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Dano Brown's Action Figures

George Lucas proved that no matter how much you make in movies, the real money is in action figures. Kids play with them, fans collect them, and others just want to have a souvenir of a movie franchise  they really like. Now we have action figures of politicians, scientists, and historical figures, too. But what about pop culture that doesn't rise to the level of Star Wars? Artist Dano Brown takes a stab at filling the gap with his action figures of lesser characters from memorable movies that you'd never think of as action figure material.

Brown's action figures are on display at the "Pop-Culture Sculptures" exhibit at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles, and most are sold out. See many more of them at Instagram.


Three Communists Weigh in on Red Dawn

The 1984 movie Red Dawn was an action-packed speculative war movie designed to appeal to teenagers. Communist forces from the USSR, Cuba, and Nicaragua parachute into a small town in Colorado and a group of high school students form a band of guerrillas to fight back. It had an all-star cast, high production values, and extreme violence that made it an exhilarating ride, while the character development was nonexistent and the plot was altogether ridiculous. Mel magazine asked three movie buffs who are self-identified communists to share their thoughts on Red Dawn.   

Skylar: The movie barely addresses communism. It took communism to mean the authoritarian enforcement of social uniformity, rather than resource distribution and emancipation of the working class, as it had to show communism as irredeemably evil and lacking in any humanity. Communism and Slavic, authoritarian militarism are so linked in peoples’ minds that we don’t actually have a way of thinking about communism without Russian authoritarianism. I certainly can’t speak for all communists — many saw the Soviet Union as going away from the ideals of communism long before it fell — but communism and Soviet authoritarianism is still intertwined in people’s minds, and most Americans remain confused about it.

In fact, what became clear over the course of the Cold War was that it wasn’t an ideological struggle at all. Instead, it was just about these two large countries jockeying for geopolitical power and the ideological stuff was just a veneer. Which is kind of true of this movie, too.

Robinson: Oh, it portrays communism badly, but in a way, it doesn’t really convey it as an ideology at all. There’s that re-education camp, and at one point, I heard someone say, “America is a whorehouse,” but that’s about it. It’s full of anti-communist propaganda, but like most propaganda, it’s devoid of the substance of what they’re actually portraying.

There's a lot more, but it's not all about political ideology. The three agree that Red Dawn, with all its faults, was a memorable experience -possibly because they were all young when it premiered. Read their analysis at Mel magazine.


The Last Victim of Smallpox

In 1977, a hospital cook named Ali Maow Maalin came down with smallpox in Somalia. It was a rare outbreak after a global vaccination program restricted the disease to the Horn of Africa, but Maalin recuperated, and 50,000 people were vaccinated in the immediate area. Doctors saw no more cases of smallpox, yet wanted to wait two years to declare the disease defeated, just to make sure. But then the next year, it struck again.

The victim was Janet Parker, a 40-year-old medical photographer, who worked in the anatomy department at Birmingham Medical School, in Birmingham, England. On August 11, Parker developed a fever accompanied by headache and pains in her muscles. Within days her body was covered with rashes and ugly red spots. Her doctor told Parker that she had chickenpox and there was nothing to be worried about. But as the days passed, the blistering pustules became larger and her conditions worsened until she could no longer stand unaided. On 20 August she was admitted to Catherine-de-Barnes Isolation Hospital in Solihull where the dreaded diagnosis was made—she had Variola major, the most serious type of smallpox.

When word leaked out panic descended upon the city, and it wasn’t just the public, there was panic in the government and within the WHO as well. Of all places, the United Kingdom was the last anybody expected a smallpox outbreak, especially so late into the inoculation program. But the source of the infection was no mystery.

A month later, Parker was dead, her mother recovered from a mild case of smallpox, and two men were dead- not from smallpox, but their deaths were related to Parker's illness. Read about the last victim of smallpox and the ensuing scandal at Amusing Planet. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Roger Rössing and Renate Rössing)


Quilty the Jailbreaker

Quilty is a cat who lives at Friends For Life animal shelter in Houston. He has a wonderful personality and gets along well with both the humans and the animals he lives with. But the shelter has a little problem with him. Quilty is skilled at opening doors, and got into the habit of letting the other cats out of their enclosures at night. While this makes him very popular with the cats, the staff is suffering.

We have since Quilty-proofed the cat room, while he took a brief hiatus in the lobby. His roommates missed him while he was banished to the lobby. They enjoyed their nighttime escapades around the shelter. The staff, however, did not miss the morning cat wrangling, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree there.

Apparently this is not a new skill he learned here at the shelter; he used to let his dog sibling in the house at his old home.

If someone out there is looking for a clever cat that gets along with dogs but does not get along with closed doors, we have someone they really need to come and meet.

Please. Come meet him. And take him home. Please...

Quilty was confined, but his time-out didn't last long. After all, his specialty is opening doors.  

Update: Quilty's review with the parole board was denied, so he released himself of his own recognizance today. He felt that confinement had nothing more to offer him.

