Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
Good news for you oenophiles out there. That bottle of young Vino Novello you just bought that won't be great for 10 or 20 years? A Japanese inventor may have found a way to mature that wine a little faster -- like in a few seconds. Hiroshi Tanaka has developed an electrolysis chamber that zaps with a slight charge, which breaks up water molecules and forces them to blend more completely with the alcohol. Wine does that on its own, of course, -- the water molecules slowly rearrange themselves around... READ ON
Those of you who've seen Apocalypto may find yourselves wondering why a number of its characters sport funny-shaped heads and jewels embedded in their teeth. As it turns out, in this regard Mel Gibson is just being anthropologically correct: some Mayans really did modify their skulls' shape and have dental bling installed.
According to the digital scholars at Anthropology.net, the skulls were probably elongated by strapping boards to an infants' skull and constricting the bones from developing in a... READ ON
Back in the day -- the 16th and 17th centuries, that is -- Christmas was less about goodwill towards men, and more about letting off steam. While there were certainly carols sung, gifts given and feasts consumed, there was also lots of drinking, gambling and promiscuity. Disapproving Puritans pointed to the traditional (and traditionally bawdy) pagan winter celebrations of Saturnalia and Yule, and accused modern revelers of carrying over pagan bad habits. (They also referred to the Christmas celebration... READ ON
Pity the poor passenger who recently grounded an American Airlines flight thanks to an excessive amount of -- hmm, how to say this politely -- farting. Apparently suffering from an unspecified medical condition, she attempted to hide the smell by lighting matches, which is illegal on planes for obvious reasons. Besides being a bad idea in a common-sense kind of way (ie, lighting matches on planes might arouse suspicion), it turns out that lighting one's farts can be an extremely dangerous activity in and... READ ON
And we don't just mean that they're really good at it. No, the Norwegian court system has ruled as much, when they last week found in favor of an Oslo strip club that had refused to pay a 25% tax on entry fees. Lawyers for the club argued that sword-swallowers and comedians aren't taxed in the same way, and strippers deserve equal status. The judges agreed, saying "Striptease, in the way it is practised in this case, is a form of dance combined with acting." (Wait, they're faking it?) To celebrate... READ ON
Another lesson from The Action Hero's Handbook, which this time is also pretty useful for your everyday nosey neighbor, jealous ex-lover, private eye or other such non-heroic profession. Let's get started!
1. Determine the topic of conversation beforehand.
Kind of a no-brainer, yeah, but it'll certainly help to know whether you're spying on drug dealers, contract killers or suburban moms gone wrong. In any case, knowing the topic will help limit the vocabulary used.
2. Position yourself in front... READ ON
... but you just might suffer a fatal car accident, have a heart attack or fall to your death (though probably not all at the same time), according to a recent study by National Geographic. The results of the study, rendered in an interesting series of concentric circles which we can only reproduce tiny-style here (click here for the full graphic), are both fascinating and at the same time not all that surprising. Learning that cancer was considerably more likely to do me in than a fireworks accident... READ ON
Yes, more everyday, practical advice from your friends at Mental_Floss. Actually, today's lesson is excerpted from a wonderful little tome called The Action Heroine's Handbook, an at-a-glance guide to everything from the finer points of outrunning a fireball to the best techniques for choking a man with your bare thighs. This one's for your outdoorsy types.
1. Determine if you're in Bigfoot territory.
If you're off the beaten path, in a forested area in a climate that has heavy precipitation, you... READ ON
... or, as it were, bit. This according to studies performed on Neanderthal bones found in a Spanish cave in 1994, which seem to indicate that many Neanderthals practiced cannibalism. Indeed, they were master butchers who rarely left any potentially edible part of their comrades uneaten -- and that goes for brains and bone marrow as well -- but this says less about our ancestors' taste for their own flesh than it does about the harsh conditions in which they lived. From New Scientist:
Scorned as... READ ON
Hey, fellas and fellettes: matching game time! The following are songs the titles of which also constitute their entire lyrics. Pair them with the right artist for a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction! (And also to claim music trivia bragging... READ ON
John Adams drank a tankard of hard cider each day and had the occasional beer for breakfast.