal family secrets that don't directly involve the person taking the test.  

Lynn, 55, of all people, understood that DNA tests can reveal family secrets. Her husband had been adopted, and Lynn set out to use her son’s AncestryDNA tests to find his paternal grandparents. In the process, she compared her son’s results to her brother’s and quickly realized something wrong. It didn’t look like a typical uncle-nephew relationship. The reason, Lynn eventually found out, was that her biological father was not the father she grew up with. “I just didn’t see it coming,” she says. “If you go looking into other people’s secrets, you just might find one of your own.” Her mother still refuses to reveal what happened.

Such results can cause rifts in the family and send the subject into depression. But it's happened to so many people that online support groups have sprung up to help people deal with the fallout. Read about those groups at the Atlantic. -via Digg


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How Exactly Does Binary Code Work?

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Everything you see on the internet is coded by using only zero or one. Since there are only those two options in binary zero and one, they can be defined as "off" and "on." You might already know that, but you'll learn a lot more in this TED-Ed video from José Américo N L F Freitas. -via The Kid Should See This


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Community Plumbing: A Tribute to the Neighborhood Hardware Store

If you ever visit a local hardware store, you are familiar with their ambience of community. This is where professional contractors and do-it-yourselfers meet and exchange knowledge, support, and friendship. They are a reminder of our own infrastructure, of how things fall apart when you don't take care of them, and how skills can be developed by tackling concrete problems. An example is Crest True Value Hardware in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. In business since 1962, the Franquinha family not only sells hardware, but also incorporates the history of the neighborhood, and even works with local artists to bring the different types of neighbors together. One of their secrets is to stick with what's worked in the past.    

When Crest was planning its renovation, Joe sought out the advice of True Value’s specialists. “The first blueprint they gave me had no back counter,” he said. The consultants advised that his plan to keep all the nuts and bolts behind the counter was not an efficient use of space. “Says who?” he protested. “Do you have any idea how many times I get returns of ripped-open nuts-and-bolts packages … because customers bought the wrong one the first time, because there was no one helping them and they just grabbed it? Now they go to the back counter, because it’s the only place we sell nuts and bolts, and they get the right thing the first time.” That exchange has a value that doesn’t show up on the balance sheet, Joe said. The customer “might’ve only spent a dollar-fifty, but they walked out with a wealth of knowledge, with exactly what they need, and with the confidence knowing that the next time they have a project, they have a place that they can rely on.” Here he makes an argument that is extremely rare today, an argument against the casualization of labor and against the “responsibilization” of consumers to be self-sufficient.

Shannon Mattern, who grew up in a hardware story family, tells us how these stores evolved from general stores, how they changed with the times, and how they survive in an era of big box home improvement stores.  -Thanks, Deborah!  


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Come Take It Away

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Photo editors get some strange requests. James Fridman (previously at Neatorama) explains, while showing off his editing skills in epic fashion. Yeah, she should have worded that a little differently. He "improves" photos for those who request (as time allows) and the results are always gratifying.    


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100 Years Ago: The Romanov Assassination

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, five children, family doctor, and three servants during the Russian revolution. The tsar was deposed in March of 1918, and the family was held in St. Petersburg until being moved to Yekaterinburg in April. They were held in secrecy there while different factions of the revolution competed for control of  Russia.  

The fate of the Romanovs was seemingly undecided until July, when the White Guard – still loyal to the tsar – began to move in on Yekaterinburg and looked certain to capture it.

The Bolsheviks could not afford to have the Romanovs fall into the hands of the Whites, lest they became symbols around which anti-communists could rally or provide foreign governments with an alternative head of state to recognise.

Goloshchekin travelled to Moscow to obtain the order for the assassination and is thought to have secured it from Vladimir Lenin himself, although no paper trail exists to confirm the fact, no doubt deliberate on the part of the Bolshevik leader.

“Revolutions are meaningless without firing squads,” he famously said.

The killings were a messy affair, as the soldiers were inept and somewhat drunk. The Independent has a blow-by-blow description of the night of July 16-17 that you'll find quite gruesome. For a lighter take, the Russian state archives has released some new photographs of the Romanov family, which you can see at Quartz.


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An Honest Trailer for A Quiet Place

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A Quiet Place was a horror film about blind monsters that attack if they hear any sound. You can imagine how scary that would be, especially for a family with children. The movie made a big splash this spring. It quietly took in $331 million and a sequel is in the works. Now that it's out on home video, Screen Junkies has examined A Quiet Place thoroughly but quietly to bring us an Honest Trailer.


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This Is Your Brain on Fatherhood

In only around 10% of mammal species do males spend quality time with their young. The species that developed paternal care have some advantages over species that don't. One of them is the bat-eared fox.   

