Hail to the conquering hero!

After great consideration and furrowing of brows, we are proud to announce the winner(s) of our stupid-sports contest. We wanted a sport we could actually play, so we ruled out entries that involved guaranteed physical pain (ski bowling, businessman bowling, "sit on your brother's head and suffocate him," a soccer/basketball hybrid called "broken nose"). We didn't have enough hot 18-year-olds on staff for jello dodgeball, and our men were a bit too macho for "World Macrame Competition." We were totally up for "sky surfing" but we couldn't afford a plane. "Bocquet" had potential but we couldn't figure out how to pronounce it. That left us with three finalists"¦

Bronze: SudokuJitsu. Wins the medal for the name alone -- Derek, we're sure there's a book deal out there for this.

Silver: Finger Jousting. Beautifully described here. We totally would have given this first prize, except it appears to already be somewhat established, thus constituting a slight bending of the rules.

Gold: Team Bobbing. Explained to an almost frightening degree here. We like that this is a new take on an old favorite -- and we also like that it's guaranteed to make every single player (a) laugh and (b) look ridiculous. We also have to commend John for his enthusiasm for all odd sports. He's a man after our own hearts.

As the gold-medal winner, John gets a copy of Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets. As a consolation prize, Julian -- the self-styled "Lord of the Joust" -- gets the pleasure of knowing that the mental_floss staff will be testing out finger-jousting at our staff gathering in New York next week. We'll post evidence, assuming we don't come off as total idiots.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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