He has been returned to solitary.

The review board will take up his case again tomorrow.

(Y'all. This cat released himself FROM THE INTEGRATION KENNEL IN THE ROOM...)

The long comment thread updated again and again, as the cat managed to escape using different schemes, including once when he just snuck out behind the person watching him. These shenanigans led to Quilty the escape artist becoming a social media star. Fans launched Quilty his own Instagram account, called Free Quilty. You can even buy Free Quilty merchandise. The good news is that lots of people have now applied to adopt Quilty. They may not know what they are getting into. -via 22 Words


The Dynamic Brain In Action Captured By Yale Scientists

Scientists regularly capture images of the brain in action by focusing on single circuits, cells, or molecules. Visualizing how these tiny units interact to form complex behavior, however, has been a difficult task. Now, through a collaborative, multi-lab effort, researchers at Yale University were able to develop a way to leverage a pair of microscopic technologies. They were able to provide a peek of the whole brain at work in real time.

“Merging widely different scales of understanding is a fundamental challenge in neuroscience,” said Michael Higley, associate professor of neuroscience and member of Yale’s Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. “With this novel approach, we are bridging the gaps between molecular, cellular, and systems biology.”
Researchers expect the new technology will ultimately help scientists track the role of specific molecules, cells, and brain networks in human behavior and disease.

(Video Credit: YaleCampus/ YouTube)


Tencent Rumored To Have Eyes On Developing Games With Nintendo Characters

Tencent is reportedly interested in creating Nintendo-style games with Nintendo characters, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quotes an unnamed Tencent official who says that the multinational conglomerate company desires to “expand from China” by developing games for the United States and Europe.

Rather than push its own ideas an IP, however, Tencent will try and become a household name here by piggybacking on Nintendo's.
The Chinese giant wants to "create console games with Nintendo characters" and, in doing so, "learn the essence of making console games from Nintendo engineers." That doesn't necessarily mean it'll go ahead, since Nintendo is notorious for protecting its culture and IP, in order to preserve the experience for gamers.
On one hand, the partnership is plausible, since Tencent and Nintendo already have a corporate tie-up, which started earlier this year. The pair teamed up with the intention of selling the Switch in China, where consoles (and gaming in general) are tightly regulated. But despite promises of getting the console into stores, there has been little actual movement, mostly down to regulatory hurdles.

More details about this rumor over at Engadget.

What are your thoughts about this one? Do you think that Nintendo will allow Tencent to make games with the former’s characters on it?

(Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos/ Pixabay)


See How Shaggy and Scooby Met Each Other in “SCOOB!” Trailer

For decades, the Scooby Doo franchise has been popular and well-received by people. Even now, the names Shaggy, Scooby, Velma, Fred, and Daphne still ring a bell for both the old and the young as the “meddling kids” who catch ghosts and monsters (who are revealed to be just people at the end of each episode). But what were they like before they became “meddling kids”? This is what the 2020 film SCOOB! explores.

With Will Forte as Shaggy and Frank Welker reprising his iconic role of Scooby-Doo, SCOOB! tells the story of how the two pals met, and how they started solving mysteries with Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and Velma (Gina Rodriguez). The full-length animated film also features Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, and Tracy Morgan.
SCOOB! will debut in theaters on May 15, 2020.

Are you looking forward to this film?

(Video Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/ YouTube)


A Woman Who Escaped Alzheimer’s Clutches

In Colombia lives a family with the tragic legacy of forgetfulness.

UC Santa Barbara neuroscientist Kenneth S. Kosik states that the people in this family suffer from Alzheimer’s predictably at age 45-50.

Their aggressive, genetic form of the disease has been passed down from generation to generation, causing rapid cognitive and physical declines in both the men and the women of this family.

Many scientists have been studying this family from their brains to their genes for decades. They were even able to trace the specific gene mutation of the disease as far as the time of Spanish conquistadors.

During their studies, they were able to see firsthand the onset of the disease as the members of this particular family enter into their middle years. Sometimes the onset happens sooner, and sometimes it happens later. Nevertheless, all paths have led to one point.

One woman from the family, however, has defied the odds.

Now in her late 70s, she has the mutant gene — and the plaques of amyloid protein that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — yet she has exhibited no signs of cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s.
“When you find an escapee, it’s extremely interesting,” said Kosik, co-author of a study that appears in the journal Nature Medicine. The woman, and others who are considered outliers in the normal trend of neurodegeneration of this family, may present hints at a new approach for therapy for and even prevention of the disease, he said.

Head over at The Current to know more about this interesting phenomenon.

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: Tumisu/ Pixabay)



This strange animation by cool3Dworld starts out weird with five green guys riding a tandem bike, then gets exciting when they anger a hot dog man, almost turns tragic, but then ends with a dose of friendship and cooperation. It's still pretty weird, though. -via Everlasting Blort


Thanks To Global Warming, Glacier Scientists Now Have To Climb Higher

From the top of Huascarán, the highest mountain in Earth’s tropics, the western Andes valleys look peaceful and calming. From there, signs of climate change, such as the melting glaciers in the Andes, and the changes in the water supplies of the local villages, are not immediately evident. Scientists, however, are aware that these signs do exist, and they know that they are there.

