And apparently this is a controversial statement.
A Worcester Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke ruled that an exclusivity clause in Panera's lease restricting the White City Shopping Center from renting to another sandwich shop doesn't prohibit the mall from adding a Qdoba Mexican Grill. ...
Locke cited Webster's Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba's burritos and other offerings shouldn't be considered sandwiches, The... READ ON
I never thought that in the course of this blog I'd post (a) a come-on from Craigs' List, (b) a long paragraph about Golgi bodies, ribosomes, and amphipathic phospholipids, or (c) a passage so racy it almost offends me, and I'm the one drawing attention to it.
Nonetheless, after the jump and here, you'll find a passage that is all three of these things. I guess you can't have an "organism" without an... READ ON
In the course of some reporting for a freelance article, I stumbled across this list of pesticides that farmers can use and still be considered for the coveted "organic" label. Along with such common materials as "sodium fluoaluminate," which is apparently something mined in Greenland, organic farmers can keep the bugs away with:
"Codling moth granulosis virus"
Pyrethrums (I believe these are based on a chemical found in chrysanthemums)... READ ON
You know that scene in License to Kill where Timothy Dalton's Bond-floozy orders a Budweiser with lime and he says he'll have the same? We've always thought at that point he deserves to have his License revoked. It seems The Book of Bond agrees with us on this point:
You must never drink beer, at least in England. A Lowenbrau in Geneva, a Miller's Highlife in New York State, a couple of Red Stripes in Jamaica, as many as four steins of the local brew in Munich with an ex-Luftwaffe pilot -- these are... READ ON
While doing research for an upcoming article on string theory (a "big idea" if we ever saw one), I ran across this interview with Lisa Randall. It contains the following wonderfully wacky three questions, in which Randall applies her brain to "branes," higher dimensions, and alternate universes. Gotta love physics:
If there are more than three dimensions out there, how does that change our picture of the universe?
What I'm studying is branes, membranelike objects in higher-dimensional space. Particles... READ ON
Y'know, now that the election season is over and we're recovering from the caustic effects of all those horrid political ads, we're feeling kinda touchy-feely. We want a break from competition. We want to live in a world where everyone's a winner!
So, taking Indecision 2006 to a whole new level, we're pleased to announce that the mental_floss Tribune will actually be the mental_floss Triumvirate. Mike Landau, Tucker Steele, and Lyssa are your new watchdogs, your reverse-ombudsmen, your fearless leaders.... READ ON
Assuming "Casino Royale" doesn't flop a la "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" this weekend (and we think that's a pretty safe assumption), the next Bond movie is slated for Nov. 7, 2009. Sure, it's a long way off, but we think if we're going to have any input, we'd better get started now. So for this week's contest, send us your proposals for the next Bond movie -- where is James going? What's his best throwaway line? Who is he after (villains and love interests)? And, if you're not a Daniel Craig fan, who... READ ON
The YouTube Hunter is as pleased as any pampered coastal elite to see the Borat movie perform as well as it has. What the YouTube Hunter isn't so pleased about -- what's actually got him scarfing the Xanax again -- is the viral proliferation of Borat imitations across the country. I never thought I'd say this, much less for posterity, but all these hapless Borat imitators are making me wistful for all the hapless Christopher Walken imitators they seem to have replaced. With the exception of a very talented... READ ON
Here's the first in our four installments teaching you what to eat, what to drink, how to look, and how to travel if you want to be James Bond -- or, at least, if you wanted in 1965 to be James Bond, according to The Book thereof. (By the way, the author, who we asked you about yesterday, is none other than Kingsley Amis!) First, some meaty excerpts from the chapter on food:
In general: "Show no knowledge whatever of how food is actually prepared. You have never cooked a meal in your life. What you eat... READ ON
This month's Scientific American has a hilarious piece on perfumes inspired by great minds, including:
J. Robert Oppenheimer's Cataclysm
Ingredients: Desert sand, enriched geranium.
Slogan: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, but with a delicate floral hint.
