Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
Most of the countries on Reporters Without Borders' annual "enemies of the internet" blacklist -- China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Cuba -- are nations that have long been identified as human rights abusers by human rights groups, so it's no surprise to hear that they're suppressing freedom of expression on the internet, as well. But the inclusion of Egypt on this year's list, released today, highlights new problems in a nation supposedly moving towards democracy. Among several hundred activists arrested... READ ON
(... Or rather, the tallest candidate may win.) Speaking of the air up there, there are lots of factors people use when figuring out whom to vote for, but according to some political statisticians, one of the most influential (unconsciously, at least) may be height. The data on this sort of thing certainly isn't iron-clad, and there are some notable exceptions to the not-quite rule, such as Jimmy Carter's victory over two-inches-taller Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential race. Here are some... READ ON
Phishing has certainly grown up since 1996, when a handful of devious hackers gleaned credit card numbers and other information from AOL users (easy marks, sure) by posing as AOL staffers. In the past year alone, reported phishing attempts -- which nowadays generally take the form of fake emails from PayPal, eBay or financial institutions -- have increased from 6,000 attempts to 150,000 attempts per month. And that's just the reported numbers -- certainly many more people never realize they've been... READ ON
I live in Los Angeles. Notwithstanding rumors of LA's ugliness, I find it to be a sometimes-quite-charming city, which often has as much to do with the number of trees around as anything else. Trouble is, every Spring somewhere between 10-20% of those trees bloom, and smell positively awful. And not just any kind of awful -- they smell, no joke, like sperm, and are colloquially known as the Sperm Trees of Los Angeles.
I decided to get to the bottom of this. What are these nasty tree-beasts?... READ ON
It's casual Friday here at the _floss, so along with my usual interesting-fact-related posts, I'm throwin' in a shameless plug! I was recently hired by Nissan to make a film for their website. They asked me to make a short, fun piece abstractly interpreting the term "living room" (a slogan-of-sorts for their new minivan) -- without showing or mentioning cars in any way. If anyone cares to take a look at it, I'd love to get some responses: is it clear (or clear as mud) how this spot is, metaphorically at... READ ON
What's the happiest place on Earth? Despite Bardly claims re: Denmark's rottenness, the Danish were ranked a cheery #1 by the University of Leicester's Adrian White, who used data on life expectancy and extensive national surveys to compile a "Map of World Happiness."
Apparently, money is the key to happiness -- as well as great healthcare and education. Wealthy, well-educated populations living in countries with great healthcare systems rank highest, which is why Scandinavian countries like... READ ON
Speaking of The Jeffersons, whose "de-luxe apartment in the sky" was featured in yesterday's sitcom quiz, turns out there's some new -- and not so good -- news regarding the health effects of "movin' on up." Scientists have known for awhile now that poverty is hazardous to your health, but now a new study by epidemiologists has concluded that poor people die sooner when living in higher-income neighborhoods than in poorer ones.
Researchers analyzed 17 years' worth of data on thousands of... READ ON
Some of these should be easy -- and some tough. Good luck!
ESTABLISHING... READ ON
For years we've known about a curious dietary anomaly that the French enjoy: their foods are soaked in butter, cheese and other high-cholesterol substances, they drink wine like it's going out of style, and yet they're healthier than Americans. The key, scientists have guessed, is somewhere in the wine. Well, they're not guessing anymore. An international team has isolated a chemical in red wine called resveratrol, which when given to lab mice in conjunction with a high-calorie diet allows those mice to... READ ON
In honor of the Tres Pescadores' some-would-say-heroic fight to survive during nine months adrift at sea, we're taking a gander at another cause of bizarre oceanic disasters (besides "running out of gas and getting lost," as the Pescadores phenomenon is known) -- rogue waves. (Thanks to Damn Interesting for the link.) Historically thought of as little more than tall tales and the stuff of fantastical sea shanties, reports of rogue waves are being taken more seriously these days, and are thought to be... READ ON
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