Pops in this species are so dedicated that males spend even more time than females near the dens that house their offspring. These furry fathers play a role in nearly every aspect of child-rearing: grooming cubs’ silky fur, engaging them in play and teaching them to stalk terrestrial insects with their bat-wing-shaped ears (which can grow up to five inches long—nearly 30 percent of their total height).

And this commitment pays off: The amount of time bat-eared fox fathers spend monitoring their young is an even bigger predictor of pup survival than maternal investment or food availability. Dads, at least in this species, matter.

It's not just mammals. Among the 20% of fish species that take care of their hatchlings, most of them are raised mainly by their fathers. Scientists have been studying the reasons for paternal care, the chemical mechanisms that contribute to the behavior, and the outcomes for various species. Read about that research at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Derek Keats)


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Bohemian Rhapsody Trailer

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We saw an impressive teaser a couple of months ago, and now here's the first full trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Queen. The film, starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, focuses on the band's music more than anything else.

The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound, their near-implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.

Bohemian Rhapsody will open nationwide November 2.  


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Hospital Food: Unappetizing Meals for Sick People

Anyone who has spent time in a hospital knows that the food is standardized, bland, overcooked and under-spiced. Kate Washington became deeply interested in the subject when her husband spent several weeks unable to eat and then was charged with gradually getting back to regular meals. He didn't feel good, and hospital meals did not entice him to make an effort to eat. There are reasons behind the way food is in hospitals: the need to deliver scientific nutrition without doing harm, and the industrial scale of feeding all those patients.  

In the move from individual at-home care and feeding for sick patients to mass institutions, medical science shifted to a big-picture, data-driven set of prescriptions and practices. Doing so undeniably saved lives, thanks to astonishing medical advances. But in the midst of institutionalizing and standardizing care, the medical establishment may have lost sight of the function of appetites and individual taste.

Food — for many patients one of the few sensory pleasures they can enjoy — can be an important, healing part of that corrective shift. Catering to patients’ tastes and preferences can certainly be more expensive, yet as Brad and I both learned, it can make a huge difference to the very sick, who may have lost almost all sense of themselves. Eating, among the most basic of human acts, can help reawaken that sense.

Washington turned to cookbooks from hundreds of years ago to find food that would appeal to a patient who didn't want to eat, in recipes from a time when the sick were cared for at home. And she researched the switch from home convalescence to the business of feeding modern hospital patients to find out why hospital food is so bad. The good news is that some institutions are trying new methods to make it better. Read about how hospital food got that way at Eater. -via Digg

(Image credit: Allegra Lockstadt)

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Crazy Russian Dog Wash

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Taras Kulakov, known as The Crazy Russian Hacker, has three dogs: Luke, Gus, and Hugo. With that many dogs, he decided to purchase a machine to clean them- a dog spa. In this video, he tries it out and gives us a review. Listening to Kulakov is always a treat, but the real draw in this video is watching Luke enjoying his bath. Hugo wasn't quite as enthusiastic.  -via Laughing Squid

See more videos from the Crazy Russian Hacker.

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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50 Things to Know about Aquaman

One thing to know about the new Aquaman movie is that a new poster debuted today. So of course people had to have some fun with it.

But there's a lot more to learn. Aquaman, directed by horror master James Wan, will be a DC superhero movie that's an origin story, a battle against evil forces, and a quest movie as well, with a bit of romantic comedy thrown in. Two-thirds of the film takes place underwater, and the story is set after Justice League, but we won't see the other superheroes. That's just the beginning of what you'll learn about Aquaman in an article at Collider, which is full of background but doesn't spoil the plot. Aquaman will hit theaters on December 21st. -via Uproxx


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Pachelbel's Chicken

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Brett Yang and Eddy Chen are a two-man group called TwoSet Violin. They aren't limited to violin music, as you can see from their performance of Pachelbel's Canon in D played on rubber chickens. I'm not sure that there wasn't some electronic magic going on here, since, while you can tuna fish, you can't tune a chicken. -via Metafilter

Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog

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Jorge Garza's Aztec Art

Jorge Garza (qetzaart) draws figures in the style of ancient Aztec art. But look closer, and you'll recognize these characters.

Continue reading for more.

Continue reading

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Star Wars Therapy

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This video contains a little NSFW language. Has your relationship with Star Wars undergone a disappointing change? Therapy could help. In this skit from College Humor, a woman who's been a lifelong Star Wars fan no longer feels the magic in the relationship, and is spilling her heart to a counselor. Star Wars is there, too, hoping to salvage the relationship, but he/she/it is overly defensive. Will they achieve a breakthrough? -via Tastefully Offensive


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The Extraordinary Life of Martha Gellhorn, the Woman Ernest Hemingway Tried to Erase

Martha Gellhorn was a war correspondent reporting from the Spanish Civil War in 1939 when she fell in with another correspondent named Ernest Hemingway. The couple moved to Cuba and Gellhorn eventually became Hemingway's third wife. But while Hemingway expected Gellhorn to become a 1940s wife and stay home, Gellhorn continued covering conflicts in far away places. He eventually resorted to undermining her career by snagging the sole press credential from her employer to cover the D-Day invasion. Determined to be where the action is, Gellhorn talked her way onto a hospital ship and locked herself in a bathroom overnight. When she emerged, the invasion was underway.   