It’s part of why they’ve traveled so far, from the United States, Mexico, Italy, Peru, France and Russia, and tackled this harrowing climb to more than 22,000 feet: to visit the glaciers at the top and to drill columns of glacier ice to send back to The Ohio State University for analysis. The ice holds many clues to what has happened in Earth’s atmosphere and in the climate of the region over the last 20,000 years. And, if Earth keeps warming, the glacier might not be there for much longer.
Huascarán is a peak in the Cordillera Blanca range in northern Peru. Thompson has been here before, in 1980, 1992, 1993, 2016, and in the summer of 2019 he led a group of scientists back to see how the glacier had changed and to collect new ice samples.
Because of its altitude, Huascarán is one of the more challenging and dangerous peaks on which Thompson and his crew have drilled. But that altitude also protects the ice. Currently glaciers at lower altitudes, where it is warmer, are melting rapidly and Huascarán’s glacier will eventually melt, too, but for now, it is likely one of the few remaining intact tropical glaciers in the world.

More details about this over at Ohio State News.

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: Ohio State News)

Lotte Time Lapse

(vimeo link)

Frans Hofmeester strung together video clips of his daughter Lotte’s face taken every week from birth to twelve years old. Yes, this kind of thing has been done before, but this is a little different. Using video instead of still pictures highlights how much little girls talk while getting their picture made. -via Buzzfeed


How Living With Baboons Prepared Me for Living Through High School

Keena Roberts had gone to school occasionally, but had spent most of her time with her parents researching the social life of baboons in Botswana. Then suddenly, when she was 14, she went to high school in Philadelphia. Does that remind you of a certain 2004 movie?

“So who do you like, Keena?” The girl asking me took a sip of her Diet Snapple and quirked up one side of her mouth. I had no idea what her name actually was, but I had been calling her “Crushy” in my head because that’s all she ever talked about — who had crushes on whom, and who knew about them. The other girls at the lunch table stared at me, and I clenched and unclenched my hands under the table, trying to think of the right thing to say. I looked past Crushy to the “cool” part of the cafeteria, where a bunch of senior girls from the varsity lacrosse team were eating. Truth is, I did have a crush on one of them, a paralyzing crush that made me almost pass out when she gave me a high five after practice one day. But I knew enough not to talk about it.

“Uh … Alex is nice?” I picked a boy from our class with floppy hair who wasn’t (A) an asshole or (B) an idiot. Seemed like a good enough choice for this conversation, right? Crushy burst out laughing.

“You can’t like Alex!” she shouted.

“Shut up,” I hissed, as heads at other tables turned toward us. “I didn’t even say that I did! Just that he was nice.”

“He’s way too cool for you,” Crushy went on. “And too hot. Only Meghan or Sam can like him. They’re both as cool and hot as he is.”

The difference between Roberts' story and Mean Girls is how Roberts used her knowledge of social hierarchies in baboon society to negotiate the world of an American high school. She wrote a book about her experience called Wild Life. Read -or listen to- an excerpt that lays out the scenario of her high school days at Narratively.

(Image credit: Brian Britigan)


British Cyclist Completes One Million Miles

On November 7, a group of about a dozen friends went on a leisurely bike ride of four miles, ending at a familiar cafe. Along the way, they broke through white tape strung across a footbridge. And that's when Russ Mantle became the first person from the UK to log a million miles on a bicycle. The 82-year-old Mantle has been cycling since 1951, and kept meticulous accounts of his rides, from his competition days to bike tours of the various continents.  

Russ, a former civil servant, said: “I’m completely overwhelmed by the interest in the amount of miles I’ve cycled.

“I haven’t really been going for it, the miles have just naturally piled up because I enjoy cycling so much that’s it’s just natural to be a mile-eater.

“This year is my lowest mileage year at 8,000 miles. Hitting a million miles is just another milestone. On to the next one. Maybe when I’m 100 I’ll make two million!”

Read more about Mantle's accomplishment and see a video at at Cycling UK.

(Image credit: Robert Spanring/Cycling UK)


How to Make Leaf Origami

Sora News 24 introduces us to Twitter user @kusabanaasobi, an origami master who specializes in leaves, acorns, and other fallen products of autumn. She can make fairies, butterflies, Santa Claus, crayons, and more appear from these natural materials. Best of all, her Twitter feed is filled with videos that show you how you can do it, too.


Beluga Plays Fetch with Visiting Humans

South African visitors brought a 2019 Rugby World Cup ball to Antarctic waters and tossed it back and forth with a beluga. Perhaps they are recruiting for some rival of the Springboks, who won the championship this year.

-via Twisted Sifter

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