Filmmaker, photo hound, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom was a daily contributor to mentalfloss.com for many, many years.
It wasn't so many years ago that movies like Toy Story were absolutely cutting-edge, and it was hard to imagine how such slick animation could've been produced by a computer. And while Pixar has always managed to stay way ahead of the curve, the technology it used to produce now-classic movies like Luxo, Jr. (this famous short) is no longer out of reach of talented animators who have a reasonably good home computer setup and access to 3D animation software like Maya. In fact, in the last 24 hours I've... READ ON
I decided to put together some unusual, funny, off-the-wall Christmas songs because, you know, 'tis the season! Starting things off, here's one of my favorite old Tom Waits songs, Christmas Card from A Hooker in Minneapolis. If it sounds like he's had a few, he probably has -- but it's part of his schtick.
Here's another Christmas song, this one by indie favorite Sufjan... READ ON
This fascinating clip features global health expert and statistics whiz Hans Rossling talking about the relative health and wealth of 200 nations over the last 200 years. He uses 3D imaging technology to take a relatively old-world visual representation of knowledge -- the graph -- and bring it into the 21st century. His presentation uses over 120,000 pieces of data to track the increasing health and wealth of countries all over the world. We've come a long way in the last couple of centuries, folks,... READ ON
Collapse is a 2009 documentary about the ideas and predictions of a man named Michael Ruppert, a former police officer and investigative journalist. Some people call him a crackpot, others a prophet -- regardless, his ideas demand attention. Primary among them is an argument that the profound and absolutely unprecedented population spike of the last 150 years or so was a direct result of the discovery and exploitation of oil. Oil and petrochemicals have made many, many things possible -- oil is in a lot... READ ON
Last year I did a massive, solo road-trip through the deserts of California and Nevada to take pictures for my Strange Geographies photo essay column (I know, it's been awhile since I wrote one ... I've been chained to my desk!). One of the towns I visited was a dusty little half-abandoned mining/brothel town called Mina, Nevada. I couldn't figure out why this little town a hundred miles from anywhere had an air strip until, as I was leaving, I found a couple of brothels -- the Playmate Ranch and the... READ ON
As many of you know, I'm an old photo nerd. (By which I mean, I'm a nerd for old photos, not ... oh, never mind.) So naturally I was excited to learn that the Liljenquist family, collectors of rare tintypes and ambrotypes, just donated more than 700 Civil War-era portraits of Union and Confederate soldiers to the Library of Congress. That means we all get to see them! Many are available right now on Flickr. From the Flickr set notes:
These fascinating photographs represent the impact of the war,... READ ON
I'm cavity-prone. It doesn't seem to matter how often I brush (twice a day) or floss (once) or visit the dentist for cleanings (every 4-6 months), I still end up with cavities. It's my genes, I'm told. There's not much I can do but follow my dentist's advice and cross my fingers. Now that may all be changing. New research has identified an enzyme, present in the human mouth and intestinal tract, which adheres to teeth and breaks down sugars -- and in the process, secretes a by-product acid that decays... READ ON
Telemarketers bugging you? Bug them back! It may not stop the calls, but it'll definitely make you feel better. Here are a few pranks that savvy YouTubers have played on telemarketers who would've leave them alone.
In this video, vlogger JR Digs keeps a telemarketer on the phone for FIFTY MINUTES ... and then buys nothing. It's an heroic feat of patience and... READ ON
According to my buddy John M. Roberts, who's created a book and a whole series of lectures around the idea, empathy is one of the most crucial survival skills of the 21st century, and becoming more important every day. It's an interesting argument. In a world whose population is quickly approaching seven billion, competition for limited resources -- land, power, food, clean water -- is only going to get fiercer and fiercer, and the only way we're going to be able to ride out the coming century is by... READ ON
According to a computer at Cambridge University, April 11, 1954 was the most boring day since 1900. The computer manages a database called True Knowledge, which stores more than 300 million facts about people, places and events, and it combed through these looking for notable things that happened -- or in this case, did not happen -- on particular days. Sure, boringness is to some degree subjective, but I think we can all agree that a lack of things happening constitutes a common baseline for boring.... READ ON
Neuticles are synthetic testicles for neutered pets. The tagline: "It's like nothing ever changed."