Amid this otherworldly chaos, no longer caring about personal or professional consequences, Gellhorn learned that her hands—any hands—were needed. The vessel she had stowed away on by chance was the first hospital ship to arrive at the battle. When landing craft pulled alongside, she fetched food and bandages, water and coffee, and helped interpret where she could. When night fell, she went ashore at Omaha Beach with a handful of doctors and medics—not as a journalist but as a stretcher bearer— flinging herself into icy surf that brimmed with corpses, following just behind the minesweepers to recover the wounded.

All night she labored, with blisters on her hands, her mind and heart seared with images of pain and death she would never forget. Later she would learn that everyone of the hundreds of credentialed journalists, including her husband, sat poised behind her in the Channel with binoculars, never making it to shore. Hemingway’s story soon appeared in Collier’s alongside hers, with top billing and more dazzle, but the truth had already been written on the sand. There were 160,000 men on that beach and one woman. Gellhorn.

Hemingway soon met wife #4, and Gellhorn continued covering wars up to her 80s. Read the story of Martha Gellhorn's fascinating life and her relationship with Hemingway at Town and Country magazine.  -via Digg


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The World's Strangest Time Zones

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The logical way to divide a spinning planet into time zones would be to draw 24 latitudinal lines on the globe, leaving equal areas for each time zone. But that doesn't work for people who live with real life geography, national borders, and human nature. Countries did not adopt standard time all at once, and politics plays a big part. So we have some extra time zones that set their clocks a half-hour different from their neighbors, and some places that could use more time zones. RealLifeLore explains some of the weirder anomalies in global time. -via Digg


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For a Brief, Glorious Moment, Camera-Wielding Pigeons Spied From Above

We are used to satellite imagery, drone photography, and of course pictures taken from airplanes. That was all pie-in-the-sky, so to speak, in 1909. Sure, people had used kites to take photographs from high above ground, but kites had their limitations. The pictures the public saw at at the 1909 Dresden International Exhibition of Photography were something else. They came about because a pigeon owner wanted to see where his birds went.  

His name was Julius Neubronner, and he had a family history of using pigeons in unconventional ways. His father, also an apothecary, received prescriptions and sent out urgent medications by pigeon. Neubronner also relied on pigeons to replenish his stocks of medications. But when a bird went missing for a month, Neubronner was curious to know where it had been. While other bird-owners might consider this thought a mere flight of fancy, an unanswerable question, Neubronner took a different view: He designed a camera, one that shot automatically, for his pigeons to wear.

The results were so good that in 1907 Neubronner filed for a patent on his pigeon-view photography. Read about Neubronner's pigeon photographers and see some of their images at Atlas Obscura.


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Cosplay Wrestling at Florida Supercon


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What could be more natural than combining professional wrestling with cosplay? They both have costumed characters that feed your fantasies with a live performance. Florida Supercon is going on this weekend at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, featuring Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling. A surprise entrant this year was caught on amateur video when Geoffrey the Giraffe entered the ring! Geoffrey is apparently looking for a new career since Toys R Us went out of business. Watch as he defeats Starlord and Dovahkin before he is bested by Gangrel's delivery from Amazon Prime. -via Uproxx


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How an Army of Suffragettes Helped Save America From Starvation

During World War I, the US struggled with getting food to soldiers fighting overseas. Meanwhile, there was a shortage of men to work the farms because they were busy fighting. This double whammy caused a food shortage on the home front. That's when activist women stepped in. Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, founded the Woman’s Land Army of America to pick up the slack in working the farms of America.  

National and local newspapers were fascinated by the suffragettes turned farmerettes: “If you see Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, the national suffrage president in a neat uniform of khaki gardening in some vacant lot near her home in New York, don’t think she has deserted suffrage for agriculture,” the Washington Times reported.

In Great Britain, the government-organized Women’s Land Army had already proved women were capable at taking over farm work during the war. In the summer of 1917, Vassar College had trouble finding male laborers for the college farm and decided to train and employ women instead, while a Women’s Agricultural Camp at Mount Kisco, New York, also sought to train women for local farming work.

All three of those efforts served as models for the Women’s Land Army of America (W.L.A.A.), founded by Chapman Catt and others that fall. At first, the plan was just to increase home farming and gardens, but soon they realized farms across the country didn’t have the laborers they needed.