Anton van Leeuwenhoek's Hidden
Ingredients: Pond water.
Slogan: Reveal... the little things.
Stephen Hawking's Universe
Slogan: You don't have to understand it.
There are lots more where those... READ ON
Seeing as how it's T minus four days to Casino Royale, we'll be bringing you excerpts all week from The Book of Bond, a snappy, hard-to-find instruction manual from 1965 that promises to make "every man his own 007." And our weekly contest (which we'll tell you more about tomorrow) will call for new Bond-movie ideas, so get brainstorming! But first:
1. The book's author is purportedly "Lt.-Col. William ('Bill') Tanner." Without Googling: which well-known literary genius actually wrote the book under... READ ON
I was in Georgia this weekend, so tragically, I missed the second annual meeting of the Corduroy Club, an organization so ridiculous and Dave Eggers-ish that I'm sure it actually does exist. (The profile in last year's New Yorker also confirmed my suspicions.) At last year's meeting, attended by over 100 people:
"Betsy Franjola, manager of fabrics at Karl Lagerfeld... spoke about the history of corduroy, the different types of corduroy, popular misconceptions and the process by which the fabric was... READ ON
Even more awesome gadgetry! These two lamps are both on American Inventor Spot's new list of great office supplies. The first lamp seems a little SkyMall for me, but I'll confess to a weakness for anything Herman Miller, and I think I'm in love with the second one.
Best iProduct: iLamp
Four-step million-dollar marketing plan for the 21st century: 1) Find an everyday product. 2) Add an iPod dock and speaker set. 3) Put the letter "i" in front of it. 4) Sit back and watch the dollars roll in.... READ ON
Since Mangesh is all about the wacky inventions today, I thought I'd put this one up too -- because I need a verdict: Is this incredibly cool, or is it Hypercolor in a science-y (and somewhat gross)... READ ON
After watching the video of the Helsinki Complaints Choir a few dozen times (and having the song stuck in my head all week), I couldn't help but gripe this weekÂ about all the other stuff that was bugging me, particularly the stuff that showed up on the blog:
Products for sale got increasingly ridiculousÂ and extravagant.
The airwaves were dominated by political ads, propaganda,Â and corrupt rulers.
I was surrounded by splifficated muggins.
MyÂ fellow TV-watchersÂ wouldn't hand over... READ ON
As you may recall, Will, Mangesh and I traveled to the Idea Festival a few weeks ago, and one of the speakers we had the privilege of hearing was Burt Rutan -- whoÂ believes you can fly, provided you do so in his crazy-genius space-travel vehicle.Â His Idea Festival speech isn't available on the web, but you can now watch a similar presentation he gave at the TED conference in February here. Highly recommended.
Also, allow me a quick sidenote/rant: I love me some TED,Â but check out the three... READ ON
Y'know, as fun as it is to give Alex Kuczynski a hard time, occasionally her shopping column in the Times provides some useful information.
"Real Texas cowboys started manufacturing something resembling the modern cowboy boot in the mid-19th century (after they tired of the Wellington boot, which had enjoyed a brief popularity after Wellington's defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo). But the cowboy boot's prime influence was most likely the Hessian boot, a boot that fit under the knee with a V cut... READ ON
Last month, Dallas County inmates started acting like two-year-olds -- well, exceptionally violent two-year-olds. TheyÂ set fire to, and vandalized, theÂ jail in a spectacularly colicky fit. So Sheriff Mike RackleyÂ decidedÂ to redecorateÂ inÂ the sameÂ bratty spirit. The inmates' quarters are nowÂ pink with blue teddy bear accents:
"Teddy bears are soothing," [he said].Â "So we made it like a daycare and that's kind of like what it is, a day care for adults who can't control their... READ ON
And no, we don't mean the TV show, that's Grey's --Â even if it is the first Google result for "Gray's Anatomy" (don't get us started on how depressed that makes us). Anyway, if you like Gray's,Â you'll love the NIH's online exhibit of more rarified, and rarer, gorgeous old anatomical atlases. We particularly like this ancient Persian illustration of a woman with a fetus/homunculus curled up inside her -- we're just not sure if it's... READ ON
At left is the Chloe Gladys bag, which was sold at Neiman Marcus and other retailers last year for $2,000.
