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Viral meme all your friends already know about, #4: Loituma Girl

Do not, repeat, do NOT click on this link if you actually have something even slightly, vaguely important to do today, or if you are at all worried about maintaining your sanity.

Okay, fine, click.

Loituma Girl is the most spellbinding thing I've ever seen, and the worst part is, I can't explain why. At least Wikipedia can explain what:

Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin) is a flash cartoon set to a gibberish section of the traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka" sung by the Finnish quartet Loituma, taken from their 1995 debut album Things of Beauty. ... The cartoon consists of a 4-frame animation of the Bleach anime character Orihime Inoue twirling a leek (a type of green onion, called a negi in Japan) to a 27-second loop from the song. ...

The cartoon uses the second half of the fifth stanza (four lines) and the complete sixth stanza (eight lines) from the song. Unlike the rest of the song, these two stanzas have no meaning, consisting mostly of phonetically-inspired gibberish that vary from performance to performance and are usually made up on the spot by the singer (compare scat singing in jazz).

The origin of the cartoon is unclear. Within a few days of its appearance, tens of thousands of pages either directed to the possible origin or had the file uploaded on their own server. On 10 July 2006, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that Loituma Girl had caused a resurgence in Loituma's popularity, and the band had received thousands of fan letters from around the world.

BBC's The World radio program even covered the animation in a segment, in which they noted the clip's trance-inducing qualities: "This is basically a joke for someone who spends all of their time staring at a computer, made by people who spend all of their time staring at a computer."

So many questions! Why the Japanese-Polish fusion? Why a leek? Is this the new Hampster Dance? Will I ever get this song out of my head?

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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