Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
2011 marks the first year -- since I've been alive, at least -- that you can't buy a new car with a factory-installed cassette tape player. The last model to be sold with one was a 2010 Lexus. That they are something of an anachronism was brought into stark relief for me when I posted this video of a road trip I took with friends in 1998, and many of the tween-aged commenters remarked upon the sheer novelty that, as we drove across Texas and New Mexico, our tunes came from my cassette deck. It's the end... READ ON
"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." - Internet pioneer John... READ ON
My grandmother thought Victor Borge was just about the funniest person alive. He used to have his own specials on PBS, and whenever they came on, she'd shush everyone in the room and proceed to laugh like a maniac. (To be fair, I thought he was funny, too -- and still do.) He was a Danish comedian, conductor, and pianist -- a triple-threat of immense talent and wit who passed away in 2000. After WWII, in which he escaped from Nazi-occupied Denmark to America, he quickly taught himself English and began... READ ON
OK, I'll admit right off the bat, they're not *my* reasons, they're Hank Green's. But Hank's video, which is itself rather awesome, just got tweeted about and major up-thumbsed (I just made up that term but will hereafter use it as often as possible) by NASA itself! Plus, it's my birthday, so cut me some freaking slack here. (Smiley face!) (I write smiley faces in emails once in a while but I've never done it in a blog. It just seems too informal. But apparently I am not above writing out the word... READ ON
Yesterday I wrote about an American breakfast cereal magnate who was a prominent eugenicist around the turn of the last century. After I posted it, I wanted to know more about the eugenics movement, and what I found was really disturbing. It seems that there's quite a bit of evidence that the Nazis got their ideas about the "science" of racial purity from the American eugenics movement. Much of this can be found in a horrifying little tome called War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to... READ ON
Did you know that Facebook is going to start using your posts as advertisements, to show up on your friends' sidebars? I know this seems off-topic given this article's title, but a friend of mine pointed this out on Facebook the other day, then wrote, "so take a moment to really give a positive opinion about a product you endorse, so that your message appears under the product. I'll start: I LIKE KELLOGG'S CORN FLAKES, because they were developed by a eugenicist who mutilated children's genitals." And I... READ ON
It wasn't so many years ago, you'll remember, that the Internet was just a twinkle in Al Gore's eye. Soon after its birth came Compuserv, local-area dial-up bulletin board systems, AOL -- and a slew of TV segments and how-to videos designed to address the question that seemed to be on just about everyone's mind in the early 90s: just what is the Internet? (And to a lesser degree: what do I do with it?) Witness this gem from a 1994 edition of the Today show:
More prevalent were videos like this,... READ ON
It's like an acronym, except the words are chosen to fit the letters rather than the other way around. The term was coined in 1983, part of a monthly neologism contest held by the Washington Post. (I'm not sure if we can call a word that's been around for thirty years a "neo"-logism anymore -- what's the statute of limitations on that?) A quick and probably needless refresher: acronyms are words created using letters from an already-existing phrase. For instance, "Radio Detection and Ranging" was the... READ ON
Doogie Horner has a way with flowcharts. He's the author of the highly-entertaining Everything Explained Through Flowcharts (a few of which we excerpted here a couple of months ago), and now, inspired by the State of the Union a few days ago, he's turned his flowcharting skills to a concept that's been on everyone's minds lately: the American Dream. He writes:
Is it a unifying, nationalistic force that motivates U.S. citizens to work hard, even without receiving immediate compensation? Is it... READ ON
I earn some of my living on the internet -- I'm doing it right now! -- but I'm not a techie, as it were, and when it comes to wrapping my head around all the ones and zeroes that ultimately become Bookface or Gweegle I get a little confused. One thing I do know is that net neutrality, or the proposed lack thereof by various big telecom companies and some folks in government, has been getting a lot of press lately (though, according to some, not nearly enough) and I keep hearing things about how "the... READ ON
One of Prince Charles's Secret Service code names was "Unicorn."