Women responded, many even leaving high school to join the Woman's Land Army. They traded in their corsets for overalls and went to work on faraway farms. About 15,000 women worked farms in 21 states in 1918. Read about the Woman's Land Army at Narratively. -via The Week


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Smudge the Cat and Missy the Bunny

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Smudge the cat had a bit of adjusting to do when the family's daughter brought home a bunny named Missy. But the feisty cat immediately adjusted his method of playing to be oh so gentle with Missy, and they became best friends. The odd couple are adorable together. And even though Missy went off to college with her human, she gets to visit Smudge often. You can see more of Missy (and Smudge) at her Instagram page.  -via Metafilter

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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19 Unwritten Rules That Everyone Seems To Follow



There are some things that everyone just does, even though we've never been told to, and certainly we've never been told why. I always let people take what fries they want from my plate, because that's a lot of potatoes, and the hamburger will fill me up by itself. But if I order onion rings, suddenly everyone wants one, and there aren't that many in a serving!   



Well, of course I'm going to get nervous even though I've done nothing wrong. I'm nervous because a team of strangers is going to put me in a machine to see what my body looks like under my clothes, or else they will grope me. Or like the last time I went through security, both. (My teenage daughter got neither, because that would be "wrong.") However, there are a couple of "unwritten rules" in this list that you WISH people would follow.



See the rest of the 19 unwritten rules that everyone seems to follow in the latest pictofacts list at Cracked.


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Philosophy Feuds: Freud vs Jung

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Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were immediate friends when they met in 1907. They had plenty to talk about, as they were both groundbreaking psychoanalysts in their time. Their intense relationship was doomed to burn out eventually, the ostensible reason being their divergent philosophies about what influences the mind. Or maybe they were just tired of listening to each other. -via Everlasting Blort 


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Dirty, Dishonest and Badly Behaved: Sophia Jarvis, Victorian Maid

Social class in England during the Victorian era had much less to do with wealth than with your assigned station at birth -upward mobility was as rare as hen's teeth. Sophia Jarvis was a working class orphan who was sent to a workhouse and later an industrial school to learn the skills of a servant. Mrs. Mary Langton Thomas enjoyed a middle class life as the wife of a banker, although when he died she was left with nine children and a lower income. She could only afford one servant, Sophia Jarvis, from the industrial school. Jarvis did all the housework for the family of ten plus a lodger, for which she received the equivalent of £6 a week in modern money, a windowless attic room, and what food she was allowed to eat ...which became less and less over time. Mrs. Thomas accused Jarvis of theft, and punished her by withholding food, beating, and pouring water over her in the cold outdoors. Jarvis escaped to her former school, and later pressed charges against Thomas, which was quite unusual for the time. However, there was evidence backed up by the doctor who treated Jarvis after her escape.

Sophia, brought up since infancy in the care of the parish authorities of St George the Martyr, cut a sorry figure.  She had been accused of stealing forty stamps, two sacks of potatoes, cake, a 2lb lump of sugar, port and sherry—although her mistress admitted that she had not been able to smell alcohol on the girl.  Strangely, there was no suggestion that any of the Thomas children, or the lodger, might possibly have helped themselves.  After Mr Cockerel’s visit she was beaten almost daily with a stick, a rolling pin or a fishing rod, and had not been allowed to leave the house unless accompanying one of the children to church.

Not only had Sophia been physically abused, but Mrs Thomas had only given her a month’s pay in all the time she had worked there.  The rest of the money was kept to pay for the clothes she needed for her job.

The description of her physical state is distressing.  Dr Broad, the medical attendant to the Industrial School, described her emaciated condition, her sunken face and swollen fingers, her nails black with dried blood, her bruised back and elbows.  When he saw her on 20th December, her right eye had been black, and she had a wound on her head.  This was backed up by Thomas Evans, the police doctor.

Mrs. Thomas had the backing of prominent character witnesses, while Jarvis was a nobody. Who would the jury believe? Read the story of Sophia Jarvis and her quest for justice at London Overlooked.       
 -via Strange Company


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Meeting Arrivals at the Airport

(Image credit: eldy50)

You're flying home, and you need a ride from the airport. Your family assures you they will be there to pick you up. But you don't know what they're going to do to stand out in a crowd so you will see them.

(Image credit: rhapsodyinpoo)

I have two daughters coming in from different countries in the next couple of weeks. I may have to arrange something really embarrassing for the pickups.

(Image credit: siwangmu)

These are a few from a mega-list at Bored Panda that go beyond greetings and encompass more than 100  weird things photographed at airports.


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On The Far Side

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You loved Gary Larson's comic The Far Side, like we all did, where we learned about Thagomizers, Anatidaephobia, and that tramp Jane Goodall. But do you actually know anything about Larsen, the man? His life outside of The Far Side has been pretty interesting. He plays the banjo, and almost had a career in jazz (go figure). He keeps exotic animals. And there's more, all in this video from Today I Found Out.


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