At right is a similar bag, which is currently available at the Gainesville, Georgia Target for $6.74.
I'm just... READ ON
I... READ ON
First there was the guitar/gun; then there was the stove/chair. Now, just in time for the holiday season,Â from the charmingly Engrish-by-way-of-France website Singulier,Â there's the coathanger/mixer.
Wonder if fits in a... READ ON
Hey kids! And geeky adults! American Inventor Spot has a handy listÂ for you to use when your mom/wife/roommate starts heckling you about spending too much time in front of your Wii and not enoughÂ time in the gym -- video games that help you lose weight. We all know about DDR already, but my favorite isÂ the prototype forÂ Tetris Weightlifting:Â
Break out the leg warmers and big hair, we're going back to the eighties for this one. Not since the graphing calculator has there been a better use... READ ON
"Glossolalia" is a practice that started in American charismatic churches around the turn of the 19th century, but that's not what you know it as -- it's more commonly called "speaking in tongues." In fact, the only reason we know the fancy term for it is that for the first time, scientists have scanned the brains of people while they, er, glossolaliazed:
In the study, the researchers used imaging techniques to track changes in blood flow in each woman's brain in two conditions, once as she sang a... READ ON
Yes, this is a family website. Yes, it's well before 5 p.m., at least in this time zone. No, neither one of those facts is going to prevent me from posting this German web toy, in which you use your cursor (which you can't see) to get the drunken fool... READ ON
Yesterday I told you about the MITÂ non-Newtonian fluidÂ known as cookie dough; today's MITnNf is spider silk, which the university is trying to manufacture in the lab.Â Â
Manufactured spider silk could be used for artificial tendons and ligaments, sutures, parachutes and bulletproof vests. But engineers have not managed to do what spiders do effortlessly. ...
Spiders don't actually spin ("spinning" refers to the age-old art of drawing out and twisting fibers to form thread); instead, they... READ ON
Some people call it Election Day; I call it Christmas. Network news anchors nattering on with hardly anything substantive to report for hours, until they spin into the Realm of the Truly Weird around 1 a.m.; endless refreshes on Talking Points Memo, Drudge, and Mystery Pollster; breathless phone calls to anyone who shares my excitement about the likely outcome of Arizona's Eighth District -- yeah, I'll say it: better than sex.
Why? Because Election Day, like coitus, is all about the build-up, and... READ ON
We'll say it again: we love two-headed animals. We also love it when art and science work together. So we really can't resist this slideshow on Slate, which combines our two great passions:
Over the years, Boston artist Rosamond Purcell has photographed goliath beetles and translucent bats culled from the backrooms of natural history museums; a collection of teeth pulled by Peter the Great [editor's note: that's them above]; moles flayed by naturalist Willem Cornelis van Heurn; and scores of worn and... READ ON
I know this has been floating around the Interweb for a few months, which means we're a little late with it, but quit your whining and let the Complaints Choir of Helsinki show you how it's done:
The Complaints Choir isn't just funny -- it's a form of national catharsis:
Complaints are gathered from the opening of ARS 06 onwards in various ways. Anyone can register for the choir to perform a song compiled and composed on the basis of the complaints, a singing voice is not a prerequisite. Choir... READ ON
I spent all weekend slaving over my first novel, pounding the keyboard of my antique typewriter and tossing crumpled, slightly-less-than-perfect drafts over my shoulder. ... Actually, the only fiction I've written in the past 72 hours is the preceding sentence; I spent this weekend at a bachelorette party. But I like the idea of a weekend spent agonizing over a novel, so I'm taking this opportunity to remind you that this is National Novel Writing Month, in which a whole bunch of people (more than 59,000... READ ON
Okay, folks, the real election season may be coming to a close but ours is in full swing. Below are your three candidates for People's Tribune. You'll be hearing more from them later in the week, but for now, let's do the whole meet-and-greet, grip-and-grin thing:
Campaign slogan: "I will establish a meritocracy throughout the land, at least until I can figure out how to get campaign contributions."
