Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
Critiquing Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" choice has been an annual sport since the feature began in 1927. Judging from its controversial choices, it's obviously not a popularity contest: 1938's winner was Adolph Hitler and 1939's was Joseph Stalin; Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini won in 1979. But this year's "person" may be the magazine's most controversial choice yet -- partly because, in this humble blog's occasionally-esteemed opinion, it's a total cop-out.
The winner? "You." As in the "You"... READ ON
Religious pareidolia: the perception of religious-icon-shaped patterns where none were intended. Over the years, everyone from the Virgin Mary to Mother Teresa have been spotted in impromptu appearances on food items, freeway underpasses and almost anywhere you can imagine, often drawing thousands -- and sometimes hundreds of thousands -- of faithful pilgrims. So here's the challenge: which of the following examples of religious pareidolia were actually reported (and in many cases, celebrated) and which... READ ON
This guy really wants to be blogged about. Well, I'll bite -- the pictures are hard to resist! Thanks to the Cellar for the skinny:
Veterinarians at the oceanarium in Fushun, China had a problem. Two of their dolphins had taken up the habit of eating pieces of plastic off the edge of their pool. And some of the pieces were so large they couldn't be digested. The dolphins went off their food and became depressed. The vets tried to retrieve the pieces with surgical tools, but the dolphins' stomachs... READ ON
Stop the presses, right? Sure, most people assume that celebrities are more narcissistic than regular people. Until recently, however, we didn't have a study to prove it. That's where Dr. Drew Pinksy (of Loveline fame) comes in, who is, by the way, an actual doctor of psychology (unlike his less-credentialed ex-sidekick, Adam Carolla). Dr. Drew has celebrities appear on his radio show all the time, and during breaks over the last several years, he has been asking them to take a test.
It's called... READ ON
Just like their standards for film content which result in the familiar ratings system (G, PG, PG-13, R, etc), the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has rules for what you can and can't show in a movie poster. According to MPAA spokeswoman Gayle Osterberg, the big no-nos are "depictions of violence, blood, people in jeopardy, drugs, nudity, profanity, people in frightening situations, disturbing or frightening scenes."
Yet somehow, the evil geniuses of entertainment advertising keep finding... READ ON
The Sumatran tiger -- one of the rarest big cats in the world -- is also perhaps the world's most camera-shy. The protected national parks on the island of Sumatra where they live are lousy with heat-sensitive surveillance cameras, which have become necessary thanks to the efforts of criminal loggers and poachers. (They operate with relative impugnity despite the parks' "protected" status, and between 1998-2000, as many as 66 tigers were poached -- that's about 20% of the total population.)
The... READ ON
This year, it should be easy to figure out who's been naughty and who's been nice; people who feel like they're being watched are much more likely to be honest, psychologists at England's Newcastle University have discovered, than those who don't. While this may not in itself be a revolutionary concept, the way the docs conducted their experiment deserves mention.
There's a coffee cart at Newcastle University -- which operates on the honor system. People can help themselves, so long as they leave 50p... READ ON
Scary photo, huh? It's a park in China, not the U.S., on Huashan Mountain called "ear-touching cliff," so named because if you don't hug that rock face as you walk (thereby pressing your ear against it) you might end up like Wile E. Coyote -- pancake-flat, at the bottom of the chasm. No, America's parks aren't quite this dangerous, but we've got some doozies, according to a comprehensive 2002 survey of park rangers. Here are some of the country's most dangerous parks, and why:
#1: Organ Pipe Cactus... READ ON
... or at least it seems to be in lab mice. Researchers at Yale's medical school have discovered that mice who take tests while hungry do significantly better than sated mice. They process information faster, they retain it longer; basically, they're smarter. The culprit seems to be the hormone grellin, produced by the lining of the stomach when empty. It binds not only to that part of the brain which registers hunger (the hypothalamus) but to the researchers' surprise, to the memory and learning... READ ON
"Wear your helmet!" Moms are obligated to say it, and in many American cities, riders are obligated by law to do it. But psychologist and avid cyclist Ian (ironically-named) Walker recently challenged conventional wisdom by asking -- can wearing a helmet increase your chances of getting hurt on a bike?
The answer, according to his own studies, is yes. He found out by rigging his bike up with an ultrasonic sensor that could detect and record how closely cars passed him while riding on city streets,... READ ON
A baby can cost new parents 750 hours of sleep in the first year.