Speech! Speech!: As a longtime reader of mental_floss, I know I would make a fantastic... READ ON
Trevor Ng is getting his Ph.D. in rheology at MIT's non-Newtonian fluid dynamics research group. What this means is that he plays with dough for a living:
His Ph.D. thesis concerns the mechanical properties of matter -- in this case, dough -- and how it behaves when subjected to forces. ...
Non-Newtonian fluids are unusual materials. Their viscosity, or slipperiness, changes with the amount of strain applied to them. Many non-Newtonian fluids have microscopic structures that affect how they react when... READ ON
Since we're running an election for a People's Tribune (two-and-a-half more days to go! Hurry up and get your campaigns rolling!), we thought we'd get into the spirit of things and provide some ready-made political promises for our candidates. Under their reigns, you will:
Move on up.
Have a free lunch. (With a yummy dessert.)
Notice an improvement in the look of your hair.
While away your free time on the ocean.
Eat, drink and be healthy.
Have a 6.2 handicap.
Have all the money in... READ ON
Pennylicious posted this a few days ago, but we thought we'd wait for the opening day of Borat to pick up on it:
ALMATY, Kazakhstan - The Kazakhstan central bank has misspelled the word "bank" on its new notes, officials said Wednesday.
The bank plans to put the misprinted notes — worth 2,000 tenge ($15) and 5,000-tenge — into circulation in November and then gradually withdraw them to correct the spelling.
The move has drawn the ire of the Central Asian state's... READ ON
The Kircher Society, always up on the latest bizarre museums, today brings us "an extraordinary private home and museum in Seattle known as Steve's Weird House."
The virtual tour is jaw-dropping. Inside you'll find a mental_floss favorite -- a collection of two-headed animals, including calves, weasels, and goats -- as well as:
Wreaths woven from human hair
Antique coffins and carriers (adult/child)
Embalmer/mortician tools & tables
Thousands of... READ ON
The Nietzsche Family Circus claims that its nihilist captions, supplied by Friedrich himself (as opposed to creator Bil Keane), are randomly generated. After getting the following two strangely well-matched cartoons in a row, I don't believe... READ ON
I need an Advil just to read this story:
Shillong - capital of India's north-eastern state of Meghalaya - has literally "beaten" its way into the record books. The Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum (MTDF) assembled no fewer than 7,951 drummers in the picturesque hill town to set the new record, which was verified by an official from Guinness World Records. The Meghalayan drummers broke the record of a Hong Kong charity, which in February 2005 brought together 7,727 drummers.
More pics (although,... READ ON
On this day, Truman defeated Dewey, Charles Van Doren admitted to cheating, and Haile Selassie was crowned emperor of Ethiopia, mon.
Also, according to Wikipedia, It is mums Bithday today Happy Birthday MUM... READ ON
If you've gotten your copy of our new issue, you've already read about Homaru Cantu, the Chicago chef/inventor/ mad-scientist at Moto who levitates food and presents his customers with edible menus. He's one of the many pioneers in our article on "The Future." There's more on his exploits, particularly his attempts to patent his creations (inventions? dishes? what do you call these things, anyway?) in this fantastic article from Food and Wine on the "New Era of the Recipe Burglar:"
Consider your typical... READ ON
Punkinsmom notes that something seems weird about this report of a fantastic archaeological find -- the funeral pyre of a Viking farmer, buried with a fancy set of weapons, some horse teeth, and a bell:
Okay. Stop. Viking farmer? Doesn't this go against everything we've ever learned about raping, pillaging Vikings?
And if he was a farmer why isn't he buried with a plow and reaper? Nope this guy was determined to take his sword, spear and shield to Valhalla. Yeah, a real agricultural-type, I'm sure.... READ ON
This week's mad scientist really is. You know him already as the guy who claimed to have cloned a human embryo for its stem cells but lied about key aspects of the work. He shows up again this week in SEED magazine's great feature, "I Can't Believe It's Science:"
The disgraced stem-cell researcher is currently standing trial for fraud and embezzlement, and his latest testimony is particularly outrageous. Hwang had previously conceded that, in an effort to clone an extinct species, he collected mammoth... READ ON
Forgive us if we seem a little dirty-minded today, what with the anatomically-correct baby doll and all, but we had to share this breakthrough in reproductive technology -- if only because the picture's so darn cute:
Australian scientists unveiled three test-tube koala cubs today as part of an artificial insemination programme to preserve the vulnerable mammal. They said the programme would lead to the creation of the world's first koala sperm bank, letting researchers screen out koala diseases.... READ ON
Reader Susan Thomas was out antiquing and stumbled across what may be our favorite toy of all time -- the anatomically correct "Archie Bunker's Grandson"... READ ON
The mid-term elections are almost upon us, and much as we hate campaign ads around here, we thought we ought to express our own support for democracy -- so for this week's contest, we're electing a People's Tribune. That's right, no goodies this week, but if you win you'll have the opportunity to be corrupted by POWER! Our People's Tribune will represent the readers; he'll tell us what he'd like to see more of on the site; he'll be the Marc Antony to our Roman Senate. So start campaigning in the comments... READ ON
Happy Halloween and thanks to everyone who sent in their fantastic costume ideas for our parade! Our grand marshal is Molly, who tragically didn't get any snaps of the Best Get-Up of All Time but submitted it anyway:
Once, my friend and I wore green shorts and tank tops, covered ourselves in tin foil, painted our faces green, fixed our hair all nasty and then put masking tape labels that said march 1999 on the foil "“ we were leftovers! We won a contest, too"¦
Molly, you just won another one;... READ ON
Oh, so many jokes we could make -- but there's a serious answer. As our regular readers know, my favorite animal is the tapir, so I was delighted to read that a Baird's tapir named Scooter has a starring role in Apocalypto, the upcoming Gibson movie about ancient South American odd-toed ungulates tribes fighting a gruesome war. I was less delighted to learn that the tapir (well, actually, an animatronic doppelganger) will be chopped apart and eaten:
Apparently the tribe needs to hunt and kill a tapir and... READ ON
We saw this amazing gallery of Aurora Borealis shots on Dumptrumpet and had to pass it on. Photographer Bjorn Jorgensen also shoots other surreally gorgeous things, like winter sunrises, and also surreally hideous things (scroll... READ ON
But in the meantime, don't forget to send us your best ideas and pictures -- the winner will be announced tomorrow as the Grand Marshal of our Halloween parade! In the meantime, here's a tidbit about a much bigger parade, New York's West Village extravaganza:
In Celtic times, the last night of Autumn was celebrated by gathering around a communal fire. Villagers would then carry home embers from the communal fire to rekindle their own hearths. The glowing embers were carried in hollowed gourds adorned with... READ ON
As a prelude to the scariest night of the year, my husband suggested that we watch Freddy Vs. Jason this weekend -- perhaps forgetting that, having been allowed by an idiotic babysitter to watch the original Nightmare on Elm Street at age 11, I am terrified of teen slasher flicks. As a result, I did not sleep at all this weekend, which meant I spent lots of time drinking coffee and surfing Wikipedia at 3 a.m., where I encountered a wonderful list of other movies that pit famous stars against each other.... READ ON
It's been a pretty scary week around here. And not just because the blog has been haunted by jack-o'-lanterns, vampires, and Hitler (oh my!). Here's what else had us quaking in our boots:
47 zombies were liquified by a man wielding a gasoline-powered push-mower.
Shrapnel went flying. (Thankfully, it didn't damage any textbooks.)
Explosions rocked the land.
We saw "The Birds" re-enacted in the wild.
Suffering from a hangover, we resorted to voodoo.
Little children learned how to make shrunken... READ ON
Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt once sneaked out of a White House event, commandeered an airplane, and went on a joyride to Baltimore.